MAP’s 2019 cohort just before they hit the stage. Learn more about these startups.

MAP startups bring their magic to Melbourne Knowledge Week.

More than 800 guests gathered for the 2019 MAP Launch, where this year’s Accelerator cohort presented their successful pitches in front of the who’s who of Melbourne’s startup ecosystem.

Heath Evans
6 min readMay 31, 2019


The MAP Launch has become one of the largest startup networking events in Australia, and this year joined forces with Melbourne Knowledge Week to bring the magic of this night to the Meat Market in North Melbourne — a decision that proved hugely popular amongst the ever passionate MAP faithful.

The event attracts investors, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders, all eager to discover the latest emerging entrepreneurial talent, and in recent years has seen some of Australia’s most recognised startups take the stage including Nura, Phoria, Acusensus, Carbar, CNSDose, Brosa and many more.

Among this year’s cohort is Beyond Ag’s co-founder Phoebe Gardner, who has discovered a way to create a circular food system that turns black solder flies into animal feed. Beyond Ag are among a growing number of social impact startups who have been successful in joining the Accelerator, and their novel solution piqued plenty of interest as did many of the presentations on the night

“It’s been so surprising how many people have reached out and spoken to us tonight,” said Gardner.

“These are people from so many different areas and backgrounds offering so many different opportunities, many that we haven’t even thought of before. It’s just been so incredible and the program is only just getting started.”

Making these connections right at the beginning of the founder’s journey has been a very intentional strategic decision according to Professor Colin McLeod — Executive Director of the Melbourne Entrepreneurial Centre who explains that the timing of this event has been very carefully considered.

“Most Accelerators only hold an event of this scale at the end of their programs to demonstrate the progress achieved by the teams, but we feel it’s critically important to build this community of support right up front for these founders,” said Prof McLeod.

“Tonight we’ve already been approached by so many people saying they’d like to mentor, or connect these teams with trials, as well as so many other opportunities and it’s another reminder of how incredibly lucky we are to be surrounded by so many people who genuinely want to see these teams succeed.”

Chair of Launch Vic Laura Anderson remains one of the greatest supporters of entrepreneurship in Australia, and is a wonderful friend of the MAP.

It’s a message that is echoed by Accelerator Manager — Laxmi Pun who also works closely with the mentors and alumni of the program and spoke of the critical role they will play in the lives of these founders in the months to come.

“When you speak with any of our alumni who’ve been through this process they will tell you that the connections these teams will make tonight will become relationships they will maintain for years to come — whether it’s as part of these startup or other entrepreneurial ventures they may pursue,” said Pun.

“We’re very proud to have such a tight knit community that surround these teams, and I think much of what drives these people is they’ve been in the shoes of the founders before and know how critical it is to get that strong support early on, and with so many mentors and alumni here tonight it just shows how much they care about paying that support forward.”

2018 MAP Alumni — Looplearn co-founder Zoe Milne was brilliant as the MC for the evening

The Launch is the first step in what is going to be an intensive five months, where teams will receive mentoring from some of Australia’s most brilliant business minds, as well as access to a global network of advisors, channel partners and investors, and $20,000 in funding (with no equity taken) to help them accelerate their startup growth.

It’s a format that is now entering its 8th year and appears to be a winning formula, with the program having now supported over 100 startups, who have raised over $88m in funding, over $127m in revenue and created over a 1400 jobs.

Enabler’s Huy Nguyen looked nervous before he took the stage, but nailed his pitch and came off beaming.

Pun, however, was quick to point out that being accepted into the program was only the first step in the process for these founders and the hard work is yet to come.

“The tough stuff starts now, and we can’t wait to get these teams connecting with our support network as we really think these teams are set to achieve incredible things.”


Explore this unique insight through the eyes of the founders, and why it’s even more special to be on this journey as part of a cohort.

A red carpet leading to the backstage where the founders prepared for the big moment
Lights, cameras, audio…all the ingredients for a backstage studio to capture the action
Preparing for the biggest stage surrounded can be daunting, but your cohort have your back.
Hello Cass founder Emma Koster deep in thoughts preparing for the big moment
Smiles of approval as the teams practise some last minute pitching to each other.
Pacing before pitching. Brunswick Aces co-founder Stephen is as slick as they come on stage.
Emma Koster peeks out from behind the curtain as the crowd builds.
Final notes review.
The final moments.
Owns the stage.
Smiles all round.
Gecko Traxx Ryan Tilley watches on with fellow founders.
MAP Events Manager Tim Bright helps Ryan with the Madonna mic fitting
“You’ve good to go mate!”
The moment arrives and Ryan delivers big time!
Scratch co-founder Mike Halligan takes in the final moments before he takes the stage.
The subscription-based petfood founders starts off with a bit of humour.
Then moves into the real-stuff, what the Scratch brand is built on and dog-lovers couldn’t get enough of it.
As the pitches continue, Emma prepares one last time.
Then delivers one of the most powerful presentations of the night.
And now for Beyond Ag’s Phoebe Gardner. Co-founder Alex cheers her on as she makes her way on stage.
And she delivers!
They did it and we couldn’t be more proud. Meet the 2019 MAP cohort.



Heath Evans

Marketing & Communications Manager at Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) | Director at Future Talent | Seth Godin's altMBA Coach.