If you’ve been following along with us at Blackbird in 2020, you’ve probably seen our Giants talks series. In May this year, we created a week-long virtual conference as a way for early-stage founders to 'stand on the shoulders of giants' who have come before them. With over 7000 registrations over the week, and overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees, we’ve continued with Giants Weekly, our regular talks series from leading global founders and operators.
But we believe there's more work to be done. We surveyed hundreds of aspiring and very early stage founders, and heard their common challenges. The difficulty in finding good advice early on. Learning to back yourself. Knowing what steps to take, and when.
Part of the Blackbird Master Plan is to help entrepreneurs everywhere learn and become better operators. And if truly believe in supporting wild hearts, with the wildest of ideas, right at the beginning, then we need to create pathways for more early stage founders to achieve their goals: whether it's validating their idea, building an MVP or pitching for their first investment.
That’s why in 2021, Giants is evolving from an events series to a knowledge-sharing platform. We're building a place for founders at the beginning of their journey to connect with first believers - to truly stand on the shoulders of giants.
What is Giants?
Giants is a community for aspiring and early-stage founders and those helping them to succeed. We’ve created a place for this community to come together through mentoring, founder knowledge-sharing, education and accountability tracking. Our initial MVP launched in January and we now run three fully virtual cohorts a year. The cohort includes a year-round office hours program with over 100 mentors from Australia and New Zealand's best startups, founder directories and community groups and free content and goal-setting targeted to founders at the ideation and MVP stages. Everything is virtual, on-demand and free.
We all want to be the first person to give someone their shot, and our community has put their hand up many times to help support next generation talent. Our hope is that Giants will also help more founders turn their ideas into reality, while providing a place for more of our best founders, operators and leaders to be part of that journey in a simple, meaningful way.
Why the very beginning?
Back in 2012, at the very beginning of the Blackbird journey, we invested in Canva’s very first round, before there was a product. The investment we made in Canva was possible because of our first investors - many of whom were founders themselves.
The very beginning of a startup is a magic time. It’s a time of possibility, of question-asking, of rapid fire ideas. But it can also be lonely, daunting, and confusing, particularly for first-time founders. There are many brilliant places for founders to scale and grow their startup in ANZ, but few for founders that don’t fit neatly into the investment box, who haven’t found their co-founder, who have the ambition but are still working on the idea.
Giants exists to plug this gap by bringing together the interests and passions of people who want to form companies. Through Giants, we can bring more ambitious people together and create new pathways for access into the ecosystem. From this very beginning, founders can go on to Startmate or other accelerators, begin their investment journey or start building their team - whatever their first giant leap forward might be.
If you’re at the very beginning of your founder journey, or you want to help someone on theirs, I hope you’ll join us.
What is Giants?
Giants is a community for aspiring and early-stage founders. You can get mentoring from the best people from companies like Brighte, CultureAmp, SafetyCulture, Atlassian, Dovetail, Baraja, Airbnb, and Stripe, plus VCs, angels, and impact investors.. It is free to join and you can apply for the next cohort here.
Who can apply to join Giants?
For founders:Giants is specifically for aspiring and early-stage founders, so if you’ve got an idea - or even just the beginnings of one, then you’re exactly who we’re looking for. You do not need to have a fully-fledged product or even an MVP, all you need is an initial idea you're exploring and hoping to validate.
For mentors:On the mentoring side, if you’re a founder, investor, operator or subject matter expert who wants to give back to the startup community and help shape tomorrow’s best ANZ founders, we’d love to have you.
What do I get as part of Giants?
Book three monthly 1:1 mentoring sessions with our ‘Giants in Residence’ mentorsA founder and mentor virtual community groups to chat, ask questions and share updatesGoal-setting and advice tailored to validating your idea and building your initial productAccess to our private Notion library and Masterclass content (Optional) a founder buddy at a similar stage to share the journey withExclusive events and networking opportunities
Does it cost anything to be part of Giants?
What do I have to commit to as part of Giants?
We designed Giants to be as self-serve as possible; once you’re in the community you can find and connect with other founders and request to book mentors for your 1;1 sessions each month. At the core of Giants is goal-setting; you’re much more likely to achieve something that you’ve committed to publicly, after all - but our Masterclass content and Resources library are designed to be consumed at a pace that works for you - roughly 8 hours of content per Masterclass. During 2021, we are testing a cohort model where founders can set their goals and track against them over a 12 week timeframe.
For mentors, we just ask that you commit to 2 x 30 minute monthly mentoring sessions - these can be in a block or in two blocks, either at a recurring monthly time or you can nominate different times monthly.
When is Giants starting? Can I book in mentoring sessions yet?
We run three, 12-week cohorts a year. If you've applied as a founder to join Giants, we'll review your application for our next upcoming cohort - depending on when you apply this could be weeks or months away from starting (hint: you'll always find the most up-to-date info about our next cohort dates on the Giants homepage). If you're successful in joining the next cohort, you'll be onboarded to our community platforms and able to book in mentoring sessions from Week 1 of the cohort.
When will I find out if I’ve been approved to join?
We review all cohort applications 2-3 weeks out from cohort commencing and will notify you of our decision either way at this time.
What if I am not an early stage founder but still want to be a part of the program?
The Giants programming is specifically targeted to aspiring and early stage founders, while more established founders and operators can become a mentor through Giants in Residence. Giants is not an accelerator or incubator (head to Startmate for that!) and later-stage companies are unlikely to benefit from Giants programming and community. With that said, if you really want to be part of the program and have a new idea of how, get in touch with us and tell us your idea.
Do we get to choose our Giants in Residence mentors/how are we matched?
Yes. Giants in Residence works on a first-come, first-served basis, with mentors adding their availability at the beginning of the cohort or on a monthly basis. You'll get a walk-through on how to book these sessions in as part of your founder onboarding to Giants.
Can I email my mentor to follow up with them directly?
While we will send you and your mentor a post-meeting survey, it is up to you and your mentor to set the terms of any follow up correspondence or actions from your session. Please be respectful and mindful of your mentors’ time in any communications.
Can I directly contact other founders I find through the Giants community?
Part of our goal with Giants is to connect founders at a similar stage or with a similar challenge; finding a co-founder, building MVP etc. On our Notion knowledge base you’ll be able to see these founders, however any outreach will be self-directed. Again, we ask that you use common sense, don’t be spammy and respect others’ time when reaching out to the community.