Last week saw the official launch of the FounderLab and the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Fund, a product of a partnership between student organisation Arc and UNSW Innovations.
The night saw an assortment of student entrepreneurs, alumni, seasoned entrepreneurs and a variety of industry professionals come together to celebrate the launch of a world first on-campus service providing a professional product development service for non-technical entrepreneurial founders, and as well as a unique funding format for student startups to tackle the hurdle of reaching an MVP in order to attract investors.
After already supporting four startups, with another one waiting in the wings, and $10,000 offered to help student startups reach an MVP, the official launch of both initiatives saw speakers from both Arc & UNSW Innovations advocate for expanded support for student startups.
The FounderLab went live in late 2015, when seasoned developer and UNSW alumni Gwilym Humphreys came on board as Lead Developer for the initiative. Recently returned from a stint in Canada, Humphreys has been the engineering power behind startups such as GradConnection and Vancouver-based TheresMyBus.com, and was instrumental in the development of photo-sharing application Vidigami – and that’s not to mention his experience dabbling with game development.
The FounderLab allows non-technical founders to go further and faster by working with the FounderLab team to create a Minimum Viable Product – a vital piece of the puzzle for many startups needing to validate their product with real potential customers. Likewise, the MVP Fund provides no strings attached funding to startups to get them over the line in creating an MVP.
Joshua Flannery, manager of student entrepreneur development at UNSW Innovations, said, “This is a world first program. The concept that a developer would help you reach an MVP for free is unprecedented.”
The pilot program included startups Chatterbox, Crowd & Co., Firefront and 1Scope, with several of the founders presenting their story and experiences in the program on the night.
Shelley Valentine, director of student services at Arc @ UNSW Limited, said, “We were thrilled that so many students, staff and members of the startup community could be present for the launch of these two initiatives that we are very excited about.
“What the teams have managed to achieve during our pilot program is a testament to their determination and the amazing ideas that they’ve brought to the table. In terms of the quality of startups, we were very impressed, and we’re sure we will continue to see exceptional applicants.”
While the FounderLab and the MVP Fund are the latest in a suite of offerings for entrepreneurs, these offerings are just the pointy end of ‘Startup Support’ on campus, with an indication from the Arc & UNSW Innovations team that more services will be made available as the alliance between the two organisations continues to grow.