SOCIAL MEDIA strategy specialists, Strategic Social Profiles – recognised by Business Queensland as one of Queensland’s ‘100 Faces of Small Business’ – will stage a social media strategy workshop for SME business leaders on May 31.

As part of Queensland Small Business Week, the company has been awarded a grant by Business Queensland, to assist with the staging of the social media strategy workshop for small business owners and managers, to be held at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Friday, May 31.

The half-day workshop will provide participants with a ‘deep dive’ into social media, according to Strategic Social Profiles co-director Annabel Sullivan. 

She said it would include the five key steps identified by Strategic Social Profiles as being crucial for small business to learn, in order to more effectively handle their own Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts.

The Social It Yourself – Social Media for Small Busines workshop will be limited to a group of no more than 25 participants, in order to maximise interaction and learnings, Ms Sullivan said.

As a small business itself, Strategic Social Profiles is keen to share invaluable insights and tips with fellow small business operators during Queensland Small Business Week, which will run from May 27-31.

Ms Sullivan said the workshop would  address the ‘pain points’ generally associated with developing a social media strategy and has been designed for small business operators who don’t know where to start, have neither the time nor the expertise to figure it out and are essentially frustrated and overwhelmed by the whole social media proposition.

“Unlike many other courses, the ‘Social It Yourself’ philosophy behind our workshops seeks to upskill small business people to manage their own social media,” Ms Sullivan said.

“Unless they specifically request our ongoing involvement, we then step back and let them manage their own social media, because they know their customers and clients better than anyone else.”

The workshop will be delivered at the heavily subsidised rate of $49 per person, she said, a substantial reduction from SSP’s standard $495 workshop price, “all made possible due to the generous support being provided by Business Queensland”.

The half day workshop will take place from 9am to 2pm and will include morning tea and lunch.  Those interested in participating at the workshop should register on the Strategic Social Profiles website under the SIY Workshops banner.

www.strategicsocialprofiles.com.au

ends

When Qantas A380 pilot Richard De Crespigny was confronted with a life-and-death inflight explosion, soon after take-off from Singapore, he had to call upon all of his flying and aviation systems experience in order to land safely. However, the real ace up his sleeve turned out to be his passion for – and what he calls Deliberate Practice of – a people management method he refers to as High Reliability Organisation leadership. He learned it from the best in the business – people like flight director for NASA’s $104 billion Apollo program, Gene Kranz – and now De Crespigny has literally written the book on the life lessons he learned from the cockpit of QF32 on that fateful day.

 

By Mike Sullivan >>

THE SAME techniques that a highly trained – and determined – Qantas team used to avert what could easily have become one of the world’s worst aviation disasters, can be used to save you, your loved ones and your business life.

The events and responses that kept the 469 people aboard Qantas flight 32 alive, over Singapore on November 4, 2010, may not immediately seem related to business leadership and resilience. But they are. And Richard De Crespigny is very adept at explaining how much they are.

Here’s how precarious the situation was: After the unprecedented inflight explosion of one of its four Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines, QF32 had shrapnel and fire damage that disabled 21 of the Airbus A380’s 22 systems. Two explosions had severed 650 wires and network cables. Under 50 percent of the airliner’s electrics and hydraulics were operational. Jet fuel and hydraulic fluids were leaking from the badly damaged left wing. Key pumping systems to move fuel around the aircraft’s 11 tanks, to help stabilise the aircraft in flight, were non-operational. 

After working out how to keep the aircraft safely in the air, QF32’s crew were shocked in their careful testing to discover that the A380’s 21-wheel undercarriage could only be lowered using a gravity-forced option – and it also became worrisomely clear the aircraft’s remaining three engines were not operating normally.

Fortunately, as fate would have it – for all aboard whose lives were at stake and for their fearful families – QF32, on that fine November day, had misfortune equally counterbalanced by good fortune.

