🤯 Startmate Accelerator: Frequent questions and misconceptions

May 25, 2023
Frequent questions and misconceptions

Believe it or not, we have been running the Startmate Accelerator for over 10 years now. It started out as a founder-funded experiment amongst a group of friends and has grown to become the leading Accelerator program across Australia and New Zealand.

But a lot has changed in 10 years. As Startmate has evolved so too has the scope, structure and investment model of our Accelerator. As a result, there is sometimes confusion around what the program looks like, who is running it, how the funding works or what happens when the program ends. 

We’re aware that some founders hesitate to apply to the Accelerator because they don’t have all the answers. Or worse, the answers they have are out-of-date or just plain wrong. 

In the spirit of honesty and transparency (two values we hold very highly at Startmate), we want to debunk the myths, clear up the grey areas and communicate unequivocally to our community what the Accelerator IS and ISN’T. 

We are covering it all. From the basics, to the nitty gritty. We want the Accelerator to be clear as day and if it still isn’t by the end of this article, we would love you to send your “questions and misconceptions” here: hello@startmate.com.au.

The basics 

⏰ How long does the Accelerator go for?

We run two cohorts per year that go for approximately 13 weeks each. 

💰 How much does the Accelerator cost?

No cost. Zilch, nada, niente. We invest in you. 

💻 Is the program in person or virtual?

Most of the program is virtual, with the exception of Week 0 which is in-person and held in either Melbourne or Sydney, and Demo Day, also in-person in Melbourne or Sydney. 

This means you can participate from anywhere in the world. However, it’s worth noting that we have designed the program to be especially time-zone friendly to Australia and New Zealand. 

🏃🏻 When do the programs run?

🌞 Summer Cohort: 

  • Applications open in October the previous year (for the Summer24 cohort, applications open in Oct 2023)
  • Cohort runs from January-April

❄️ Winter Cohort:

  • Applications open in May
  • Cohort runs from July-October

⚡ What is the time commitment?

On average, the time commitment for sessions is 1-3 hours per week. Each week you will have a one hour mandatory “All Hands” session with your cohort. The rest of the sessions are completely optional. You can pick and choose which sessions will be most valuable to you. 

Important: In Week 0, there are 3 days in-person and in Week 12, 2-3 days to prepare for Demo Day. 

🏋🏼 Do I need to be full-time on my startup?

Yes, one of the cofounders does. We will only commit if you're committed. That's why we invest $120k: so you can focus 100% on solving the problem and moving the metrics that matter, week on week. 


🍐 How do founders get paired with mentors?

Before Week 0, we recommend a “partner mentor” based on your company and the mentor’s relevant industry experience, or skill set. Founders have the ultimate say in who they are paired with. 

Alongside the partner mentor each company also gets a “mentor squad” of 3-4 mentors. Again, founders have a huge input in this decision.  

You will also have access to the rest of the 50+ mentors in the cohort (and 200 alumni) who are eager to help out. We strongly encourage you to connect with EVERYONE - some of your most valuable mentors will be those who you didn’t choose for your squad and that’s to be expected. 

🕺 What is a partner mentor?

Think of them like an accountability buddy or a pseudo-board chair. This is the person that is going to be pushing you the hardest week on week throughout the program to keep you accountable and help you smash out your goals for the program.

👯 What is a mentor squad?

The mentor squad is kind of like your very-own board of advisors for the program, they are going to be the next layer of support you can rely on throughout the 12 weeks.

🥊 How do the mentor squads work?

In Week 0, every company meets every mentor in a speed roulette. After the session we get the founders and mentors to share a list of the people that they would most like to work with and we use that as our guide to match up each company into their mentor squads.

🤷🏽 Why do mentors care about me?

Four Words: Skin in the game! 

Aside from being genuinely wonderful people who want to give back to the startup ecosystem, every mentor personally invests between $10k - $500k into the cohort as a way to participate in the program and share in the upside over the years to come. This means there is a huge incentive for them to see you succeed. If you win, they win. Likewise, if things don’t go well, they won’t see a return on their investment. 

