Another diverse and dynamic group of business people and ideas are stepping forward for round two of the Bega Valley Innovation Hub.
Home base for the second cohort of seven local businesses is the Bega Valley Learning Centre in Merimbula.
Settling in for their first week in the 12-week accelerator program are enterprises that take in yoga, event management, surfboard manufacturing, tiny homes and seaweed farming.
Festival Director is a software business run by Karolina Russell. “Festival Director offers customised online ticketing with simple website integration, allowing clients to sell under their own brand rather than providing links to websites of third party ticket sellers,” she says.
Since 2016, Festival Director has helped generate over $13 million in ticket revenue.
Freedom Yoga and it’s Back Pain Recovery Kit belongs to Dinah Facius. “Back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide with 540 million sufferers. But specific and targeted yoga programs have been shown in trials to reverse the causes of idiopathic back problems,” Dinah says.
“It has been a high point in my life to be involved in delivering to people the things they really want – wellbeing, peace of mind and happiness!”
Made in Eden is aiming at building tiny houses to address homelessness in regional areas. Founder, Leanne Atkinson says, “Homelessness and housing affordability for our most vulnerable is a serious issue across the region.”
“It is not just a ‘city based’ problem and is less obvious in the country as it is often hidden.
“I am proposing a tiny solution for a big problem.”
Sea Health Products is all about building Australia’s first Golden Sea Kelp farm for the production of kelp health products.
Tilba’s Jo Lane is the heart and brains of the operation and has just returned from a three-month study tour of Europe and America funded through a Churchill Fellowship.
Currently, Jo collects wild seaweed washed up on local beaches to make a range of goods under the Sea Health Products banner.
Future Farms is a vertical hydroponic solar farming system founded by Sandy Della Rocca and James Gibbs.
“Indoor controlled environment farming is a growing sustainable model of farming and a way to provide local, all year around, clean leafy green to our plate,” Sandy and James say.
“The Innovation Hub is a fantastic opportunity to connect with like-minded people, have access to a well selected pool of mentors and professionals, allowing us to accelerate the development of our business idea.”
Ginger the Frog and Sarah Campbell-Lambert are offering an emotional intelligence program for children.
“I’m a therapist and I’m developing a program about life coaching for kids, aged 3-7 years,” Sarah says.
“The hub will help me with the business structure and support I need to get this project into schools around the world. I’m so grateful to have access to all the mentors and the other people in the cohort.
“This will keep me on track and accountable. So far I’m loving the connection and relationships forming.”
Switchfoot Boardstore is run by Jed Done in the centre of Pambula. With partner Patricia Mills, the pair are making high-performance surfboards.
Jed has a life-long passion for designing and hand shaping surfboards. He is fueled by his commitment to raising the bar in surfboard design and performance.
For Jed and Patricia, joining the innovation hub is an opportunity to market their product and make business connections at a national and international level.
Bega Valley Innovation Hub boasts a three-month education program, part of the successful iAccelerate Innovation Network based at the University of Wollongong.
Start-up and existing businesses receive mentoring in marketing, leadership, finance, tax, accounting, customer relationships, networking, business structure, and more. With seed funding and advertising packages available at the end to help build on the ambitions.
Businesses from the first cohort were on hand to congratulate those accepted into round two and offer some real world advice.
“Leave your ego at the door and be open to the advice,” says Kay Saarinen of Saarinen Organics.
“We were stuck in our ways in many respects and its hard to be told your baby is not perfect,” Gregg Saarinen adds.
“Have an open mind and communicate, it’s a great space to do that, it’s a safe space,” Kay says.
Funding for the Bega Valley Innovation Hub comes from the Commonwealth Government, University of Wollongong, Bega Cheese, Bega Valley Shire Council, and the Bega Chamber of Commerce.
The funding covers three initial cohorts with the hub developing its own business model for the future. Aside from the seven businesses selected as part of cohort two, five businesses have also been identified for pre-acceleration so that they are ready to apply for the next intake.
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