Frequently asked questions

Why should I apply for CityConnect?

CityConnect will help ambitious entrepreneurs build startups to transform cities and communities on a global scale. The powerful accelerator program will support you with world-class advisors, a tech team to help bring your idea to life, and $25,000 in funding to set you up for success.

How do I enter?

To enter the CityConnect competition, simply apply here. This will take you to BlueChilli’s application platform. Register an account and select “CityConnect” as the competition you are applying for. Answer the questions about yourself and your startup idea. You can always save an application-in-progress and can come back to edit it later – just remember to submit it before the last day. Applications close 12:00pm, Tuesday 22 August 2017.

What are the key dates?

Applications open 1 August 2017 and close 12:00pm, Tuesday 22 August 2017. Finalists for the bootcamp will be notified by 6 September. If you are selected to participate in the validation bootcamp, you are required to join activities in Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney from 11 – 22 September; and pitch your startup to the judges in Brisbane from 26 – 27 September. If you are selected to participate in the accelerator, the accelerator program will begin on 9 October. It will run simultaneously in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne for six months.

Are there any requirements of my startup idea?

CityConnect is an accelerator for the most ambitious new tech startups creating impactful smart cities solutions. We’re open to any idea as long as it:

  1. Leverages technology to grow a high impact and high growth company.
  2. Solves a problem in the way we work, play, trade, move or live in our cities and communities.  

Do I need to have a business set up already?

No, you do not need to have a business set up to apply. In fact, the CityConnect program is best suited to early stage ideas – we specialise in helping founders going from “zero to one” – i.e. the phrase coined by Peter Thiel to describe the process of establishing a successful startup. 

What do I get if I am accepted into CityConnect?

In exchange for 15% equity each selected startup will receive:

  • A technology team to build your minimum viable product (MVP)
  • Expertise including an assigned Product Manager and Entrepreneur-in-Residence, a world-class accelerator program and a cohort of peers
  • Co-working space in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane
  • Access to subject matter experts, mentors and customers to validate your idea
  • $25,000 to get you started
  • Demo Day to pitch to our network of investors
  • All startups in the program are eligible to apply for follow-on funding from the BlueChilli Venture Fund of up to an additional $250,000.

I don’t have any experience in startups or founding a business, can I still apply?

Yes, yes and yes! We value founders from across Australia and the world, with different working backgrounds and from all different ages. We’ll provide you with the resources you need to build and launch your startup, including $25,000 pre-seed investment, access to technology experts, a rockstar team of startup advisors to provide guidance, and insights from mentors in business leadership. We expect the founders in the accelerator to be 100% committed to your startups, to be coachable and accountable, and to be realistic about your ability to support yourself as you work to get your product off the ground.

What is the valuation BlueChilli will give my idea?

Founders accepted into the accelerator will receive $25,000 from the BlueChilli Venture Fund, for 5% equity. BlueChilli will earn a further 10% in sweat equity for building your MVP and bringing your idea to life as a solid business proposition. From a financing perspective, your idea will be valued at $500,000 (post-money.) As the idea will still be pre-revenue and pre-product, your startup may be valued differently in an open market.

Can I negotiate the amount of equity taken?

No. We appreciate that equity is often negotiated between a single investor and an entrepreneur.  However, in an accelerator program, all participants come into the program on an equal footing – i.e. with the same terms of investment.

Do I need to know how to code?

No. It takes a range of skills to build a startup and it’s unrealistic to expect that applicants will have skills across all these areas in the early stages. We choose to pick the best entrepreneur founders and provide them with a full stack technical team to build your product, including brand design, UX and UI designers, software engineers, mobile developers and growth marketers. We assign you a product manager to help you manage the product build and make record progress. We complement your team with the skills you need, when you need them.

What does it mean for BlueChilli to “build my product”?

The team at BlueChilli have built minimum viable products (MVPs) for over 100 startups. The best way to get a product to market fast is to have a clear vision and direction from the CEO, a product manager who understands how to most effectively shape the product roadmap, and great engineers who can test and deploy the right technology. All startups in the CityConnect program will have the benefit of working closely through a series of sprints, with outputs agreed between the product manager and CEO.

