Young businesses take next leap

The latest Venture Dorm award winners at this week’s eNVIes Award night at Flinders – Michael Ewer, Dana Bell, Melissa Little and Sam Hastwell.

More than 40 entrants and seven local startups pitched for business development prizes worth almost $100,000 in the latest Venture Dorm ‘eNVIes’ graduation award night hosted by Flinders New Venture Institute.

The Gold, Silver and People’s Choice winners were respectively:

  • SA entrepreneur Dana Bell’s venture Soulful Kids, which offers a range of wellbeing programs for children;
  • Sam Hastwell and Michael Ewer’s startup Edge VR, which brings virtual reality technology to school-age children;
  • Melissa Little’s VENYU, an online event planning tool for weddings.

The other finalists – Stephanie Small’s Liven your Home, Steve and Wendy Turner’s Tradie SOS and Lisa Fraser’s Meal Mates and Flinders engineering student Tenzin Crouch, and his TK Smart Tech concept – were among those who competed the second semester Venture Dorm program.

In all, there more than 20 other ventures involved in the latest Venture Dorm program, including several other Flinders University students.

Flinders New Venture Institute director Matt Salier says the latest round of graduates from the acclaimed Venture Dorm program bodes well for the future of innovation and entrepreneurship in South Australia.

“This Venture Dorm group takes to more than 300 people the total number of emerging entrepreneurs trained through the program in the past three years,” Mr Salier says.

“Like a ripple effect, we have helped to produce more than 170 startups which have raised funding of more than $1.5 million and employed more than 50 people.

“Along with members of the larger community, this great program is also helping Flinders researchers and graduates to branch out into business and enterprises, connecting their capabilities to help continue the transformation of the South Australian economy.”

In addition to cash grants and a scholarship to visit the US with other startups in March 2017, Mr Salier says further mentoring, coaching, business development and support with marketers, design and commercialisation will be available, “essential to keep driving the quality of aspiring entrepreneurs as we’ve seen in the participants”.

The Venture Dorm program runs in conjunction with a range of other business support at Flinders at the Tonsley Innovation Precinct and other venues.

“Venture Dorm and the eNVIes graduation is a point in each entrepreneur’s journey to celebrate how far they’ve come,” he says. “It’s not an end but a beginning of the next stage of their own and their businesses’ development.”

From 2017 Venture Dorm will roll out more relevant and targeted support for South Australian micro-businesses to take the next steps towards success, Mr Salier says.

This will coincide with the rollout of innovation and enterprise online training via a partnership between Flinders University and top 10 US business school, Fox School of Business, which will support the University’s ongoing focus on new venture development of research and students. To find out more about this initiative click here.

Flinders NVI and Venture Dorm acknowledged their valuable partnerships with Hub Adelaide, Renewal SA, Renewal Adelaide and the Northern Area Schools Association – along with eNVIes sponsors including Onkaparinga Council, Event Partners, Howard Vineyard, Big Shed Brewing Co, News Corp, Hydra Consulting, JoeyCrowd, Leap Sheep, KommsHaus, Newsmaker, Chiliad Consulting, BDO Career BluePrint, Ethos Media and also Alere Function Centre, eNVIsion Incubator, Associate Professor Sandy Walker and the Flinders Innovation Centre.


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