Starting a company is one of the riskiest things a person can do, especially if they are already successful in their chosen profession and have dependants and liabilities to stay on top of.
The majority of founders starting a company go in with rose-coloured glasses, a bunch of blind spots, without the resources they need to be successful and with unbridled optimism that they will build the next big thing.
The crazy thing is, if a founder was truly aware of all of that, they probably would never take the jump in the first place.
As a founder (and now angel investor) who took this jump and fought through a number of the early hurdles, I have often pondered the best way to prepare a founder for this journey and to make it just a little smoother.
A number of others have attempted to solve this problem and have launched generators, incubators, accelerators and training programs as a result. While some are more predatory than founder-friendly, most have very good intentions, and some of these have been incredibly successful.
One I have been impressed with, so much so that I have personally invested and actively supported as a Venture Partner, is Antler, a global startup generator and early-stage VC company. Antler does things a little differently from the rest and I think these three things have helped it to stand out.
A structured program that requires founders to work at speed but has enough flexibility that they can also be creative
Antler is not like any accelerator or incubator program I have witnessed and that's because it isn't an accelerator or incubator, it's a generator. As a generator, Antler picks the best and brightest and puts them together in a well architected program designed to help founders build the next wave of tech.
The Antler program is intense and sets just enough constructs to ensure that founders don't flounder through the process. Starting with an offsite to give founders time to get to know each other and the team, working through ideation, design sprints, expert firesides, a collaborative working space, co-founder rotation and eventually tracking out and building a company with their chosen co-founders.
The program has produced some truly world class startups, some of which have already found investors ready to get involved.
A team of partners, mentors and investors who go above and beyond to ensure the founders are successful
I often reflect on the first couple of years building my first startup. It was a lonely journey and as someone who didn't have a large network or a lot of accessible reference points, a number of mistakes were made that could have easily been avoided.
Antler has done an incredible job of building a coalition of enthusiastic and motivated team members, partners, mentors and investors who genuinely have the founders best interests at heart. The team spend a very large chunk of their time, working directly with the founders to help shine light on the blind spots and to share their advice in the hope the founders avoid many of those early stage pit falls.
An understanding of what it takes for a founder to build something great
Building a startup is hard enough without having to worry about where the next meal is coming from. Every founder who makes it into Antler receives a "living wage" so that they can focus on building their business. On top of this, they receive a permanent desk from where they can work and access to meeting rooms, coffee and team meals. Also, startups who are funded by Antler receive enough runway to get their business off the ground and pitch at demo day, the culminating event of the program.
From the program to the team, even how it addresses the barriers to entrepreneurship, Antler gives founders an unfair advantage over startups not in the Antler program.
It's a brand that is growing globally by the day and truly has a mission to provide exceptional individuals who are ready to launch their own business the access and toolkit to do so.
This article was written by Matt Browne, Venture Partner at Antler in Sydney. This article was first published on LinkedIn. Read the original here.