Q: What is The Mediapreneur?
A: The Mediapreneur is Mediacorp’s incubation programme for media-related start-ups. Start-ups admitted to the Mediapreneur will go through a one-year structured incubation programme. They will be housed at Mediacorp Campus located within Mediapolis@one-north and receive seed funding of up to S$50,000 in exchange for a small amount of equity. More importantly, they will receive help and guidance from experienced mentors on all aspects of their business on a regular basis and be able to access an extended mentor network of established entrepreneurs, investors and technologists. There will be opportunities to tap on Mediacorp’s considerable intellectual property, such as news and entertainment content, Mediacorp’s platforms such as TV and radio and tie up with the many business units of Mediacorp. Through the Mediapreneur programme, we hope to turn start-up companies with innovative ideas into successful technology businesses.
Q: How is The Mediapreneur different from tech accelerators such as Y Combinator, TechStars or JFDI?
A: Tech accelerators are usually intensive bootcamps where start-ups work flat out during the 3 month acceleration period and pitch their business ideas to investors during Demo Day at the end. The Mediapreneur is a less intensive (but no less rigorous) programme spread out over 12 months, during which start-ups are systematically guided by mentors on a regular basis on all aspects of their business to develop into sustainable companies. In addition, the Mediapreneur provides start-ups with the opportunity to build media businesses leveraging Mediacorp’s intellectual property and resources. They will also have access to Mediacorp’s extensive platforms on TV, radio, print and online to reach out to their customers.
Q: Why does Mediacorp want to help start-up companies through The Mediapreneur?
A: The media industry – TV, radio, print and entertainment – has undergone and is still undergoing tumultuous changes brought about by the Internet and the mobile phone. The industry is in a state of flux, but as always, in the midst of rapid changes, there are opportunities for building exciting new businesses. We believe that the most innovative ideas come from young start-ups. The Mediapreneur gives us a platform to monitor directly new technologies and creative business models, some of which may support our existing business while others could lead to new lines of business. So, the Mediapreneur is a win-win programme for both the start-ups and Mediacorp.
Q: How much funding does The Mediapreneur give to the start-up?
A: We will provide seed funding and determine equity stake based on our assessment of the stage of your start-up. Funding will be disbursed in two equal tranches in exchange for usually between 6% and 10% equity stake. Tranche 1 will be disbursed upon acceptance into the Mediapreneur programme. Tranche 2 will be disbursed 6 months later, subject to satisfactory achievement of agreed milestones. The table below illustrates the level of funding given. However, this is only a guide – the final amount to be invested is subject to Mediacorp’s judgment.
Q: How does the Mediapreneur determine the valuation of selected start-ups?
A: We do not seek to do a formal valuation of the start-ups. We operate very similarly to accelerators, which usually have a standard formula for cash investment and equity stake. We allow a small number of variations depending on the state of your start-up and whether you have a prototype, product or customers and revenue.
Q: Is the Mediapreneur valuing your start-up too cheaply?
A: The Mediapreneur, like the accelerator, is not a cash investment programme. The value of the Mediapreneur goes far beyond the seed investment. The entire package includes office space, access to Mediacorp’s IP, expertise and platforms, mentorship, coaching, business opportunities etc. For a start-up in the seed stage, these are arguably more important and valuable than the cash investment.
Q: What happens after my company gets selected for the Mediapreneur?
A: You will receive a term sheet that spells out the terms that are broadly described in this site. The term sheet will indicate the cash investment amount and the equity stake to be taken. There will also be milestones for the next 6 and 12 months, which are proposed by you and accepted by us. If you accept and sign the term sheet, you will be given a formal legal agreement, which essentially puts all the terms in the term sheet in legalese. Once that is signed, your company can move into the Mediapreneur space and begin the incubation process. The first tranche of cash (half the amount committed) will be released into your company’s bank account within days.
Q: Can I negotiate the terms after I get selected for the Mediapreneur?
A: We believe in being transparent and have spelt out the terms of the programme such as the amount to be invested and the equity to be taken, upfront. Cash investment is between S$35,000 and S$50,000 and equity to be taken is between 6 and 10%. If your expectations fall far out of the range we have indicated (for example, you expect S$50,000 in exchange for say, 3% stake), please do not apply as you will only be wasting our time and yours. We recognize the difficulty in having a ‘one size fits all’ formula so we have allowed a very small number of variations depending on the state of development of your start-up. As the Mediapreneur expects to take in 10-15 start-ups, we will use a standard legal agreement for all. We believe the terms are very fair to start-ups so we do not expect to be involved in negotiation.
Q: How long will all these paperwork take?
A: This depends mainly on the start-ups. On the Mediapreneur side, everything is transparent and pretty standard – the terms, the term sheet and legal agreement. If the start-up takes one week to study the term sheet and 2 weeks for the legal agreement, it can begin the programme within a month from the date it was selected.
Q: I have an existing shareholder agreement with some shareholders. How will this affect the Mediapreneur agreement?
