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New Program helps regional entrepreneurs bring business ideas to life

Media Release

Above Image: Hon. Jaala Pulford, standing with the first Incubator Cohort outside Wangaratta Charles Sturt University Campus.
(From left to right) Ro Latimer, Paul Hogan, Rohan Webb, Lisa DeFazio, Nathan MacPhee, Stuart Johnstone, Steve Woodhall, and Amelia Hartney (facilitator) 

Plenty of people have a great business idea, but that’s often as far as it goes because they simply don’t know what to do next.

Now, a new business ‘incubator’ program is helping ten entrepreneurs from regional Victoria take their ideas to the next stage using innovation and technology.

It’s delivered by Startup Shakeup (a community of entrepreneurs, business innovators, local government, and investors who work together to turn big ideas into jobs and economic growth in North East Victoria) in partnership with Runway HQ Geelong, a not for profit that supports entrepreneurs to be successful.

The Incubator officially launched this week and will offer a unique mix of online masterclasses and face-to-face group learning over six months, supported by a facilitator based in Wangaratta.

Chair of Startup Shakeup Ilena Young said the strength of this program is that entrepreneurs can access expert advice and support from anywhere in regional Victoria.

“This current climate of job uncertainty because of the pandemic shows just how important it is for people to be able to create a job for themselves rather than relying on someone else for their employment,” Mrs Young said. 

“But it can be isolating trying to develop an idea on your own. I know, I’ve done it myself. This Incubator program provides support at every step of the Startup journey as people test and grow their ideas.”

The ten participants bring an interesting mix of problem-solving ideas to the Incubator including solutions to the affordable housing shortage, an app that helps you become a better gardener, and a creative approach to regional freight delivery.

Business partners Paul Hogan and Lisa DeFazio are amongst the inaugural Incubator participants.

It’s good to be able to learn specific skills and validate our ideas in the context of our local community,” Lisa said.

“There’s a high level of quality in the content and delivery of the program, and a real interest in what we’re trying to achieve,” Paul added.

Victorian Innovation Minister Jaala Pulford met the group in Wangaratta this week.

We were thrilled the Minister could come and hear first-hand about the innovation happening in our region and the flow-on effect to our regional economy,” Incubator facilitator Amelia Hartney said.

Three more incubator programs are planned over the next two years, funded by the Victorian Government and LaunchVIC.

Since it was founded in 2018, Startup Shakeup has worked with over thirty start-ups, who in 2020 had a projected turnover of almost $1 million and employed 50 staff.