Executive manager of Regional Business HQ and The Generator Bundaberg Brooke Fossey and CLS chief executive officer Damien Tracey said the whole purpose of the exciting event is to help participants determine whether the basic version of their service or product is viable. Picture: Rhylea Millar
Executive manager of Regional Business HQ and The Generator Bundaberg Brooke Fossey and CLS chief executive officer Damien Tracey said the whole purpose of the exciting event is to help participants determine whether the basic version of their service or product is viable. Picture: Rhylea Millar

STARTUP WEEKEND: Successful event returns to Bundy

Entrepreneurs, business owners and movers and shakers will have the rare and exciting opportunity to sit down with a nationally recognised entrepreneurship educator, as well as a group of successful mentors, to get insights into the world of start-ups.

Facilitated by award-winning innovation professional Baden U'Ren and supported by The Generator Bundaberg and Community Lifestyle Support (CLS), Startup Weekend Bundaberg will be hosted over three days next month.

Executive manager of Regional Business HQ and The Generator Bundaberg Brooke Fossey and CLS chief executive officer Damien Tracey. Picture: Rhylea Millar
Executive manager of Regional Business HQ and The Generator Bundaberg Brooke Fossey and CLS chief executive officer Damien Tracey. Picture: Rhylea Millar

Executive manager of Regional Business HQ and The Generator Bundaberg Brooke Fossey said the event would allow participants to connect with business experts to gain the skills and knowledge required to turn their start-up dreams into a reality.

"Mentors will be using their own lived experiences to share ideas throughout the weekend, touching on practicality and options that new business owners might not have considered," Ms Fossey said.

"You don't need to be someone who wants to start up a business, but this event allows you to participate in something hypothetical that might assist you or give you an idea for your own projects."

On the Friday night, participants will have the opportunity to pitch ideas, before the group cast votes on which team they would like to join.

Teams are then formed on the next day for the most popular pitches and members will start working alongside mentors, using a rapid business start-up model, assisting them to launch their own business.

Judges will then attend the Sunday session to hear the business plans and select the most interesting and practical ideas.

"The whole purpose of the three days is to determine whether the basic version of your service or product is viable," CLS chief executive officer Damien Tracey said.

Mr Tracey said everyone was welcome to attend the event, whether they are business-minded, interested in innovation or have never considered creating a start-up but are keen to soak it up.

"I remember previously, two people had no business plan, idea or intended to pitch but within two or three hours of being there, got the courage to pitch something, which was really cool to see."

Open to all industries, the three categories for pitches include hackers (technology), hipsters (creatives) and hustlers (business).

"In 2018 and 2019 we got a really broad mix of people taking part, from a 14-year-old girl who came with their mum to do a pitch, to people from a whole heap of different backgrounds," Mr Tracey said.

"You don't have to pitch or share your idea, but you are welcome to come to participate and see what the event is all about.

"What is really important and everyone is encouraged to do so from the outset, is the people (who's pitches don't receive enough votes) shouldn't just leave, but instead they should jump on another team, support another idea and apply what they learn."

Facilitated by award-winning innovation professional Baden U’Ren and supported by The Generator Bundaberg and Community Lifestyle Support (CLS), Startup Weekend Bundaberg will be held next month. Picture: Rhylea Millar
Facilitated by award-winning innovation professional Baden U’Ren and supported by The Generator Bundaberg and Community Lifestyle Support (CLS), Startup Weekend Bundaberg will be held next month. Picture: Rhylea Millar

While previous years had seen an online produce redistribution service for local farms and dating apps proposed, Mr Tracey said he was excited to hear from businesses that had been hit hard by the pandemic.

"I'm really keen to see the creatives this year, so the musicians, artists, actors and people from theatres, or even cafes, bars and restaurants, who have really been impacted by COVID-19," he said.

"That would really fit nicely with the theme and it would be really cool to see people looking at ways to pivot their business to address the downturn they experienced.

"We're seeing a real push from the Queensland Government at the moment trying to help artists to commercialise their artworks, which is really great."

But Ms Fossey said she was most looking forward to hearing about social enterprises that could assist the local community.

"I would be keen on seeing people tap into those social niches, whether it be sustainability or helping victims of domestic violence through COVID-19," Ms Fossey said.

"Seeing something get off the ground that will be really beneficial to the community is what I'm really interested to see."

Judges for this year's event include Bundaberg Tourism's Katherine Reid, Bree Grima from Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers and Queensland Computers' Ellen Hicks.

The mentors are Arjan Jonkees, Tanya O'Shea, Dan Baldry, Elle Tonkin, Daniel Hicks, Dan Wick, Michael Barber, David Lee-Schneider, Tom Corp and Larine Statham.

Funded by the Queensland Government's Advanced Queensland and Regional Start-up Hub Support programs, Mr Tracey and Ms Fossey said the event wouldn't be possible without the assistance, for which they are grateful.

Start-up Weekend runs from February 12 to 14 at The Generator Bundaberg on Bourbong St.

Registrations are now open. Adult tickets are $52.52 and $26.80 for students. For more information, click here.