This program will pay you $6000 a month to build a startup: What’s the catch?


In a bid to reinvent Australia’s finance sector, startup incubator Pollenizer is launching a program that will pay founders $6000 a month to build new fintech solutions.

The joint initiative with Sydney-founded global lending platform Pepper Money will take selected participants through a 12-week incubator.

“The aim of the program is to disrupt the existing [finance] sector,” Pollenizer partner Tim Parsons tells StartupSmart.

“It feels like banking is still stuck in 1817, not 2017.

“Startup founders and even scale-ups are in a great position to change that.”

Instead of reaching out to an expensive consultancy for operational advice, Parsons says Pepper Money is working with Pollenizer to hack its growth through direct exposure to startups building innovative solutions from the ground up.

“During incubation the two entities will formally share any new [intellectual property],” he says.

“At the end, Pepper Money can purchase the IP and [the founders] can walk away and share it equally, or they can incorporate a new company and invest the IP into that.

“The founder really has to come out of this in control of their destiny.

“Pepper Money is not buying a dead startup with demotivated founders, it’s buying highly motivated founders who are highly incentivised to go big.”

The catch is that Pepper Money gets “first right of refusal” over any other investors that approach the new startup.

“The only right that they reserve is first dibs,” says Parsons.

“For the big companies that we work for, we always say ‘this is what you’re buying, don’t do this, don’t do that and don’t do that other thing otherwise we’re walking away’.”

Pollenizer will hold a mini-hackathon on Monday, December 12, and Tuesday, December 13, where shortlisted applicants will compete for a spot in the incubator.

“The focus is going to be on proof of problem and a little bit of proof of market,” Parsons says.

“We love ideas, we love great solutions.

“We’re keen to attract both slightly later-career professionals and female entrepreneurs.”

Hacking opportunities for startups and corporates

Parsons, who will lead the “Free Money” incubator, says programs like this are a new way for big companies and startups to share ideas, things they’ve learnt and outcomes to drive innovation.

“Pepper Money stepped in as a major partner who have played their own game in the finance industry, they operated in a different way,” he says.

Pollenizer has run similar programs with with the likes of Horizon Power and is about to launch its fourth accelerator for CSIRO.

“Internal innovation needs to be fused with third party startups and scale-ups,” he says.

“There’s this bigger picture view of how you create growth, it doesn’t have to be from operations – it can be from venture thinking.”

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Dinushi Dias is a journalist at StartupSmart and multimedia content producer. When she’s out of the office, she works on social projects with her We Love It Productions family and buddying filmmakers.