Small businesses and start-ups learn through 60-day challenge in Australia
Small businesses and start-ups have always played a part in Australia’s economy, but a high number will fail without proper planning, advice and mentorship. A new venture starting in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, run through incubator Hub Australia, will put small businesses through a 60-day program from February to help progress ideas, provide mentors and advice, and take them to the next level of development, expansion and employment.
60-day challenge by Business Models Inc.
Hub Australia head of business and product development Adam Lane says the co-working space was established three years ago and will be used as a base for its 60-day challenge run in partnership with an international program created by Business Models Inc. Lane says the challenge provides the environment for small businesses to work together, model plans, validate ideas and test them among peers. “There’s no lack of ideas out there, but collaborative support structures that help them to validate ideas are lacking,” Lane says. “We’re providing practical workshop sets of events, where people are putting forward these ideas.
The next stage for Startups
They have the ability to collaborate among other people who may challenge that idea and help create other ideas.” Lane says the challenge targets small businesses working in hubs and with mentors after they have moved on from a start-up phase. He says this is crucial for many small businesses, which struggle to survive without an outlet for feedback other than customers. “Not all businesses are successful and they’re not successful because they haven’t been able to validate their programs,” he says. “This is the next stage on from start-ups. It also works for corporate organisations where there are people within who have ideas and work in innovative areas, or they don’t normally have a way to create ideas.”
Hub: cheap office space and flexibility
Hub working models have been increasingly successful in the small-business community as start-ups proliferate. Small business owners or those who are sole traders need cheap office space and flexibility. Permanent office space is less important as people increasingly work remotely. Sydney-based Work Club, established in Martin Place in August, was designed by Danish-born office functionality expert Soren Trampedach with more established workers in mind. It includes board and presentation rooms, open-plan workspaces, kitchen and dining rooms, a library and six sealed offices for medium to long-term leases. A concierge can also help book flights and organise social events.
“It needs to be functional and you need to feel like the space is supporting your business,” Trampedach says. Work Club will have a maximum 100 members, based on applications to ensure a diverse range of small businesses can be supported. “By creating that diverse community with different ages across industries, the benefit is you have a great place to work and you get to know other people who can trigger your thought processes and get a lot of new ideas.”
Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth
The non-profit Business Enterprise Centres Australia runs hubs nationally, including nine in greater Sydney, seven around Melbourne and at least four around Brisbane. The Emporium in Manly, established in an old pool hall, has been highly rated, along with Tank Stream Labs, Fishburners, VibeWire and the WorkBench in central Sydney. Melbourne hubs include York Butter Factory and Inspire9. Along with the BEC and Hub Adelaide offices, South Australia also has Majoran Distillery, That Space, The Mill and Co-west. River City Labs in Brisbane has less open-plan space, and hosts high-profile companies including Uber. Perth has Atomic Sky Tech-Hub, Sync Labs, Spacecubed and Nifnex, among others.
Business Models Inc. Australia and New Zealand partner Michael Eales was involved with creating the 60-day challenge in conjunction with US-based venture capitalists and education provider the Kauffman Foundation. Eales says 60-day programs have worked in the US and in Europe because they challenge ideas and learning in a collaborative, mentor-led environment. He says emerging small businesses are facing challenges because of the increasing complexity of the business world, dealing with online sales, marketing and international competition.“It’s not just about the best idea or the latest product,” Eales says. “It’s about shaping, understanding, finding opportunities to validate that and executing it.”
Strategic alliances help put fizz into bar tab phone app
ENTREPRENEUR Scott Cross has worked hard to promote his small business, going through a mentorship and undertaking a start-up process that many economists believe can give the Australian economy a kick start. Scott has been working with Hub Australia and Business Models Inc to discuss ideas, and he now understands the value mentors can play. He has also had some extra help — from venture capitalists and high flyers, including Mark Carnegie and John Singleton. “I was offered a strategic alliance with them, they offered high-level advice and the footprint of their pubs,” Cross says. “For them to come aboard and support us, it validated our ideas.”
Brisbane-based Cross and partner Paul Wyatt’s smartphone app, OneTab, hit the market less than 18 months ago and has undergone a huge expansion. A banker by trade, Scott had been at a business lunch when he became frustrated with the time it took to settle a bill. He thought it would be easier to buy drinks and food on his phone, and the idea of a secure hotel bar tab run through an app was born. The OneTab smartphone app helps prevent credit cards being lost, stolen, forgotten or defrauded. The app is accepted in more than 100 hotels nationally, with users able to set pre-approved payments or limits. “With PINs people could put a fraudulent card behind the bar and run up a big tab and leave,” he says. “This allows you to open and manage and close a tab by your smartphone and there’s no need for you to lose your credit card, there’s no more lost or stolen credit cards behind the bar.”