My MAP Accelerator Application

It just so happens that I managed to discover the University of Melbourne’s Startup Accelerator program, MAP17 just as they are about to take submissions for their 2017 intake. A fantastic fluke of timing that means there is no way I’m not taking up the opportunity to apply.

Here’s my experience of the process so far. Hopefully it’s not a short journey but it can only be a useful exercise to help me hone my pitch for the website and future client conversations. has only been in existence for little more than a month so it’s been a whirlwind from then to now. I haven’t even “announced” the new business on LinkedIn so now is as good a time as any.

ThinkTent is an online consultancy platform made up of strategy consultants from diverse industries, geographies and specialisations (marketing, finance, sales, ecommerce etc), collaborating to develop Growth Strategies for SMEs. I’ll let you read the rest on the website.

I would love to hear from you if you have any advice from personal startup experience or you like what you see!

Step 1: MAP17 Application Workshop on 22 March

It was almost a full auditorium including quite a few women (although still probably 70:30 to the men) and different ages which was really heartening to see.

It was incredibly helpful to listen to Jeremy Kraybill and Maxine Lee from the program, get really specific about what they’re looking for and what has and hasn’t worked for applicants in previous years – MAP is now in its fifth year.

Having looked at the videos from those who were accepted into the Accelerator last year, I was pretty confident that I could put something competitive together. Although of course it’s nowhere near as easy as it looks. It is the hardest thing in the world to pitch your idea succinctly, even if you essentially do it for others as a job (or maybe because of that). Anyway I deeply believe in the idea so there’s only one way to get better at pitching and that’s to do lots of it.

Over the next two weeks I’m meeting up with various peers and potential clients to talk the idea through and refine it.

The biggest challenge that I’m most grateful for is that the pitch requires Proof of Concept which means that I can’t just take an idea and see if it flies. I actually need to find clients and consultants who will get involved, helping me to refine the offer and prove that there is a big enough market for it and that it is scaleable.

Step 2: Open Office Hours at LAB-14 on 7 April

MAP offers mentoring support to anyone applying for the program but also I think anyone who just wants a sounding board for their startup idea. The appointments are like gold dust, so I was pumped to get even a 10 minute appointment with Jeremy Kraybill (Chief Entrepreneur in Residence at University of Melbourne).

A 10 minute appointment is nowhere near enough time to share your pitch (in draft format that essentially takes you twice as long to talk through as it should) and get feedback as well. It would be ok if it was just a slot to practice your pitch but when you’re looking for useful feedback it really doesn’t work (even if your pitch did take 3 minutes). By the time I got into my slot with Jeremy, nerves caught me off guard and I stumbled through with a shaky voice, It was truly horrific and I took a full 6 of the 9 minutes left. Thankfully Jeremy had a 25 minute slot half an hour later which was long enough for me to pull my shit together and make some quick amends to my deck following his initial minute of advice. The longer session proved to be incredibly useful and insightful. I’m really looking forward to putting Jeremy's advice into the final script and video and sharing it with loads of people before the submission date to make sure it has as good a possible chance to put me through to the next round. It’s sure going to be a very different beast to how it started out.

Next steps:

I’m aiming to get the 3 minute pitch video filmed on the 12th to share on LinkedIn for feedback from my network (and whoever stumbles across it) before submitting it by the 17 April deadline.

Again, I would love to hear from you if you have any advice from personal startup experience or you like what you see!