A: We will provide you with our standard legal subscription and shareholding agreement. It will be your responsibility to ensure that the agreement to be signed by all shareholders is revised to incorporate any rights of the existing shareholders subject to agreement with Mediacorp. Mediacorp’s rights should not be any less favourable than that of your existing investors.
Q: What if we make changes to our original business plan and this affects the milestones set out previously?
A: We understand that changes are normal in very early stage start-ups as you seek to find traction in your business idea. We will not just be looking at numbers but will take into account the progress you have made to determine if Tranche 2 will follow.
Q: What can the funds be used for?
A: The funds are to be used for the ordinary development and operational expenses of your start-up. Salaries of founders may be supported subject to a limit of S$1,000 per founder per month unless the company has additional sources of cash and is able to demonstrate that it can operate comfortably with higher founder salaries.
Q: Why is there a limit on the founders’ salary?
A: For start-ups at the seed and early stages, it is very important to conserve cash to lengthen the runway of development. It is common for start-up founders to forgo salary or take very little compensation until a larger round of funding is raised. The founders are essentially betting on the start-up’s future success for their reward. This is also a strong indication of ‘skin in the game’.
Q: We have already obtained iJAM funding and under iJAM we are allowed to claim S$1,000 per month for each founder’s allowance. If we are admitted into the Mediapreneur programme, can we use the Mediapreneur funding to claim a further S$1,000 per month for each founder’s allowance? Hence, this would give us S$2,000 per month for each founder.
A: The S$1,000 is only intended as a subsistence allowance. We follow the iJAM $1,000 limit on salary for founders because we believe that entrepreneurs will need to have skin in the game when they embark on a start-up. There are founders who channel all resources into growing their start-up rather than pay themselves. Hence, if iJAM funding is already used for paying founder allowances, we expect Mediacorp’s funding to be used for the development of your start-up rather than supplementing the founders’ salary.
Q: What are the other terms of the Mediapreneur?
A: We will use standard terms as much as possible to keep the agreement simple so it can be quickly settled. Here are the main ones:
(a) Mediacorp will have the right (but not the obligation) to appoint a director and an observer to your board.
(b) Founders have the following obligations:
• Active founders must remain employed and committed to the start-up for at least 2 years from the start of the programme.
• Founders cannot sell, transfer or dispose of any shares they hold for 2 years
• If a founder leaves the start-up for whatever reason, he/she shall not be involved in activities that compete with the business of the start-up for 1 year after his departure.
(c) Mediacorp will have first right of refusal to inject further funding.
(d) There will be the usual standard representations and warranties found in any investment agreement.
Q: Will Mediacorp be dictating how the start-ups operate?
A: No, the start-ups will operate according to its own vision and strategy. The Mediapreneur’s role is to maximize the chances of success of the start-up. As selected start-ups are those operating in the media space, we expect that some of them would have mutually beneficial business relationships with Mediacorp’s business. However, this is not a requirement.
Q: How does the Mediapreneur mentorship work?
A: Upon admission to the programme, you will be assigned to a suitable mentor or mentors who will meet with your team regularly and guide you on all aspects of your business. You will receive coaching in your areas of need such as in lean start-up principles, business modeling, pitching and intellectual property management. Beyond this, you will also have access to other mentors, domain experts in Mediacorp, as well as an extended mentor network of established entrepreneurs, investors and technologists who can provide help in their areas of expertise.
Q: What sort of start-ups are you looking for?
A: We are looking for start-ups with an innovative media-related business idea. We are especially interested in ideas addressing one or more of the problem statements stated above.
Q: How will start-ups be evaluated?
A: Evaluation would be 50% on the founding team and 50% on the business proposition and market opportunity. We are looking for start-ups with innovative ideas that address a sizeable market opportunity, with founders that have the necessary skills to deliver.
Q: How many start-ups will be admitted?
A: We plan to have 10 to 15 start-ups in each call.
Q: Suppose our start-up builds a product using Mediacorp’s intellectual property, does Mediacorp have a claim on the intellectual property developed?
A: No, any intellectual property developed by the start-up belongs to the start-up. However, if your product incorporates Mediacorp’s intellectual property, you will need a license from Mediacorp. Likewise, if Mediacorp wants to use your product, Mediacorp will need to obtain a license for your part of the intellectual property. This is standard industry practice.
Q: How do I make use of Mediacorp’s intellectual property and work with Mediacorp’s business units?
A: The Mediapreneur team includes mentors from Mediacorp who will help you link up with the appropriate people and business units at Mediacorp.
Q: Do I have to be at the incubator for the entire one-year period of the programme?
A: We require incubated start-ups to be housed on site during the programme. This is because we do not see the Mediapreneur merely as a collection of companies operating independently on their own, but as a community of like-minded start-ups providing mutual encouragement and support to one another in their respective entrepreneurial journeys. There will be weekly meetings with your mentors, and many learning opportunities through informal discussions, workshops and networking events. We also believe in the value of serendipitous encounters. Operating within a community of start-ups will increase the chances of such valuable encounters. Locating within Mediacorp will also make it extremely convenient to work with Mediacorp’s business units. Of course, you are not required to be in the Mediapreneur office at all times. You are expected to ‘get out of the building’ frequently to carry out customer development and validation.
