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Become a
Startup Founder

Bring your business idea to life and learn what it takes to form a successful startup.

learn about best startup practice, idea validation, branding, business modelling and growth strategies

join weekly 1:1 coaching sessions with our JCU Entrepreneurs-in-Residence

meet expert guest speakers and industry professionals

become pitch-ready and present your business idea to potential investors and supporters during Pitch Night

receive US$5,000 worth of Amazon Web Service credits upon successful completion of the program

receive a 90% discount on HubSpot’s world-leading CRM, sales, marketing, and customer service software

gain access to the JCU Ideas Lab Startup & Innovation Hub after successful completion of the program

secure an application spot in JCU's Sandpit2Seed commercialisation program for up to $250K of funding*

*only accessible for students / staff currently enrolled / employed at James Cook University

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The 12 week pre-accelerator program will equip you with the confidence, knowledge, skills and connections to maximise your chances to form a successful startup.  


Worried your idea isn't 'good enough' for business success? 

Don't let that hold you back - the program is designed to give you the entrepreneurial skills and ability to validate and adapt your idea until it is market fit. The program is for you if you are:

Able to invest time into the project

Committed and willing to learn

The idea is plausible and legal

Product / service is scaleable

Early business stage 



Aaron Birkby

Co-founder of Tribe Global

Aaron Birkby is the co-founder of Tribe Global which delivers leadership empowerment programs for individuals, teams, organisations and communities to make a greater impact with reduced burnout and stress.


Aaron works closely with founders of high-growth startups as well as large multinational giants like Google, YouTube and Novartis. 


He was previously named Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016 after successfully building multiple technology companies.

Aaron is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at James Cook University and the main facilitator to deliver the Startup OnRamp program in Cairns.

JCU Entrepreneur-in-Residence


Darryl Lyons

Co-founder of Escavox

Darryl Lyons is a co-founder of Escavox, a startup company supporting better decision-making, supply chain efficiency and waste reduction in the perishable food supply industry.


Darryl has a strong background in designing and optimising technology with an excellent understanding of commercial requirements in design/deployment of new and emerging technology. Darryl provides extensive experiences in consulting, design and engineering of IoT solutions, specialising in procurement and deployment of IoT for the agriculture sector. 

Darryl is JCU's first indigenous Entrepreneur-in-Residence and is based at the JCU Ideas Lab in Cairns.

JCU Entrepreneur-in-Residence


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Tara Diversi

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Startup founder of "Sophus", a digital nutrition support solution. Tara is interested in human behaviour &  behavioural psychology

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Donna Patane

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Donna is an IP lawyer and trade mark attorney, Commercialise Acceleration expert and co-founder of local angel investment group NQ Angels


Bryan Lip


Shaun Donaldson
NQ Angels

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Shaun is the co-founder of angel investment group NQ Angels, and director of Halpin Partners, a tax and business advisory firm.

Bryan is a Silicon Valley based executive with 19 years experience managing and growing a range of organisations, from startups to Fortune 100 companies



What you will learn in the Startup OnRamp Pre-Accelerator

#1 STARTUP 101

What is a Startup
and what makes a successful one

Learn the difference between a startup and a small business. Understand what a viable idea looks like and what the key features are of a successful startup. Define your value proposition and start validating your business idea.


Business Setup & Marketing Foundations

Understand customer needs, learn about the importance of developing a minimum viable product, and discover ways to acquire customers. Find out which legal business structure is right for you and how to obtain legal advice cost-effectively.


Raising Money and selling  the idea

Understand how investment works and what investors are looking for before diving deeper into the mechanics of investment. Learn how to prepare a compelling startup pitch and practice your skill before the final Pitch Night. 

Workshop Modules

Week 1 - Introduction to startups

Week 2 - What is startup failure

Week 3 - Value Proposition, branding

Week 4 - Validation part 1 

Week 5 - Validation part 2 (guest speaker Tara Diversi)

Week 6 - Legal basics (guest speaker Donna Patane) 

Week 7 - Product development 

Week 8 - Customer Acquisition (guest speaker Bryan Lip)

Week 9 - Raising money from investors 

Week 10 - Introduction to pitching 

Week 11 - Mechanics of Investment (guest speaker Shaun Donaldson)

Week 12 - Pitch practice

Taking Notes


Weekly Workshops


Starting September 7, 2021

Every Tuesday 2-4pm

Weekly 1:1 Coaching Sessions


Starting September 7, 2021

Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday

30 minutes per participant 

Pitch Night


November 30, 2021 | 5.30pm - 7.30pm

Find out more about the JCU Ideas Lab here



Register your interest in the JCU Startup OnRamp program and apply for a JCU scholarship covering 100% of the Startup OnRamp participation costs, valued at over AUD4000 per participant.

The best part? You don't need to be a student at JCU to be able to apply!


Express your interest for our 2022 intake. 

Complete the form and we will be in touch!

Thanks for getting in touch! We will get back to you soon.