How much value do I get from having BlueChilli build my MVP?

Every startup is different, but as a shareholder in your business, we are committed to building and launching the best technology solution for you, as quickly as possible. Experts agree that an MVP can cost anything from $5,000 to $500,000, depending on the scope of the solution and how long it takes to build. Startups in Australia typically spend between $50,000 and $100,000 (in person-hours) to get to launch. After working with over 100 startups, we have found that the ‘sweet spot’ between time to market and quality sits at around 300-500 hours of product development.

How does BlueChilli determine how much time it will spend developing my MVP?

Every startup is different and will have different requirements to build your MVP. We are invested (literally!) in ensuring your product is built quickly and robustly in line with your market plans. In the first two weeks of the accelerator, you will meet with your product manager to determine the scope and roadmap for product development over the first 12 weeks of the accelerator. In preparation for Customer Demo Day, tentatively scheduled for February 13th 2018, we will partner with you to build your MVP.

I have a great idea in urban planning but I really want access to councils and property developers to make it happen. Can BlueChilli help with this?

Yes! The value of the CityConnect program is not only in building your business with you, and the investment we make to get you started, but in the network of contacts we bring from federal, state and local government, and corporates and industry associations operating in urban services, finance and infrastructure. As the only smart cities accelerator operating in Australia, CityConnect is the go-to program for corporates and policy-makers seeking to engage with startups working on urban challenges. This gives CityConnect participants significant access to potential customers and delivery partners. 

Who is BlueChilli?

BlueChilli is a purpose-driven accelerator, startup studio and VC fund. We run accelerators (like this one!) to bring together entrepreneurs, investors, governments and big companies to solve the world’s greatest challenges through building, growing and investing in great new tech startup ventures. We believe that people are the difference between a great idea and a great startup, and that with passion, people can change the world.

Why is BlueChilli running CityConnect?

Cities are growing at a rate that none of us have ever seen before. Three million people move to cities every single week. It’s a high growth, high impact environment that deserves high growth, high impact innovations. Smart cities efforts are currently bogged down in challenges around massive investments, interoperability and delivery of large scale IT rollouts. By working with startups, cities can adopt small scale solutions that bring immediate benefits to their citizens, and foster collaboration on a contained scale before tackling larger smart city rollouts. This is the genesis of CityConnect, transforming cities and communities through entrepreneurship on a global scale. We are supported by Advance Queensland’s industry accelerator program in our objective to assist startups focused on urban challenges to grow connections, investment and help achieve scale.

What experience does BlueChilli have with entrepreneurs?

Startups are in our DNA. Every year we hear an average of 2,000 startup pitches from entrepreneurs who want to partner with BlueChilli to launch their tech startups. Over the past 5 years, we have selected just more than 100 of those entrepreneurs to work with. BlueChilli specialises in helping founders become CEOs, helping to turn their ideas into successful businesses. We combine the best elements of a startup studio, accelerator and venture capital fund to support entrepreneurs along their journey. We have offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane (and startup teams around the globe as well!)

How will my application be evaluated?

After applications for CityConnect close, ideas will be screened by BlueChilli for eligibility and evaluated broadly based on the problem-solution fit, market opportunity, and applicant(s). We’re looking for the strongest applications that can demonstrate why their idea is a ground-breaking tech solution to reinvent our cities, why now is the right time and why you are the best founder to make it happen. We will also assess the technology required to develop the minimum viable product (MVP) to ensure that it is feasible and viable. All ideas are treated as confidential and you are always the owner of your own IP.

Do I need a team to apply?

Teams and individuals can apply for CityConnect. The CityConnect program is designed to help you go from idea to launch and then support you to build the right team when your company is ready to grow.

The twenty CityConnect finalists accepted into bootcamp will be personally informed no later than 3 weeks after applications close. The dates for the application period, bootcamp and accelerator can be found here.

What is the advantage or difference of applying to the CityConnect program, rather than a general application to BlueChilli?

