Mill House Social Enterprise Accelerator
Social innovators, change makers and emerging social entrepreneurs looking for experienced guidance to manage the tension of trade and impact will find support, mentorship and proven approaches to accelerate their impact with Mill House. GRIST, our flagship program, offers facilitated learning support, including workshops, networking and expert panels, delivered by very experienced social entrepreneurs with lived experience of starting, operating and suspending a social enterprise. This practitioner-led program, coupled with proven learning tools, assists GRISTers to accelerate their impact and identify business development and investment opportunities to scale their venture..
2021 Expression of Interest applications are NOW OPEN.
We are now accepting Expression of Interest applications for 2021
Each GRIST venture is carefully selected by our panel of Industry Professionals and Social Impact Investors. They are looking for projects with a clear, compelling and measurable theory of change. They are also looking for market ready B2B or B2C ventures that can be tested, validated and iterated during the Program. Would you like to discuss your venture to understand how GRIST can help you accelerate impact? Get in touch today
What is GRIST?
The Mill House Social Enterprise Accelerator Program (GRIST)
GRIST is our flagship program and is designed to accelerate a venture’s social impact. We are offering a 5-day intensive workshop program (delivered 2 days + 3 days over 2 weeks) to anchor your acceleration journey AND a formal mentoring program to guide your market testing. In the workshops you will learn skills, develop your venture and engage with your cohort to bring your Minimum Viable Product to market quickly. During the formal mentoring you will be supported to gather the data you need to iterate and accelerate your venture.
The types of ventures
We have seen in previous GRIST programs include ventures that provide training and employment for individuals excluded from mainstream economic participation, such as people with intellectual disabilities, experience episodic mental health conditions or that have been incarcerated.
Other Mill House Alumni are iterating impact models in areas such as adolescent mental health and wellness, Indigenous advancement, problem drinking, health, housing, gender inequity and food security. Each GRIST venture is carefully selected by our panel of Industry Professionals and Social Impact Investors. They are looking for projects with a clear, compelling and measurable theory of change. They are also looking for market ready B2B or B2C ventures that can be tested, validated and iterated during the Program.
- Business Model Report– Complete and polish business model report in our tested format that you can share with potential partners and investors
- A supportive and experienced team including business mentors, and Mill House staff to empower you to rapidly develop your concept and Business Model
- The GRIST is valued at $10,000 AUD Thanks to our Sponsor Members, program participants are only asked to contribute $1,500 AUD for the entire program per venture for up to 3 participants
- Need financial support? We have the discretion to support our Change Makers who are experiencing financial difficulties. We also offer flexible payment terms. There is a place to indicate in your application that you will need Fee Help
- YOUR CONTRIBUTION $1500 AUD (GST INCL)
- Also, consider the value of your time. In addition to the learning time and workshops, you will also have tasks to complete between sessions. We recommend that the Principal Founder will need at least 2-3 days a week during the program to be available to put the time in to develop your business and financial model. We encourage the participation of teams who can share the load so that not all team members have to attend every workshop
Frequently Asked Questions
The Mill House is part of the Canberra Innovation Network, and we work closely with the GRIFFIN Accelerator team. The GRIFFIN program is sector agnostic, and many GRIFFIN founders also identify as social entrepreneurs.
The main difference between our programs is GRIFFIN requires Founders to take on equity investment in return for mentorship and support. The GRIST fee-for-service approach gives you the option to look at several funding models to drive your Impact mission and sustainable business model and develop relationships with mentors that are not also co-owners of your business.
We believe that venture capital is one of many ways to grow a business. Giving equity is not always consistent with the growth trajectory of hybrid companies that also rely on philanthropy and grants from the Government, so having a few options helps in the long term. It can take time some time experimenting in the market before you nail the right business/impact narrative.
For this reason, we do not take an equity stake in the ventures at GRIST stage. It’s easier to GRIST with us if your product is ready for the market; however, we can still help you to GRIST if you are still experimenting.
