Sydney start-up incubator Startmate wants to poach young designers and developers from cushy corporate roles at banks and consulting firms, to take up a new paid internship program working with its portfolio companies. The interns' pay of $6000 over three months will be significantly less than their corporate salaries, but Startmate founder Niki Scevak says the future rewards could be great.
"It's very little money, but that's the short term view," he said. "The long term view is they will be better equipped to create start-ups and the requirements for that are very high."
Mr Scevak said there were many designers and developers who had "nibbled around the edges of entrepreneurship and perhaps didn't get anywhere," who could benefit from the program. Successful applicants will be known as 'Trump Cards' and will be paid by Startmate. The eight current Startmate companies, which include an online dating service and an on-demand marketplace for tutors, will pitch to the interns who will decide which companies they want to work for.
Chris Hexton was a part of the 2012 Startmate cohort as one half of Vero, a software company developing tools to improve the outcomes of email communication with customers. For the Startmate companies, he said the interns would be a "helping hand" to speed up development and give the founders more time to talk to customers. "That's a real win," he said.
On the other hand, Mr Hexton said the interns will climb a satisfying, but steep, learning curve. "Startmate taught me so much in a short space of time," he said.
Startmate companies, who give up 7.5 per cent of equity in return for a $50,000 seed investment, go through an intensive five month program that accelerates development of a product at the very earliest stages. Mr Scevak said interns would get "deep insight" into customer acquisition strategies, capital raising and building early stage companies. "At the end of it they would be a lot more qualified to start their own company or they could joint a Startmate team or another start-up," he said.
Companies chosen to be part of the Startmate program must have technically-focused founders. Mr Scevak said the internship program will be limited, at first, to applicants with technical experience too.
"The beginning stages of a start-up are around this fast iteration of product," he said. "There's always much more work to do than the original two or three founders can handle."
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