Spread across each corner of Gippsland are startup founders with entrepreneurial ambitions, who are showing us all that success can be found both in small towns, and in any stage of a business’ journey. In the last issue of Gippslandia, we explored the growing startup culture in Gippsland. This time, we want to share with you the true meaning of entrepreneurial success, and stories of founders who are taking the region, and country, by storm.
Before we dive right in, let's talk about the six stages of becoming a successful startup, and what each means.
Stage 1: Pre-seed Stage
Also known as the idea stage, pre-seed entails analysis of how the business idea could solve a problem for its customers. This evaluation is as much about the potential success or failure of the idea, as it is about listening to the customer and what they truly need.
Stage 2: Seed Stage
The primary goal of the seed stage is to validate the business model. Throughout this stage, founders will gather information and evidence about their model, and test its level of success, pivoting and changing their approach when required.
Stage 3: Early Stage
The early-stage involves the creation of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), which is often known as the first version of a product. Creating an MVP allows the founder to continue to test and validate with real customers, without outlaying thousands of dollars into a product that may not be what customers want or need.
Stage 4: Growth Stage
During the growth phase, the startup will require an upward trend in customers, recurring customers, and profitability. The founder or founders will likely look to expand their team in order to meet market demands.
Stage 5: Expansion stage
During the expansion stage, the founder or founders will consider more ambitious goals for scaling the startup. They will often look at growing into new markets, or adding new products or services to their repertoire. Typically, these startups have been in operation for over three years.
Stage 6: Exit Stage
Not every founder builds a startup with an exit strategy in mind, however, some do begin with the goal to sell the company in the future. Regardless, not many startups arrive at this stage because the business is required to have high potential and increased opportunities for growth.
While it would be easy to assume that startup success is justified solely by entering the expansion and exit stages, this is not the case. Successful moments are dotted all along a startup’s journey; from idea, to action, to launching a minimum viable product and making a sale. It would be naive to believe that success is an end goal because there are truly brilliant Gippsland founders who are working along all of the startup stages. And, the stages can blend together as each entrepreneur focuses on becoming agile, and using feedback to pivot and adjust their offerings.
But, what truly constitutes success anyway?
For the Startup Gippsland team, success is the small steps that are taken along the way. It’s the hurdles that are overcome, it’s the drive and passion of the founder to see their idea take shape, and it’s the work that’s put in when no one's watching, and on the days when the founder must rely on grit alone to get the job done.
...success is the small steps that are taken along the way.
Founders don’t need to be in the growth and expansion stages to be deemed successful. Take Paul and Therese Gorton from Foodie. This husband and wife duo, and participants of the 2021 Tech Startup Skills program, co-founded an online food ordering system that is designed to streamline and simplify ordering in school Food Technology departments; and they’re a prime example of the innovative businesses taking the stage in Gippsland right now. Foodie currently sits between the Early and Growth Stages, having rolled out their platform to over 38 schools, whilst continuing to look for opportunities to improve their offering and the customer experience. But Foodie has its sights set on the future, as both Paul and Therese wish to expand the platform to be used in both aged care and early learning settings, too.
“Over the next 12 months, we’re looking to double the number of schools Foodie is used in, and we’ll start by introducing a targeted marketing campaign and further developing Foodie's features, including the addition of automated product pricing so schools can see how much their recipes will cost”, says Therese Gorton.
Then there’s Brooke Lewis, participant of the 2021 Tech Startup Skills program and founder of SiSu Society. Brooke provides a safe space for women affected by sexual violence to connect, heal and grow. While SiSu Society is currently placed in the Pre-seed stage, Brooke has built an online community of over 60 women through her Facebook page, and continues to develop her idea, and how she can use her platform to support and help more women.
Lastly, we have Laura Eddington, founder of Little Bumble Reusable Food Wraps and participant in Startup Gippsland’s 2019 Incubator and 2021 Scale Up Accelerator programs. Created from humble beginnings in 2017, Little Bumble has scaled to exciting heights since, and the business now sits within the Expansion Stage. Laura employs a number of staff members, has over 100 stockists nationally, exports to Singapore and Hong Kong, and has secured funding to complete automation, enabling an increase in production and exporting opportunities.
While each Gippsland entrepreneur is at different stages of their startup journey, the common elements connecting them all are their passion for their idea, their ability to innovate and pivot, and their shared passion for the local community and for making a difference in the lives of their customers. And, although there haven’t been any $400 million company sales in Gippsland yet, you can be assured that each founder has experienced the highs of success at many markers along their journey, and is gearing up for an exciting future.
Startup Gippsland is proud to be supporting such diverse founders through its programs, and they’re looking forward to assisting more eager entrepreneurs during the remainder of 2021, and into the new year.
If you’re interested in learning more about Startup Gippsland, take a look at their website: www.startupgippsland.com.au.