People have heard of hackathons, of Startup Weekends and other types of startup events. The University of Queensland has another take on this with the ilab UQ Germinate bootcamp. Not a hackathon nor an actual Startup Weekend but a whole 3 days dedicated to startups willing to learn and progress and to compete for a place in the ilab UQ Germinate startup accelerator program. A weekend of competition, but also a great opportunity for entrepreneurs (students, researchers, alumni and co-founders) to come together, to learn and grow and to network with peers and leading members of the startup eco-system.
As Jason Tan, one of our participants summarised when asked whether people should participate : “Definitely go for it and it’s totally worthwhile of the time, efforts, and most importantly the learning. Attending this boot camp worth more than attending 10 hackathons combined. ”
Recently, following a shortlisting process for the Germinate 12 startup accelerator program, ilab welcomed 24 pre-selected teams and their 50 founders to bootcamp, all vying to take their business venture to the next stage.
ilab’s bootcamp aims at mixing both the educational and entrepreneurial journey. Rather than a one sided process simply judging the startups for our Germinate accelerator, it is absolutely designed to be a valuable learning process in its own right for all participants. We seize this 3 days opportunity to help entrepreneurs learn a number important things about building a startup:
Pitching a business does not come naturally. In the context of the bootcamp, a startup has to convey what their business is about but also convince someone to vote for them or simply agree it’s a great idea. And that is within five minutes or less addressed to wide ranging panel of judges providing teams really constructive feedback. You must be able state the problem you are solving in a sentence, and how you are going to make money with your solution within a few more. It’s a good skill for convincing almost anyone of anything!
Focus on teams and people
We welcomed some single founders and some teams. While we do recommend having a mix of skills (hence a team), what matters and helped founders over the weekend was the ability to not lose their nerves, to be able to change their game quickly and to work as a team and keep their focus. Participants are also privileged to hear from startup previous ilab founders to learn about their personal startup journeys beyond ilab.
We really value startups who have the independent proof points that customers actually want their solution. Paying customers are always well received! If you have this validation, then your are really well place to make a convincing case to the mentors. and judges when they ask some hard questions.
Networking and interacting
Getting into the startup game is not only about business but also about connections. You will – and must – meet all kinds of people. These are people that could be your next co-founder, or investors or just the random person who will see the glitch in your rocket ship idea. Bootcampers have numerous opportunities to meet other folk who are at the same place in their entrepreneurial journey, as well as excellent mentors. Things happen when you turn up and participate. You never know just what that might be.
Learning from feedback
ilab UQ is truly fortunate to have a strong cohort of mentors to support us and Bootcamp teams get a large variety of honest feedback on their startup. All of this is from experienced mentors giving back, without any vested interests. Founders experience the good and the bad, and regularly alter their models and pitches accordingly.
Tech is not everything
People, entrepreneurs or not, often need a reminder that technology does not make a successful product. A need in a sizeable market may. And potential customers in that niche who would be ready to pay for your product will. Success on the market comes from relieving a (real) pain point, that many people have, with a solution that, also, makes good financial sense. At Bootcamp, we do not concentrate on building product, but on building businesses.
So who was selected?
11 fantastic startups were selected. You can get all of the announcement on the next blog post.
The above is a glimpse of our bootcamp processes, and how ilab is working, all year long, with the UQ community and the broader startup ecosystem to educate and grow founder entrepreneurial capacities and to help launch new startups who can make an impact. To find out more of UQ’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation offering, check our here.
But why do all that? The teams say it best:
- “Definitely go for it and it’s totally worthwhile of the time, efforts, and most importantly the learning. Attending this boot camp is well worth more than attending 10 x hackathon combined. The boot camp itself is also particularly useful to help validating your idea and how well you can present your idea to the public.” — Jason Tan
- “Do it! The experience of getting mentoring and feedback directly on something you have been working is very valuable.” — Bernardo Gonzalez
- “Give it a crack. The application writing/bootcamp is a learning experience, regardless of outcome.”
- “The feedback that my team received from the judges put us on the right track and cleared the air as in what exactly we should focus on.”
This shows why it is so important to just get in, fully. Take a deep breath and dive in the deep end.
And all of that would not be possible without the support of our mentors, speakers and judges all committing some of their free time, even over their weekend, to help ilab and these upcoming entrepreneurs.
Our thanks to: Scott Thomas (Creatively Squared), Ben Tattersfield (Jetson Industries), Chris Drake (Arrowana Investments), Assoc Prof. Dr Tim Kastelle, (UQ Business School), Terry Woodcroft (Aurtra), Alastair Blenkin (HyralIQ), Julia Huynh (Modulr Tech), Viraj Agnihotri (Augmented Bionics), Tim Hadwen (Micromelon Robotics) for their talks and to all our judges: Joan Norton, Michael Cooke, Victor Vicario, Sarah Smith, Mark White, Manfred Neustifter, Bernadette Hyland, Lucio Piccoli, Lauren Smith, Ellem Warren, Simone Joyce, Anne-Marie Walton, Tony Wheeler, Chris Hurn, Majella Edwards, Timothy Hui, Erez Saf, William Ferguson, Lisa Barham, Cristo Pajust, Marcus D’Castro, Holly Tattersall, Christine Ip, Mike Knapp, Shane Chidgzey, Alborz Fallah and Dean Foley.