Record crowds pack the Plaza for the largest MAP Launch to date.

Heath Evans
Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP)
5 min readJun 13, 2018


More than 1000 guests packed the Plaza Ballroom to witness the MAP18 Accelerator cohort presenting their successful pitches in front of a ‘who’s who’ of Melbourne’s startup ecosystem.

The Accelerator Launch has become one of the largest startup networking events in Australia, attracting investors, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders, all eager to discover the latest emerging entrepreneurial talent — with some of Australia’s most recognised startups including Honee, Carbar, CNSDose and Brosa having all taken the stage in recent years.

Watch this video to checkout all the highlights from the night.

Among this year’s talented cohort are Jason Ball and James Lolicato, founders of the Pride Cup — a startup focused on harnessing the power of sport to send a message of inclusion and acceptance to LGBTIQ+ athletes, officials and supporters. They are the first not-for-profit to be part of the MAP Startup Accelerator, and are one of a number of startups with a social impact focus who will be part of this year’s cohort.

Pride Cup co-founder Jason Ball preparing to take the stage.

“The entire experience was absolutely incredible,” said Ball.

“The support we received on the night was overwhelming. We met so many people who are eager to help, and lots of them came to us with new ideas and questions and it really got us thinking about how we can do things differently.

“We’re already seeing how wonderful it is to be part of the program and it’s hasn’t even started yet.”

Founder of Nudie Glow Ruby Wang owning the stage.

Building this supportive community around the founders at the beginning of their journey has been a strategic decision by MAP, a placement that is distinctly different from other programs explains Accelerator Manager Maxine Lee.

“Most accelerators only have an event of this scale at the conclusion of their program, but we believe it’s important for these teams to make these connections right at the very beginning of their journey,” said Lee.

“Many of the connections they will make tonight will become relationships they will maintain for years to come. Whether it be related to the startups they are creating today, or as part of their own journey as emerging entrepreneurs, having people they can test their thinking with is vitally important.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Chief Entrepreneur in Residence Jeremy Kraybill who says the practice of presenting their ideas and gaining immediate feedback is a cycle they will become very accustomed to in the coming months as they work closely with a variety of world-class mentors as part of the Startup Accelerator.

“It’s exciting to witness this year’s group of startups begin the next stage of their journey together,” said Kraybill.

“The process of bringing together founders, mentors, and supporters from different industries and levels of experience makes everyone more likely to succeed. We can’t wait to see what this group will achieve and help them get there faster.”

Mingle founder Jordyn Evans’ has shared her story about overcoming the imposter syndrome to take the stage and deliver this presentation. Read it here.

It’s an opportunity that Mingle founder Jordyn Evans says is even more special given the highly diverse cohort that are part of MAP this year.

“The entrepreneurial journey can be particularly lonely, and I think one of the biggest attractions of an accelerator program is getting a chance to be around people who understand what you are going through,” said Evans.

“It’s such a diverse cohort this year, and we’ve all come from really different backgrounds and bring different strengths to the table, but already I’ve been blown away by the willingness to really help each other — and even at Launch walking off stage and getting a fist-pump from the teams just gave me such a boost, it’s been really special already.”

After applying unsuccessfully on three occasions, Jimmy Zhong can’t hide his smile as he presents as part of the MAP18 Accelerator cohort. He’s shared his reflections here in a wonderful story of perseverance. Click here.

Over the next five months these 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.

At the conclusion of the program in late-October, the teams will again take the stage in a much more intimate and private event where they will share their progress with prospective investors, partners and customers.

Sign up to our newsletter to continue following their journey, and checkout the photos below that captured the night through the eyes of the founders.

Atticus co-founder Saul Wakerman preparing his thoughts during rehearsals.
Tremolo’s Jake Johnson takes it all in, as Looplearn’s Zoe and Mingle’s Jordyn enjoy a laugh.
Looplearn’s Zoe Milne faces the lights.
Mingle’s Jordyn Evans finds a quite space near the kitchen to practice her lines.
Tremolo’s Jake Johnston testing the mic and mastering the slides.
Sleigh Group’s Ivy Novacco and OwlTail’s Mel Liu looking relaxed as the clock ticks down to Launch.
Pride Cup’s Jason Ball having a final check , practising his lines as the clock ticks.
The crowd waits patiently, over 1000 through the door eagerly awaiting the first presentation.
Nudie Glow’s Ruby Wang is in the zone.
Nudie Glow’s Ruby Wang ready to rock it
No surprise, she owns the stage!
And we’re rolling. Ivy delivers a sensational pitch, even adding in a few jokes. The crowd loves it!
Jake delivers the speech that he and co-founder Pav know so well.
Mel from OwlTail knows his audience. Nails it!
Smiles all round. Jason Ball with Atticus co-founders Misha Wakerman and Mitchell Brunton.
Acusensus co-founder Alexander Jannick knows more than most about cameras.
Ivy Novacco walking media street and sharing the excitement having just stepped off the stage.
The master of voices, so many people wanted to learn more about Ivy and Sleigh Group.
The Nudie Glow team always have time for a selfie.
After three attempts, he’s finally part of the MAP Startup Accelerator. Hats off to you Jimmy, you’re a star!
Ta-dah! That’s a wrap!



Heath Evans
Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP)

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