Pulling back the curtain on a founder’s path to the Melbourne Accelerator Program Launch

Just hours before taking the stage at the Melbourne Accelerator Program 2019 Launch, I was carefully balancing on the low single-brick fence at the front of my home, pitching to empty houses and rustling trees in my street. Coming into the start-up world from architecture, this quiet suburban setting is firmly within my comfort zone.

Phoebe
Phoebe
May 30 · 4 min read
Melbourne Knowledge Week’s festival hub backstage entry at North Melbourne’s Meat Market

We walked a secret red carpet beneath the raked stands to the green room.

Arriving early to the 2019 MAP Launch we were whisked down the bowels of North Melbourne’s Meat Market, now transformed into the festival hub for Melbourne Knowledge Week. We walked a secret red carpet beneath the raked stands to the green room.

MAP team and the new cohort of MAP start-up founders backstage at the 2019 MAP Launch

The green room was awash with excitement and nervous energy. We practiced our quick microphone changeovers and offered each other final words of encouragement.

Phoebe Gardner, co-founder of Beyond Ag, looking out at the large crowd at the 2019 MAP Launch

It certainly helps that the MAP community has already extended its arms to us with advice and support.

The MAP application process was gruelling. Standing together in the green room, we represent the 10 start-ups that made it through. With anticipation, we look to each other as we prepare to take this next big step together. It certainly helps that the MAP community has already extended its arms to us with advice and support.

The spellbound crowd at the 2019 MAP Launch held at Melbourne Knowledge Week’s festival hub

I’ve always believed that opportunity comes with great responsibility. And I was daunted by the responsibility to set the tone.

I was up first. I’ve always believed that opportunity comes with great responsibility. And I was daunted by the responsibility to set the tone. I quietened my fear by playing the first line of my pitch on loop in my head, surely the rest would follow. Then came applause from the large crowd and the sound of my footsteps moving towards the stage. A deep breath to register this moment and I began my pitch. This time to 700 people.

Phoebe Gardner, co-founder of Beyond Ag, pitching at the 2019 MAP Launch

In my final call to action, I paused again and felt a wave of positivity from the crowd.

I could feel the warmth of the crowd grow as I shared Beyond Ag’s traction so far and our vision for the future. In my final call to action, I paused again and felt a wave of positivity from the crowd. It’s difficult to describe the rush of feelings after delivering a pitch to so many people. I lent into the hugs and supportive feedback from our new MAP cohort and MAP team.

Lisa Stephenson, co-founder of Codello, pitching at the 2019 MAP Launch

The pitches sped on and I was able to celebrate the incredible achievements of all the MAP 2019 founders. I felt immensely proud of what we’d all achieved on our path to getting here and elated for what was to come in the next 5 months.

Alex Arnold, co-founder of Beyond Ag, engaging with people at the 2019 MAP Launch reception

I was amazed to see a line of mentors, investors and industry experts forming to talk to us.

At the reception, we were greeted by a rush of familiar faces of friends and family who had come out to support us. But then I was amazed to see a line of mentors, investors and industry experts forming to talk to us. My co-founder, Alex, and I were overwhelmed by the generosity of the Melbourne start-up community.

Phoebe Gardner, co-founder of Beyond Ag, enjoying new connections at the 2019 MAP Launch reception

We were encouraged by the incredible support we received for the vision we are working so hard to realise. Now, it’s one week later and we’re walking into meetings we could not have anticipated would happen so soon, when we submitted our first MAP application.

The new cohort of start-up founders for MAP19 at the 2019 MAP Launch

With MAP and the Melbourne start-up community behind us, the future for the MAP 2019 cohort is limitless.

With MAP and the Melbourne start-up community behind us, the future for the MAP 2019 cohort is limitless. The night of the 2019 Map Launch ended for us with the familiar ritual of coffee on Lygon Street but we could feel that something had shifted and we could almost touch the future we’ve been working towards.

Phoebe

Written by

Phoebe

Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP)

The official medium publication of the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP), a homegrown startup accelerator based at the University of Melbourne

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