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Ignite 2.0 - 7 months on

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by Startacus Admin

7 months on from the launch of Ignite 2.0, we take a look at the new accelerator model from the Ignite Accelerator and some of the startups to grace the programme.
Ignite Accelerator
7 months ago we first read and then wrote about Ignite 2.0, a new accelerator model from the Ignite Accelerator, that aimed to support startup founders across the UK with a focus on building and growing sustainable businesses. With this new model, Ignite would aim to work with the best founders, and the best companies, wherever they were based in the UK.

We loved their bold ambition

We loved their bold ambition. After all, any opportunities to remove barriers (location often being one) that stop potential founders from accelerating their businesses should be both applauded and embraced.

Tristan WatsonAs Ignite CEO Tristan Watson said at the time: The accelerator is 10 years old, and we think companies in 2017 need a different kind of programme. So we’re tearing up the accelerator rule book to launch Ignite 2.0. Our new model will support founders across the UK, with a focus on growth and building sustainable businesses.”

Originally founded in Newcastle in 2011, Ignite has accelerated over 100 startups and historically invests in 25+ companies per year. Since 2011, Ignite became one of the most active and successful early stage investors in the UK, running programmes across Manchester, Newcastle and London.

Ignite 2.0 - How it worked

The new programme, now running for the last 7 months or so, features 6 months’ mentoring and support, £25k investment and access to a network of founders and investors around the UK. A bit like a remote Non-Executive Director, the Ignite Team would help you scale your business without you having to relocate. Not having to relocate - the key focus here.
Gabi and Tristan - Ignite

Ignite works with startups remotely for three weeks of every month, delivering the Startup MBA course digitally alongside the programme mentors and partners. During the fourth week of every month everyone comes together to a in-person offsite in different cities around the UK. The offsites are packed with useful sessions, mentoring and events to connect portfolio companies, new investments and applicants.

Since launching Ignite 2.0 in April 2017, Ignite have already been in Newcastle, London, Manchester, Portsmouth, Edinburgh and Cambridge.  The commitment is that Ignite expect founders to work with them for a minimum of 6 months. However, during this time founders will only be away from their home city for a maximum of 18 days - offering a workable solution to some founders who would otherwise find relocation a real challenge and potential barrier.

Gabriela Matic, Ignite Programme Director explained to Startacus what the new model had brought to the programme to date:

"Opening up the accelerator to founders that are not flexible enough to just relocate for a couple of months or would like to stay in their region has changed the profile of founders that apply quite drastically. We get many more female founders Gabi Maticapplying as well as experienced entrepreneurs with families. Bringing together all of them, from all over the UK was amazing. Giving them the support they need when they need it while giving them the freedom to run their business the way they want has worked well for our portfolio.

There is still a lot we need to improve and we are learning as we go, but something is definitely working. Being completely distributed has its challenges but I believe it's the future."

Richard Allan, Founder of External Reality, an Inverness based startup, had this to say about the ability to be based anywhere in the UK:

“Inverness is really still a city in name only, it’s more a small town. Whilst we have some agencies like Business Gateway and Highlands and Islands Enterprise helping out, it’s really lacking in a start-up network and support. Geographically, it’s not near anywhere in particular. Whilst transport links are improving, even Edinburgh is a 3 hour journey away.

Ignite really caught my attention by offering the ability to be involved in a start-up community, and benefit from the accelerator program support, without having to relocate in what would be a huge way, unlike a traditional accelerator program.”

The Portfolio

So far the the portfolio of companies on Ignite 2.0 demonstrate a real depth in diversity of ideas as well.

CG Hero are online platform for outsourcing and managing CGI production, helping customers source cutting edge computer graphics from the industry’s top freelance digital artists and studios, and prolifiko (previous featured on Startacus) are in the process of developing the world's first intelligent digital coach for writers everywhere - think a personal writing coach in your pocket - Word!

On the subject of the power of language, London Startup Langu connects students and teachers from around the world for live, online language lessons and talking two-sided marketplaces, Happity, who we have also written about previously, are making it easier for parents & carers to find accurate info on what's on for their kids where they live.
Langu and Happity Founders
Fintech is covered by an app-based money transfer service for people who send money from the UK to India and DebtCase a Portsmouth based startup are banking on changing the way debt collection works.

This short video that highlights the Ignite off-site visit to Cambridge, paints a good picture of the offsite experience a startup could expect and features Ignite CEO Tristan Watson, Sara Tateno from Happity, Aga Novicka & Travis Wentworth from Langu and Lara Gilman & Arunjay Katakam from Yooz.

Ignite offsite Cambridge

2018 and Beyond

The accelerator model will of course further change in 2018 and beyond.

Rather than waiting to follow the crowd, it’s great to see a UK accelerator and investor leading the way and offering a real alternative to the traditional, location based 12 week accelerator programme model. One doesn’t necessarily replace the other however, but by offering choice, Ignite are showing that they are prepared to work hand-in-hand with startup founders - whatever works best for both parties, and this openness is an attractive proposition perhaps to some startup founders who would have been otherwise put off by the rigid 9-5, Monday to Friday traditional alternative.

Sponsored Article. This article has been written with the support of Ignite, but remains editorially unbiased.

Thank you to Ashley Baxter for the fab photographs and video. Check out her insurance startup With Jack too. 

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Published on: 19th December 2017

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