The Value of Good Advice

With 25+ startup accelerators in Australia that have accelerated hundreds of startups, the happenings inside accelerators is still a mystery to many.

If you don’t quite understand what a startup accelerator is, you’re not alone. Here’s a breakdown of the typical accelerator offering:

1 - Funding 👈 [what most founders want]
2 - Mentoring 👈 [what most founders actually need]
3 - Structured classes and workshops
4 - Access to professional services (think legal and accounting)
5 - Co-working

If you’re like so many other founders, you might think that funding is the most valuable part of an accelerator program.

Interestingly, it’s not.

Don’t get us wrong, if you’re a founder that hasn’t paid yourself for three years, and are living on a 100% two-minute noodle diet, money would feel like your top priority - and fair enough!

But as important as money is, it’s typically not what leads to startup success.

Real startup success starts with finding product-market fit. If you’re not familiar with what product-market fit is, it’s a combination of the following:

  1. You have a product or service that solves a problem for a group of people.
  2. You’ve found this group of people, and they’re willing to pay for it (at the very least use it e.g. Facebook).
  3. You can’t keep up with the demand from users (i.e. you have a waiting list of thousands wanting to use your product)

If finding product-market fit sounds simple, it’s really not. In fact, most startups never truly find it (with exceptions like Google, Apple, Facebook, etc).

Because the journey to find product-market fit is typically very long and windy path, and without prior startup experience, it’s easy to get lost.

Which is why getting quality time with successful entrepreneurs (mentors) that have previously navigated the path of product-market fit is crucial for every startup, particularly those who are first time founders.

At The Generator, we’re hyper aware of this, and have structured our entire accelerator program around maximising contact time between our startups and our mentors.

Our weekly Office Hours are the best example of this - where each startup gets 75 minutes of uninterrupted one-on-one time with our team of mentors to cover the following:

  1. How did last week go, and why? [reflection and accountability].
  2. What you should focus on next week [focus].
  3. How to go about it [prioritisation].

🤯 FOUNDER TIP: If you’re a founder that’s struggling to make progress, start actioning the above items on a weekly basis. Make it a habit by creating a weekly calendar entry called Startup RFP [Reflection, Focus, Prioritisation].

At just four weeks into the 2019 Generator Accelerator, these office hours sessions have already had a profound impact on our founders and startups. With three startup pivots, honest conversations and deep courage have shifted our startups to focusing on what will lead them to finding product-market fit - better understanding their customers and users.

But any advice, definitely isn’t good advice. So we’ve worked long and hard to get some of the best Mentors in the business to help our startups reflect, focus and prioritise.

Kishan Thurairasa, Jordan Thurgood and Michael Nuciforo have all been around the startup block in their own right. Kish, Michael and Jordan have all built startups that have been acquired, and are now paying it forward at the Generator by nurturing the next generation of Monash founders.

Here are some key learnings from our founders over the past four weeks of Office Hours sessions 👇:

Claire Bristow - Founder of Her Society

"My fear of rejection is definitely a persistent theme in both my start-up, and my personal life. The biggest challenge for me moving forward will be pushing through this fear and not taking rejection personally. I know that if I can push through this self-doubt that Her Society can have a real impact in this world".

Mike Koopman - Founder of Custodian

“When I’m explaining difficult concepts it’s easy to get caught up in the details but I’ve learned ‘less is more’ - if I say three things, I’m not saying anything. This is helping me to communicate Custodian’s mission much more clearly.”

Manoj Arachige - Founder of KIS Academics

“Every man, woman and their dog starts a tutoring agency out of high school - but I wanted to leverage my knowledge of the field and love for teaching students to do things differently. I thought my biggest learning was in starting KIS Academics, but The Accelerator taught me that it was actually in being more ambitious and figuring out how to make a larger positive impact on student education by growing this business”

Alyssa - Founder of Au Pairs for Change

“Au Pairs for Change started off as a green idea to empower more women leaders, but through this Accelerator program we realise how important it is to have a highly sustainable business model. Now with a commercial lens, we are learning to scale up our ideas to create even greater social impact.”

Abi Babu - Founder of Orthoprints

“I started with a vision of producing medical knee braces. During the office hours sessions with my amazing mentors Kish and Jord, I started to realise that I had been focused on finding a problem to fit the technology i’m interested in (3D printing). I now have shifted my focus to deeply understanding the actual problem I am solving first, before getting fixed on the solution. So my primary focus now is doing market research and talking to potential users to understand their pain points.”