After three months of mentorship, intensive workshops and countless late nights, our 10 Cohort 4 startups are finally ready to pitch for a share in a combined $10 000 prize pool.

From mission control of cryptocurrency and musical instruments using the body itself, to our first startup co-founded by identical twins, our next Demo Day will cover it all!

Ahead of the big event this week, we checked in with our startups to find out more about their journeys so far.

What challenges did you face?

Hear Us Roar: Finding time outside of the 9-5 hours to ensure that the business is running smoothly.

FOOD4FACE: Every part of our finished product, including packaging, is designed to have minimal environmental impact and maximum social good. Not compromising on those values has made it more difficult for sure, but our product definitely differentiates itself based on our stubbornness to be a force for good!

Our biggest challenge though has been the transition to working on the business full time. As a mother of two young kids, and wife of another startup owner, getting out the door each day, finding focus, and maintaining momentum has been especially tough because I’m a solopreneur. What has made it easier is the comradery and support from fellow startup teams within the accelerator – we’ve built really strong mateships that I am certain will continue along the journey, and  I’m really grateful for that!

theSmart: We’re aiming to give our customers as many benefits as we can, so our messaging was getting confusing. We learned to focus on just a couple of the most important benefits, which really improved the way we communicated to customers.

Mashay: Deciding on the most attractive market segment and validating our product/market fit.

AirSticks: Getting hardware prototyped quickly, and defining our target market.

Skodel: Prioritising tasks to get the business ready for launch, plus finding the right messaging to resonate with the average person.

Fortifex: Managing our first engineer and working out their strengths in order to best utilise them.

RapidConsent: Balancing our time with full time work and personal priorities.

GenuSmile: Juggling our paying jobs with the program and perfecting our pitch.

What was the biggest surprise learning you had from Hatchery Accelerate?

Hear Us Roar: There are many small pieces of information that you think mean nothing at the time, but go on to shape how you make decisions down the track.

FOOD4FACE: It doesn’t matter if you’re a tech, service, or product business, serial or newbie entrepreneur, the startup rollercoaster is the same for all of us. It’s a never ending tumultous journey of highs and lows. The commonality is in resilience, persistence and, above all else, hard work and optimism!

theSmart: The importance of deliberate engagement with customers – using every opportunity to test the riskiest hypothesis in the business and therefore help to de-risk the venture.

Mashay: Being surrounded by mentors who have been through a similar journey, get the pain and can provide meaningful advice and contacts.

AirSticks: How much can be done by just going into a physical space to work each day, and by having constant deadlines. But also how often we would pivot!

Skodel: Phil from Main Sequence Ventures taught us to think bigger – a great learning.

RapidConsent: Networking takes you far! And that you are not the only people struggling in the startup world.

Fortifex: Putting things out to the group has helped significantly more than I thought. Also your messaging is almost as important as your product, initially.

GenuSmile: Even if you are starting with just an idea, in just three months you can produce something out of nothing.

What were some of your major wins?

Hear Us Roar: Being nominated for StartCon E-Commerce Startup of the Year, appearing on Sunrise and in the Daily Telegraph and shifting margins from 20 to 30%.

FOOD4FACE: Hatchery Accelerate has given me a huge amount of confidence. I also see the network I now have as a major win because without it I would find it a lot harder to make progress.

theSmart: We released our beta product and have a pilot project being run by one of the biggest engineering consulting companies in Australia. Also, people we have spoken with over the last few months have started spreading the word about us, which has led to discussions with Transport for NSW and three large national construction firms.

Mashay: We’ve released our mobile platform, achieved $12k in bookings in our first month, and worked with clients including Deloitte, Microsoft, City of Sydney and Salesforce.

AirSticks: Our prototype hardware is finally done and our target market is more defined.

Skodel: Our website wireframes are completed and we have been put in contact with a few great leads.

RapidConsent: Networking with major stakeholders in the public health sector who have been able to provide us validation of our product.

Fortifex: Pitching in Dubai and really defining our MVP, which would have been a lot more difficult without the support and help of Hatchery Accelerate, plus getting our branding/marketing collateral completed.

GenuSmile: Building our own website and getting organic leads from the site. Finding our ‘voice’ and honing our brand.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done as an entrepreneur?

Hear Us Roar: I went on a date and accidentally turned it into a business meeting. Turns out he worked for a big consulting company and had some great advice!

FOOD4FACE: People always find it strange that a marine biologist is the founder of a skincare brand! Until I tell them it’s about pollution reduction, education, and inspiring behavioural change – that is always an ‘aha’ moment for them.

theSmart: We have had a lot of ‘unplanned’ chance meetings with ex-colleagues in the industry, that weren’t all that unplanned. They came as a result of us hanging out in the foyers of engineering offices waiting to see if anyone we knew happened to walk by. It gave us a much more casual opportunity to chat about what we were doing.

Mashay: Start a business with five accountants…not recommended!

AirSticks: Hatchery Accelerate!

Skodel: Calling competitors pretending to be a customer. We’re not the best actors, so we feel we are extremely unconvincing.

GenuSmile: Gone to work in my PJs.

Hatchery Accelerate Cohort 4 Demo Day is happening this Thursday, November 30, at the NSW Teachers Federation in Surry Hills  — get your ticket here.