That luck started with the line-up of QF32’s skilled, experienced and innovative crew – which by chance included two extra ‘check captains’ who were assessing both Richard De Crespigny and the trainee ‘check captain’. It meant there were five minds and thousands more hours of experience to throw at the life-critical problems that ensued.

It also meant greater pressure on the lines of communication and leadership: decisions had to be made fast. All reporting, actions and ideas had to be imparted clearly and without the impositions of ego and rank.

A FATEFUL INTEREST

This is where Richard De Crespigny’s unique pedigree really came into play in 2010. Well before this fateful flight, he had developed a deep interest in human performance, resilience and leadership under stress – and he was a devoted student of aviation incidents and accidents.

That special interest had been heightened through his early flying years as a jet fighter pilot with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) – and developed even as a youth from hearing stories and opinions expressed by this father, Peter De Crespigny, a former professional pilot who is still qualified to fly today at age 92.

In fact, when Richard spoke to his friend Neil Armstrong – yes, that Neil Armstrong, the late astronaut, test pilot and aero-engineer – about his father’s exercise regime of swimming 3000m every week to ensure he maintained his private pilot’s licence, Armstrong said: “Give Peter my congratulations. He’s my inspiration!”

Crucially, if Richard De Crespigny had not used his leadership knowledge and easy-going natural style to set up the team atmosphere and problem-solving environment in the cockpit before this flight, a potential overload of experience on the flight deck may have actually contributed to the risk.

One of the check captains, Dave Evans, remarked to De Crespigny later, “It would be hard to find a more A380-experienced crew on the planet …”

But in the author’s research for the book Fly!, an international aviation safety investigator told him that “with so many pilots in the cockpit during the QF32 incident, it was remarkable” that they did not crash.

“He subsequently sent me an analysis of aircraft emergencies where the crew was augmented by extra pilots,” De Crespigny wrote. “Far from an additional pilot making the situation safer, it made it more likely to end in disaster. This might seem counter-intuitive, but the explanation is simple.

“For some flights with augmented crews, the cockpit turns into a committee. Blurring the chain of command allows for distraction, confusion, indecision, arguments and bad outcomes. The investigator was astonished that his had not happened to us.

“In turn, I was surprised that he did not identify a failure to define every team member’s role as an explanation for his findings, followed by the conclusion that some pilots needed training to become better leaders.

“In the case of QF32, I confirmed before the flight, then later enforced, the command structure of our augmented crew, thus preventing confusion when things went wrong.”

All this was part of De Crespigny’s focus on team dynamics and leadership, in which he engages before every flight, fitting in briefings over coffee with his flight deck and attending cabin crew briefings.

Well before the afflicted QF32 incident, De Crespigny had focussed his professional interest on finding ways to help teams perform better through stressful situations and realised that, in his industry, flight safety predominantly came down to leadership styles and methods.

There was a particular discussion among the pilots before that fateful QF32 flight about roles and responsibilities, including De Crespigny working a compromise about operational positions.

“The check captain offered a compromise: if required, he would act as Second Officer. I was happy with this and we took off with all five pilots having a clear, and shared, view of their roles, tasks and responsibilities. This was to prove all-important when the engine exploded.” 

DOWN TO BUSINESS  

Here is where the author’s rationalisations can be applied to other areas of life, especially business – and most readers will run parallel evaluations of their own business life situations as they read parts of this book.

The QF32 pre-flight cockpit scenario could be similarly played out in a boardroom situation, say, of a company facing a potentially business-ending crisis.

For example, a company which has geared up its activities and borrowed capital to meet certain customer requirements can be quickly derailed when there is a sudden financial downturn in that industry – or a series of failures of their major clients, such as what occurred in Australia during and the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) onset in 2007 and for many years following.

