Startup showcase at UNE SMART Region Incubator allows Tamworth business founders to 'pitch' their stories

FOUNDERS: Shonelle Gleeson-Willey of Moss Environmental and Ed Acosta of BOMB Media Group were among the 'pitchers'. Photo: Peter Hardin 200917PHC004
FOUNDERS: Shonelle Gleeson-Willey of Moss Environmental and Ed Acosta of BOMB Media Group were among the 'pitchers'. Photo: Peter Hardin 200917PHC004

A STARTUP showcase has allowed entrepreneurs to crystallise and “pitch” their stories for an audience including regional councillors, businesspeople and potential investors.

The event at the UNE SMART Region Incubator yesterday evening featured five Tamworth-based business founders, who each talked for five minutes then took questions from the crowd.

Incubator co-ordinator Sue-Ellen Hogan said it was an “opportunity for the founders to tell and share their story, and let the audience know their ‘why’.”

“The ‘why’ is really important: what is the problem they were looking to solve; what inspired them to create their business?” she said.

“The showcase allowed them to say, ‘This is why my business is important; this is why what I’m doing is important to me and my community’.”

The businesses represented were BOMB Media Group, Latin Arepa, Moss Environmental and ManageHealth, and brand-new founder Stephanie Cox, who is in the ideation stage, also spoke.

The presenters had been coached in their pitches by Brisbane-based expert-in-residence Gary Morgan, who spoke on the night about his role and introduced them.

Mr Morgan also announced the incubator would hold a startup weekend for entrepreneurs early next year.

UNE SMART Region Incubator expert-in-residence Gary Morgan and Tamworth region mayor Col Murray.

UNE SMART Region Incubator expert-in-residence Gary Morgan and Tamworth region mayor Col Murray.

UNE strategic partnerships development manager Bryn Griffiths gave the opening address with information about the incubator and how it worked.

The keynote speaker was Sigma Aerospace general manager Geoff Jones, who told the Sigma story.

Hunger to grow

One of the speakers was Ed Acosta, a founder of two businesses working out of the incubator: BOMB Media Group and Latin Arepa.

The former is a digital media business offering social media management, web and graphic design, 3D images and 360-degree photography for Google.

The latter offers Latin American food through event stalls, catering and home-delivered family meals.

He said BOMB’s ‘why’ was bridging the gap between older business owners and their younger potential customers through digital channels such as Google, Facebook and websites.

Latin Arepa was started to bring a new cuisine to the region, because “people across Tamworth and the region really enjoy seeing and trying something different”.

Mr Acosta said the incubator was “something really important in the community”.

“Tamworth has so many opportunities to offer that it’s not funny, to be honest,” he said.

“I’ve been able to create two businesses in 10 months, that shows you the amount of opportunity here.

“Sometimes you just have to get out of your comfort zone and try to seek the help of places like this.

“UNE has an incredible program and personally I couldn’t be more grateful to UNE for the program.

“In seven weeks, the businesses have grown by 80 per cent.”

IDEAS: UNE student Courtney Ferris, Jobs for NSW's agtech cluster champion Chris Celovic, and UNE SMART Region Incubator co-ordinator Sue-Ellen Hogan.

IDEAS: UNE student Courtney Ferris, Jobs for NSW's agtech cluster champion Chris Celovic, and UNE SMART Region Incubator co-ordinator Sue-Ellen Hogan.

‘Important task’

Ms Hogan said the business founders had done “an amazing job at such an important task”.

“These businesses who pitched last night, some of them have been with us for a couple of months, some really just a few weeks – not a long time, and it was just really so amazing to see their pride in their business and how well they were able to represent themselves and why they do what they do,” she said.

“It’s such an important skill when you’re moving into the small business area, and really trying to get that name for yourself, to be able to speak about it and share your reasons why.

“None of them have done anything like this before; you have client meetings and things like that, but not really trying to ‘sell’ your story in five minutes.”

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