Melbourne-based smart energy accelerator open to local and international startups


Startupbootcamp Energy Australia Program team (LTR): Richard Celm, Trevor Townsend, Julian Fogarty, Ruud Hendriks, Frank Losinno, Kate Cornick, Andrew Perry.

Global startup accelerator, Startupbootcamp has partnered with EnergyAustralia for a Melbourne-based accelerator program aimed at scaling smart energy ventures.  

The Startupbootcamp EnergyAustralia accelerator is backed by Spotless Group, Amazon Web Services, DiUS, KHQ Lawyers, Cisco and LaunchVic, and will run for three months from January 2018, with places available for ten startups. Applications are open from now until Friday, 27 October to startups, world-wide, with solutions that generate energy efficiencies and promote energy independence, including innovations driven by big data, blockchain and AI.

Startupbootcamp co-founder Ruud Hendriks and the program’s managing director, Trevor Townsend – a startup director, founder and investor from Melbourne – spoke to Dynamic Business about the forthcoming accelerator.

DB: How will the program benefit startups and the local energy sector?

Hendrick: In terms of Australia’s energy needs, the accelerator will help commercialise technologies that will provide a cleaner and more cost effective energy future. Meanwhile, startup founders will receive an unprecedented level of support to scale their business, through connection with corporate customers, investors and industry expert mentors.

Townsend: Startups need customers and investment – we help them to access both. But more importantly, they need to ensure that they have achieved product market fit before they attempt to scale. Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market. Our program is about helping startups achieve product market fit within 3 months – rather than the 12 to 18 months it normally takes.

DB: What criteria must startups meet to be accepted into the accelerator?

Townsend: For us, it is all about the team. We are looking for founders that are full of entrepreneurial spirit, who are driven and tenacious, and able to navigate the difficult startup journey. We are visiting 30 cities globally to find the best startups to bring to Melbourne and typically 70% of the startups that join our program are from offshore. We expect to see strong interest throughout Asia and India for our program in Melbourne.

DB: To what extent is Australia’s energy sector ripe for disruption?

Trevor Townsend:  The Australian energy sector has already entered a period of disruption and change through reduction in demand via more energy efficient devices, through the rapid spread of solar PV and renewables in the grid, and the recent emergence of economically viable battery storage technologies. This is changing the nature of the energy market and is having an effect on stability (e.g. Adelaide blackouts) and prices.  The energy sector will evolve from a hierarchical network to a distributed system where many non-traditional businesses will participate and small businesses will be able to manage their power usage and costs much more closely in a market that is highly competitive.

See also: Energy startups have to be ‘very smart’ in how they challenge the big retailers: Evergen’s CEO