Opportunity Machine (OM) recently announced the launch of its new Builder Program 2.0, an initiative designed to support the rapidly growing startup community in Acadiana. The program will empower local tech startups that have progressed beyond the initial stages of market validation and positioned themselves on a trajectory for rapid growth, by providing technical support to non-technical founders, access to national mentors, and education tailored to high-growth startups. With 20 startups from across South Louisiana set to participate in the inaugural cohort this spring, this program marks a significant step forward in fostering the vibrancy of Acadiana’s growing startup ecosystem.
Contrary to popular belief, starting a tech company doesn’t require being a “tech person” or packing up and moving across the country to Silicon Valley. The emergence of no-code app and software development tools has significantly lowered the barriers to entry for aspiring founders, challenging the traditional narrative.
In today’s landscape, the real challenge lies in the fact that many aspiring founders just “don’t know what they don’t know” about how to launch a tech startup. Even if they’ve scoured YouTube University for all the tips, tricks, and hacks to building a startup, that still doesn’t give them guidance tailored to their startup, or access to the networks and communities that are vital to early-stage startups.
This is especially true for entrepreneurs that are not “tech people” and have no background in coding or software development. These non-technical founders not only have to overcome challenges of learning how to build a startup, but also of learning how to develop (or outsource the development) of the technology product itself.
Opportunity Machine’s new initiative, Builder Program 2.0, is an expansion of the organization’s idea stage startup program, Builder Program 1.0, and is designed to address these challenges head-on, by combining scalable startup education, tailored guidance, technical support, and access to wider networks, providing critical assistance to founders to overcome common barriers to entry.
The program will expand connections for local startups through engagement with national mentors and Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs), who bring experience from mentoring high growth startups at renowned accelerator programs like TechStars, and can provide guidance tailored to each individual startup. These mentors boast a wide network and extensive experience working with tech startups across the country, making them well versed in the nuances of building a high-growth startup. The program will educate founders on key topics such as product development, go-to-market strategy, financial concepts, and legal considerations specific to high-growth startups.
Startups without a technical founder will receive additional guidance provided by a Technical Entrepreneur in Residence. These software experts will remove technology barriers and help the founders progress towards the development of their initial product. These Technical Entrepreneurs in Residence draw upon their wealth of experience from building the technology platforms behind local startup successes like Waitr (now ASAP), as well as non-local startups like Outdoorsy.
Startups will also have the opportunity to be paired with Computer Science students in their last semester of studies at UL Lafayette through a new partnership with the university. This new opportunity will provide students the chance to gain real world experience, while the startup founder receives added technical support for the development of their product.
Destin Ortego, Executive Director of Opportunity Machine, shared, “Our new initiative, Builder Program 2.0, represents a significant leap forward in our mission to nurture the local startup ecosystem. By connecting founders with national mentors and offering hands-on technical support, we’re not just accelerating startup growth; we’re catalyzing a transformation in our entrepreneurial landscape.”
Lafayette Economic Development Authority’s CEO, Mandi Mitchell added, “Startups are vital to the continued diversification and innovation of Acadiana’s business base. Through the OM, hundreds of entrepreneurs have had access to resources they need to establish and grow their businesses including work space, events, and educational programing like Builder Program 2.0. The 20 startups in the OM’s newest cohort are indicative of the strong startup/entrepreneurial ecosystem in Lafayette that is driven by Opportunity Machine.”
For anyone that has been thinking about an idea for a tech startup and is ready to take the first step to de-risk an idea, Interest Forms for the entry level Builder Program 1.0 cohort are open until February 2. Visit bit.ly/Spring24BuilderProgram to take the first step.