Founders and entrepreneurs are likely familiar with some of the more well-established startup incubators and accelerators out there, like Y Combinator, TechStars, 500 Startups, Founder Institute, DreamIt — to name a few — all of which provide terrific opportunities and resources for their founding teams. Of course, many of these come with a price, requiring founders to hand over five to ten percent equity for seed investments of around $25,000.
Naturally, many young entrepreneurs with their eyes on the fast-track are eager to sign up because of the reach of these accelerators’ networks. However, Scott Annan, the founder of Network Hippo and Mercury Grove, believes that not all veteran entrepreneurs are looking for the type of hand-holding and guidance (or the level of time commitment, as they often run three-month programs) offered by incubators and accelerators.
That’s why Annan, through Mercury Grove, formed StartupPlays, which provides an online alternative to accelerators by offering a collection of “market-proven recipes” (or “plays”) that include targeted guidance written by successful entrepreneurs. While veteran entrepreneurs may be looking to avoid the cost of accelerators, Annan believes that they still want (and need) active mentorship and guidance in particular aspects of building a business, like fund raising, online marketing, or public relations.
So StartupPlays has partnered with veteran entrepreneurs and mentors to turn their experience into actionable guides. Through a collaborative virtual workspace, StartupPlays provides entrepreneurs with detailed tasks, file templates, and expert tips. For example, StartupPlays enlisted Adrian Salamunovic, the co-Founder of DNA 11 and CanvasPop and PR expert, to create a “play” that provides founders with everything they need to know about creating a professional PR engine. The template assures founders that, after reading, they will have “a media Calendar, press contact list, a killer pitch, and press in major publications.”
And, today, the virtual accelerator released its latest “Play”, which is authored by serial entrepreneur and CEO of TechCrunch Disrupt winner GetAround, Sam Zaid. Zaid’s Play focused on how founders can qualify for investor funding, including how to build a fundable company, how to evaulate the type of funding startups should look for, when to look for it, and how to increase the chances of closing a deal.
Other authors include Dan Martell of Clarity.fm, Jeremy Olson of Tapity (who authored a really cool Play on how to build and market a successful iOS app), Aaron Hall of DressRush, and Cameron Herold of BackPocketCOO. StartupPlays plans to release a new play every week through its official launch in February. While Plays aren’t free — they typically range from $75 to $300 — they provide great value for the price tag, especially in light of the alternative.
Entrepreneurs and founders are always looking for great resources that can help them stay ahead of the game and provide important tips on how to attract investors, approach term sheets, build a great product, find users, and hire. Seeing as there are over 4,200 early stage startups worldwide and launches this year are expected to increase, there’s plenty of competition for funding — and for eyeballs. The Web is filled with resources for entrepreneurs, but it’s often fragmented, difficult to navigate, and who wants to waste time searching online, parsing Q&A sites, or watching videos?
StartupPlays really does offer a great alternative, and a great complement to sites like TheFunded.com. It’s all about giving entrepreneurs the resources they need to execute on their ideas, and with virtual workplaces that offer task and check lists and document templates and center around specific projects, it can save you from wasting time researching and plotting and get you into execution.
The beginning “stealth” phase for StartupPlays has really focused on building out its content offerings, and with its official launch in mid-February, the virtual accelerator will start building out an ecosystem around (and within) that content. For example, the team will add a virtual, realtime forum for Plays that allow entrepreneurs to leave comments on different parts of the process, give feedback, and ask their fellow founders what’s working for them and what isn’t.