If you are an Australian entrepreneur who has launched a startup venture that exists to help improve the lives of people living in poverty, we are here to help.
What is this opportunity?
Spark* Australia is an awesome opportunity for entrepreneurs who have launched ventures that exist to improve the lives of people in Australia and overseas who are doing it tough. Your venture can be changing lives in education, housing, job creation or health. If you are successful in gaining a spot in the program you will get an amazing package of support to help you grow the game changing work that you are doing.
Who are we?
Spark* is the impact arm of YGAP. Our mission is to inspire and support impact entrepreneurs to end poverty.
We have supported entrepreneurs for the last five years across South Africa, Kenya, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea and Australia and accelerated 212 ventures that have changed the lives of more than 139,159 people living in poverty. Our team have launched a number of multi-million dollar social enterprises and in 2016 we are once again helping out a new generation of impact entrepreneurs in Australia. We are experts in turning interesting startups into scalable social enterprises that change many lives and have been selected as one of the world’s leading impact accelerators through the Vilcap Communities program. And we want to use all of this expertise to help you build up an awesome venture.
Who are we looking for?
We are looking for entrepreneurs who:
- Have launched an impact venture (which will most likely be a social enterprise or for profit). By launched, we mean that you have at least your first customer.
- Are ready to work full-time on the venture. By full-time we mean you will be throwing at least 30 hours a week at making this thing work.
- Want to build a startup idea into a scalable venture that changes many lives.
- Are focused on improving the lives of people living in poverty in Australia or overseas (bringing changes in health, housing, education or job creation). This can be through a process enterprise (your venture creates change as it does its work) or a profit enterprise (you sell something and direct that funding to social change).
- Believe in the power of entrepreneurship to change lives (meaning your model has a revenue stream).
- Are not ‘accelerator jumpers’, meaning you haven’t done three accelerators before this one. We want doers, not people who spend years just learning about entrepreneurship!
- We will accept applications from entrepreneurs across Australia.
How does it work?
The goal of the Spark* Accelerator program is to turn a nice startup into a kick-ass venture that changes many lives. Here is how we do it:
PHASE ONE: THREE MONTH ACCELERATOR (10 ventures)
Kicking off with an intensive weekend workshop on the 22nd-23rd September, this three month period is designed to give you and 9 other selected ventures the opportunity to panel-beat your business strategy with our experienced team and learn a whole range of new skills. You will have access to small grants through the period to help you test new ideas, power training sessions with experts and monthly evening catch ups with the group.
The Accelerator is about helping you prove your concept and begin to scale. Through it all you will learn huge amounts, your venture will become much stronger, and by the end of this period, you’ll participate in a second intensive weekend workshop on the 7-8 December culminating in a peer review where all of the entrepreneurs in the program will decide on the two ventures that will be moving through to the incubation stage.
PHASE TWO: 12 MONTH INCUBATION (2 ventures)
The two peer-selected ventures that move through to the incubation program will have access to:
12 months of office space for you and your co-founder in our awesome space at 111 Swan Street (next door to Feast of Merit in Richmond, Melbourne.) This means you will be surrounded by the YGAP and Spark* teams as well as the many other awesome people who work in and visit the space.
- Office hours with the YGAP and Spark* leadership teams meaning you can book in expert sessions on fundraising, communications, public relations, business strategy and all of the other stuff that pops up for you as an entrepreneur.
- Access to YGAP networks, pro-bono partners and connections to potential investors.
- Debt or equity investment for your venture of between $25,000-$50,000.
How is this different from other opportunities currently available?
There are already some awesome players in the space who are helping out entrepreneurs. What is unique about this program is:
- We do this work across the globe so we draw on many examples of best practice. During the intensives you might find yourself on a phone call with an entrepreneur working in a Johannesburg township, a Silicon Valley startup or an outback Australian school.
- Our team are not career facilitators, we are entrepreneurs, who have launched and grown ventures that have changed many lives and become strong revenue driven companies. Your mentors and advisors will be some of the biggest players in the Australian impact entrepreneurship space. Our guarantee is that the only people who you will hear from or be mentored by are proven entrepreneurs or people who are proven experts in their specific field.
- We have cash for you to draw upon as you grow your venture. We will teach you how to raise the dollars you need but will give you small injections of seed capital to test ideas through your proof of concept stage.
- If you move through to incubation, we give you office space with us for twelve months giving you an entire year to get your ideas together, get your cashflow in order and kick your venture into the growth stage.
- Our training is probably 20% touchy feely/helping you out personally sort of stuff and 80% let’s help you build a kick ass venture sort of stuff.
- This program is not necessarily about getting you investor ready. Instead of teaching you how to raise investor funding, we spend a lot of time helping you figure out how to make money. Much better we think.
How do I apply?
Applications are now closed for our 2016 program and will re-open in early 2017.
How much does it cost?
You don’t have to pay us anything.
But as an entrepreneur to make your venture work, it will take a huge amount of hard work, determination and grit from your side. So, your life for the next two years at least. That’s what it will cost to do this right!
What did our 2015 class think of the program?
"The Spark* program will challenge what you think you know in order to inspire you to ask questions you didn't think you had to, to come up with a way to change the world that you didn't think was possible and give you the tools to make this change a reality."
"My model has been significantly strengthened, my vision has been refined, and my confidence in myself as an entrepreneur has grown."
"The best thing about the Accelerator was being challenged in a way that I hadn't been before, both personally and in regards to my venture, and having the opportunity to take time out from day-to-day life to really confront and address some of the big questions and issues with my model that I'd been brushing aside until now. Also getting to hang out with some other great entrepreneurs!"