Have a business idea but not a resident? South Australia wants you!

Pictured (L to R): Domenic Saporito (Outcome.Life), Manon Beauchamp-Tardieu (Little Green Panda), Usman Iftikhar (Catalysr), Natanael Yan Setiawan (Pencil Rocket) and Benjemen Elengovan (MySafetyBot).

In November, Outcome.Life collaborated with Spark Deakin, a young entrepreneur support and mentoring service by Deakin University, to host a very insightful panel discussion with several young international entrepreneurs.

These former international students were courageous enough to follow their own dreams rather than someone else’s, by starting their businesses to solve some of our world’s biggest problems.

Interestingly, two of the four founders have chosen to take advantage of a new initiative by the South Australian Government. The program provides a fast-tracked pathway to permanent residency via entrepreneurship.

Supporting Innovation in South Australia (SISA) is a 3-year pilot looking to drive entrepreneurship and innovation in South Australia with accelerated migration as an incentive.
The program encourages internationals with a new business concept to start in South Australia with support from the State Government. The benefits include networking opportunities with other local and international business people, mentoring programs and a business support network in South Australia. In return, a healthy start-up ecosystem is being built in South Australia, as well as the potential for employment growth.

Daniel Tan and Natanael Yan Setiawan, founders of video production & social media startup Pencil Rocket explained, “The application process was fairly straightforward once we received support from NVI”. NVI, or New Venture Institute, is an award-winning accelerator program and one of four accredited accelerators working with South Australia’s universities.

Daniel picked up his life and moved to Adelaide to satisfy the requirements of the program. When asked how was the change from living in Melbourne to Adelaide, Daniel responded, “It’s certainly a little quieter. But the fewer people means I have been able to develop deeper relationships with other businesses founders.”

He added, “I am also leading a healthier lifestyle as there is not the pressure to work late and skip healthy meals”. When asked if moving to Adelaide has adversely affected his business, Daniel replied “Not really, there is still plenty of work out there for us”.

Usman Iftikhar of Catalysr, a pre-accelerator run for migrants & refugees, spoke of the growing awareness of the SISA initiative amongst international students, migrants & refugees, “More and more Australian migrant entrepreneurs are contemplating a move to Adelaide. I hope the other states get on board soon.”

The founder of MySafetyBot, Benjemen Elengovan, also recently applied for the SISA program after completing his education in Melbourne as an international student. Benji’s startup assists businesses to record and prevent workplace injuries. Benji will be relocating himself and his business to Adelaide within weeks.

In contrast, Manon Beauchamp-Tardieu of Little Green Panda isn’t going anywhere. Her 15-month-old business, supplying eco-friendly drinking straws to retail and large hotel chains, is flying! The New Zealand resident also spoke about more traditional startup issues she faces: lack of time, resources and access to the funds necessary to fill her mounting orders.

Not everyone is suited for a corporate job in Australia. Just like locals, many international students and migrants would prefer to be self-employed. History shows that Australia’s economy and has been built on migrants arriving in Australia and starting businesses. But rarely has entrepreneurship been a basis for immigration into Australia.

So well done to South Australia! SISA is an exceptional initiative taken up by South Australia recognising the contribution international entrepreneurs can make to this country. If Victoria wants to continue to be seen as the most progressive entrepreneurial state, it is time for the Victorian government to follow in the footsteps of our footy-loving neighbour!

Outcome.Life is all set to run its own pre-accelerator program over summer in conjunction with La Trobe Accelerator Program (LAP). Last year, we had the pleasure of assisting 28 entrepreneurs, including 3 locals, to realise their business ideas. Many went on to commercialise their businesses and several joined conventional accelerator programs, including LAP.

If you have a business idea or early-stage business and are looking to validate and/or commercialise it, what are you waiting for? Find out more about our free pre-accelerator program here, or you can fill out an expression of interest form here!

You can also get in touch with us at Outcome.Life to learn more about our internship programs.

Domenic Saporito

Why hiring graduates isn’t a cost to small business

New graduates are stepping out of university and finding it harder than ever to gain employment.

