To start: let's recap the last 4 months at Plus Eight...
The last 4 months of the Plus Eight Accelerator have been a rollercoaster of changes, from dealing with COVID-related program restructures, through to the natural stress of a new program schedule that saw 24 initial teams whittled down to 15 after an initial bootcamp, then further thinned out to only 7 for final investment after a mid-program pitch at the 2 month mark.
Well, we never said it would be easy!
Thankfully this year we have had an understanding and self-sufficient cohort that kept their focus on getting the job done, rolling with the punches, and getting on board with the rapid changes that have occurred several times across the program to deal with changing schedules and delivery vehicles.
One of the key aspects of the changes that we have had to face is the changes to travel in response to the current health crisis, and this meant forgoing one of the highlights of the Plus Eight program - the Silicon Valley trip, and this year, an additional jaunt to Singapore to explore funding options throughout Asia.
Changing the program
To still give our teams a chance to bond, learn, brainstorm, and network we decided to embrace the advantages of being in WA and headed down to that mainstay of WA life - Margaret River. With a world-class tourist destination on our doorstep, how could we ignore this prime opportunity?
It’s never as simple as you think
The premise was simple - 5 days jam-packed full of international workshops, local speakers, Entrepreneur in Residence presentations, pitch practice and a whirlwind tour of some of the best hospitality that the South-West had to offer.
Through a partnership with Accelerating Asia, we were able to secure some incredible talent for workshops with the teams, including (but not limited to!) Chris Mihos from Levi Strauss & Co discussing expansion to Europe, Elizabeth Yin from HustleFund VC (Previous partner at 500Startups) talking funding strategy, and Yolanda Lee (ex-Uber & Deliveroo) giving insights into the strategy behind logistics in expansion, giving the teams global exposure with a local flavour.
Closer to home
Embracing all the South-West had to offer, we were able to secure a breakfast pitch event with the South-West Angels to hone our pitching skills (Demo Day and our final pitch night is only two months away!), with a great opportunity to solidify relationships and open up channels of communication with local investors, and a chance to answer on-the-spot questions about the businesses. Building local relationships and partnerships are key to having a strong foundation for a growing business and this was a great opportunity to do just that.
It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of an international market before you have a solid foundation where you are more easily able to manage your stakeholders and clients, and this session was a great reminder of that.
All work and no play
Looking to break up a heavy schedule of Zoom presentations and in-person workshops, we made sure we had time to get out into the region and explore the local activities.
Day one saw us plunge into a half-day of abseiling and caving, making our way down to Bride’s Cave for a half-day of adventure and team bonding - there’s nothing like a rope ladder to bring people together - and getting to spend some quality face-to-face time together. The week then saw us head to Giniversity for lunch and a cheeky tipple, visit the new Margaret River HEART complex for a Saturday BBQ with our program partners and mentors, and on Friday night we were treated to a very special experience with local dining legends Fervor, with a locally foraged degustation at Howard Park wines overlooking the gardens to round out the trip.
With exposure to so many amazing people, different companies, and time to really get to know the teams and each other the one clear takeaway from the trip is that there’s no one pathway to startup success. Everyone’s journey is different, and we can learn from elements of each other’s story but no two are ever the same.
So, what’s next?
Now we’re back in the saddle with new relationships to follow up on, ideas for implementation, and subjects to research as we work towards the final months of the program.
Since its inception in 2016, the Plus Eight Program has culminated in a Demo Day and Pitch event, which for us is coming up in October of this year. We’ll do our lessons learnt, clear our emails, and then get back into executing the last stages of the program and gearing up for another huge event!
Are you a startup looking to join our 2021 cohort, or an investor keen to engage with the 2020 teams?
Plus Eight is determined to offer world-class support for scaling startups in the WA ecosystem, and we’re on the cusp of closing out our 2020 cohort and gearing up for the 2021 program.
We’re always keen to put a name down on our Demo Day invite list for anyone that is keen to engage with the program as an investor or partner, and the team is free for catch ups with any startups looking to find out more about what the program entails and how the application program works.
And who knows - we may even head back to the South-West next year!