How BusinessOne's Jason Founded His Own Start-up: PART 1
Now that Bennett is familiar with the five stages of a start-up and the various resources offered by UNSW, he is on the lookout for more hands-on and workable information. Luckily for Bennett, BusinessOne's very own Jason Yu has some insights to share from his journey founding a start-up!
Early Beginnings (Jan 20’ - Dec 20’)
When I founded my very first start-up, it wasn’t called VidUp. In fact, it didn’t even start out as a “start-up” per se. At the time it was just a cool side project developed and maintained by a couple of friends. We just wanted to create something cool & exciting with videos. That premise quickly changed. I’ve found out firsthand that ideas evolve rapidly given sufficient time & effort. They change shape, expanding and contracting in unpredictable ways. As our project grew, we eventually started asking ourselves, could this be something bigger?
Fast Forward Hub (Jan 21’ - Feb 21’)
Our first real dip into the start-up ecosystem was through the FFWD program offered at Haymarket HQ. Here we learned how to validate and grow a startup from just an idea. More importantly, at the end of the program, we had the opportunity to pitch. This ended up being a deep learning experience. We managed to reach the finals and although we didn’t win, we were so proud of what we had accomplished - making it that far. My takeaway from that experience was just how exciting the start-up space could be. There was so much to learn and it was an intensely competitive space, which really appealed to me.
Peter Farrel Cup (Feb 21’ - May 21’)
About a month after, we learned about a program run at UNSW called the Peter Farrel Cup. Assuming it was similar to FFWD, we applied straightaway. What we got was a hands-on experience that pushed us to really develop the business side. This was where we, as a start-up, grew the most - going from just an idea to a somewhat working product with a business thesis.
At the end, it culminated into an unforgettable experience with a 3-minute pitch. It was nerve-wracking pitching in front of friends, family, students, angel investors, venture capitalists, and of course the judges. When all was said and done, we were proud of what we had achieved, regardless of the final result. So when we heard the announcement that we had come 2nd place winning $3000, we were completely blown away. The way we viewed the world started changing from that moment.
10x Accelerator (June 21’ - Sep 21’)
Carrying our momentum from the PFC we entered into UNSW’s premier program, the 10x Accelerator, and received over $20K in investment. This was an intense program that introduced us to the investment and growth side of startups. It was honestly a shock to the system, and we struggled to keep up with the other more developed and experienced founders. But through this trial by fire, we were able to learn so much. We refined our pitch to another level, underwent a complete rebrand, and created key business connections. It was a sink or swim-moment.
Although we didn’t pass with flying colours, just being able to have the experience was life-changing. At the end of the program, there was another pitch, this time to venture capitalists from a variety of industries. That culminated into a pitch to various angel investors and even Sequoia Capital.
Pearcey Pitch Competition (Sep 21’)
After 10x, we were nominated to represent UNSW in the Pearcey Pitch Competition. With start-ups representing universities from all over Australia participating, we had some tough competition. Although, harnessing our experience gained through 10x, we gave our pitch with gusto and confidence. We ultimately came 1st and received $3K in prize money, alongside a chat with CEO Adam Brimo from Open Learning. At that point, we knew we must have been doing something right.
Incubate Accelerator (Jan 22’ - April 22’)
Once again, carrying our momentum into the new year, we were able to be accepted into USYD’s Incubate Program and received $5K in funding. This was really where the rubber needed to meet the road. In the previous programs, we were learning and growing as founders still developing our foundations. But now, we had different expectations as a start-up - execution was now the name of the game. Unfortunately, things didn’t go our way with factors such as money, team, and KPIs being major hurdles that we were unable to overcome. In April, we decided to call it quits on what was an amazing run.
Founding a start-up is hard. But building a successful start-up requires more than just hard work and determination. It requires the right combination of timing, technology, skills & people. In many ways, learning how to run a start-up is just like learning how to ride a bike. You have to fail multiple times to get the balance just right.
At the end of the day, start-ups aren’t intuitive, they aren’t easy, and they aren’t cheap. But, they are immensely rewarding - you get out what you put in. With the lessons learned from my first start-up, I can’t wait to start my next.
After hearing Jason's story, Bennett was truly inspired and had many questions he wanted to ask Jason.
Tune in for our next article where we interview Jason to further discover his experience founding a start-up as well as his future plans.
Author: Jason Yu
Editor: Natarsha Wong, Alison Tan, Alyssa Liem