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As most entrepreneurs know, partnerships are an important tool for strengthening offerings and bringing together like-minded communities under one mission.


Startup Next, although thorough, is not the only Pre-Accelerator around. The Startup Next Team realizes that by partnering with local programs, we can enhance the experience for entrepreneurs completing either program.

We discovered three programs that are targeted at the same audience, deliver essentially the same results, share the same organizer/director, and use some of the same mentors. It made sense to combine efforts versus running similar or identical programs in the same area.

It became clear that partnering in some cities just made more sense for Startup Next as a program, instead of deploying the program.

Startup Next

As of today, we are excited to announce three partnerships for Startup Next moving forward.

Groundwork Labs in Durham, NC

Lean Entrepreneur Program in Vancouver, BC

Start It Smart in Sofia, Bulgaria.

By forming these partnerships, we are able to boost the offerings of each organization and program in very tangible ways.  This move enables successful companies graduating Groundwork Labs, Lean Entrepreneur or Start It Smart to take advantage of the mentors, content, connections, and post-program opportunities we are building around Startup Next, such as access to our partnership with the Global Accelerator Network or other accelerators we can make trusted referrals to. In return, we are confident that these partners will continue running strong programs and provide us with a group of the most promising early stage teams from those cities to continue helping.

This is a new test for the Startup Next program, but also a very logical one. As with any partnership, we do fully believe each program and city shares the same core values, motivation and focus on quality. Additionally, each of the three programs we have formed a partnership with have proven results

For a bit of a background on why we chose these three cities and programs to partner with, see below:

Startup Next

Groundwork Labs is a three month program for selected entrepreneurs that shares many characteristics of a technology accelerator: highly selective, mentoring, connections, advice, and are an intense two to four month period of customer discovery and lean startup.

  • Groundwork does not take an equity stake or make an investment – it offers the program at no cost through the support of NC IDEA, a not for profit whose mission is helping startups in North Carolina.

  • Groundwork Labs’ first session as part of this partnership begins October 6, with an application deadline of September 5.

  • Companies can apply using either the short application form at www.groundworklabs.com

  • The program is run by John Austin, who’s a serial entrepreneur from NC.

  • Since launching in February 2012, more than 60 companies have been through the program.

  • Seven of those companies have won NC IDEA grants and seven have been accepted into accelerators (The Startup Factory, Healthbox Nashville, Techstars Chicago, Tech Wildcatters Dallas).

  • 15 of the companies have in total raised more than $2 million in equity funding and been awarded $1.4 million in grants.

Startup Next

The Lean Entrepreneur Program is a 4-week program designed to provide first-time entrepreneurs and career-changers with the essential skills and knowledge necessary to build lean startups. The Lean Entrepreneur Program is designed to “foster the ability to think differently in one’s startup journey towards developing innovative products and disrupting marketplaces

  • The program is run by Alex Chuang, Managing Director at Launch Academy (previously co-founder/CEO of Weeve (acquired by LX Ventures), co-founder/managing partner at Emberyl Creative (creator of Safe, Membr and Clamshells) and the Vancouver Ambassador for Sandbox.

  • Over the last 2 years, Launch Academy has incubated over 200 companies, who have raised over $25 million dollars and created over 400 jobs for our local economy. Twenty companies were accepted into premier accelerators like Techstars, 500 Startups, GrowLab, Amplify, FounderFuel, Extreme Startups and more.

  • Launch Academy has run LEP twice now and it received an overall rating of 4.8 out of 5

  • Success stories: students have failed fast and learned from their failure to become better entrepreneurs, a few students pivoted their ideas, one went to work for a startup, a few went back to their full-time jobs realizing they are not ready for entrepreneurship, 50% quit their job to pursue their idea, 3 got accepted into Launch Academy

  • The next session starts on September 16, 2014 and runs until October 9th.

  • Program structure: lectures run between 6-9pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays for four weeks, perfect for career-changers who have a full-time job

  • LEP charges $1000 price per student, which includes 8 lectures, access to mentors and office hours, 4 weeks of office space, reading material, $100k worth of startup perks, and access to events/socials

Startup Next

​​Start It Smart | Pre-Accelerator is an intensive 10-week training and mentor program for first-time entrepreneurs. It provides all necessary knowledge and skills to make a startup ready for early product launch, joining an accelerator, or finding initial investment.

  • The program is run by one of the main startup organizations in Sofia, Bulgaria – Start It Smart.

  • ​Over the last 4 years Start It Smart has accelerated over 60 companies, who have raised over 1 million euro. Six companies were accepted by local accelerators.

  • The program’s training line-up exceeds 45 intensive entrepreneurship training sessions on the five business dimensions – business model, team, customers, product, financial. Furthermore includes a mentor network of more than 65 high-profile entrepreneurs.

  • ​Start It Smart has run the 10 week pre-accelerator program once.

  • Start It Smart | Pre-accelerator’s next ​season starts ​on September 15, 2014 and runs until November 23, 2014.

  • ​​The program contains training, access to mentors, free working space and services from our partners.

  • Start It Smart | Pre-accelerator takes a 1,500 EUR ‘success fee’ if the team goes on to raise funding

  • Get to know Start It Smart | Pre-Accelerator better at www.pre.startitsmart.com/en/

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Matt French