Entrepreneurs in regional Queensland are set to receive a boost, with ilab planning a series of Regional Startup Roadshow seminars in Mackay, Rockhampton, Gladstone and Maryborough, while Mentor Blaze events will run in Cairns and Townsville on the same day as Brisbane.
The Regional Startup Roadshow will be hosted by ilab director Bernie Woodcroft and MPT Innovation Group director Gary Morgan. They will discuss technology startups and how regional cities can establish successful ecosystems, along with the risks and opportunities that come with entrepreneurs developing technology-based business ideas.
The seminars will run between 7.30am to 9.30am in Mackay on April 27, Rockhampton on April 29, Gladstone on April 30, Maryborough on May 1.
“We are doing this to identify and promote startups in Mackay, Rockhampton, Gladstone and Maryborough. My goal is to get those guys involved in a statewide conversation about startups in regional areas,” Woodcroft says.
Woodcroft says he hopes the events inspire entrepreneurs in those communities to begin developing their own startup ecosystems. He cites 2015 StartupSmart Regional Startup Award winner SafetyCulture, as an example of a highly successful regional startup.
Along with the Regional Startup Roadshows, ilab is also running simultaneous Mentor Blaze events on April 23 from 4-6pm in Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns.
“Mentor Blaze is where we get a lot of mentors together in one place at one time with many different skills, including investors, founders, and experts in areas like legal, IP and tax,” Woodcroft says.
“We’ll have 10 mentors in Townsville, 10 in Cairns and 40 in Brisbane, and then close to double the number of mentees. So in Brisbane, we’ll have 30 mentors and 50 mentees. It allows people to road-test ideas in a concentrated timeframe with experienced mentors and it generates a really amazing buzz.
“The mentees can be students, parents – anyone really – at the ideas stage. It builds the ecosystem and networks, and we’ll do it in three places twice a year, and in five places next time.”
Startup Townsville organiser Richard Sazima told StartupSmart education and resources for small businesses are often not appropriate for startups.
He says while first-generation regional startups such as Safety Culture had to figure everything out for themselves, they can help second generation startup entrepreneurs to succeed faster through mentoring, support, infrastructure and investment.
“We’re trying to collaborate statewide with the startup ecosystems on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Cairns, Toowoomba and elsewhere. Any we’re trying to foster a larger ecosystem group including local government, educational institutions and the local chamber of commerce,” he says.
“So an event [like Mentor Blaze] really serves two purposes. One, it’s a great education event, and two, it’s a call to action. When entrepreneurs have problems, it’s a chance to talk to people who have gone through that same experience or have contacts who can help.
“We’re not a big centre – we can’t compare with Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney – but we are catching up fast!”