Startup expansion for post-COVID recovery

The Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) has been awarded a two-year $222,000 grant from LaunchVic, which will be used to expand the successful Velocity program.

MAP will use the money to double the intakes for the Velocity Program, create an online program, and further build the MAP team.

LaunchVic, founded by the Victorian government in 2016, is looking to support Pre-Accelerator programs that are in a position to aid in Victoria’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery, by supporting the growth of technology-focused early-stage startups.

“The Velocity Program has been really successful in helping early-stage founders through the critical hurdles of finding early problem-solution fit and identifying their first customers," said Professor Colin McLeod, Executive Director of the Melbourne Entrepreneurial Centre, within which MAP resides at the University of Melbourne.

"We are delighted that with the support of LaunchVic, we will be able to run the program multiple times a year and support more founders in their efforts to create a viable and sustainable new venture."

Melbourne Entrepreneurial Centre Executive Director Professor Colin McLeod.

The Velocity Program helps founders fit their business model to problems and aids in the discovery of first customers. The program blends startup and impact methodologies to help increase traction for early-stage startups.

Over four years the Velocity Program has supported 170 founders from 91 startups. Of these ventures, 68% remain operational, and 19% have progressed to other startup accelerators.

Velocity founders have been recognised by Forbes Top 30 Under 30, awarded a Myer Innovation Fellowship, and have won international awards while continuing to build sustainable ventures.

Velocity startups have raised $8.9m in funding, generated $6.4m in revenue, and created 219 jobs.

Faculty alum Kaley Chu, founder of 100 Lunches, with comedian Shane Jacobson.

MAP received 138 expressions of interest, 49 applications, and has accepted 21 startups into the 2020 Velocity program.

Of the successful teams, 50% are women-founded, and 55% have a team member from a self-identified diverse background. 23% of this year’s applicants are focused on solving health problems, 27% are aimed at improving sustainability, while a further 14% are education aligned.

The successful founders include three Faculty alum and one current student:

Gordon Ray, founder of ResilientML, which translates market leading research in Machine Learning and AI to commercial solutions;

Kaley Chu, founder of 100 Lunches, a social networking platform to connect like minded individuals;

Belle To, founder of RENW, a personal styling service with quality preloved clothes; and

Ashwin Ramachandran, founder of EthiCard, an affiliate marketing and rewards platform for sustainable fashion.