Q: Where will my team be incubated at?
A: The Mediapreneur is at the Mediacorp Campus located within Mediapolis@one-north. This is a new ultra-modern state-of-the-art building right at the heart of Singapore’s innovation district, within walking distance of Block 71 and the Launchpad and close to technology companies, research institutes, universities and polytechnics. Mediacorp has plans to make the new office a frequent gathering place for players in Singapore’s entrepreneurial eco-system so Mediapreneur start-ups can conveniently participate in such networking events.
Q: What happens at the end of the incubation period?
A: During incubation, you will receive close guidance to refine your business idea and improve the competitiveness of your value proposition to help you achieve traction. The Mediapreneur mentors will also help you connect with prospective customers, both within Mediacorp and outside, as well as introduce you to potential investors. If you receive sufficient funding for the next stage of development, you may exit the Mediapreneur. If at the end of the one-year incubation period (or even sooner), you are still not able to achieve traction for your start-up, you have to make a serious decision to abandon your original idea or pivot to a new idea. You will have to exit the Incubator to make way for other start-ups.
Q: Will you sign a non-disclosure agreement?
A: No, we will not sign any non-disclosure agreement with start-ups applying to the Mediapreneur. No incubator will do so at this stage. However, there will be confidentiality clauses in the legal agreement with start-ups selected for the programme.
Q: My start-up is not based in Singapore – can I apply?
A: Yes, you can apply. However, if you are admitted, you will need to make the necessary arrangements to be re-located to Singapore for the period of the programme. You also need to incorporate your start-up in Singapore as a company (‘Pte Ltd’ or ‘Ltd’) and open a Singapore corporate bank account.
Q: Must we incorporate our start-up in Singapore before joining the programme?
A: You may apply to the Mediapreneur as a foreign company. However, if you are selected and admitted to the programme, you will have to incorporate your start-up as a Singapore company (‘Pte Ltd’ or ‘Ltd’). Incorporating a company in Singapore is extremely easy, inexpensive and fast. Everything can be done in a matter of days. Please check out https://www.acra.gov.sg.
Q: Does the start-up need to have shareholders who are Singapore citizens or permanent residents?
A: No, there is no such requirement for the Mediapreneur. However, to be eligible for certain government grants, such as iJAM and TECS, your company will need to have at least 30% local shareholding. Mediacorp’s stake counts as local shareholding.
Q: Do the Founders need to be Singapore citizens or permanent residents?
A: No, we welcome entrepreneurs from all nationalities.
Q: Do we need a corporate bank account?
A: Yes, you will need to have a Singapore corporate bank account once you have been selected for the Mediapreneur. Mediacorp’s investment will be paid to this account.
Q: Is my start-up allowed to apply for government grants or seek funding from VCs or angels after being admitted?
A: Yes, most definitely. The incubation process is to help you refine your business proposition and product so that you can secure more funding to grow your company further. The ability to secure more funding is an indicator of success for the Mediapreneur. Government grants will give your start-up a longer runway. In fact, one of the roles of the Mediapreneur mentors is to help you secure grants and further investment.
Q: We have already received some funding. Can we still apply?
A: Yes, you can. Start-ups who have received government grants and funding are welcome to apply.
Q: Will the Mediapreneur fund multiple start-ups who are working on the same idea or are directly competitive with each other?
A:This depends on the assessment of the Evaluation Panel, but it would be unlikely.
Q: Our team has more than one idea. Can we submit more than one application?
A: Yes, you may submit more than one application. However, it is probably wiser to concentrate on a single good idea and develop that thoroughly.
Q: I am a single founder. Can I get accepted into the Mediapreneur, or do you only look for teams?
A: We believe a team is more likely to have the mix of complementary skills necessary to a start-up’s success. We strongly advise you to find at least one co-founder who is able to complement your skills set before applying to the programme.
Q: I have a great business idea but I am not technical. Will the Mediapreneur still accept me? Will you help to find technical people to work with me on the idea?
A: We suggest you find a co-founder who can provide the necessary technical skills to develop your idea further before you apply. A start-up business is not just about having an idea. It requires much work to be done in determining if your idea has a market and whether your solution can be implemented.
Q: I have missed the application deadline for the programme. Do you take ad-hoc applications?
A: We expect to take in the bulk of incubatees during major calls for applications. However, we may consider taking in exceptional start-ups outside of the formal calls, subject to space availability.
Q: Why was our application not selected?
A: In any competitive call for proposal, there will be successful and unsuccessful applicants. The Evaluation Panel has the task of deciding which start-ups will be admitted. If you were not selected, we hope you will continue to refine your business idea and re-apply in subsequent calls.
Q: I have submitted my application and I am thinking of emailing the mentors to tell them more about my start-up. Should I do that?
A: Please do not do that. Our mentors will have access to your application and we have a fair and systematic way of evaluating applications. Sending emails to the mentors to check on the status of your application or trying to get them to be interested in your start-up will negatively influence your chances of getting selected.
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