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Start-up accelerator AngelCube launches new fund – but it’s not for soloists

Thursday, 4 April 2013 | By Michelle Hammond

Melbourne-based start-up accelerator AngelCube has made several small changes to its program, including distancing itself from start-ups with sole founders, after opening applications for 2013.


AngelCube, named Best Start-up Investor at the 2013 StartupSmart Awards, offers seed capital, mentorship, connections and opportunities to web start-ups.


Applications for the 2013 program will close next week on April 12. Once applications have closed, 20 finalists will be chosen to pitch to a selection panel of high-profile tech players.


From those 20, AngelCube will select eight start-ups to participate. The program is completed over a three-month period, after which the start-ups head to the United States to pitch to a roomful of investors.


There are a number of noteworthy start-ups in the AngelCube fold, including Kickfolio, which raised $100,000 from US investors before being accepted into US-based accelerator 500 Startups. Kickfolio is now closing a Series A funding round.


Other AngelCube success stories include LIFX, Broccol-e-games and shopping recommendation engine Giveable, which has raised $150,000.


According to AngelCube co-founder Adrian Stone, about half of AngelCube’s graduate companies go on to raise follow-on funding from Australian and overseas investors within six months of completing the program.


Successful applicants for this year’s program will receive $20,000 in seed funding, six months of free desk space and access to a group of more than 50 mentors.


Mentors include RetailMeNot founders Guy King and Bevan Clark, Pollenizer co-founder Mick Luibinskas and Nic Hodges of MediaComm.


Stone told StartupSmart AngelCube will be doing a few things differently this year.


“I think we’ve learnt some lessons from the last round,” Stone says.


“We had too many sole founders and quickly realised being a sole founder is too much of a big task… [in a three-month program],” he says.


“[We realised] our program is not going to happen for a sole founder. We’re looking much more at teams.


“I think what we’ve learnt is one founder is too few and four is too many. The jury’s out on whether two or three is right.”


Stone also admits the net needs to be cast a little wider this year.


“A lot of the ideas were probably too small [last year]. They focused on a niche market in Australia only. If you have a niche market and your market is Australia, that’s not what we’d call a scalable start-up,” he says.


“So we’re looking for big ideas.”


Stone is quick to point out the program won’t be easy.


“Anyone would love somebody to hold their hand. We’ve realised that is probably counterproductive,” he says.


“It’s not our job to build these companies. It’s their job to prove they’re entrepreneurs, and we produce a great environment to help them bloom and succeed.


“There’ll be fewer sessions in the weeks. [Last year,] we had too many people in and out, talking to our start-ups and distracting them from the game of building their business.


“The second thing is, our start-ups started pitching their ideas too early.


“This year, we want them to focus on ensuring they have product-market fit by talking to customers and then start pitching to investors.”