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Melbourne rock musician turned entrepreneur launches program to support startup founders get the digital skills they need

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Sam Hemphill

Sam Hemphill, co-founder of Meeum, is passionate about empowering entrepreneurs to believe in themselves and realise their ideas, no matter what their technical skillset or business might be.

Hemphill has launched a new program, Tech for Non-Tech Founders to enable non-technical entrepreneurs to gain the technical skills needed to establish credibility as a startup founder.

“The program will give those without technical backgrounds the skills to articulate ideas and communicate better with technical stakeholders as well as the capability to communicate in the digital marketplace,” says Hemphill.

The program is designed especially for startup founders, entrepreneurs and small business owners without technical backgrounds, and will provide masterclass education and mentoring.

It will be held at unique coworking venue PathHunting in Melbourne’s Brunswick East, where Hemphill has taken up the mantle Expert in Residence – a program made possible with funding from Victoria’s startup agency, LaunchVic.

Lack of digital skills often a barrier to startup success

Non-technical entrepreneurs often perceive their lack of digital skills as a barrier to startup success.

“We know anecdotally from investors that the investment story unravels without technical understanding. For too long, founders either had someone tell them it was all too hard, or too complicated to get these skills. This has discouraged many who have a lot to gain from upping their digital know-how.”

Through Meeum, Sam has helped startups across Australia get to grips with the digital and web development aspects of their businesses, and flourish. He teaches and advises without the ego, with clarity and a strong sense of purpose, and prides himself on keeping it simple.

“We don’t make things complicated when they can be easily understood. This is a world, a skill-set and an opportunity that is open to all entrepreneurs.”

Sam Hemphill

From rock musician to digital training startup founder

Now a digital veteran, Hemphill trained as a drummer and high school teacher, and spent 10 years as a touring musician and tour manager, playing, supporting and working with the likes of Powderfinger, Regurgitator, Dave Graney and The Screaming Jets.

During that time, he found himself increasingly drawn to technology and web development, and in 2002, made the leap into what was then a brave new digital world. He has since worked with some of the biggest names in Australia and overseas, including General Assembly, Qantas, Coles, News Limited, ANZ and Accenture.

“It was an interesting time back then” says Hemphill.  “There were no iPhones, mobile web or apps.  The web really was ‘one size fits all’.  Some would say it was easier.  There’s so much more to think about now if you’re a founder starting out now.”

On his journey, he became keenly aware of a “geekery superiority” attitude that prevents many from upping their tech skills and digital literacy, and so founded Meeum.

Establishing tech credentials early can help future growth

Hemphill is clear on the importance of supporting the technological empowerment of entrepreneurs, and on the value in doing it early.

“While we know that Victorian founders tend to be highly educated, we also know that computer science/IT skills are two of the skillsets considered most important – and often, most lacking – to be able to scale”.

With Tech for Non-Tech Founders, Hemphill aims to give founders sound theoretical knowledge and best-practice digital skills to communicate and further their ideas.

“We’re not imagining that all founders who come through the program will go and code their own website, but they’ll be empowered with the knowledge to better understand what matters and what they actually need.  We hear too many stories of new businesses spending tens of thousands of dollars on their first website.  It doesn’t need to be that way.”

“Gaining skills and understanding around imperatives, such as SEO and digital marketing is key for small business. By enabling founders to establish their tech credentials early on in their entrepreneurial journey, they can avoid having to partner simply to gain a tech co-founder and give away equity unnecessarily”.

In addition to the masterclass, Hemphill will provide mentoring and expert guidance to the wider startup ecosystem through weekly office hours at PathHunting. Learn more and apply here.

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