Sydney startup incubator group BlueChilli's Alan Jones talks startups, STEM during workshops in Tamworth

IDEAS PEOPLE: Almost 20 people took part in an Ideation Workshop on Friday. INSET: Presenter Alan Jones of BlueChilli. Photos: Peter Hardin 070717PHC013, 070717PHC023
IDEAS PEOPLE: Almost 20 people took part in an Ideation Workshop on Friday. INSET: Presenter Alan Jones of BlueChilli. Photos: Peter Hardin 070717PHC013, 070717PHC023

EXPECTING your ideas to fizz and going for them anyway was one of the key points when startup expert Alan Jones taught in Tamworth.

The “entrepreneur-in-residence” of Sydney startup incubator group BlueChilli said innovators needed to think not just about the great idea they had now, but about “being successful several ideas down the track”.

Mr Jones was in town for two events at the UNE Business Centre this week aimed at startups: a community forum on Thursday night and an ideation workshop on Friday.

“Ideation is about helping people understand that if you want to be an entrepreneur, it’s not so much about the idea you have now but how it leads into the next idea, and how that idea leads into the next idea ... and asking, ‘How do I set myself up so I can afford to test ideas without going broke?’” Mr Jones said.

About 20 people attended on Friday with ideas including importing fitness fashion and developing an indestructible drone. They left with strategies such as developing a one-page business plan and doing effective customer research.

Mr Jones said it was “fascinating coming out to regional Australia to teach”.

“I get to see many more diverse entrepreneurs beginning their journey,” he said.

“I don’t know what it is about regional and rural Australia, but they are very creative about coming up with ideas solving a very diverse range of problems.”

STEM OF SUCCESS

The Thursday session was about how communities could foster innovation.

Mr Jones said one critical aspect was promotion of people making strides in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).

“If we want people to choose a career in STEM, we need to give young people role models they can aspire to be like. Nobody in [Thursday] night’s session could nominate a leader in STEM in the local community they could aspire to be like.”

Mr Jones said these role models could be a student who wins a maths or science competition, or a young person who develops and launches an iPhone app.

“We can start promoting our role models and making them feel like we value them very, very early on,” he said. 

“We don’t have to wait until they’re as successful as Mark Zuckerberg.”

Mr Jones said many bush kids aspired to be sports stars because they were idolised and, with a playing field around every corner, sport was accessible.

“What if we had a community centre in Tamworth with skilled computer science teachers helping kids learn Javascript, game programming and multimedia design, and it was a cool place to hang out in, not a marginalised one?” he said.

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