Connecting maths students with tutors. Creating empowering technologies for people with disabilities. Enabling young people to save quickly and efficiently for their next big goal.
These are just a flavour of the 25 startup businesses that have come through the UTS Hatchery+ accelerator program since the resounding success of the pilot in 2016.
From the 2016 cohorts, 13 out of 15 startups are still active and have together raised close to $1.8 million in funding, generated around $1.31 million in revenue and created 67 paid and internship positions.
The short but punchy track record of Hatchery+, powered by the UTS Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Creative Intelligence Unit (IECIU), also tells a story of diversity across the university, with co-founders not just coming from what many might assume is their natural home, the Business School.
Co-founders have emerged from all faculties, and 60 per cent of Hatchery+ startup founders to date have been female – around double the national average, according to Startup Muster 2017 (the largest survey of Australian startups).
With the requirement that each Hatchery+ startup has at least one co-founder that is a UTS current student, alumni or staff, 21 co-founders to date have been current students and 13 have been alumni. Three UTS alumni (two of which were Hatchery+ completers) have also gone onto become entrepreneurs-in-residence within the program.
Alongside the mentoring, masterclasses, networking, workshops and a co-working space, what else is in it for Hatchery+ startups?
In the case of WallSync, the project management program co-founded by UTS MBA in Entrepreneurship student Geoff Bullen, it’s a $5000 prize for impressing the judges at the program’s third and most recent Demo Day.
Or take Conexie (formerly Fixit), the property management platform that took home the big prize at the second Demo Day in 2016. The startup has just taken part in a new Hatchery International program, where they were partnered with students from Shanghai Commercial School to gain insights into the Chinese market.
Conexie has also since secured a mentoring and promotional partnership with a big bank and signed UTS as a client, helping streamline the property management communications process. Resources now include a tech team of 10, based in India.
Developed in response to increasing interest from and in foreign markets and to provide opportunities to test and prototype products within South East Asia, the Hatchery International program is one way the brand is growing to boost the viability of UTS-founded startups. A new Hatchery DIY option will also allow for more UTS students and alumni to access the program via a core online resource along with a drop-in centre, mentors and events.
“Hatchery+ was designed for UTS students and alumni who want to collaborate with like-minded divergent thinkers, solve real-world problems, make a difference and become the entrepreneurs of the future,” says UTS IECIU Acting Director Monique Potts.
“The results over a year speak for themselves, and we have received incredibly positive feedback from not just our participants but our industry partners. Hatchery+ has been described as ‘vital to Australia’ and ‘a model program that should be unhesitatingly supported’. We’re confident that in another year’s time, we’ll have produced even more successful startups who will go on to be Australia’s future business leaders.”
Hatchery+ mentor and co-founder of digital design agency For The People, Andy Wright, adds: “Ultimately, what you can see from Hatchery+ is the beginning of a change in the tide of the role of education. We know that practicality is becoming more and more a focus of universities smoothing the path into industry, but this is a step further. Go to (or back to) university and start a business – and ‘maybe’ do a course on the side. Obviously, that state is some way off, but watch this space.”
Several of the Hatchery+ students began their journey through the initial UTS Hatchery program, designed to foster entrepreneurial thinking and teach real-world problem solving.