Ready to hatch and take off
Working in the creative sector today often means not only being a producer but also an entrepreneur.
Whether you are a freelancer developing your existing business or a team with a big idea, incubators and accelerators can be a great way for enterprising creatives to kickstart their business.
Anna Jackson from Transmedia NZ looks at three New Zealand business incubators and accelerator programmes.
As I write this blog post I imagine there are 115 exhausted but perhaps elated people out there recovering from 54 hours of intensity at Auckland Startup Weekend. Over the course of the weekend, entrepreneurs pitch ideas, form teams, create a business plan, build a prototype and present to a panel of local entrepreneurial leaders. The event is not just for Aucklanders or even New Zealanders; it’s a global network run by The Kauffman Foundation, an organisation that aims to advance global entrepreneurship.
While 36 percent of Startup Weekend startups are still going strong three months after forming, StartupWeekend is not just focused on the startup project but also provides participants with opportunities to learn, up skill and network. At a cost of $75-$99 for the entire weekend this programme is very accessible, but places are in high demand.
Not all participants have a business background. Roughly half of those taking part have a technical or design background, and teams are formed during the weekend, so it’s a great opportunity for participants to find collaborators with complementary skills and knowledge.
In New Zealand, Startup Weekends are held throughout the country (upcoming events will be held in Hawkes Bay, Hamilton, Wellington and Palmerston North).
Listen to organisers and participants from May’s Auckland StartUp Weekend on discuss StartUp Weekend on RadioLive.
Meanwhile in Wellington the first cohort of Lightning Lab participants are gearing up for Demo Day (15 May), where after 12 weeks of intensive business incubation, companies will pitch to potential investors and market partners.
Lightning Lab is a digital accelerator, so participating businesses have a strong technology focus. Three of the nine businesses selected for this year’s Lightning Lab have a strong creative element.
WIP is “a beautifully simple video workflow platform that lets you watch, share and comment on your work-in-progress videos, so you get better feedback faster”
Promoki is “a social media gaming platform for photo and video contests”.
Questo is “using game mechanics in real world activities to increase family engagement for organisations”
Although the programme requires a twelve week fulltime commitment and businesses must be based in Wellington for the duration of the accelerator, the programme offers up to $18k in seed money and around $100,000 in perks from vendor partners, plus exposure to mentors and investors.
ART Venture is a year-long development programme that provides creative entrepreneurs with specialist mentoring, workshop programmes and access to investment funding. ART Venture is an initiative of ART (Arts Regional Trust), in partnership with The Big Idea. As with Wellington’s Lightning Lab, ART Venture has a strong focus on contributing to the Auckland region’s cultural and economic development.
Now in its fifth year, ART Venture has an impressive list of alumni and has supported many successful projects. ART Venture’s 2012 intake came from a diverse range of disciplines including theatre and performance, art installation and events, arts publicity, publishing and sculpture.
Check out video profiles of the 2012 ART Venture winners here:
Reasons to take part in an accelerator or incubator
Programmes like Startup Weekend, Lightning Lab and Art Venture are great value for successful participants and offer fantastic opportunities to:
1. Spend time with mentors with specialist knowledge, connections and skills who would otherwise be difficult to access (and expensive!)
2. Develop your network; meet potential partners, collaborators or investors.
3. Take your business or idea to the next level; find a partner, team or investor who can help you to get off the ground or grow in new directions.
4. Learn new skills, test out an idea, build a prototype and practice the art of pitching.
5. Expand your horizons; think bigger, push your boundaries, challenge yourself.