Sitting in the ‘business cockpit’ might be the business’s leadership team – one or two of whom know they have not been achieving the desired results – the company accountant, a business specialist brought in to help recover the situation (and drawing money out of the business fast) and representatives of finance companies. Bankers may be urging the company to go into administration before they push the button on that option (for they are the first to be paid) and the landlord may be threatening to lock the doors for unpaid rent. Equipment financiers may be threatening to repossess equipment the company needs to work its way out of trouble. The ATO could also be making legal and bank account garnishee warnings.

Staff are wary and concerned and some are making demands, while rumours are rife, causing distress to their families as well. They have bills and mortgages to pay. The business owner is prioritising staff payments over all else, but this is making the ATO and creditor situation worse by the week.

The business leader has to step up and reason with all parties to build a consensus that buys the business time to resolve its plight for all concerned. The ideal outcome is for the business to continue and for everyone to be paid what they are due over time. It requires the business leaders to find a way to reason with all concerned, find common ground, buy time to deliver on promises and encourage compassion from those around the table while acknowledging all their self-interests.

And there are also the existential issues of what is happening to the business brand and the professional reputations of those on the leadership team.

You might reasonably argue that a life-threatening aviation situation is conducted at levels of stress well beyond the world of business – but is it? The human challenges are similar although time frames are not.

While an aviation emergency unfolds over a short period of time, often over a few hours and occasionally over just a few minutes, a business-threatening crisis often evolves over years. Years of building stress. Years of testing the resilience of leaders.

When a business Black Swan event happens, it is not just about having the leadership skills and team focus to deal with it – leaders often have to question whether they still possess the energy to see the situation through. Leaders also have to be realistic about whether financial and other resources can be gathered and whether the goodwill of staff, clients and suppliers will be forthcoming and sufficient.

The suicide statistics of business leaders who have been beaten by crises and their businesses and family wealth destroyed – enduring an insidious kind of slow-burn post-traumatic stress – cannot be overlooked.

The situations are different, but the impacts both physical and mental can be similar.

THE SCIENCE

Richard De Crespigny was a student of leadership, and the psychology and physiology involved in successful leadership, well before the 2010 QF32 emergency. If anything, he has become an even more avid researcher since that day and he brings his collection of knowledge and learnings to the fore in Fly!: Life Lessons from the Cockpit of QF32.

In fact, throughout the book he explains how his learnings from the challenges of that flight and others have eventually provided many positives for both his business and family life.

De Crespigny is something of a scholar on coping with stress. He draws on other people’s experiences and thoughts ranging from ancient scholars and resilient figures of history, to test pilots and astronauts, to university professors, psychologists and neuro-scientists.

He presents many sensitive and sensible snapshots of wisdom from business greats such as Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Australia’s Dick Smith and others.

THE PARALLELS

The parallels with business are clear. In Australia at the moment, those officially considering what has gone wrong with the banking and insurance industries would do well to consider a list like the one below, compiled by the author (p169).

De Crespigny was largely talking about the kinds of poor leaders he had encountered in the aviation industry and in cockpits over many years when he identified the classic signs that he noticed of poor leaders. He wrote, they:

  • “are driven and dominated by ego, power and control, using abuse, threats, intimidation and coercion
  • “hoard information as a source of power
  • “talk before they listen and think
  • “close their doors (metaphorically and literally) and selectively filter feedback
  • “cannot settle on decisions
  • “lack empathy
  • “don’t trust, so micro-manage others and undermine confidence
  • “don’t support whistleblowers and people who step up
  • “never admit they have failed
  • “take the credit for wins and find excuses or blame others for errors and losses.”

The author relates crisis and emergency leadership directly to business leadership, among many of the interviews he conducted.

“My cousin Robert Champion de Crespigny AC is a successful entrepreneur who created a mining empire, served as a university chancellor, an advisor to governments and a member on many not-for-profit, industry and educational boards. He says, ‘Success sometimes breeds cancerous ego and greed.  Even good leaders can eventually fall prey to believing their own bulldust. If you look at successful businesses led by very good chief executives, who clearly are great leaders, ego, hubris and conceit nearly always creep in before a fall. They increasingly forget to credit the teams that enabled their success. This is when the rot creeps in. A cook is only as good as his last meal. Generally, when the ego takes over that’s when they drop the ball and fall.’”

