Build Club is launching an accelerator for AI founders to take on the US

- April 19, 2024 3 MIN READ
UnSloth AI founder Daniel Han, Build Club founder Annie Liao and Artificial Analysis AI founder Micah Hill-Smith.
Build Club, Australia’s largest AI engineer and founder community is partnering with AWS to launch an accelerator for technical AI founders.

The Build Club Accelerator is for 15 Australian technical founders  – AI engineer and researchers – and will give them a springboard into the US market.

Build Club founder Annie Liao said her ambition is to unearth and nurture AI talent to succeed in a highly competitive sector, but warned it’s only for founders with absolute determination and grit.

“We want to find undiscovered talent in universities, academia and big tech and give them the opportunity to go hardcore on their dreams. This accelerator is to give people 6 weeks to work on their dreams and take this leap of faith,” she said.

“It’s going to be the most hardcore accelerator around.The six weeks will be the most intense in their lives, it’s their chance to make their dreams come true and go hardcore – it will be the hardest these builders have ever worked.”

At the end of the program, which runs from May to June, the top five participants will free flights for a two-week tour to San Francisco to be immersed in its hacker ecosystem and demo to top VCs in the Bay area.

Liao said the accelerator is strategically focused on AI and technical founders and the grassroots level, betting on the thesis of the “one person unicorn”.

“The one hard requirement is to have obsession to build a category creating AI company,” she said.

“It’s not your conventional accelerator, we believe technical founders will build the next generation of AI unicorns. We have been super specific with the program and type of founder in it.”

Every founder chosen for Build Club Accelerator will get $25,000 in AWS Credits to build their AI startups, $5,000 in MongoDB credits, $500 employment card from Airwallex and receive mentorship from top VCs and co-marketing opportunities with sponsors.

“We wanted to create an accelerator for AI founders specifically, these businesses can be built in weeks not months like the traditional business,” Liao said.

“Last year we experimented with different accelerator formats in Build Club and think we have finally landed on something special. In the program, builders will set shared OKR goals, have daily accountability code reviews with each other and co-work 24/7. They are essentially each other’s team.”

The team will work from a dedicated Build Club hacker space in Sydney CBD 24/7 courtesy of Stone and Chalk.

Build Club was created in September 2023 by Liao during her time as an AI investor in venture capital as a way to better support ambitious founders at scale, inspired by her own visit to San Francisco last year where she visited BuildSpace, Newton and Founders Inc.

She was inspired to recreate that ecosystem locally and last month Build Club opened Australia’s first AI coworking space in Sydney’s CBD.

Liao raised money for the project via crowdfunding and her faith has been rewarded with strong membership growth doubles its growth in members and blue chip founding partners including AWS, NVIDIA, Airwallex, MongoDB, Stone and Chalk and Aura Ventures.

A key pain point she wanted to address for AI founders with the Build Club Accelerator is helping them desrisk their go-to-market with mentors and sponsors.

The program will kick off with an immersive offsite in a beach house outside Sydney followed by intense mentoring from Blackbird’s Tom Humphrey, Coventures founder Maxine Minters, sales expert Sean Graely, bestselling investor and poker players Rayn Ong from Archangel, as well as US-based mentors and advisors such as Shawn “@swyx” Wang from the Latent Space Podcast and AI Engineer Summit Founder; and Anthrophic’s Joel Pobar.

Participants will also receive dedicated mentoring from NVIDIA, as well as design partners lowercase.club.

Other Build Club Accelerator advisors and mentors include: Julia Wells (COO Harken, ex-WhatsApp), Logan Kilpatrick (ex-OpenAI, PM at Google), David Booth (EIR Blackbird, OnDeck Founder), Jacqui Duncan (GM Stone and Chalk), Anton Borzov (Stratminds VC), Eric Chan (Aura Ventures)

Liao is locking in further advisors from Lightspeed Ventures, January Capital and Peak XV, with more US advisors and GTM partners to be announced soon.

At this stage there are already five pre-selected candidates for the Build Club Accelerator, including UnSloth.AI founder Daniel Han and Micah Hill-Smith founder of Artificial Analysis.

Applications for the program are now open, at buildclub.com.au/accelerator.



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