If you have a pre-prototype technology idea that will require significant up-front investment (web application, medical device, electronic games), GRIFFIN might be a better option for you. We are genuinely interested in making sure you get the help you need to accelerate your impact—even if that is not with us. So, don’t hesitate to reach out if you aren’t sure.
We provide advice, mentoring and targeted assistance such as introductions to potential alliance partners and customers.
We come together as a cohort for an entrepreneurial education and peer networking opportunities. The mandatory workshops are online learning opportunities delivered in real-time and self-paced modules to help you navigate the various aspects of Social Enterprise.
Our program kicks off with an orientation session to show you the platforms we will be using and supporting you to navigate the virtual space so you can connect, share, learn and develop your venture. The purpose of this is to encourage you to fully immerse yourself in the progress of social venture building and in connecting with your peers who are very likely to be your future collaborators and (we hope!) friends.
No. Participants for our programs are selected through an extensive review process to ensure that we have the right expertise to support you over the entire Accelerator program.
We have learned through trial and error that the best approach is to strictly limit participation for those you are most ready and have clear impact narratives to address pressing social, cultural, economic and environmental challenges right here in our region.
We seek social ventures that intend to start-up and grow quickly through the acquisition of new customers in new or existing markets. We want to develop entrepreneurial capacity rather than teach you how to get an increase in donations or Government funding.
If you have a trading model (way to make money that transacts services or products) and an impact idea (way to make a measurable difference), we can probably GRIST it.
We will meet with you regularly to review progress, set challenges and provide advice to ensure you’re on the right track.
The Mill House facilitators, mentors, and investors are people who know how to help entrepreneurs succeed, and many of these are already successful entrepreneurs. They understand what you’re going through in starting an innovative new business. They are each committed to social entrepreneurship and are willing to draw on personal and professional networks to benefit your ventures.
No. We are offering two streams. Stream 1 is the program, and optional masterclasses to help you graduate with a realistic and comprehensive Business Model. Stream 2 is available for teams and energetic Change Makers who want to give Crowdfunding a go to validate their model BEFORE the GRIST Graduation.
The SERVICE ONE Social Ventures Catalyst program, using the StartSomeGood platform, is our partnership model to leverage your crowd with additional investment. Not all Accelerator participants will be eligible to participate in the SERVICE ONE Social Venture Catalyst campaign, and there is a separate application process for engaging in our crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding is a method of fundraising and market validation and is ideal for trading social enterprises with consumer products. In our experience, Crowdfunding is a great way to supercharge your Mill House Social Enterprise Accelerator experience because it creates a supported environment for you to apply everything you’ve learned. It is not for the unwary though, so we spend a little extra time with you to make sure you stay on track.
The Mill House will host a Graduation and Investment showcase event designed to expose your venture to a range of social impact investors in our region.
We will support you to be able to do the best pitch possible and we will activate the network to get the right people in the room. Your pitch will help you access the next stage of development based on where you land at the end of the program—you might be looking for potential investors, partners, team members, or customers.
After Graduation, we will maintain our relationship with you. You will be invited to Exit Interview, so we can have a longer chat about your experience, what we can do to improve the program, and you will become an Alumni of Mill House. The Alumni network is a growing ecosystem of Change Makers and Social Enterprise ventures adding to the status and reputation of Social Enterprise in the Canberra region, and across the world.
We understand that developing any small business, especially for-purpose ventures, takes time.
The GRIST program is designed to learn quickly, challenge your idea and, just like going to the gym, it might feel uncomfortable and sweaty, but we want you to come out stronger. It’s not for everyone though!
We encourage people who are not sure to have a consult with our Team first. Consultations are always free at Mill House. Alternatively, you might wish to engage with us first through Mill House Clinic, where we scope and deliver a specific piece of consultancy work for you using our fantastic Associates and Industry Professional Mentors.
We are also connected into the Innovation and Small Business ecosystem in Canberra, so we can keep you informed of other opportunities and events like the ACT CoSS Networks (https://www.actcoss.org.au/services-resources/networks-working-groups) SECNA (https://secna.org.au/), ASENA (https://www.asena.org.au/ ) and the First Wednesday Connect networking sessions, and maybe we will see you there!