Massey University's business incubator ecentre is gearing up for Sprint Global 2019, an accelerator-style programme designed to help startup founders go global faster.
According to ecentre CEO Jackie Young, the programme is designed for the New Zealand startup context and focuses on founders who have a working prototype and are ready to engage with the market in New Zealand or overseas.
“We take early stage startups with a validated business model, and accelerate their customer acquisition and global expansion by providing access to mentors, sector experts, investors and other resources.”
Young says that there has never been a better time to build startups – in fact from day one, there are no barriers to going global.
The programme includes mentors who share shortcuts and ‘smartcuts' to building global businesses in New Zealand. So far more than 20 entrepreneurs and experts have signed up as mentors for 2019.
“Founders will be able to ask all their burning questions about the journey ahead, such as, ‘How do I grow my customer base?', ‘Am I going global fast enough?', ‘Am I connected enough locally and globally?',” says Young.
Sprint Global mentor Sarah Perry says that a great way to validate a business is to get the fundamentals right early on and create value for customers that generates revenue.
“Entrepreneurship is in our core in New Zealand, so we need to focus on what we're good at – innovative products – and find innovative ways to access customers that suit the business, rather than copying the one-size-fits-all Silicon Valley investment playbook. Sprint Global's customer acquisition focus can also put the business in a stronger position to take on investment later on,” says Perry.
Previous ecentre Sprint programmes have developed the likes of startups including web firm Zeald, student discount platform Niesh, and horticulture software startup Dataphyll.
Niesh cofounder Jae Yoo says the programme provided experts who were able to tackle the question ‘where to grow next'.
“We initially thought we just needed to spend more time to work through issues, but what we needed to be successful was the right assistance to identify not only where to grow, but also when.” Niesh now has 37,500 users on its platform.
Young adds that the Sprint Global programme is a collaborative effort to help shape new startups.
“We're pleased that founders have the chance to take part with no fees and no equity through the support of Massey University, Callaghan Innovation, Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) and other partners committed to developing New Zealand's entrepreneurial ecosystem. Preference will be given to applicants from New Zealand-registered early stage technology-enabled businesses in B2B or B2B2C markets that have global growth potential.
The Sprint Global programme design is informed by research conducted by Massey University and ecentre into local investor behaviours and preferences, along with global innovation ecosystem benchmark data from UBI Global and Startup Genome. ecentre receives funding through Callaghan Innovation's Founder Incubation Programme to help startups commercialise their great ideas faster and effectively. Partnerships with other key government agencies and organisations provide additional access to startup-specific resources.