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February 5, 2021
A new kind of incubator for a new age is the thinking behind a targeted accelerator event that will combine a "Shark Tank"-style live pitch slam event with an on-the-spot investment offer and an assisted launch on Amazon for early stage brands.
Organized by the impact investment group Findaway Adventures and Netrush, an Amazon retailer focusing on natural products brands, Liftoff Accelerator happens live March 24. Selected brands could receive investments of $50,000 to $500,000 and a Netrush-supported launch on the Amazon.
Prior to that, on Wednesdays through March 10, a bootcamp-style Nail Your Strategy Course is being offered online. Find out more about the event and classes here.
We asked Findaway Adventures Managing Partner Robert Craven and Netrush CEO Brian Gonsalves about the Liftoff events and how accelerators need to meet the moment in a new way.
What makes your event different from other pitch slam events and incubators?
Brian Gonsalves: Things are moving fast in commerce (you can now forget about the "e" in front of commerce). We're coming to the event ready to invest. If we like what we see and hear, we're in.
Robert Craven: We plan to make this Liftoff Accelerator Pitch Slam open to anyone that wants to watch. Much like the show "Shark Tank," people will get to see how investors think about supporting young companies, witness advice given from Findaway and advisory sherpas, watch deal negotiations and agreements and ultimately be able to give feedback in real time to brands and investors. This will be a very unique experience and, we think, valuable for the brands.
Does the incubator model need to change?
RC: Incubators can be very helpful in many situations. I think the key to a good incubator is its focus. The Liftoff Accelerator is focused on giving very young companies a very specific leg up. Our theory is that startups should focus on the path of least resistance to facilitate growth; focus on direct-to-consumer and Amazon sales first to learn about the consumer, gain critical online reviews for the product and probably most importantly establish a baseline of monthly cash flow. This pitch slam will support this theory and truly ignite young brands on their journey.
BG: Everything that was not oriented to digital needs to change. The results of strategy and execution now come in digital format: data. The data can tell us what's working, not working and why. Faster adjustments mean doing more with less, and that fits well with impact-minded entrepreneurs who will do whatever it takes to achieve their mission sooner.
You're catering to brands at a very early stage. What was the thinking that went into that strategy?
BG: Startup brands are by nature nimble and responsive. The marketing director, shipping manager, strategist and investor are likely the same individual and fast is important when you're spending capital to get a foothold in a crowded market.
RC: Findaway Adventures exists to improve the world by providing more opportunity for young, "change-the-world" companies and their founders. By helping brands bake social impact into their mission, messaging and products, we feel like we can make a real difference through our model. Everything we do, including the Liftoff Accelerator and our Findaway Club, are designed to support our mission.
Why is the Amazon component so important?
BG: It's a big, crowded, vibrant city of products. You can build a curious and hopefully loyal following if you focus on your block, then your neighborhood and work outward from there.
RC: The pandemic has accelerated the consumer’s comfort level with e-commerce, and Amazon is the undisputed leader in that field. A young company gains so much by focusing first on consumer-centric platforms like Amazon and direct-to-consumer. Data shows that no matter where a consumer is shopping, they rely heavily on Amazon reviews to help them make their decision. We have also noticed that the biggest challenge for a young brand is focus and the Liftoff Accelerator is meant to facilitate that. We get excited about helping a brand move into new channels on top of the solid foundation and consistent cash flow that a focus on Amazon establishes.
Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Business Journal
As Nutrition Business Journal's editor-in-chief, Rick Polito writes about the trends, deals and developments in the natural nutrition industry, looking for the little companies coming up and the big money coming in. An award-winning journalist, Polito knows that facts and figures never give the complete context and that the story of this industry has always been about people.
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