They often turn to the graduate programs offered by large companies, where in some industries they take on hundreds of new recruits annually. For those that aren’t successful in these initiatives, or find themselves in an industry where programs like this don’t exit, it can be cause for concern.

These graduates are particularly reliant on small businesses to fill the gaps.

LinkedIn Insights shows that 80% of small businesses hire graduates but only 12% have formal graduate recruiting programs. These stats illustrate that most small-medium enterprises (SMEs) want to hire graduates but hardly any commit to it becoming a regular aspect of the business through a dedicated system.

The number of applicants far outweighs the number of graduate jobs today and small businesses should be taking advantage of this talent pool available to them. Small businesses in Australia employ around 2.5 million people and without them, the local economy would have difficulty functioning.

So why should small businesses take on a graduate?

It’s a cycle that needs support

As many university and TAFE courses today include a work integrated learning component, students are able to gain experience while studying. This type of work is usually in the form of an internship and is undertaken unpaid.

While some students look at it negatively as they don’t have the potential to earn money, it is somewhat necessary to reduce the cost that they may have on small businesses. Being able to take on a student without the need to pay a full wage makes small business much more inclined to participate as a host company.

It’s a cycle that needs to be supported by both businesses and students to work effectively.

The cost is on the decline

As students are now graduating with more experience than previously, it means that the cost of hiring someone straight out of university is getting lower.

Graduates now usually have some experience under their belts, so when they are getting paid in a graduate or entry-level position, there is less of a cost to businesses again as they can get into regular work quicker.

The learning curve that graduates have traditionally come with is no longer as steep. This is because they will require less time training for basics and will already have an idea of what working in the industry is like.

Host companies can use student internships to their advantage as a way to ‘try before they buy’. A 12-week internship, for instance, can be seen as an extended job interview where an ongoing position can be offered based on this.

Graduates shouldn’t be seen as a cost

Graduates are young and beaming and can bring something new to an office or workplace, as they have the most up-to-date knowledge and education compared to experienced workers.

Those from overseas can prove to be particularly valuable as they have a cultural and global awareness. Graduates can offer a fresh take on things and can adapt quicker as they aren’t used to being buried in bureaucracy.

The last thing that they should be classified as is merely an expense. The view that they may leave after having time invested in their learning shouldn’t be a deterrent as, if you offer them the right conditions, they won’t want to leave at all.

The value that the can add to a business is huge and is often overlooked since it can’t be quantified with a dollar value.

While graduates may not necessarily be able to bring in new business right away, they can offer the perspective that is needed to retain and enhance existing projects.

Why internships aren’t what they used to be

There are more people doing internships now than ever before and this increase didn’t happen overnight. However, it’s not only the increase in students undertaking internships that is noteworthy. It’s the nature of the internships themselves that are different from how they once were.

Back in the day, people only undertook internships, work placements or periods of unpaid work to find out more about an industry. Placements existed to help students gain a better understanding of work in a particular field and guide them in selecting the right subjects or courses to reach their career goals.

Take the Year 10 work experience program, for instance. In theory, it is designed to give students a taste of life at work and help them select the right subjects as they enter Years 11 and 12, to match their preferred career path.

In reality, it’s not like that for all students.

Here’s why internships aren’t the way they used to be.

Internships lead to employment

The kids in Year 10 who are only 15 or 16 years old are already feeling the brunt of how hard it is to find a job, which is why they are using their work experience opportunity to gain experience in an area where they could potentially find employment in the short term.

Many of these students are desperately seeking to undertake their internships at retail stores, with the hopes that they will be hired by the company in a more permanent capacity.

While this is the case at high school, students and graduates at all levels are looking to complete an internship with the intention of it leading to employment.

Graduate Careers Australia found that in 2015, 67.4% of bachelor degree graduates were employed four months after graduating. These statistics combine full-time and part-time work and do not take into account the number of students who are working in fields not related to their area of study.

Students and graduates at all levels of education are feeling the need to intern, as they see that it not only leads to a job, but a job they want.

