A new startup accelerator in the Los Angeles metropolitan area is looking for creative people who aren’t “fresh out of college and eating ramen”.
HUB101 is trying to create a mentor-driven program that helps user-entrepreneurs make the first step into bringing their ideas to the real world. HUB101 provides entrepreneurs with experienced mentors, programs to bring their product to life, and office space. All of this will be available at night and weekend – allowing the entrepreneur access to these valuable assets on their own time.
MásWired and HUB101 co-founder Ginger Zumaeta sat down recently to discuss the program, its services, and what makes Hub101 stand out from other startup accelerators.
Zumaeta’s group is seeking, in particular, “Entrepreneurs who are building scalable businesses (startups) that are focused on top-end growth. I’m talking about the types of businesses that want to make a so-called ‘dent in the universe’. Really big solutions that solve big pain points.” They do respect small businesses, however, Hub101 is seeking to ensure that big solutions for big problems can begin to grow.
MW: What exactly is a “startup accelerator,” and how do they work?
GZ: For HUB101 what it represents is a structured mentor-driven program wherein we help startup founders work on the elements that will position them for success over the course of 12-15 weeks. At the end of the day, most startups fail because of a lack of customers, so we spend a lot of time validating how the business will acquire paying customers.
MW: What kind of entrepreneurs does HUB101 take on?
GZ: There are many startup founders who are still in regular jobs and working on their companies on the side or who have recently left steady jobs for one reason or another. That’s a really difficult path for a host of reasons. HUB101 was built to serve this unique type of entrepreneur.
Research has demonstrated that most startups that survive past 5 years are actually started by people who have had a significant amount of work experience. They’re called user-entrepreneurs. They’ve seen different types of challenges and are more likely to have business ideas that solve big problems. We like that.
At HUB101 diversity is in our DNA. I’m a Latina in my 40s and my cofounder is a Marine veteran. We’re really committed to upping the diversity quotient among startups and bringing the accelerator model to new groups of folks. That was a big factor driving our “after-hours” model and mentality.
MW: What are the prerequisites (if any) for an interested entrepreneur to take advantage of HUB101’s services?
GZ: We don’t have any prerequisites per se beyond understanding the difference between a startup and a small business. Ideally you should have at least one additional co-founder, but it’s not an absolute requirement.
MW: What kind of support does HUB101 offer to entrepreneurs?
GZ: Our support hinges around three core elements.
1) We surround the entrepreneurs with experienced mentors from a wide range of industries. Often the most important thing a startup team needs is perspective and access. Our mentors provide that. They really get involved.
2) We offer a rigorous program that takes founders through the process of finding product-market alignment and most importantly doing customer validation to ensure they’re building a product or service that customers will actually pay money for and that is scalable.
3) Finally, we provide office space where the entrepreneurs can interact. We’ll be at great co-working space called OfficeSlice that is hosting HUB101 on nights and weekends so founders can get away from distractions and focus on building their business, but also so they can interact with other startup founders
MW: Are mentors tailored to the entrepreneur?
GZ: Absolutely. Mentorship is harder than it sounds. It’s vital that there’s real mentor-entrepreneur chemistry, so the mentors will meet with teams and there will be a mutual agreement for mentorship based on both parties wanting to work with each other. In reality, most entrepreneurs will likely have several mentors that help them in different ways along the journey
MW: Does HUB101 offer any starting finances to entrepreneurs?
GZ: We’re not offering seed money upon sign-up. At HUB101 the value we bring is more in mentorship and helping find product-market fit. However, we will be actively engaged in helping the entrepreneurs access funds when they need it, and we will have a demo day at the conclusion of the program where we’ll invite angels and VCs to learn about the businesses.
MW: How much does HUB101’s services cost?
GZ: HUB101 doesn’t cost anything for the founders, though we will look for a nominal equity stake in the startups we accept into the program.
Zumaeta encourages interested entrepreneurs to go to the HUB101 website and submit an application. HUB101 will be assembling its first cohort of entrepreneurs in January, 2014.