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Pollenizer opens autumn 2012 intake for start-ups

Friday, 23 December 2011 | By Michelle Hammond
Sydney-based tech incubator Pollenizer is calling for applications for its autumn 2012 semester, after closing applications for its summer semester on the back of $1.1 million in funding.

 

Applications for the autumn semester will close on January 20, after which a shortlist will be notified. The semester will then commence on April 1.

 

Earlier this year, Pollenizer closed a $1.1 million funding round from investors including Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon Brookes and former Ninemsn chief executive Tony Faure.

 

In November, Pollenizer told StartupSmart it would look to invest the money in “new, early stage ideas with strong growth potential."

 

Pollenizer co-founder Mick Liubinskas says the number of participants for the autumn intake will be determined by the success of the current batch of businesses in the Pollenizer portfolio.

 

However, competition is expected to be fierce. There were more than 100 applicants last semester, whittled down to a shortlist of 12, but Pollenizer only made offers to three of them.

 

For the autumn 2012 semester, Liubinskas says Pollenizer is looking for a particular breed of entrepreneur.

 

“Our perfect scenario is a second-time entrepreneur who wants to disrupt a big industry,” Liubinskas says.

 

“We’ve done banking with Pygg and we’re working on one in health, so we’re pretty passionate about an education business or any industry that is ripe for the picking...”

 

“It’s about the credibility of the founder as well as the idea… We want to see excitement and passion but also flexibility in the founder – they need a thick skin.”

 

Pollenizer uses a trimester system, known as “The Pollenizer Way”, allowing each start-up one month of discovery and three months of validation.

 

This means each business has 16 weeks to find a focus, build a minimal viable product, deal with real customers, iterate several items and raise funds.

 

“This is a huge task, in a high pressured environment, with limited time. In order to add drastic value, we need to select businesses that work with our model,” Pollenizer says.

 

Pollenizer identifies the critical attributes start-ups must have:

  • A clear revenue path. Businesses that rely on attracting a huge user base before they can become monetised are very challenging and do not suit our fast iteration model.
  • Can be easily tested. During the discovery stage, we manually test the business model in any way possible.
  • Has a recognisable MVP. We should be able to build the first version, which customers can value, and launch it in less than six weeks.
  • No past development. We have learnt that when a business has already had development work, it is difficult for us to become involved and add value.

In addition, we have learnt that people who come to us at this point are usually looking for advice or a service provider.

  • Little existing outlay. When we form a partnership, we start from the beginning together.
  • Differs to other Pollenizer start-ups. It is important that we structure our portfolio so that we are not weighted to any one type of business or industry.