Marketing Manager - Work My Own Way

Continued from last week…

Dr Elena Kelareva also spoke of the importance of community and about uncovering the international business ‘gold’ in the region to support the Startup Gippsland program.

“This is also about population attraction – to bring people to Gippsland we need not just nice houses and infrastructure but also a great community. Through Startup Gippsland, we found that there are so many people right here already who are building global businesses and changing the world, but because their customers are global, they promote themselves online rather than within the local community. Our mentors and startups were like little specks of gold that we found and connected together so they could help each other grow and succeed and become something so much more than they could be alone.” Dr Elena Kelareva, Founder and CEO, GippsTech

The night was a euphoric celebration of smarts, inclusivity and community, hosted by charismatic MC Anthony Mayer, an enlivening expert speaker and innovative thinker. Originally a Gippsland boy, Cnr Graeme Middlemiss, Mayor of Latrobe City Council, good humouredly named Anthony Yinnar’s favourite son! Anthony highlighted the success of the program, calling it the best regional startup program in Australia and noted it’s value.

“A comparable Victorian program to this with 47 participants cost close to $6M, this program has 46 participants and was funded for only $400,000. I guess that 47th guy must’ve been hard work!” Anthony Mayer, Startup Gippsland MC, Serial Entrepreneur, Founder, Online is Easy

40 of the 46 participating startups presented pitches. In a rapid fire, two minute rolling format the pitches tore through a gamut of spectacular ideas, competing to win great prizes and calling out to the audience for specific needs.

The mayors of the four shires auspicing the program lent their support and took the stage throughout the night: Cr Brett Tessari, Mayor of Bass Coast Shire Council, Cr Alan Hall, Mayor of Wellington Shire Council, Cr Mikaela Power, Mayor of Baw Baw Shire Council and Cr Graeme Middlemiss, Mayor of Latrobe City Council.

The judging panel included national startup authorities and local business experts:

Colin Kinner – Founder and CEO, Startup Onramp
Jordan Green – Founder and President of Melbourne Angels Trustee of the Angel Resource Institute (USA), Chairman of the Asian Business Angel Forum, Chairman Emeritus and a Fellow of the AAAI
Tim Weight – Executive Director, Strategic Engagement with TAFE Gippsland
Nikolle Mauchline – Relationship Manager for Regional and Agribusiness Banking at the Commonwealth Bank
Loretta Willaton – Regional General Manager for Telstra
Dr Abdel K Halabi, Senior Lecturer in Accounting at the Federation University Australia, Business School and Executive Board member of the Islamic Council of Victoria

The judges’ pitch assessment criteria included the problem being solved, the solution and unique offering, validation and traction to date and the overall quality of the presentation.

It seems fitting to give the last word to the participants, through Carmelina Manzo who spoke on their behalf.

“I would like to thank two absolutely remarkable ladies who have led the Start Up Gippsland Program: Elena Kelareva and Stephanie Thoo. We would like to thank you for your support and guidance throughout the program. We are extremely grateful that you brought Startup Gippsland to our beautiful region.” Carmelina Manzo, Startup Gippsland Participant, Founder, Nourished by Carms

Aldona Kmiec

Marketing Manager - Work My Own Way

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