Recently, three Meetup groups combined their efforts to attract 350 eager participants for the Lean Crossroad event. Learning lessons from the likes of Eric Ries (via video feed), Flowtown founder Dan Martell, superangel Boris Wertz, and David Ulevitch has an impressive impact.
The next night, Bootup Entrepreneurial Society packed Steamworks for their last hurrah. Over 200 people helped celebrate the past three years, and acknowledge the exceptional contribution that Maura Rogers (her thoughts shared here) and BES team made to the local Startup community. Avoiding hyperbole, it’s very fair suggesting that interest in entrepreneurship is riding high, and Vancouver’s technology Startup community is enjoying some rather heady times.
While interest is high and there’s no shortage of media buzz, networking events to attend, “how-to” blogs to follow, or accelerators all over North America to apply for, choosing to become a first-time startup entrepreneur isn’t a decision for the faint of heart.
Getting past the headlines, there’s nothing really sexy about it. Being confronted with the long odds of Startup success, where do the eager, motivated, and somewhat delusional first timers to turn for support?
It was no joke on April 1st when Ray Walia, Jesse Heaslip, Roger Patterson, and GrowLab Executive Director Mike Edwards decided to open the doors to Launch Academy, and create a very unique place for the local community—“A Collaborative Community Space for Vancouver Tech Founders and Hackers.”
The team characterizes Launch Academy as a hybrid model between an incubator, accelerator, and alternative education centre. Generating interest hasn’t been difficult so far: they currently have 30 full-time teams with 45 members, and 15 associate members. At this point the average team starts off with two members.
Like most educational opportunities, there is an application process. Ray Walia, recently shared the membership details: “Associate memberships are open to the majority, even non-tech entrepreneurs, looking to connect and learn but not actually work out of Launch Academy. Full-time memberships are vetted for fully committed startups capable of making something happen in the next three months. This is an application process but we do not judge the quality (outside of the completely outrageous) or potential success of a team's idea or product; rather we are looking for indications that the team or entrepreneur has the resources or plan to make something happen in the next three months, i.e. ignite an idea or vision and begin to accelerate forward." A rocket-fueled classroom indeed!
Of course membership does have its privileges. Get accepted and you can expect the following:
1. Mentoring sessions with established entrepreneurs and industry leaders, who will provide you with guidance and direction.
2. Education through peer learning sessions, where fellow entrepreneurs will share their expertise with the group.
3. Networking through speaker events: formal events that provide learning and networking opportunities.
4. Tracking through Startup Metrics Program, where you will get to identify and build your metrics from the beginning so that you could follow your progress early on.
5. Practice in our Demo Days, where you and other participating companies will get to practice your pitch to investors in front of critical and experienced audience
There’s no such thing as guaranteed success in Startupville, but exploring the learning opportunities Launch Academy is offering, your odds are looking a little better.