We caught up with Wonka Labs founder Michael Murphy (Mickey Wonka, if you will) to find out more about this exciting startup experience.
NB - Michael will be one of the judges of the upSTART pitch battle- if you haven’t made your application yet, you can do that here.
Hi Michael, first up, tell us all about Dream Builder by Wonka Labs - who's it for and how do you apply?
Dream Builder is a startup building program and filmed web series that will showcase 25 startups from around the world and their journey through our program in Los Angeles. It's for startups who are looking to take their companies to the next level by working hand in hand with Wonka Lab's team of builders, investors and partners in our global network.
How are you selecting the startups that will be given the 'Golden Tickets' to go on Dream Builder?
We are looking for startups with innovative solutions that can drive a positive impact in our society and our global economy. More importantly, we are seeking founders who’ve got what it takes to be a 21st-century entrepreneur! With the rapid advancement in technology and the overwhelming availability of information, it is critical for the Founders to not be ordinary thinkers and to waste time and money weeding through all these resources! Their solutions should be positive, scalable, and have a long-term effect in society.
We have begun our audition process and startups can go to www.dreambuilder.io to apply for the program. The applications deadline is June 30th and we will announce the 25 lucky startups who will receive a Golden Ticket on July 10th.
The concept of filming the startups on their journey - are you looking for this to remain exclusively a web-based show, or if a Network or Netflix came calling, is there an opportunity for the show to be distributed?
Our interest in filming the Dream Builder journey is to showcase the real challenges and the small victories our startups will experience. The media focuses a lot on Unicorn companies such as Uber and it doesn't allow a lot of morale support for Entrepreneurs. We are hoping to be able to capture these clips to not only showcase the companies, but to also share with our viewers, who are thinking about pursuing entrepreneurship, or for those looking for moral support. In addition, we are hoping to showcase a little history and background from our global entrepreneurs and build awareness then hopefully joint economic development with our countries. So if Netflix or a Network came calling, then they definitely have the reach to help our goal!
So Startups pay towards attending for the four weeks - will you be looking to invest in some of the startups that are on the programme?
You betcha! The startups coming into our program will provide us and our investors the opportunity to see if there is a long-term fit. If the stars aligned and if there is a fit, then we will incubate these startups with shared equity, under Wonka Lab, the Startup Factory. As for the others, we will continue in supporting them through our consultancy services. The $2150 USD program fee is truly a nominal investment for the startups and sometimes you just don't need to have a high risk to have big returns! So just the program fee and no equity at risk, and of course the Winner of upSTART will have no fees to pay!
What would be the advantages to a European startup being based in LA for 30 days?
Well LA has sunshine year round with beautiful people and scenery. If you know what I mean. On a serious note, we have Silicon Beach, and only an hour flight to Silicon Valley and a 3-hour flight to Silicon Hills. So being here for 30 days will provide these startups with convenient access to potential investors and partners. Also, LA just has a very cool creative vibe that really gets you relax and the food here is AMAZING! If you are a foodie like me, you're in food mecca heaven! You want Chinese? Got it! Mexican? Yup! We also got Thai, Korean, Japanese, African, German, Indian and the list just goes on and on.
The Wonka Labs team - tell us your relevant experience and also the broader support and mentors that will be available to the Startups that attend?
Our core team has a comprehensive background including research, grants, finance, business administration, marketing, human resources, UX/UI design, business development, sales, engineering, mobile and web development. On top of that, our network of partners brings even more value to our team. A great example is David Henderson Designs from Belfast. This is just the beginning of the connections that we have established and as others see the benefits of the Dream Builder program, we will quickly grow astronomically in the next year.
Aside from the flights, you are giving a 'Golden Ticket' away totally free to the winner of upSTART- The Startup Pitch event at this year's Digital DNA (in Belfast, NI) - Why?
Well, why not! Belfast is one of those places on the map that you don't get to hear about in the mainstream media. So what better way to promote it with Wonka Lab! We are always looking for unconventional ways to partner with other companies and create joint economic development in lesser known cities and countries. The conversation with Gareth Quinn from Digital DNA just solidifies it!
Thanks for the chat and all of the support Michael, we can’t wait to see you on the judging panel of upSTART 2016!
Applications to be considered to take part in the upSTART pitch battle are only open until Sunday 15th of May, so you really need to get a move on if you are going to apply!