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5 first time entrepreneurs are sparking off their start-ups with the help of a unique South Australia business program

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Andre from Hub Adelaide and Kaush from SA Government (Renewal SA)

Hub Australia and the South Australian government recently held the Winter Spark Showcase at Hub Adelaide.

The evening was the culmination of five first time entrepreneurs presenting their business plan to 60 business leaders after their successful completion of the Spark Program, an initiative introduced specifically to nurture entrepreneurship in South Australia.

Initially launched over 18 months ago as a partnership between Hub Adelaide and the South Australian Government, the Spark program has supported 18 entrepreneurs by providing full-time access to Hub Adelaide, a mentor and community network of business leaders nationwide, and a platform to promote and get their ideas off the ground.

Fanning the flames of SA entrepreneurship

The program includes weekly mentorship by experts across marketing, accounting, and business development and legal, (you know, the stuff every entrepreneur should have at their fingertips) giving the Sparks invaluable one-on-one access to insights to their unique business challenges.

The fantastic calibre of mentors (which includes Daniel Davilla of PWC, Kaush Singh of Renewal SA, Catriona Hartigan of Hartigan Law, Philip Requier, and Robin Freeth) has given them a special opportunity hone their business plan, test their ideas, and sometimes even go to market.

By working at Hub, they also get to rub shoulders with the diverse community of growing small business owners there that have been through many of the challenges the Sparks are going through.

The five Sparks include innovative businesses across commercial refrigeration, digital marketing and content creation, and boating and Anthill managed to catch up with four of them to tell us more about what they have going on with their fresh-out-of-the-oven start-ups.

1. Matthew Moyes, Fox Industries

Matthew Moyes
Matthew Moyes

What were you doing before this?

I was previously working in Accounts/Administration for an industrial refrigeration engineering company called Amertec Pty Ltd.

What inspired you to start this business?

It started as a simple mind map exercise for tracking and reporting refrigerant.

Eventually the mind map evolved into a work in progress business solution for the company. I started a brain storming exercise with a couple of employees at the company and it all went from there.

The light bulb moment came when I started talking with people in similar industries that were having the same issues. Everyone said, “That’s how it has always been done” but no one had a response when I asked “Why?”

What gap in the market are you looking to fill with this business?

Streamline the business process for companies in the Trades and Services Industry (Plumbers, Electricians, Carpenters and the like).

How exactly does your business do this?

We provide an online job management system (JMS) that consolidates key information relating to a job i.e. service Reports, purchase orders, sales invoices, card file information, job costing, reporting, parts and materials used, labour hours, budgeted costs and the like.

2. Helen Ahrens, Good Things Marketing

Helen Ahrens
Helen Ahrens

What were you doing before this?

Career wise, I’ve been fortunate to work as a radio, print and digital news journalist, in event management, and in student support and tertiary alumni relations, in addition to a broad range of marketing and digital roles.

Working both in house and agency side, I’ve worked in marketing and digital domestically and internationally on a range of brands and businesses that vary from small start-ups, to SMES, to a group of eight tertiary education provider, to national recruitment firms, and to multinational household brands such as Coopers, Coopers DIY Beer, Yalumba Wine and Great Southern Rail.

What inspired you to start this business?

Seeing a gap in the market and a demand for specialist services that I could offer without the large overheads of a traditional style, heavily staffed agency.

What gap in the market are you looking to fill with this business?

Providing executive level services and support nationally, with a flexible, agile and fast moving offering without bulk overhead costs and delivering excellent service nationwide throughout the digital marketing landscape relying on traditional marketing framework.

How exactly does your business do this?

We provide brand strategy and marketing strategy service offerings: campaign and project based executive strategy, planning, execution and management throughout digital and traditional marketing.

  • ongoing digital marketing, traditional marketing and social media marketing through retainer based support nationwide
  • training and support across industries nationally for staff teams and state offices in in digital marketing and personal brand
  • executive consultation and support to businesses across Australia
  • executive training for directors, partners and C Suites in digital marketing and personal brand

We also work with events and conferences through digital marketing to maximize their event investments and also regularly speak at events such as World Social Media Day, Hub Lunch’N’Learns as well as growth hacking and sales meet-ups.

3. Martin Kloeckner, BBQ-Donuts

Martin Martin Kloeckner with his wife
Martin Martin Kloeckner with his wife

What were you doing before this?

I worked as a key account manager for digital distribution platforms in the tourism industry. I managed partnerships with online travel agencies, tour operators and channel managers in order to increase sales and revenue for our customers and the companies I was engaged at.

What inspired you to start this business?

Just a couple of weeks before our migration from Germany to Australia in April this year I came across the international success of the original bbq-donut® boat.

I instantly knew, that it would be the perfect product for the barbecue nation Australia. The idea that I would contribute to the constant growth of the professional Australian tourism market inspired me to follow up on my first startup project.

Soon after our arrival in South Australia I experienced so much support from the entrepreneurial ecosystem, which definitely encouraged me to further develop the business plans.

What gap in the market are you looking to fill with this business?