With such knowledge and experience building, Richard De Crespigny made a vital declaration for his own career. 

“I was determined that when I became a captain I would be as different as possible from the bad leaders I had seen. I knew that teams, never autocratic leaders, built resilient organisations. History proves that leaders who ignore their teams eventually fail. Survival depends on amassing the knowledge, experience and skills from many people into an intelligent and responsive team that learns, creates and adapts.

“It was clear to me that a leader does not just determine the culture, the leader IS the culture! The leader’s behaviour sets the tone for every activity their team undertakes, not just those that need direction and management. I was determined to set the best culture for my crews and passengers on every flight. So I looked around me for role models and exemplary leaders and studied them closely.”

Richard De Crespigny started finding leaders to admire from his own industry and ended up with an extraordinary list that included many famous names who eventually became his friends, including first-man-on-the-moon Neil Armstrong and co-pilot Buzz Aldrin; NASA flight director Gene Kranz who led the mission control teams supporting the Apollo missions; Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger who landed the stricken Flight 1549 twinjet on the Hudson River, New York; the first man to break the sound barrier, Chuck Yeager; and Australia’s own modern helicopter record breaker and business entrepreneur, Dick Smith.

LEADERSHIP STYLES

De Crespigny describes in detail the many leadership styles he has studied. He is clear about his own leadership style – one that worked so well throughout the most critical moments of QF32 and the extensive and exhausting days and months of follow-up with passengers, crew, investigators and the broader aviation industry – and he calls it High Reliability Organisation (HRO) leadership.

“Examples of successful HRO leadership include Gene Kranz, the Flight Director for NASA’s $104 billion Apollo program, and Ann Pickard, who has headed some of the Shell Oil Company’s most difficult and contentious operations including Arctic Ocean exploration.

“HRO leaders are mindful people who are knowledgeable, well trained and experienced. They possess the fierce will to enforce safety. They resist the urge to apply simplistic solutions to complex situations. They understand their systems down to their core components, using these skills to implement novel and creative solutions. HRO leaders trust (but verify) and defer to expertise. They give single-minded advice to their teams – if you are not committed to the company’s culture, values and standards, then leave.

“Gene Kranz gave an insight into this mindset, describing the critical moment at which the decision had to be made to launch or abort: ‘There was no room in the process for emotion, no place for fear or doubt, no time to stop and think things over … You had to be prepared for any contingency, and those contingencies had to be as fully anticipated as possible before you pushed the button.’

“He added that a vital feature of HRO leadership is that leaders unhesitatingly assign critical tasks to someone capable of handling them and then, crucially, trust that person’s judgement rather than overriding it.”

De Crespigny has a very clear view of his own leadership style, having deeply researched many successful leaders and their methods.

“My recipe for HRO leadership includes responsibility, authority, risk, confidence, courage, initiative, care and communication. It requires the leaders to tame their ego and recognise their own vulnerabilities. HRO leaders know there are never enough learning experiences for them to ‘know it all’. Their humility to admit their own weaknesses is a vital step and strength in building a strong and resilient team where each member is capable, valued and respected.

“HRO leadership is hard work and not for the faint-hearted. You must be tough, fierce-willed, competent and courageous. You must also be humble. Communicate your values to your team and protect them, because these are the people that build resilience.”

 

AVIATE, NAVIGATE, COMMUNICATE

Richard De Crespigny proves the value of applying the lessons learned in the cockpit of QF32 to other areas of life – particularly business – through a broad range of scenarios over and over again.

“We’re all going to experience a crisis of some form, at some point. For airline pilots or nuclear power plant safety managers, a crisis might be a catastrophic equipment failure that puts hundreds of lives at risk. For communities, it might be natural disasters that devastate thousands. For corporations, it might be crippling financial loss or reputational damage. For families, it might be a frightening medical diagnosis, a job loss or a car crash.

