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Gippsland, a startup paradise?

Why are so many seemingly 'normal' Gippslandians launching startups here?

Aug 5, 2021

Words: Zoe Hyde
Images: Supplied

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Why more people are choosing to pursue entrepreneurship in their own backyard.

From the rolling hills to the waves crashing along the coast, there are groups of startup founders dotted all across Gippsland, and they’re paving the way for future innovators and thought leaders. These founders are part of an emerging community of entrepreneurs in Gippsland, and they’re contributing toward the growing success of the region.

Whether it’s your neighbour, your mate at the local pub, or the person you smile at when you pass them in the street, more and more people are choosing to escape the nine-to-five grind and pursue their own business ambitions. And, while there’s a common misconception that entrepreneurs are ‘special’, ‘talented’, or ‘backed by funding’, this is typically not the case. In fact, seemingly ‘normal’ Gippslandians are launching into startups, and they’re living proof that willingness, dedication, creativity and passion trump money and talent every day of the week.

“In fact, seemingly 'normal' Gippslandians are launching into startups”

So, what is a startup, you might ask? Put simply, it is a business idea with high growth potential. Startup founders back their idea with the confidence to get their service or product into the market fast. By doing so, they learn quickly, stay ahead of the competition, and have the courage to adjust or pivot their idea based on customer feedback. Founders aren’t limited by the four walls of a store, or by a sole employee;
instead, the goal is to expand in all avenues: their market, their products or services, their team and their revenue.

These principles of agility and innovation, along with an energetic blend of courage and self-belief, help founders to succeed. The end vision is national and global reach, most commonly done so with the help of investors.

In less than a decade, Australia’s startup ecosystem has become one of the fastest-growing globally, and entrepreneurs with big ideas and bigger imaginations have contributed to us having one of the highest startup rates in the world. And these startups are the key to our jobs future.

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Enter Startup Gippsland, one of the biggest regional startup programs nationwide. Startup Gippsland takes early-stage entrepreneurs and, through their program, alongside support and mentorship with leading local experts, helps them develop their business ideas and launch to market. This means that locals don’t need to travel to Melbourne to pursue their ideas and turn passion into profit. Right now, Startup Gippsland is working with 19 entrepreneurs with business ideas that span food, wilderness, social wellbeing, music and the arts, education and more. This cohort of founders are passionate, vibrant and keen to make a difference in the region.

But a program of this calibre could have been created anywhere, so it begs the question: Why Gippsland?

Well, most Gippslandians aren’t shy in sharing what they love about the region. But the common response expressed by almost everyone is… community. The feeling of belonging, of knowing your neighbours and of shared values, contributes to making Gippsland feel like home.

Previously, entrepreneurs had the impression that they needed to leave the treelined streets and sandy shores of the region if they wanted half a chance of building a successful startup venture. But now, Startup Gippsland has given them a new avenue to follow their dreams, all without leaving their own backyard.

Making entrepreneurship and startup culture accessible here has meant that people don’t have to choose between the town they love and pursuing their ambitions. And, while isolation and loneliness are a common burden shared by many entrepreneurs, Gippsland’s growing community of innovators and founders helps to ease this pain, and keep everyone connected, motivated, inspired, and, most of all, proud of their ideas and businesses.

Laura Eddington, founder of Little Bumble Reusable Food Wraps and winner of the 2019 Startup Gippsland program, is proof that you can build a successful venture without leaving Gippsland. Since participating in the program, she has built a thriving business and a team of employees, has been to China to discuss exporting her product, and, most recently, has secured funding to begin automation. “Collaboration is the key to success,” says Laura. “I’m not the master of everything, so I need to draw from the wealth of knowledge of others, and form relationships with people who can help me achieve my goals.”

It is this sense of collaboration and community, as evidenced by Laura and an alumni of over 100 Gippsland entrepreneurs, that keeps Startup Gippsland going. Their overarching desire is to connect people, help open doors, build diversity in thoughts and ideas, and celebrate and embrace each founder's success.

The resources, networks, community and support available to Gippsland entrepreneurs ensure they can stay in their paradise, and show future generations and leaders that success can be found in regional towns too.

If you’re interested in learning more about Startup Gippsland and its program, take a look at their website:

Gippslandia - Issue No. 19

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