Most Australians love barbecue, water activities and socializing with family and friends. Domestic and international visitor numbers are constantly growing and challenge the already established tourism enterprises to develop additional leisure services.

bbq-donut®-australia aims to take this challenge and to fill this gap with an original, innovative, safe and fun leisure product.

How exactly does your business do this?

bbq-donut-australia is the first franchisor, to commercialize the unique and internationally patented

bbq-donut® boat, based on an exclusive distribution agreement for Australia.

bbq-donuts® are round boats with a grill in their center, powered by a small motor. Local, domestic and international customer groups of a maximum of ten people hire the boats for a self-drive-adventure and barbecue on water.

Our first own pilot franchise location plans to operate on River Torrens. Additional water tourism destinations in SA follow in phase two. In step three an Australia-wide network of franchisees will drive further growth and profit.

4. Holly Vidov, MADDOG Creative

Holly Vidov with her partner
Holly Vidov with her partner

What were you doing before this?

My background includes graphic design, marketing and business development/account managing. Before I decided to “take the leap” and move into working for myself and developing my own business I was assisting other businesses develop theirs.

By day I worked in the IT business consulting sector for a company in Adelaide where I account managed and worked one on one with medium to large corporate businesses around SA and interstate. By night kept busy with helping friends/friends of friends with various graphic design needs and odd jobs where I could assist.

What inspired you to start this business?

Whilst working with/account managing a medium business – there was a need for them to establish a smaller business that was not connected in any way to the large organisation.

Although the company that I worked for did not offer graphic design and business branding – I was able to assist my client to establish their new brand. Whilst going through the process it became evident that there was no company that my client could find that didn’t cost an arm or a leg.

When they embarked on establishing their company identity (logo and the like) they had two options that they knew of – go to a printer and see what they could do or go to a large agency and pay for it. Neither option was viable for a quick and cost effective solution.

Upon hearing this – the lightbulb in my head lit up!

What gap in the market are you looking to fill with this business?

I am looking to assist/work with start-ups, small Businesses and even home based businesses. These businesses generally are busy establishing themselves, they know they need a brand and a brand identity but they don’t have the million dollar budget to pursue that. They also want something unique to them, not off the shelf or a generic concept by a printer/overseas designer.

That’s where I see MADDOG Creative come into play. Why? Because we are also a small start-up, we understand our market because we are in that market!

These businesses also want to talk to a person – not the assistant of a person or someone via email – they want someone local/face to face.

How exactly does your business do this?

We are start-up and small business branding specialists offering:

  • a range of graphic design services (logos, business cards, flyers, brochures, website advice, personalised merchandise, etc.)
  • business branding strategy and advice (why should we do that, who are we selling to, how do we get more clients, how do I establish myself etc.)
  • marketing advice (Social media strategy, why/how/when marketing, digital marketing such as email, traditional marketing etc.)
The fifth Spark: Ryan Osbourne from Remarkable Media
The fifth Spark: Ryan Osbourne from Remarkable Media

How did this Spark Program come to be?

“Hub Adelaide and Renewal SA have worked closely together since our launch in 2013 to support growing small businesses in the South Australia economy,” Brad Krauskopf from Hub Australia told Anthill about the origin of the program.

“The Spark program brings focus to our efforts and aims to boost the likelihood of success of the initiatives of the young entrepreneurs that come into Hub Adelaide every day.

“There are many opportunities in the knowledge economy and young entrepreneurs do not need to leave South Australia to seize them, this triggered Spark into action and there have now been over 20 Sparks go through the program with more to come in the next year.”

Brad went on to highlight that the program has been able to deliver the following objectives:

  • provide the infrastructure to support entrepreneurs starting their own businesses.
  • connect entrepreneurs to the relevant experience, resources and networks needed to up-skill themselves.
  • Identifying and reporting on key services required by young and emerging entrepreneurs.
  • assist entrepreneurs in gaining exposure to their target markets and customers for validation and publicity.

What exactly happens in the Spark Program?

Andre Goosen, Hub Adelaide Community Lead, remarked that the Spark Program is so much more than just access to a desk. “In the program, each of the participants are given access to a fantastic and highly supportive environment where their ideas can grow and flourish.”

“We connect them with industry leaders, thought leaders and mentors that help them build their ideas, hash out any weaknesses and prepare them for commercial reality.

“During the program, each participant is tasked with meeting with each of the mentors every week and another meeting with us to track their progress, and connect them with the right people who can help their businesses grow. The pace is fast and time is short.

“Each Spark then has the opportunity to participate in a presentation evening to family, friends, investors, and the Adelaide start-up community. During the presentations, Sparks have an opportunity to celebrate the progress they’ve made towards a goal of a sustainable business.

“This is also the opportunity to seek funding, or any other support they may need the progress their concepts into commercial reality.”

Andre went on to reveal that they have two rounds for the rest of the year, which will see another 10 exciting entrepreneurs and their concepts and that the program will link with Venture Dorm (part of Flinders University’s New Venture Institute), Mega (pre-accelerator program within Majoran) and Boss Camp (Australia’s newest entrepreneur program supporting inspiration and education of young people about entrepreneurship).

“These partnerships within the program will help in significant development of business ideas and models for investment opportunities as well as significant collaboration amongst our entrepreneurial eco-system,” he said.

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