Accelerators such as JFDI or HaxAsia in Singapore, SparkLabs in Korea and Movida in Japan have had much success in growing startups into fruits that are viable for harvest by early-stage investors. However, the selection pool for each accelerator is large, and not all startups are able to benefit from the intensive training. In fact, JFDI has an acceptance rate of less than 3.6 per cent, as reported by e27 in a previous article.

Now there is good news for pre-seed startups! Malaysia-based 1337 Ventures, the company behind 1337 Accelerator, has announced the launch of its Alpha Startups pre-­accelerator programme together with MDeC.

1337 Accelerator has recently started its third batch of startups, with focus on retail analytics, indoor positioning systems, wearable tech and proximity marketing, among others. However, the objective of launching a different kind of accelerator (Alpha) is to fill a gap 1337 Ventures sees in the ecosystem. Prominent startup accelerators have strict entry criteria and this initiative is an effort to address the challenge.

The programme is conducted in a much shorter period — a five-day intensive bootcamp, where the teams would test and validate the product or startup ideas together with like-minded peers. They would also be guided by experienced mentors. It will take place from May 19 to May 23 this year.

Some of the key areas it will focus on includes customer development, market identification, building product value proposition, testing assumptions, developing a minimum viable product, coming up with a marketing plan and working on the startup pitch. Some of these elements are shared with startup accelerators, but not all. For example, in JFDI, the teams are already past the ideation stage, with some already having a minimum viable product ready. There is also much more focus on product-market fit, customer development and revenue generation.

Bikesh Lakmichand, CEO, 1337 Accelerator said, “We’re seeing a real gap even as we’re vetting through hundreds of applications from startups applying for funding. As much as there’s an evident growth in innovative ideas, there’s also a rising pile of ‘not there yet’ applications in terms of being a validated startup.”

Post the programme, all Alpha pre­-accelerator startups would be prepared when applying to funding programmes run by 1337 Accelerator and other recognised funding organisations throughout Malaysia.

Startups keen on joining the Alpha startups programme should send in their applications by May 14, 2014 (closing date) in the form of a one-minute video pitch.