While applying to BlueChilli always comes with a lot of benefits, joining a cohort of 10 startups all working to solve big smart city challenges has a lot of benefits. Besides the intensive program within the 156 accelerator and the building of your MVP, as a cohort you form a strong peer support network which helps you drive innovation more intensively, than if you were working alone. BlueChilli also has shaped the program specifically around Smart Cities; bringing in industry contacts and mentors specific to the challenges you’ll face, as you build your business.

Do I need to be an Australian or a permanent resident to apply for CityConnect?

No. However, to receive the $25,000 equity investment, you must incorporate your business in Australia, which requires a director that resides in Australia. You are eligible to apply to CityConnect, but may be ineligible for equity investment

What happens if I am one of the finalists for the bootcamp?

Twenty entrepreneurs/teams will be invited to take part in a rapid 2.5-week bootcamp where startup experts in the BlueChilli team will pressure-test the ideas, help you shape the business model and MVP, and prepare founders to pitch for investment. At the conclusion of the bootcamp, 10 startups will be invited into the accelerator and will be offered the funding package outlined above. During the bootcamp you’ll learn about startups, validation, pitching, business models, growth and many other topics. The bootcamp consists of masterclasses, workshops, talks from advisors, weekly one-on-one mentoring sessions with BlueChilli Entrepreneurs in Residence, tasks and group activities.

Where is the bootcamp held and must I attend in person?

The selection bootcamp is run over 2.5 weeks, and participation is mandatory to be considered for the accelerator. The bootcamp consists of a minimum nine contact hours which you must attend in person (3 x 2hr group sessions, and 3 x 1hr  individual advisory sessions). Group session days are:

  • Monday 11 September
  • Thursday 14 September
  • Monday 18 September
  • Tuesday 26 & Wednesday 27 September – in Brisbane

We will be running the first two weeks of the bootcamp at all of our Australian offices simultaneously, so you will have to attend in either Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.  The 3rd week of the bootcamp is “pitch week” and will only be hosted in Brisbane on 26 and 27 September. We’re pleased to offer finalists living outside of Brisbane who need to travel to attend the final week of the bootcamp $500 each to support travel costs.

What happens if I am one of the finalists that gets into the 6-month accelerator and receives investment?

Finalists selected for the accelerator will be announced at the end-of-bootcamp showcase on Wednesday 27 September. You will have 7 business days to finalise legal and other documentation, including a Shareholders Agreement, Service Agreement, Company Constitution (based on a default template), and Fund Option Deed. These forms will be provided to finalists at commencement of the Bootcamp on 11 September, and discussed during a legal workshop on 14 September. The accelerator program will commence on Monday 9 October.  

How does it work if I do not live in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane during the 6-month accelerator?

During the accelerator you will be assigned a BlueChilli Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) to guide you through your startup journey. We have EIRs in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Most of the communication with your EIR can be facilitated remotely through video conference, but at key dates during the 6-month accelerator you will have to attend meetings and events in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.

How will CityConnect help my startup raise further investment after the accelerator program ends?

BlueChilli assists our portfolio startups to be investor ready in every way – from the underpinning documentation, your unique business model, an impressive MVP, customer connections, and your investor pitch. The CityConnect accelerator program concludes with an Investor Showcase, with key customers, strategic investors and VCs that have been pre-screened and introduced to your business. Funding from the BlueChilli Venture Fund has a commitment to offering follow-on investment of up to $250,000, when equal or greater amounts are raised from three or more external investors. Once you graduate from the accelerator, you will be a member of our BlueChilli alumni. Alumni receive bespoke investor-readiness training, by way of masterclasses, bootcamps and one-on-one mentoring as well as opportunities to pitch at our regular investor evenings to a carefully curated suite of investors.

What happens if I am not selected for the bootcamp and/or accelerator?

Our goal is not just to find and fund the best smart cities ideas, but also to grow the pool of entrepreneurs focused on cutting edge smart cities solutions. Of those not selected for the bootcamp, we will provide complimentary access to our online startup training, StartupU (normally valued at $199) to all eligible applicants. If you are not accepted into the CityConnect accelerator we encourage you to continuing working on your idea in anticipation of future rounds of CityConnect; our program for female founders, SheStarts; or via our regular intake of startups.

Where can I find the terms and conditions for the CityConnect program?

The terms and conditions can be found here.