Communitech is launching a first-of-its-kind sales accelerator for startups that have already developed products and are ready to scale revenue.
The new program, Rev, charts a new direction for Communitech’s accelerator activities, replacing its HYPERDRIVE seed accelerator to meet the evolving needs of Waterloo Region’s startup community.
Unlike typical accelerators, Rev – which launches this March – will take no equity in its companies, but will match their current capital up to $60,000. Successful graduates of the six-month program will also get a chance to pitch to an investment panel.
Led by Steve McCartney, Communitech’s VP of Startup Services, Rev aims to fill a gap that has opened in the Waterloo Region startup ecosystem since HYPERDRIVE was launched in 2012 – namely, the gap between a great product and the sales required to scale a company quickly.
“The problem HYPERDRIVE set out to address has basically been solved,” McCartney said, referring to the previous lack of seed funding, mentorship and exposure startups needed to launch.
Now, with more than 500 new companies emerging in Waterloo Region each year, “The new challenge for our most promising companies is how to grow revenue quickly,” McCartney said. “That’s where Rev comes in.”
Rev’s programming will be structured and demanding, but adjustable to the needs of each company. Globally experienced mentors with sales expertise will offer hands-on guidance, and companies will get opportunities to land in foreign markets.
“This is really about going beyond building great startups,” McCartney said. “It’s about building the next generation of globally competitive tech companies.”
Admission standards for Rev will be high, continuing the progress that HYPERDRIVE made in attracting applicants of increasing calibre (HYPERDRIVE accepted only two per cent of applicants to its final cohort). In addition to requiring applicants to have already built real tech and started earning revenue, Rev will give priority to diverse teams, particularly those with female co-founders, which Communitech has found to strengthen companies, McCartney said.
All Rev companies will relocate to Waterloo Region and work out of the Communitech Hub, where mentors work with numerous startups and several major global brands operate innovation labs.
As for funding, Communitech has partnered with the OCE SmartStart program to offer up to $60,000 in matching capital, subject to OCE guidelines, without requiring an equity stake in the companies.
“Communitech and OCE want to help great companies do great things, full stop,” McCartney said. “We want to leave control where it should be; in the hands of the entrepreneurs.”
The application deadline for Rev’s first cohort of up to 10 companies is Jan. 23, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. Applicants to HYPERDRIVE’s Cohort 5 will be automatically considered for Rev.
Applications can be made through communitech.ca/rev/