There are many reasons to start your own business. Maybe you want to increase your income, or gain more control over the type of work you do. Perhaps you’re testing out a career change with a hobby that’s suddenly proven profitable. Or it might be that you simply like being your own boss.
Whatever your motivation, as one of La Trobe’s alumni you’re eligible for support through the La Trobe Accelerator Program (LTAP). The program helps you take your business idea to the next level through a 12 immersive weeks of mentoring, workshops, legal and grant application assistance, access to co-working spaces and up to $10,000 equity-free funding.
How to apply in 2019
If you’ve got a product, a prototype or a problem, and are committed to taking your idea to the next stage, then the La Trobe Accelerator Program team want to hear from you. Gather your back-page sketches, completed designs or moon-shot ideas and get your application in.
Applications are open now until 3 June 2019. Alumni of any year from La Trobe can be involved, and your idea can relate to any business type or sector. Each application should outline:
- The La Trobe campus you’re most closely associated with and will work from
- The challenge you are solving and its context
- The solution you are providing and why it’s innovative
- Your start-up’s progress to date
- Your team composition
If you don’t live within proximity of a La Trobe University campus, you can still apply to the program. We encouraged you to attend workshops in person, however you can complete some components of the program remotely.
Alumni who’ve accelerated their business ideas
For alumna Melanie Leader (Bachelor of Teaching, 2003), taking part in the La Trobe Accelerator Program expanded both her industry networks and her customer market.
‘The most valuable part of the program was the contacts I made. I would never get a chance in my everyday life to interact with people like these mentors,’ she says.
‘Having these contacts for future business prospects is an amazing opportunity, for which I’m extremely grateful. The one-to-one mentoring and workshops during the initial primer were wonderful, too.’
Leeder is CEO of Mallee Naturals, a Mildura-based start-up that sells hand-made, chemical-free home and body products using all-Australian ingredients. She says the funding, skills and knowledge she received through the program has made ‘a huge difference’ to her business.
As a result of the program, Leeder has expanded Mallee Naturals’ market and now ships to wholesalers Australia-wide and exports to customers in China.
‘Prior to La Trobe Accelerator Program, I was selling at markets and had a very small online market. Since the program, I’ve changed my market approach, am focusing on international bulk sales and have more confidence in what I am trying to achieve,’ she says.
‘I always wanted my business to succeed, but was really just winging it and hoping for the best!
La Trobe Accelerator Program taught me a great deal about focusing on my customer and solving a problem or need in the market place, talking to my customers more and satisfying their needs.’
Similarly, alumna Jenny Bevis (Bachelor of Business, 2017) says the La Trobe Accelerator Program helped ease the overwhelm she felt at the prospect of launching a new business.
‘When you’re starting your business, you’re completely over your head. You need to make sure that you’re working with others, that you’re getting the resources and that you have access to mentors to keep you on track and build you with the confidence to go to the market with your idea,’ she says.
‘That’s been one of the most beneficial components of the program and I’d highly recommend doing it.’
She founded Jenny Bevis Events, an events management consulting and production business, while completing her business degree at La Trobe. Now, Bevis contracts with local companies to develop their event offering, helping them build their business and attract and retain new customers.
Leeder and Bevis are just two alumni participants who’ve benefited from the program since its launch in 2017. In that time, more than $157,000 in seed funding has been awarded to 17 start-ups. And fulfilment is high, too – over 93 per cent of participants say they’re satisfied with the expert mentoring they received.
Do you have what it takes?
In 2019, La Trobe Accelerator Program staff are looking for start-ups that have the potential for growth. But more than that, they’re looking for your serious commitment to your business.
According to the La Trobe Accelerator Program team, successful start-up teams should:
- Devote a significant amount of time to their start-up over the incubation period
- Commit to 1-2 days of work on your business each week
- Ideally, work from the dedicated co-working spaces on campuses
- Utilise the mentoring and coaching available through the program
- Attend at least 80 per cent of the workshops and events
If you’re ready to apply, you can be confident that tapping into your university’s support will pay off. After all, research shows that more than four out of five start-up founders in Australia are university graduates, and one in five successful start-ups in Australia have benefitted from a university incubator program.
Excited to bring your vision to life? Apply to the La Trobe Accelerator Program today.