“Here are the strategies I learned over 40-plus years of flying which helped me and everyone else aboard QF32 walk away safely:

  • stay alive (‘Aviate, Navigate, Communicate’)
  • create time
  • accept your reality
  • mitigate threats
  • assess your options
  • reassess priorities
  • don’t rush
  • think for yourself and resist stampedes
  • forget perfection
  • try inverting the logic
  • communicate
  • remember, there’s no such thing as an ‘unimaginable’ crisis.

Aviate, Navigate, Communicate is the pilot’s mantra to prioritise the initial actions in a crisis. It is all about staying alive … and the reality is that Navigate and Communicate can only come into play once a safe state of ‘aviation’ has been achieved.

The same mantra is a hugely useful metaphor to stabilising a business in mortal crisis.

Whether you find yourself saving lives or simply making your business ‘fly’, Richard De Crespigny’s entertaining and thoughtful book certainly has the Right Stuff. 

Quotes:

“Individuals, corporations, governments and every other entity you can think of must adapt, embrace the future and surf the edge of chaos, otherwise they will perish.” – Richard De Crespigny.

 “To have the situation awareness to confront the immediate and very difficult reality, with a full and accurate appreciation of the risks, thereby making the decisions and taking the actions that directly lead to your survival.” Cresley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, who glided his airliner to a safe landing on the Hudson River.

“When the winds of ill blow, don’t build walls, build imagination, creativity and windmills.” – Richard De Crespigny.

 

ends

THE LATEST Sunsuper Australian Job Index – formerly known as the Kinetic Super Job Index – shows the job market fell slightly in the September quarter by 1.6 percent, but demand was up year-on-year, and permanent job opportunities grew by 10.3 percent over the last year.

Sunsuper’s chief economist Brian Parker said this could be attributed to a strong employment market: one in which employers are confident to hire permanent staff, looking to lock in skills and minimise talent shortages. The Sunsuper Australian Job Index is the first and only Australian jobs report to split data between permanent and contingent – temporary, fixed term contract and casual – job vacancies.

“The fall in this quarter’s index was more pronounced in the contingent work space,” Mr Parker said. “This is particularly disappointing because this is normally a time when temporary and contract work starts to build for Christmas in sectors such as manufacturing and distribution. It may also reflect a rebalancing of hiring by employers towards permanent employment to lock in skills and talent. 

“Despite the softer quarter there were regions still enjoying record levels of job vacancies. The strongest performing region was Victoria/Tasmania where the index rose 19.4 percent over the last 12 months and established a new record high in September. 

“It was a strong quarter for Queensland with permanent rising 1.2 percent and contingent up 1 percent. Likewise, both South Australia and Tasmania saw rises in both their permanent and contingent job indices,” Mr Parker said.

“When split by industry, the mining, construction and utility aggregated sector was well ahead of the rest of the market, with job opportunities nearly doubling in just three years. Mining represents the largest share of the three and in September 2015 this sector was in deep recession.

“The post-mining boom period saw mass retrenchments and relatively little new role creation. However, three years on and commodity prices are strong, production is up and there is an abundance of job opportunity in the sector once more.

“The weakest performer was the financial and insurance services industries. The sector was performing reasonably well until around this time last year when the Royal Commission was called, and this seems to have had a significant effect on employment prospects in the banking and insurance space. Job opportunities fell 13.5 percent in the last six months and 5.3 percent in the last three months.  

“The other sector where employment prospects are retreating is retail and wholesale, with demand 4.1 percent lower than a year ago and, more worryingly, down 9.3 percent in the last quarter.

