Applications open for 2015 round of the Catalyst Centre

As applications open for the 2015 round of the Catalyst Centre, we take a look at how you can give yourself the best chance of getting invited to pitch! No-one enjoys filling in forms, but when it’s a form that could change your whole future, completing this one is a no-brainer.

The process of application for the Catalyst Centre is very simple (the hard part starts when you move in!). It’s a short form, which gives you the opportunity to sell your concept to a panel of expert judges, who will then select those which they believe to have ‘legs’ to benefit from 6 months free accommodation, expert mentoring and business support. You will also find guidance notes on the website to help you when filling in the form; make sure you read them!!!!

All you need is a viable business idea and a reasonable level of business acumen; the leadership team at the Catalyst Centre can help with the rest. It’s not for the faint hearted but it certainly tests commitment and resolve, only serious, dedicated and hard-working people need apply! It’s not essential to have commercial experience or even a business plan at this stage – just a great idea and the drive and determination to succeed because the Catalyst Centre opportunity provides everything for the burgeoning start-up. Personality, motivation and coach-ability are important factors! This year’s tenants have seen some great benefits of being part of the programme, with all four companies showing considerable progress. From growth opportunities to new business relationships, securing funding and pitching to investors, they have certainly made the most out of their time in the Catalyst Centre.

The application form is split into four sections, each of which asks for detailed responses to a question. Catalyst Centre judge, and CEO of the University of Southampton Science Park, Peter Birkett, has a few tips to inspire thought in those of you preparing to complete your application.

  1. NEEDS: Focus on your value proposition.What value will you deliver to your customer? Which one of your customer’s problems are you solving?
  1. APPROACH:How much will people pay for your product/solution? Can you deliver your product/solution and make a sensible margin? How big a market are you addressing and, realistically, what is your market share likely to be?
  1. BENEFITS:Think about the financials. How will your business make money? How will your customer benefit? Will you need investment and, if so, how and when will the investor get a return?
  1. COMPETITION:Think about what differentiates your offering. What is your Unique Selling Point?

Addressing these tips will serve to clarify your business proposition, firstly and probably most importantly to yourself, and also to the judges, who will base their decision on what business value the ideas submitted to them will bring to the table. It’s not enough to have an idea – it must be a viable business. Your job is to convince the panel that you have put serious thought into whether your business can make it in the real world.