From Kickoff to Demo Day — An inside look at what went on during The Start Pre-Accelerator Programme

Let’s start from the beginning.

Three months before demo day, we kickstarted our inaugural pre-accelerator programme called The Start, in an effort to fill a gap in the market. After rounds of interviews, 10 high-potential early-stage companies were admitted into our programme. Till date, we are proud of the decisions we had made with all 10 teams; these teams have worked passionately to achieve the best results possible for their companies within a short span of three months.

As this was the first pre-accelerator cohort, many were curious about the programme experience. So, let’s answer the burning question: “How was the experience being in The Start Pre-Accelerator Programme like?”

These are the words that our startup founders would use to describe The Start:

Fast-paced.
As mentioned by one of our cohort one founders, Yushu Huang (Co-founder of The Kint Story - an online thrift store selling second-hand clothing), “Because of how fast-paced The Start is, it really pushes us to work harder and push out new collections as soon as possible in order to produce results.”

The Start runs for 12 weeks and is a high-growth results-driven programme for early-stage founders. The way our programme is planned out is such that early-stage startups are given the necessary resources to turn their initial prototypes to MVP (Minimum Viable Product), while perfecting their pitches for Demo Day by the end of 12 weeks. This compels the startups to constantly be on the grind, to work hard to ensure they hit the KPIs they set for themselves each week, and to keep up with their fellow cohort startups.

Impactful.
As a pre-accelerator programme that is designed and run by founders for founders, we strongly believe in the impact that occurs when founders support one another. That is why we strive to provide the best resources and support for our startups by inviting top-notch mentors from the startup community to share their experiences and valuable insights that will be highly beneficial for the cohort.

Week-on-week, our startups are greeted by different mentors and founders who conduct specialised masterclasses and workshops catered to the growth needs of our cohort. This presents the startups with an opportunity to work on the struggles they face alongside our network of experienced fellow entrepreneurs and investors who are able to provide them with the help they require.

Full of surprises.
Each week is packed with masterclasses conducted by our programme mentors who carry with them strong entrepreneurial experiences and backgrounds. One of the highlights for the startups was when Siu Rui, Co-founder and CEO of Carousell, came by for a fireside chat with the startups. The session was made even more memorable when Aik-Phong, Managing Director at Fave, popped in that evening to share some of his entrepreneurial experiences and challenges with the cohort.

Our cohort of startup founders alongside two powerhouses of the startup scene!

Motivational.
Being with a cohort of young, enthusiastic and driven founders definitely serves as motivation to every individual who is a part of the programme — including our team at StartupX! Over the past 12 weeks, we have watched these founders grow from individuals with little confidence to entrepreneurs who were able to pitch in front of an audience of over 300 people during demo day. These founders inspire each other to bring their companies to greater heights; the support system they have created within the cohort is commendable.

“We wanted to be in a cohort of entrepreneurs to work hard together and help each other along the way - which has been pretty successful as we frequently share leads with one another,” said Janson (CEO and Co-founder of StaffAny) when asked about why he decided to sign up for The Start.

Bittersweet.
As the weeks went by, the founders got increasingly used to the usual practice of our programme — weekly masterclasses, weekly check-ins and occasional sharings by our network of remarkable entrepreneurs. The founders bonded well with each other and forged solid friendships among themselves whilst being great support systems for one another.

Towards the last few weeks of the programme was when the fear of nostalgia started to kick in for everyone; while the founders were excited to finally graduate from our inaugural programme on demo day, a part of them was unprepared to let go of the usual programme routine they had gotten used to over the past weeks.

After the pitches; The Start Demo Day, held at the Developer Space @ Google Singapore.

The Start Demo Day gathered an audience of over 300 attendees including 100 investors and partners from the ecosystem. On this day, the 10 early-stage startups from our inaugural programme graduated with 10 solid pitches.

This is just #TheStart for all of these companies and we can’t wait to witness more of the amazing work that these founders will continue creating!