“This can primarily be attributed to disruption in the retail sector. The fourth quarter is normally when retail job vacancies pick up for the Christmas period, and while this will inevitably occur, it is unlikely to be as buoyant as previous years.”

sunsuper.com.au/australianjobindex

 

JOB INDEX KEY POINTS

  • The Sunsuper Australian Job Index fell 1.6% in the September quarter indicating a slight contraction in the national job market.
  • The ratio of permanent (72.2%) to contingent (27.8%) job opportunities remained steady since last quarter. 
  • Contingent demand has grown over the last 12 months (by 1.6%), but permanent demand has grown much faster (a massive 10.3%).
  • Professional job opportunities were 12% higher than last September, clerical and administrative roles were down 6.3%.
  • The mining, construction and utility sector were well ahead of the rest of the market, with job opportunities nearly doubling in just three years.
  • The Royal Commission has impacted employment prospects in the banking and insurance space, with job opportunities falling 13.5% in the last six months and by 5.3% in the last three months.

ends

THE University of Queensland (UQ) and Newcrest Mining Limited have signed a partnership agreement that paves the way for long-term education, training and research activities.

UQ vice-chancellor and president, Peter Høj said the agreement aimed to “foster the long-standing relationship between the two organisations and strengthen skills in support of Newcrest’s strategic pillars: safety and sustainability; people; operating performance; technology and innovation; and profitable growth”.

Following past projects together, Newcrest is currently supporting 10 Research students, working on several mining research projects, and is sponsoring the new High Voltage Pulse Flexible Testing Facility at the UQ Experimental Mine Site. 

The university’s Sustainable Minerals Institute also provides social performance leadership training to Newcrest to support its goal of improved relationships with host communities throughout its global portfolio of assets.

Professor Høj said the university-wide partnership would be mutually beneficial.

“The University of Queensland is focused on finding solutions to global issues by delivering new knowledge and partnered innovation,” Prof. Hoj said.

“Our research in mining and mineral engineering is ranked first in the world in the prestigious Shanghai Ranking and we are increasingly adding value to this expertise through collaborations that leverage complementary strengths within UQ and the expertise of our partners.

“We look forward to working with Newcrest on initiatives that will strengthen capabilities among their current and future staff and students, and to create positive social, environmental and technological change.”

Newcrest Mining CEO and UQ alumnus, Sandeep Biswas, said the partnership was testament to the value of academic research and the mining sector working together.

“Transformative growth for Newcrest, and for the broader mining industry, relies on skilled people engaging innovative thinking and technology to unlock new pathways to value,” Mr Biswas said.

“Closely aligned partnerships like this are key to empowering that process.

“I am delighted that we are formalising this multi-dimensional commitment between Newcrest and UQ.”

The partnership will initially run for five years and both organisations will work together through a joint governing structure to develop integrated approaches to specific subject areas.

Partnership activities will include professional development services to Newcrest employees, student support including scholarship payments, research projects, support for mining-related studies continuity; and, consultancy.

Newcrest is one of the world’s largest gold mining companies, with operations in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. The company’s greenfields exploration footprint extends across Australasia, the Americas and Africa.

www.uq.edu.au

www.newcrest.com.au

ends

THE UNIVERSITY of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney and the principal venture capital fund for the CSIRO, Main Sequence Ventures, have entered a new partnership destined to drive innovation and entrepreneurship at UNSW to new heights.

UNSW will become the first university in the world to roll out Venture on Campus, a new entrepreneurship and innovation program designed by Main Sequence Ventures for research-oriented organisations and universities.

Phil Morle, partner at Main Sequence Ventures, said streamlining communication between researchers, student entrepreneurs, early-stage startups, and industry partners would provide closer connectivity and promote greater engagement between researchers and the investment community to share skills, expertise, ideas and resources. 

UNSW’s Division of Enterprise director of entrepreneurship, Elizabeth Eastland said that by equipping staff, students, and researchers with the knowledge and industry-level connections that the Venture on Campus partnership provided, UNSW would be actively powering the next wave of economic growth that would emerge from disruptive startups and research projects.

