26 June 2023

Wollongong mates offer $10,000 scholarship for startups to follow in their successful footsteps

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Two men standing on rooftop

Founders of globally successful Scalapay, Johnny Mitrevski and Simone Mancini, are offering a helping hand to budding entrepreneurs. Photos: University of Wollongong.

A globally successful Illawarra startup venture is offering a $10,000 boost to help other entrepreneurs follow in its footsteps.

Buy now, pay later service Scalapay was founded in 2019 by Wollongong mates Johnny Mitrevski and Simone Mancini, and has become one of Europe’s most important payment companies.

The company, which still operates from the University of Wollongong’s Innovation Campus, employs 240 people across six countries, with a core tech team of 50 employees based in Wollongong.

Scalapay has now joined forces with the university’s business incubator iAccelerate to offer the Scalapay Scale Up Scholarship – Supporting Illawarra Entrepreneurs Initiative.

Worth $10,000, the sponsorship will allow up to three founders to receive funding for an iAccelerate residency and mentorship support for their venture. The initiative’s ultimate goal is to empower aspiring fintech founders and drive innovation in the Illawarra region.

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Johnny said he was a “true believer” in the potential of Wollongong as a hub for world-class technology and innovation.

“By collaborating with iAccelerate, a program that embodies the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, we aim to provide the necessary resources and opportunities for promising fintech startups to thrive,” he said.

“We firmly believe that Wollongong has the potential to become a vibrant centre for technological advancements.”

In 2021, Scalapay was awarded the Startup of the Year in Italy and became the primary sponsor for Milan Fashion Week and X-Factor Italy. In 2022, after securing $692 million in a Series B financing round, the company achieved unicorn status, awarded to privately held startups valued at over US$1 billion.

iAccelerate director Dr Tamantha Stutchbury

iAccelerate director Dr Tamantha Stutchbury is thrilled to partner with Scalapay to launch the scholarship.

In an interview last year, Johnny said the company’s growth to becoming one of the most important payment companies in Europe has been a “truly amazing experience”.

“The core development team is built out of the Innovation Campus in Wollongong and is one of the real strengths of the company,” he said. “It’s a true testament to Australian skill and willingness to make it work that we can deliver cutting-edge technology and amazing customer experiences from our home to countries abroad.”

iAccelerate director Dr Tamantha Stutchbury said the organisation was thrilled to partner with Scalapay to launch the scholarship.

“It’s a testament to iAccelerate’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurial growth and providing a nurturing environment for early-stage companies to flourish,” she said.

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Since 2012, iAccelerate has been providing local entrepreneurs, startups, scale-ups, social enterprises and intrapreneurs with a model of education, mentoring, seed funding and access to the university’s cutting-edge research resources.

From its purpose-built iAccelerate Centre at the Innovation Campus, it supports and helps individuals and early-stage businesses to validate their business idea and ramp it up to the next stage.

To be eligible for the scholarship, startups should be working on technology-related innovations in the software space and have a minimum viable product already developed. The new cohort of entrepreneurs will start at iAccelerate in August.

For more information about the Scalapay Scale Up Scholarship and how to apply, click here.

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