Inside the intensive accelerator program that’s evolving the startup path for local innovators

Fresh from making a pitch that signalled the completion of the Griffin Accelerator program at Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN), Teresa Wojcik can’t help but feel this is the opposite of a finish line.

“They say an overnight success is 10 years in the making, and it’s so true,” she says.

“So much work has gone into getting to this point, and I am only at the starting line.”

The founder of fashion tech start-up Your Season is not ashamed to admit there have been tears during the three-month program. It’s a good thing – a sign not only that she cares but also that she’s been thoroughly put through her paces.

“About a month ago, one of the participants got up and gave a five-minute presentation and he nailed it. The slides looked amazing. He answered all their questions and had everything ready to go – and I most certainly did not,” she says.

“On that day, everything about my business felt like spaghetti. I didn’t know where one thing started and the next ended. But it was a good time to reach that point, surrounded by other people at different points in the same journey, with incredible people there to help us navigate through it.”

The Griffin Accelerator is an intensive program that empowers entrepreneurs to achieve sustainable business success.

The program runs weekly workshops and information sessions.

Participants are also paired with respected mentors from the business community to help interrogate their start-ups, build critical capacity for investing, raise capital, develop sales and business, and attain significant industry and investor networks.

It’s no silver bullet, and Teresa says some business owners – herself included – will come out with more questions than when they began.

“Do I know more about my business? Absolutely. This program has been invaluable, incredible, life-changing. Am I more certain than I was when I started? No!” she says.

“The more you know, the more you realise how much there’s left to learn. But, armed with all this new knowledge and experience, I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”

CBRIN pairs mentees with mentors who will help identify and address gaps in their expertise.

Teresa was paired with Tailored Accounts CEO Harry Hoang as her primary mentor – a move she says was “pretty genius”.

“I come from a music background and I’m very good at managing things as a sole trader, but running a corporate business requires a whole infrastructure that’s critical for accountability and transparency,” she says.

“Another area is financial projections. I’ve never had to pitch for funding before and say, ‘This is what I think my business is going to do’ before it’s even done it.

“I didn’t know where to begin with figuring out how much money I should be setting aside for each element of the business. How much should I increase my salary? How much should I put aside for R&D and growing the value of the business? These are things I had never thought about, and Harry’s insights were invaluable.”

Teresa has also received guidance on her website, help with applications and preparation for the kinds of questions potential investors might ask.

“It would be quicker to list the areas of the business that haven’t evolved after this program than the areas that have,” she says.

Your Season is a fabulous product that can save clothing wastage and help people enhance their natural beauty, and I can’t wait to see people on the platform.”

The next Griffin Accelerator cohort will open for applications in the second half of 2024.