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DotForge Accelerator - Sheffield - Updated 29th Jan

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The other day I went to the first event for the new Dotforge Accelerator programme in Sheffield.

Having been following the progress of a couple of Sheffield companies, OrderHarmony and Matchchat during the Ignite100 accelerator programme in Newcastle Upon Tyne, I was interested to find out what is planned for Sheffield.

This is my write up.

What is it?

Dotforge is going to follow the same kind of pattern as Ignite100, TechStars, Y-Combinator and other programmes. A 13 week intense programme consisting of a number of cycles, pitches, mentoring, training, building, creating, destroying, tweaking and learning. The programme will be for 8 startup teams.

By the end of the programme, teams will be able to pitch to investors in Sheffield & in London, to hopefully provide funding for their startup business to make the next big steps.

It is being run by Jag Goraya and Emma Cheshire.

The list of mentors can be found on the Dotforge site

Areas of Interest

The programme will, in theory, work well for any businesses that are high-growth, scalable and (web) technology-enabled, regardless of market or industry sector. The programme’s focus is to identify startups that can get to the next stage of growth, and get them to it.

Having said that, the programme has the following as its main areas of interest.

  • Take advantage of the ‘Cloud’
  • Work as Business to Business (B2B) products
  • use Big Data or Social data
  • have the capability for high growth
  • have global ambition
  • web technologies
  • consider Sheffield strengths, for example
    • e-learning
    • e-health
    • advanced manufacturing

Teams

Applications are encouraged from teams with more than 1 founder. There is no upper limit and typically there will be 3 to 4 people. Preferably people who already know each other or have worked together, but there are no real hard and fast rules.

A lone founder could apply and get on the programme, but usually people find that they are so busy during the 13 weeks, that the load needs to be shared out amongst other team members, you can’t be in two places at the same time.

A good mix of skills is required, having development skills as well as ideas is pretty much considered essential.

The beans

Initial money

Each company on the programme gets £5k investment, per person (up to three team members) for a 6% stake in the company. The 6% is made up of the various investors who are funding the programme.

Around half of all companies on these programmes end up getting decent investment offers at the end, i.e. hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Location

There will be an office in Sheffield city centre, where the teams will be located for the 13 weeks. The focus for the teams will be on the programme, trying to juggle other interests at the same time will always be possible, but you get out of the programme what you put in.

Perks

There are often benefits associated with being on an accelerator programme, credit for Amazon web services or Rackspace for example. This would enable growth without having to worry quite as much about infrastructure costs.

When?

Applications are now open, the programme will commence after Easter 2013. The application platform is hosted by f6s and will be their standard process.

Process

The selection process is in three stages, the online application review, telephone/skype interview, face-to-face interview, each of which reduces the number of applicants down to the final eight.

Well?

I’m certainly going to consider this very carefully to see whether I can form or join a team for this accelerator and whether it is the right time for me.

If you’re working on a startup, or have a cracking idea, then you really should have a look and consider applying!

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