The Fine Art Of Startup Incubation

It Takes More Than A Curriculum

SAMPLE FEEDBACK

Incubated Projects 2021 - 2022

Mr Shaw is a valuable mentor ... Never forgot the WII FM example and how to translate that concept in the pitch. ...

He has great hospitality and will to help always and in every situation.

CTO Hoken Tek 
Alfredo de Candia
www.hokentech.tech

Gavriel supported us in sharpening our business case and pitch.

He has a razor sharp eye and always manages to focus in on the areas of concern your business needs to pay attention to.

Running a business is all about managing your time so you prioritise the right things.

Prioritise Gav and you won't be disappointed :-)

Co-Founder Nestor 
Joost Schouten
www.nestr.io

Gavriel has amazingly sharp insights into marketing, and business acumen. He has a special gift to be able to break these insights down clearly.

His mentorship and generosity is unmatched and we have benefited greatly from his contributions to helping our team make great strides to constantly improve our pitch deck, our value proposition, and our market positioning.

We are extremely grateful to have Gavriel interface with, and guide our senior leadership team to increasing levels of success.

We cannot imagine having a more suitable marketing and business advisor to work with, and I personally cannot imagine how he would not be able to bring massive, transformational value to almost any organisation that wishes to improve their operations, or thinking.

Founder, FreeDAO.io 
Jerome Kelsey
www.freedao.io

Ain't No Pitch Deck Cookie Cutter Approach In This Town...

Investors see right through any kind of generic, vague or half-baked superficial attempt at an investment pitch.


Playing with such high stakes deserves taking a fully customized and diligent approach to pitch development. 


And not all incubators are created equal. If incubation for a web3 startup is important to you — this will be the most important letter you read all year.

Hi, I'm Gavriel Shaw — creator of the Cyclic Growth Framework.

Between November 2021 and November 2022 I designed and ran the Incubator program at Helios Rising, a VC startup in the web3 space.

The video above is a collage of alumni feedback from that program. 

But it's not my first rodeo.

In 2019 I helped establish an Australian VC startup, conducting due diligence on many dozens of projects with signed MOU's ready to roll into a fund, along with allocation agreements with investors (Limited Partners) — which all unravelled at the beginning of the Covid Pandemonia.

I brought that experience (along with an extensive due diligence check-list) to Helios to serve their blockchain ecosystem of choice.

I quickly learned that most projects within Helios' ecosystem (startups building on EOSIO chains such as Telos, WAX, EOS) are at the 'pre-seed' stage of investability — meaning they are working on their business model towards achieving early market traction. 

This changes the nature of incubation required.

What Startups Need From Incubation

A lot.

More than just a pitch deck.

More than just 'refining their business model to suit investor interests'.

Certainly more than a tokenomics model.

They need the hands on guidance that only comes from varied experience across a dozen industries and a dozen job titles.

Somehow, through my history of job-hopping due to obsessive long-term travel pursuits and career commitment issues, I gained a broad professional experience (agencies, industries, freelancing, consulting) and thus a knack for triaging the challenges that startups go through no matter what stage they're at or what product category they pursue. 

This gave me the foundation to support investment pitch development including such things as: 

  • Commercially-focused customer validation — achievable even with zero budget. 
  • Credible business models that investors understand and believe in.
  • Competitor Analysis in a way that mesmerizes VC's because it actually helps position a startup beyond anything forseable in the market
  • Mapping user journeys so a startups use-of-funds directly demonstrates how their feature backlog will make the company (and therefore investors) money. 
  • How to correctly size a market so that VC's get it.
  • Crafting a go-to-market strategy that doesn't only seem like a basic marketing plan — but a believable and achievable way to build market traction fast. 
  • The right level of detail when including a technology roadmap. 
  • Team Structuring and what to include with team bios so VC's overlook any shortcomings in a Founders experience. 
  • Demonstrating risk mitigation so VC's feel their greed glands overpowering their investment concerns. 
  • Financial Modeling even when a startup doesn't have any real-world market traction or growth numbers yet
  • And lots more. 

How To Incubate

The approach I take is to work in batches of 5 to 7 startups at a time.

They can be entirely unrelated to each other — they can also be at different stages of growth or degrees of sophistication.

But over the course of the incubator program, they will become familiar with each others products, business models, pitch narrative, and more.

First we begin with key principles for investment pitch success — what VCs look for... and what makes investors tune out before a startup is only 3 minutes into their presentation. 

Then we review the general outlines of a good pitch deck using some template examples.  

Calls are conducted as workshops, with exercises, and discussion between groups, with feedback shared by everyone.

This creates a highly engaging process — nothing like a classroom lecture or boring presentation. It's conversational from the start and everyone present knows they need to focus. 

Week by week as each projects pitch deck (and financial model) develops, they practice pitching to each other and seeing the remarkable progress being made by all — as they each learn the specialist craft of communicating to investors with maximum credibility.

And then comes the secret sauce — I meet one-to-one with projects and tease out the nuance details from a narrative perspective to ensure that word-for-word the pitch sends the right signals that investors can relate to so they can grok the wholeness of the pitch — without becoming confused or distracted. 

The end of the incubator can be customized to suit the situation — be it a final pitch event with stakeholders — or one-to-one pitches with investors.

The video above gives an idea of the kind of transformative experience that startup founders find in this approach to incubation. 

My Availability

Due to contractual obligations I can not support another EOSIO/Antelope related VC firm besides Helios. If you are an EOS/Telos/WAX or other such sister chain, check out the available VC landscape within that ecosystem. 

If you have no intention of building on EOSIO/Antelope, I am available on a limited basis to provide incubation, either one-to-one or with a group of projects. Contact me here by email or on LinkedIn.

I am also busy working on my own 'land-DAO' project in the heart of the Yucatan jungle, Mexico — named Camazotz Collective — we are gearing up for a 2023 community. Check our substack at camazotz.substack.com.

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