Netherlands-based startup support network Rockstart announced today it is bringing its accelerator program to Singapore. The company already provides workspaces, mentorship, and networking events at its home base in Amsterdam. It also hosts networking events in several countries throughout Europe and startup initiatives such as its Impact program in emerging countries like Nepal.
Rockstart aims to eventually bring its entire support program in Southeast Asia via Singapore. For now, the accelerator will run concurrently with the Amsterdam-based program in early 2016. It will be headed by Chi Tran, former CTO for OgilvyOne, who comes aboard as Rockstart Southeast Asia’s founding partner.
10 startups will be selected to take part in the accelerator program, which will run for 150 days. A demo day is scheduled after three months, when the startups will pitch to investors. The remaining time will be used for team building, hiring, and fundraising. Support for startups will take various forms, including financial support, mentorship, and workspace. The company wouldn’t go into details at this time, but says it will reveal more in due course.
Rockstart is looking for “born-global” startups to join the program. This means startups that are either ready or willing to take their idea to the international market. “For us it’s important that entrepreneurs have a global vision for their company,” founding partner Chi Tran tellsTech in Asia. “[They should aim] to build a global company over time.”
The Amsterdam-based initiative welcomes startups working in web and mobile, smart energy, and digital health. The Singapore accelerator will launch with the web and mobile program first, in parallel with the Amsterdam one. The program will run on a full-time basis, which will require participating startups to relocate to Singapore (much like most other similar programs).
However, as the European and Southeast Asian programs will be running at the same time, participating startups can choose which one they want to attend. That should help startups from different parts of the world pursue opportunities and connections in new markets. “All our accelerator programs ask for dedication and perseverance from the entrepreneurs,” Tran remarks. “It is not easy to leave your family behind and move to a new location, but as an entrepreneur you need to step outside of your comfort zone to learn, build, and grow.”
GATEWAY TO SOUTHEAST ASIA
Singapore was selected to be Rockstart’s main hub in Southeast Asia, according to Tran. “We explored other options within the region, [but] Singapore has by far the best infrastructure and ecosystem that supports startups, accelerators, investors, and businesses,” he says. “[It has] all the ingredients founders need to grow their company in the region.”
He adds that Singapore is also an attractive proposition for existing Rockstart alumni, who mostly come from areas like Europe and South America. That should help build additional value for the startups involved in Rockstart’s global programs, as well as the ecosystem in the region, he explains.
Rockstart is entering a busy accelerator and startup initiative space in Singapore. It hopes its global focus will set it apart from other similar operations, as it accepts startups from all over the world to its program. “Entrepreneurs can choose the best location for them and their business to be accelerated in, building bridges between Europe, Asia, and the US,” Tran says.
Applications for Rockstart’s web and mobile accelerator program for 2016 will open in September for both Singapore and Amsterdam. The company says it received over 700 applications from 65 countries for the 2015 program.