Why should I join the Idea Alive Startup Accelerator?
We’re different startup accelerator – we don’t take an equity stake! Read on for more…
Inventors and founders
You have a great product, invention or a developed idea. You want to market test it and you know that feedback from the market will be critical to its success. Hence, you want to work with smart, bright marketing, digital and sales people – a commercial team – who can give your product the greatest chance of success.
You have the commercial skills to develop and take a product to market. However, you recognise that you are not an inventor. You recognise that you need to work as part of a team. (Note, you may even be a commercial entrepreneur with a great idea who is looking for a team help you develop the product – that’s okay too).
You have built successful businesses or you have a particular skill and knowledge that you want to share with very early stage businesses. You are a VC or a business angel or maybe a serial entrepreneur – or even all there. You may or may not bring the orignal idea; either is okay. What you want is early – and exclusive – access to the best ideas and strongest teams.
What will I get at Idea Alive?
We fit ideas with inventors/ developers, commercial professionals and investor /mentors to form business teams to successfully launch, commercialise products and services and, ultimately, build very high growth businesses.
How does the application work?
We run programmes and will start recruiting for our next programme shortly. We will be seeking founders / inventors, mentors. and commercial entrepreneurs to form super powered teams to rapidly develop startup businesses.
What type of ideas do you accept?
We can work with any knowledge based ideas – internet, mobile, media, healthcare, education that have minimal capital investment requirements but are knowledge (and people skill) intensive.
We don’t accept ideas that require cash investment (such as a windfarm) to prove the idea unless that proof is achievable through people’s time.
Is my idea too early (or too late) to join?
You need to be able to clearly demonstrate the operation or function of your idea such that it is possible to establish a copyright or patent.
Your idea may include a fully functioning prototype and you may have made some sales or it might simply be a concept.
Also, because we don’t take an equity stake, Idea Alive will appeal to more developed growth businesses as well as pure startups.
Can I apply if I’m not from the North West of England?
Yes, however, this is a part-time programme and therefore you need to be able to spend one day per week in the North West of England for the 10 week programme including a couple of weekends and one or two investor evenings during the week. If regular travel to the NW is going to be difficult, please don’t apply
We will be opening applications shortly, so please follow us on Twitter or sign up for the newsletter to keep in touch.
Length of programme?
The programme will run once per week and will include evenings and a few weekends or week days. We will publish these dates in good time for you to make a decision about your availability. We don’t run the programme over school holidays.
Do I need to be full-time on the programme?
No, the programme is distinctly part-time.
Initially, we are begin with a pre-accelerator event during which you will find out more about the accelerator and we will find out more about you.
If you successful and are invited onto the full programme then you will need to be available evenings and some weekends and a few days as well.
Because our programme is designed for a few week-days only plus evenings and the occasional weekend, this time can be taken as holiday from a full time job, or, if you are freelance, you can build this programme into your normal money earning work.
This approach allows us to accelerate the idea into a real busines proposition without you needing to give up your current source of income. A very good idea, we believe. (And supported by people such as Luke Johnson – FT columnist and founder of Pizza Express).
How is this accelerator programme different?
There are three major differences between Idea Alive and other business accelerator programmes.
Firstly, this is a part-time programme – running evenings and weekends or the occasional week day. This means that you can continue to earn money the other four days of the week. Hence, the programme works best if you already live near to the programme. Hence, you don’t need to give up your day job or freelance contracts to join the programme and therefore, you don’t need to take on funding before you have developed the idea and tested the market and built the team.
Secondly, we don’t take an equity stake in your business. This means that business angels are more likely to invest (at least NW Business Angels are like this) and we only get paid a fee when you are successful raising finance or significantly growing your revenue.
Lastly, we work with solo founders / inventors – or sometimes two co-founders who are looking to complete their team and we help to identify and recruit additional (and appropriate) teams members around the original founder(s). No other business accelerator does this. We are able to do this because we have licenced the eTeamTool – startup team solutions* – a team assessment and development tool for early stage teams.
What does the eTeamTool allow Idea Alive to do?
The eTeamTool allows us to better understand the different skills of each startup team member to ensure that each business in the programme is the strongest possible. The tool allows each member to understand their role and contribution as well as gain a deeper appreciation for the experience and abilities of the other team members.
By placing the eTeamTool at the heart of the Idea Alive business accelerator, we are giving the team due prominence in the business development process. After all, investors want to invest in teams – not ideas, nor products nor sales. Stronger teams result in greater success in growing the business and raising funds.
Do I need a business plan before I can apply?
No. We have a form in which you can describe your initial idea. And, if successful, we’ll help you build your business plan (or investment case) before you go in front of investors.
Will you accept teams onto the programme?
Yes. We will accept founder teams or commercial teams. Most early stage teams find that their growth is slowed due to a lack of a particular skill or entrepreneurial experience – our job is to help you identify and solve that gap so that your growth in unleashed.
What are the potential outcomes of the Idea Alive programme?
There are three possible outcomes
Firstly, your idea and team take shape as you develop your product for its market place. At the end of the programme, you will raise finance and/ or massively grow the business revenue.
Second, your idea and team takes shape but needs more work before the investors will support your idea, hence you need a bit longer to get there – but our part-time structure and post graduate support programme will ensure you get what you need.
Third, your idea has value but not as a stand alone business and hence, you decide to sell the idea on or form a JV to receive a royalty on future sales.
What if my idea doesn’t succeed?
If you join the programme and neither the idea nor the team make to the second stage of the programme, then you will have gain huge insight and value into the process of developing ideas, teams and businesses. At this stage, the idea in its entirety returns to you and can take it back to the drawing board or you can use it to develop a new iteration on the idea, and then start the process again.
Do I have to be there for the entire programme
Yes. You must attend the day and evening sessions. We take a small deposit from each person accepted on the course which is forfeited if you fail to show up. This just helps everyone know that you are committed to the programme.
Where will the programme take place?
The programme will be run in either Manchester and / or Liverpool.
What equity share do I get?
The team will share 100% of the equity. How you share that equity depends on what different people bring to the team, minimum number of people required, the levels of commitment they make and the stage of development of the idea at the outset.
We use the Equity Team Tool to create a rational basis for sharing equity which helps startup teams make better decisions about how and where to share the equity.
The key point is that successful startup teams involve sharing equity – but the benefit is a strong team that has the potential to grow 6 or 7 times faster. The figures of faster growth have been proven and it is this accelerated growth that make it worth while sharing the equity.
We resolve these issues in the first few accelerator meetings.
What is the cost of the Idea Alive programme
The programme does not take an equity share for entry and there are no up front fees.
Yes, that’s right, we don’t take equity – leaving you free to allocate equity (or raise) finance in the best way possible.
The programme earns a fee of £5k+vat whenever the company successfully raises finance (or 1% of the amount raised – whichever is the greater) or achieves an annual increase of £100k in revenue – which is a fee we charge to the company. In effect, you just build this cost into your fund raising – and it is a cost that most investors expect to see anyway.
In addition, we provide the Idea Alive graduate programme – to help you cement the learning from the programme and keep your business growing at super-charged rates. This costs £25+vat per company per week and runs for 24 months following the end of the programme. We aim to help you pay this fee out of early stage revenue or to raise funds to cover it and the value that the programme adds should pay for itself many times over.
Alternatively, we will accept applications from teams or businesses that wish to join the accelerator programme who wish to pay £10,000 for the place on the accelerator instead of any of the performance fees mentioned above.
* The eTeamTool, like Idea Alive, is a brand of MediaModo.