Support for young entrepreneurs

Baby in suit

A number of student-entrepreneur programs have been launched in Australia to provide support for university students looking to start their own business.

The emergence of entrepreneurship programs in universities around the globe such as StartX at Stanford and the Venture Creation Program at Yale, have inspired young Australians to take initiative and develop similar programs that support entrepreneurial-minded students in the earliest stages of their business ventures.

Sydney University’s student-entrepreneur program, Incubate, was launched in September 2012. Founded by Engineering student, James Alexander and student Board Director, Mina Nada, the program was modelled after other leading accelerators like Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator and Stanford University’s Start X, where an equity-free business grant is awarded to help students fund their startup companies and an intensive three-month period of education and mentoring is provided.

The winning applicants of the 2012 Incubate program received a $5000 grant, office space on campus over the summer break, and mentoring from some of Australia’s most successful business minds including Matt Barie of freelancer.com.au, Matt Byrne of curicon.com and Nikki Durkin of 99dresses.com.

Melbourne University’s Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) was also launched in 2012 to provide aspiring entrepreneurs the funding and guidance they need to transform their ideas into commercial reality. Two successful businesses that have come out of the Melbourne Accelerator Program include VenueMob and 121cast; who secured $700,000 in funds through Optus Innov8.

Young entrepreneurs have a distinct advantage in industries such as IT, fashion, retailing and advertising which would benefit from knowledge of young consumer behaviour. And with their ability to absorb new knowledge with ease and bring fresh ideas into the world, nurturing their growth early on can only be an advantage.

Programs such as Incubate and MAP aim to foster a culture of entrepreneurship in Australia by encouraging young people to see business ownership as a valued and rewarding career path, so ideas can be transformed into something the world will find useful.