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(What if) You were passionate about an idea too (?)

As Tasha Wright enthuses, "An innovative startup can come from anywhere!". Here are some insights as to how more startups can emerge from Gippsland.

Jan 4, 2023


Words: Gippslandia

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Brilliant, the lightning bolt has struck and you’ve conjured up an idea that’s set to change the world. How do you go about enacting your brainwave? What is the pathway from the brilliant vision in your head to your first billion dollars?

In a clear display of the supportive nature of regional Australia’s startup environment, when Gippslandia went seeking insights, we were inundated with sage advice.

My favourite quote is "use the difficulty". If your idea doesn't turn out how you hoped, use that experience and learn something from it and you'll always be growing.

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Firstly, let’s hear from Natasha Wright, formerly of Startup Gippsland (GippsTech), and now a project manager for regional initiatives and accelerator programs with Farmers2Founders:

Having worked with a diverse group of entrepreneurs over the past four years, I'd say the thing that connects the majority is an undeniable good nature: people who are family-minded, passionate about a cause and who genuinely want to leave the world a better place. They also tend to be a little rebellious, which for me is the hallmark of a great changemaker. The best ideas are not necessarily the next unicorns, but they're innovative, involve digital technology and are the brainchild of people who have a genuine passion. The ideas that succeed don't succeed because of the idea, but because of the open-mindedness, perseverance and disruptive nature of the entrepreneur behind it.

‘Success’ as a founder or entrepreneur requires several key factors: the idea needs to be viable; and the founder needs to be open-minded, objective, mentally strong and committed. It’s important to find ‘your tribe’ of people who give you honest feedback you can learn from, as well as empathy. A strong network can assist with investment or customer acquisition, but also with your personal mindset. Success takes sacrifice, and if you’re not committed or don’t have sufficient support, you simply won’t succeed.

We need to empower entrepreneurs so they can learn, grow and self-sufficiently dominate the Australian startup ecosystem. Empowerment, humour and push (!) is my approach. A combination of being empathetic, but ‘brutally honest’, while having the capability to demonstrate the possibilities that lie ahead, is what helps a startup. My favourite quote is "Use the difficulty". If your idea doesn't turn out how you hoped, use that experience and learn something from it and you'll always be growing.

Being an entrepreneur can be extremely lonely and isolating. It's important that startup leaders and community builders continue to work together, especially in regional areas, so our startups know that they have help to make their business dreams a reality. It's up to all of us who care about the future to help change the narrative of innovation. To me, realistically, not everyone is made to create an innovative startup, but an innovative startup can absolutely come from anywhere!

Emma Coath, Managing Director of Rocket Seeder and Non-Executive Director of The Impact Club, works alongside Nicki Marks, Rocket Seeder's program manager. Their AgTech Seeds Pre-accelerator Program supports the creation of early-stage AgTech startups or, as Emma explains, “helps our founders to discover their own “ah-ha” moments and supports them to develop business models around bold ideas that solve problems in our food system”.

Some of the ideas are presented by entrepreneurs as a problem looking for a solution and are at the very early stage of development. Some are more advanced solutions developed by researchers looking for a problem. These ideas require the founders to articulate both the problem and solution, understand the potential market for their solution and achieve ‘product-market fit’. We help them ‘unpack’ their idea by challenging their thinking and introducing them to people in our vast network who can help them refine their ideas and understand their market potential.

Andy Jarvis from the Bezos Earth Fund has this wonderful insight, “Each [innovation] will play a role in the broader ‘innovation ecosystem’ – the huge range of new ideas that are continually being developed, tested, refined and deployed in response to specific challenges. Rather than single interventions, it’s the totality of innovations that will produce the results we need. The food system [and other systems are] such a large and complex beast that I believe this is the only way to do it… Only a wide spread of bold bets will get us there.”

Finally, we got a couple more pointers from some real-life entrepreneurs, Jon and Trey Knight of BuzzBay Energy, who are developing an innovative vehicle charging solution right out of Gippsland. BuzzBay was runner-up at the 2023 Startup Gippsland Pitch Showcase.

Identify the shortcomings in yourself and seek a partner who can address them. My son and business partner, Trey, is amazing at public speaking, self-starting and pulling solutions together, while my strength is examining the big picture.

Finally, we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than Gippsland, especially given the community and it being the heart of the energy transition. It’s the best place to be for this project, especially as there are plenty of people – engineers and technicians – to kick the stuffing out of our idea and assist us in refining our solution.

Gippslandia - Issue No. 29

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