“With the appointment of someone with the stature of Jennifer Zanich, who has recently taken up the position as head of UNSW Entrepreneurship’s Ecosystem and Partnerships, we are clearly signalling we intend to engage deeply with the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Australia and globally, and this partnership with Main Sequence Ventures is a prime example of this,” Dr Eastland said.

Ms Zanich said the Venture on Campus partnership tapped into UNSW’s ambition to increase the scale of university-led innovation globally via the exchange of knowledge, while heavily fostering a research, educational, and commercial culture that embraces inclusion, diversity of thought, and entrepreneurship for both industry, staff, and students.

“Our programs and partnerships are purposefully designed to instil in students and staff the skills and resilience they need to succeed in the 21st century global workplace,” Ms Zanich said.

Venture on Campus will also deliver, via six modules, a custom-made program that will give UNSW researchers and startups insights into the venture capital mindset and the skills required to navigate it, while also providing opportunities for funding and mentorship.

Promoting the Venture on Campus initiative, Main Sequence Ventures’ Mr Morle said, “Future industries are being born inside the nation's universities, and entrepreneur programs like the UNSW Founders program are helping to make this the frictionless career path it should be.

“Scientists create companies; science creates industries; industries create the jobs of the future.”

www.unsw.edu.au

ends

A PEER-TO-PEER designer clothing rental network and an online hub for custom-built artificial intelligence algorithms are among 10 promising startups chosen to take part in this year’s SPARK Deakin Accelerator program.

Each team, selected from SPARK’s largest applicant pool in its three year history, will receive $10,000 seed funding to turn their ideas into reality, as well as intensive training from internationally-renowned experts, one-on-one mentorship, and access to a dedicated co-working space at Deakin University’s Melbourne corporate centre.

The teams include LendMyTrend, which allows users to access high-end fashion and monetise their wardrobe by pairing lenders and renters across Australia, and Aiii.io, a platform for businesses and organisations to find, test and implement AI algorithms capable of language processing and machine learning, connecting users with developers to design custom solutions.

SPARK program manager Daizy Maan said the program was one of the only university-led startup incubators in Australia to offer free in-house legal guidance and advice for participants, through clinics operated by Deakin Law School. 

Ms Maan said one of the aims of SPARK was to support more women into the startup market, to close the current gender gap within the industry.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to support such a strong and diverse cohort of teams for SPARK Deakin’s 2018 Accelerator program,” Ms Maan said.

“This year’s teams are talented entrepreneurs who have come to us with unique selling propositions and innovative solutions to everyday problems, eager to compete and set themselves apart.”

The teams were put to the test before selection in a four day pre-Accelerator intensive facilitated by US-based mentor Saba Karim, a Deakin alumnus and global head of ‘pipeline’[ at Techstars; and Nick Myers, managing director of Huntington Angels, a Boston firm that aims to grow the university venture community by connecting startups with investors and venture capital firms.

The teams were also given the opportunity to get advice and swap ideas with expert representatives from Airbnb and venture-backed startup Airmada.

Mr Karim, who is also the co-founder of Acquisitionly, said he fell in love with the startup ecosystem while attending California’s Stanford University.

“I originally pursued opportunities in the US as the startup scene was super young in Australia then, but it’s exciting to be back, and to see how far it’s come and how much Deakin and Melbourne is investing in first time founders,” Mr Karim said.

Ms Maan said she hoped SPARK in 2018 could inspire success in the way past rounds had, such as with the team behind Vollie, a remote volunteering platform to pair skilled volunteers with worthy causes, co-founded by Tanya Dontas and Matthew Boyd.

With the help of SPARK Deakin, Vollie has expanded to facilitate 329 projects and provide 6028 volunteer hours for a total volunteer value of almost $300,000.

Vollie also won the Australian Not-For-Profit Technology awards Best SME Connecting the Community award for 2017, and was recently presented with the 2018 NAB Nexus Collaborator Award and $10,000 funding for a collaborative project with Kenyan youth advocacy group, Youth on the Move.

