--By Nivida Lamichhane
The acceleration programme of Rockstart Impact is focused on making ten high-potential Nepali entrepreneurs investment-ready in 100 days. All activities in the programme contribute to the creation of a proper business plan and presentable scaling strategy. Proven frameworks such as 'lean-startup', business model canvas, value proposition canvas and 'venture deals' are at the core of the program, working the entrepreneurs towards Demo Day that is the culmination of the 100 days spent in refining their current business models.
What the programme offers
A total of 55 business ideas were received via online application. The selection process helped filter 25 companies from which the core 10 were chosen. A series of interviews and one-to-one sessions with mentors - who are experts from both Nepal and Netherlands - decided the selection. The criteria were simple and aiming to promote entrepreneurs who have evolved from the startup phase. Current company performance was also evaluated - whether the entrepreneur has a proven track record, is able to scale the business, or has an innovative business model/ product.
The Define stage – the first two weeks of the program- was focused on the entrepreneur and individual business models with intensive, daily meetups, workshops, and coaching on the job.
The Develop, Plan, and On Stage phases (22 December 2014 – 12 March 2015) provide further preparation for Demo Day. Each phase gives the entrepreneur more input for the business plan.
Weekly check-ins: All entrepreneurs check-in on Mondays to reflect on their progress and Key Process Indicators (KPIs).
Reflection Days: After each phase, the entrepreneurs present what they have learned, which decisions they have made that have led to where they are currently at, and what their focus is, leading up to Demo Day.
Morning workshops: Once or twice a week, different entrepreneurial and business themes are covered in workshops by the mentors. The learning is meant to be transformed into KPIs.
Speed meeting with mentors: The entrepreneurs meet mentors in one-to-one sessions of 20 minutes, to know them and build a relationship.
Coaching sessions on the job: Matchmaking between mentors and entrepreneurs is facilitated in this session. If there is a personal fit, mentors will coach the entrepreneurs on the job.
Deep dive sessions: These sessions are a unique opportunity for the entrepreneurs to get feedback from 2-3 mentors on a challenge in a specific area that they're facing (e.g. technology, product development, finance, industry, PR, business model, branding, etc.).
Evening inspirations talks: Every Wednesday evening, successful entrepreneurs tell their story about how they built their first successful company and what their key learnings were.
Pitch academy for Demo Day: Sessions with coaches to improve the enterpreneur's pitch, refine content and get feedback on presentation skills.
How does the Rockstart module stand out
According to Niraj Khanal, programme director at One to Watch Nepal and one of the main pillars of Rockstart Impact, ‘Currently a lot is happening in the startup scenario in Nepal with programmes like Startup Weekend and Idea Studio that support entrepreneurship. However, we felt we could provide value and fill the void that currently exists. Our road map takes the start-up on an accelerator programme. Through Rockstart, we open the doors profitable networking, financial knowledge, and access to the mentors and make the businesses investment-ready by the 100th day. The main objective is to make entrepreneurs become fund-worthy and accelerate the business through peer to peer learning.’
The journey thus far
Having come halfway through the programme, there are so many changes that the program has witnessed- in the entrepreneur’s business models to the way they see their company. Although they were running their businesses already, the programme has helped them figure out why they are doing this and has helped in formulating their business and communicating about the same during the pitches. The entrepreneurs’ pitches that were made on the 50th day compared to the one they made on the first day was more concrete, structured and had an authority. The team at Rockstart has been instilling knowledge about lean startups, testing customers and market research to the entrepreneurs which has helped them from the customer’s perspective.