RISE Business Accelerator

Last week Ki Media’s principal, Kate Ingham, spoke at the launch of the RISE Business Accelerator hosted by University of Wollongong.  Here is her speech:

At the moment – Regional populations are growing by something like 16% – there’s a lot of movement going on in Australia at the moment.

That means younger families moving – as they are being priced out of the metro markets, as well as your traditional retirees.

Hi I’m kate Ingham and I did that shift some 11 years ago, after visiting here regularly through my childhood.

I own a tech support business and am chair of a dog food company that we recently successfully raised capital through the crowdfunding platform Equitise.

When you move to the regions, if you don’t have a traditional job description such as lawyer or accountant, you know you have to come up with your own employment solution.

So there’s many people moving here with great professional networks, cashed up after selling in Sydney or Canberra and setting up as consultants.

Or entrepreneuring a new business they may not have prior experience with – say in retail or hospitality.

There’s also locals building side gigs to create new opportunity.

Along with the more traditional manufacturing businesses – currently reinventing themselves as manufacturing moves back on shore.

Prior to coming to this region I worked with a company that raised capital for startups. We secured the tender to deliver the NSW Innovation Advisory Service.

So in my travels I came across businesses of all shapes and sizes, varying capacities and the eternal need for getting clear on their best business model to take to market.  And of course the eternal need for capital.

So after moving to the Southern Highlands and my 50th coffee session where someone had requested to pick my brains, I thought it important for this region to have access to a business incubator.

About 5 years ago there was a group of us who hoped to secure funding to get the University of Wollongong’s i-Accelerate Start program to be delivered in this region, from a local coworking space.  And by association, the venture support that was part of the iAccelerate relationship.

But the timing those years ago wasn’t right. And now there’s much more support for entrepreneurship facilitators…

So I am delighted to see RISE delivered here. Congratulations to Chris & Rhonda, the Council, UOW and the state & federal governments through the Bushfire Grant Recovery Program –  who have made this happen.

Entrepreneurship is tough.  You often leave a well paid job, to follow a vision, where resources are scarce and tenacity becomes your middle name.  Many times partners, friends and families don’t understand why you are doing it.

To build a culture in this region that gets it – that’s been my dream for some time.  A network of expertise, funding and inspiration – and that invests in our own. Where potentially high value jobs can be generated from this region.

I see it happening in Byron and know we can build that culture here.

But it does mean walking out on the plank of risk. And creating a landing pad of advisory and support that catches those that fall and understand the real challenges faced by early stage businesses looking to scale.

The Rise program helps business cut through risk. They stress-test business cases quickly, deploy rapid death for those that don’t work and support people towards a model that is more scalable. They also introduce businesses to tools so they can test in a lean startup manner.  I commend businesses in the region to get involved.

These programs are inspiring and hopefully become a regular part of the Southern Highlands landscape. A landscape that has the potential for high value jobs, enriched employment opportunities for young people that involve tech and innovation. And an angel culture that supports and mentors our own, bringing business wisdom to the next generation.

Thankyou for bringing RISE to the Southern Highlands – and congratulations to all involved.

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