An Australia-first program designed to extend the lifespan of student startups is now up and running at UNSW.
More than 500 student and alumni-run companies have been supported by UNSW initiatives since 2014. The UNSW FounderLab and MVP Grant Fund are a new approach and will provide students with an unprecedented level of support.
FounderLab is run by UNSW Innovations and ARC, the university’s student organisation. It provides consulting services to startups and, more importantly, employs in-house developers to work with student entrepreneurs lacking technical know-how.
The goal is to help students build a minimum viable product – a platform or website with just enough features to satisfy early adopters. It enables businesses to run testing, gain feedback from users, and improve later versions of their product.
“This could be the difference between a startup dying and surviving,” says Josh Flannery, director of the FounderLab and head of UNSW Innovation’s Student Entrepreneur Development team.
“In the Australian context, this is definitely a first.” At UNSW Innovations, we see some absolutely brilliant ideas and founders with incredible hustle. But it’s very hard for them to identify and attract people with the right skills.
Importantly, FounderLab is also helping engineers and computing students at UNSW get exposure to the startup ecosystem, working as interns with the in-house developers.
At its core, FounderLab is designed to address one of the most daunting challenges facing entrepreneurs: recruiting talented team members with the right technology skillsets to take their business to the next level.
“Other than money, the main issue that stifles a really high-potential startup founder is not having the technology expertise to keep their idea alive,” says Flannery.
“At UNSW Innovations, we see some absolutely brilliant ideas and founders with incredible hustle, who go out and do market research and validate solutions. But it’s very hard for them to identify and attract people with the right skills.”
The objective of FounderLab is to give student startups a lifeline: “If we can help them survive that little bit longer, it’s more likely they’ll begin making sales, get funding, grow their team and ultimately have an impact on the economy,” says Flannery.
UNSW Innovations and ARC have also established an MVP fund, which will provide one-off grants to student entrepreneurs, worth between $5,000 and $20,000. Flannery says the MVP fund will award about $100,000 in the first year.
How does it work?
Contact us for more information. We partner with entrepreneurs and experts to build and grow ‘successful’ UNSW startups.