Four Rotorua graduates from previous Incubate programmes have been accepted into an Accelerate business course - funded by Destination Rotorua.

AquaPlus, Squadrun, Qualgroup Cleaning Group and Digital Natives Academy will start the Accelerate programme this month.

Ali Pottinger and Kerry Suter graduated from Incubate Cohort 8 in March. Co-founders of Squadrun, they are building a community of runners through online coaching and training services. Ms Pottinger said Incubate was beneficial for the business and she was looking forward to Accelerate.

"Incubate was a great chance to spend some time reflecting on various aspects of our business, learning about different ways we could do things. It makes you stop, take time out from working in the business and actually plan for the business."

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"Through Incubate we changed our business model to a subscription basis which has really helped us grow.

"We are eager to continue our learning and be challenged to do things better and differently with the Accelerate Programme."

Trish Spice bought Aquaplus a year ago. It is her first foray in running and owning a business. She graduated from Incubate Cohort 9 last month. Aquaplus helps promote organisations with branded bottles of water. She attributes the programme to completely changing how her team works.

"The best thing was working within a small group and having the opportunity for open discussion. I found this self-belief and motivation within myself, that I didn't even know I had."

The Accelerate and Incubate programmes are the brainchild of Darren McGarvie, co-founder of central North Island business growth centre Firestation. He is pleased with having Incubate graduates move on to Accelerate.

"These two programmes are sister programmes. Incubate is for smaller, newer businesses and focuses on the foundation of setting up a sustainable and successful business.

"Accelerate is a real step up and designed for medium size businesses, or enterprises that have serious growth potential. Rapid business growth can cause serious growth pains for the founders. Accelerate focuses on growing fast and sustainably.

"We had the programme meet and greet last week with the seven diverse businesses. It's heartening to have four Incubate graduates at the Accelerate table. It's important to note that not all applicants are accepted and we did decline three businesses from this round."

More than 100 organisations in Rotorua, Taupo and Kawerau have completed either Firestation's Incubate and Accelerate since 2014 with more intakes coming up.

"In Rotorua we will be opening applications for our 10th cohort of Incubate very soon. Accelerate Cohort 5 will run again early 2018. We are currently looking for Accelerate applications in Taupo. We are also venturing out into other towns and will be able to announce those soon."

Approved applicants receive subsidised places in the programmes. Incubate is supported by Rotorua Lakes Council and Accelerate is funded by Destination Rotorua.

To send in an expression of interest to participate in either programme email grow@thefirestation.nz.

Incubate:
•70 organisations across 9 cohorts graduated since 2014
•Cohort 10 to start October 2017 in Rotorua
•Eight group sessions covering topics such as Growth Mindset, Marketing Essentials, Sales Strategies, Employment Law, Online Marketing, Business Essentials, Finance Essentials and Pricing.
•Two one-on-one coaching sessions.
•Final session all participants must present a business plan.

Accelerate:
•30 organisations from 2 cohorts graduated since 2015
•Cohort 3 starts in Rotorua in September 2017
•Cohort 4 open for applications in Taupo
•Cohort 5 will run in Rotorua in early 2018.
•12 Mastery Modules providing training in sales, leadership, brand, marketing and finance presented by experienced, local professionals recognised as leaders in their field.
•4 Group Review sessions with a facilitated discussion encouraging participants to share their challenges, celebrate their successes, and support each other.
•3 Individual Coaching sessions to set goals, actions and plans for business success.