SPARK Deakin regularly hosts founder events, Q-and-A sessions and networking functions for budding entrepreneurs to meet like-minded problem solvers, connect with motivated change makers, and offer support regardless of where they are on their startup journey.

www.sparkdeakin.com

The 10 teams selected for SPARK Deakin’s 2018 Accelerator:

Aiii.io – An AI algorithm marketplace that delivers instant algorithmic results for your apps.

CycleCups – Returnable, reusable, takeaway cups reducing landfill by displacing disposable cups.

DifAbility – Online training for parents supporting children with autism.

Empowering Parents – A subscription-based model providing education, insight and resources for parents and people caring for children.

KeySquirrel – A 24/7 key delivery and verification service for guests of holiday rental hosts.

LendMyTrend – A peer-to-peer designer clothing rental platform.

Netik Quick Clinic – Annual healthcare subscriptions in India delivering telemedicine, medications and diagnostics.

Ruwi's Cakes – An online 3D cake designing platform that makes it easy to create custom cakes.

STAFFAH – An online platform taking the pain out of hospitality recruitment.

Treiner – An online marketplace connecting football players with coaches and support staff.

ends

QUT staged its second Bootcamp in association with US university MIT in February, focusing on entrepreneurship in the field of sustainability.

More than 130 participants from 39 countries took part in the MIT Innovation and Entrepreneurship Bootcamp: Future of Sustainability at QUT’s Brisbane  Gardens Point campus from February 10-16 in partnership with Advance Queensland. 

The focus was on coming up with entrepreneurial real-world answers to the most pressing environmental issues of the era including climate change, carbon footprint, mine site rehabilitation, water usage and waste reduction, through a series of sustainability challenges.

Speakers and mentors at the event included MIT professor Bill Aulet who directs the Martin Trust Centre for MIT Entrepreneurship; entrepreneur Jocko Willink a decorated retired Navy SEAL officer and author of  the New York Times bestselling book Extreme Ownership; and Australian entrepreneur and managing director of Super Butcher, Susan McDonald.

It is the second year in a row MIT Bootcamps has chosen Queensland to deliver its entrepreneurship program, in partnership with Advance Queensland.

Prof. Bill Aulet returned to Australia to lead the teaching of disciplined entrepreneurship to this year’s crop of Bootcamp recruits. At last year’s event he said entrepreneurship attracted those who had “a spirit of a pirate” but cautioned successful entrepreneurship “needs the discipline of a Navy SEAL”. 

Making real that advice, Prof. Aulet invited decorated retired Navy SEAL Jocko Willink to join the 2018 Bootcamp as a special motivational coach.

Leading industrial and resources companies have taken a keen interest in the event by setting specific challenges for Bootcamp participants to tackle.

These included challenges about water usage, rehabilitation of mining sites, reducing waste and energy efficiency.
Prof. aulet said solutions to those major challenges must involve clear business plans, ready for scale up and be pitched to leading investors by the week’s end.

Some of the participants got an early start to the challenges being set by travelling to the Great Barrier Reef’s Lady Elliot Island, where they were encouraged to think and plan to ensure the long-term sustainability of industries important to Queensland’s economy.

The coral cay at the southern tip of the reef is located in the Marine National Park ‘green zone’ that protects the reef’s biodiversity.

While there, they met Lady Elliot's managing director Peter Gash who described how the island has been transformed from a mine site to a sustainable tourism venture.

The bootcamp was also the first major event for QUT’s new vice-chancellor, Margaret Sheil who met with MIT officials. 

Queensland Minister for Innovation, Kate Jones said, “This is a world-class event, as proven by the success of the inaugural Brisbane MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp last year which attracted 120 participants from 35 countries. With events like these being hosted in Queensland we continue to build our position as one of Australia’s most innovative states.”

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