At the end of the program, we also ask every company who their top 10 most valuable mentors were throughout the program. We then bring together the results and those mentors who make it into the top 5 overall, get rewarded with 10% of carry in the fund split evenly between them. (More incentive to make sure you succeed!)

Important: To maintain mentor quality, those who don't get ranked in at least one company's top 10, will not be invited back to participate in future cohorts.

🥇 How is Startmate different from other Accelerators?

We’ll give you five reasons why Startmate is different from other Accelerators:

  1. 🏆 World-class mentors in your corner. Our mentors invest their own money in the fund that directly invests in you. This means they're directly incentivised to help you succeed. We consider your unique needs and pull together a mentor squad deeply connected with the problem you’re solving. You’ll move faster than you ever knew you could with the intense backing of some of the most experienced startup founders, operators and investors in ANZ.
  2. 💸 We invest in your potential. You can be pre-product, pre-customers, pre-revenue - we’re here for it. We’re industry agnostic, we don’t care about your CV, and we have one of the most gender-diverse portfolios in ANZ (40% women co-founded companies across the last 6 cohorts). Our investment terms are clear and simple: $120k, no hooks or surprises. 
  3. 💪You’ll stand on the shoulders of the best startup community in ANZ. It takes a village to raise a startup - luckily, we’ve got one. We’ve curated a community of 3,500+ of ANZ’s best founders, operators and investors. You’ll plug in to the very centre of this universe. Your unfair advantage is that you’ll get first pick of the best fresh talent through our fellowships and a warm intro to any VC, angel investor, or mentor you need.
  4. 👬Founders need other founders. Being a founder can be incredibly lonely, but you don’t need to do it alone. The single most powerful thing that will happen to you at Startmate is that you’ll meet one or two peers who go on to become some of the most important people in your life. You'll belong to a cohort of some of the most ambitious founders of this generation who are facing similar company building challenges. These founders will push you, inspire you, and support you as a founder and a person. 
  5. 💫 Our boundless belief changes what you (and others) think you're capable of. We hear it time and time again: having those people in your corner who see something in you that no one else does, who give you that yes, powerfully raises your ambition. We'll push you, we'll hold you accountable, we’ll be brutally honest when you need it - but we'll also be your biggest fans forever. Our track record means that having the Startmate brand and belief behind you will be a huge stamp of approval to every potential investor or employee you meet.

Nitty gritty

What are the investment terms? 

For founders without a prior valuation, we invest $120k AUD on a $1.5m AUD post-money SAFE. 

For founders who have raised prior to applying to the Accelerator (from a reputable lead who has invested at least $200k AUD), we invest $120k AUD, matching the last valuation.

More in-depth information on this topic: here.

💎 How much does Startmate invest in successful applicants?

If you are selected for the Accelerator, we will invest $120k AUD. This comes directly from the mentors in our community. 

We have also just raised a Continuity Fund. As you continue to succeed, the Continuity Fund will ALWAYS invest in your future equity rounds alongside a lead investor. So you know that when you go out fundraising again you don’t just have our support but our money behind you (up to $500k per company).

🔔 Where does equity come into all of this?

First and foremost, we never take more than 8% in equity. 

If we are your first believer, we often ask founders to consider whether Startmate will add 8% of value to their business. We believe we are trajectory changing for your company and 

If you have raised before, we match valuations so our equity take is lower than 8%.

🇨🇭 How does Startmate work with VCs?

We're the Switzerland of the startup ecosystem. Many Venture Capital funds, Angel Investors and Family Offices, invest money into our funds to see the companies progress over 12 weeks.

Some of our investors include Blackbird, AirTree, Square Peg, Rampersand, Folklore, Grok, Skip (and more). They are investors in the Startmate funds because they want to get across the great Startmate founders coming through.

OK. That was a lot. If you think there are more questions that need answering, hit us up and we can add them here moving forward! 

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Holly BrooksHolly Brooks
Holly Brooks is a freelance writer, content marketer and storyteller specialising in startups, tech and creative industries.

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