Internships are no longer an option

Internships are often embedded in courses, even at tertiary level. Education providers are seeing the need to give students practical experience and have introduced compulsory requirements of courses that involve internships.

These courses do not give students the option to intern. Rather, it is mandatory.

As these internships are completed by students already locked into their preferred course, they are not designed to help them discover their desired area of study, but again have a focus on obtaining experience for future employment.

This is another reason why internships aren’t fulfilling the purpose they once were designed to achieve.

Experience is expected

Employers don’t want to hire someone with only the theoretical knowledge learnt at university or TAFE.

It’s now an expectation that work experience has been completed to complement studies. Some students even actively seek courses involving a working component, over courses that do not offer such a thing.

The existence of the Professional Year program for internationals is an example of this. Designed with work experience front and centre, the course aligns with the nature of internships today, and that is, that internships are a vital pathway to gaining permanent employment.

With a shift in the role that they play, internships are now more important than they have ever been, as they’re no longer just to get an insiders look into an industry, but rather a foot in the door.

Why startups and education providers should go hand in hand

Innovation and startups are set to be the future of the Australian, and possibly even global, employment landscape.

However, educational institutions place a greater  emphasis on students and graduates obtaining employment in established companies in favour of startups.

With reports stating that the concept of automation will see five million Aussie jobs gone in the next 10 to 15 year,  Australians should be thinking about their current skill set and the changing nature of the industry they are in to ensure ongoing employment..

           The alliance between  industry, including startups and educators, has never been more important.

Australia needs to maintain and advance upon our global ranking of 7th in the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Index.

Despite this seemingly high ranking, Australia still has a relatively low rate of startup formation for a developed nation.

Education providers need to be taking this into account in not only the types of courses they offer, but also the components taught in existing courses, including more emphasis on startups.

Greater emphasis on startups in courses

Universities usually encourage their graduates to find employment at large, multi-national companies, as these are traditionally seen as employers of choice

However, there should be a push for graduates to think about joining startups and/or starting their own business from early on, ideally when they are still students and generally don’t bare financial and family responsibilities .

While financial limitations will hamper young students’ ability to start their own businesses, it should be ingrained into them that the goal is attainable, even if at a time in the future.

This can be taught in courses and experienced by partnering with the University’s local startup ecosystem; making students feel that they are equipped to commence a business of their own.

Teaching a diverse skill set of entrepreneurial skills, as well as promoting an entrepreneurial mindset,will provide immense benefits for those looking at launching their own startup and putting their ideas into action.

The right working spaces

There is a growing number of co-working spaces for entrepreneurs and small businesses, but not many are aligned with universities, nor designed with students in mind.

Co-working spaces are becoming more niche.  For instance, our Outcome-Hub in Melbourne is a co-working space designed specifically for international graduates to start their own businesses in Australia, rather than in their home country.

Universities are places where this type of co-working should commence. Regular ‘libraries’ are suited to study and research but a greater emphasis needs to be placed on the concept of co-working and the development of business at educational institutions.

Universities should create and promote dedicated spaces open to students at all levels and from all faculties to foster an entrepreneurial environment. This could have dedicated mentors available to allow for greater discussion and implementation of ideas between students.

Interns at startups

Internship opportunities at startups should be pushed so that students can see first-hand how new startup business operate.

Instead, Universities generally encourage their students to take intern roles, as part of courses, at established, long-standing companies where they become a small cog in a very large machine

While this type of experience is also important, students should be given the chance to apply their skills and knowledge in startups where, typically, they are given a greater range of roles and responsibilities.

Interns at startups can also make a greater impact on the business, especially in its infancy. Being resource poor, student interns are encouraged to do more, and think outside the box, something the Universities say they teach, but rarely implement outside the classroom.  The experience in startups for interns is real, rather than observational as it often is at major firms.

If we agree that innovation and startups are set to be the future of the Australian employment, Universities need to incorporate entrepreneurial thinking and experience into their courses.  After all, grass level learnings are always a better way to ingrain important concepts in people’s minds.