Indigenous startup accelerator goes virtual to reach entrepreneurs in remote communities

Josie Alec

Josie Alec, founder of Jummi Factory

A national accelerator program geared towards indigenous entrepreneurs has helped nine startups become viable commercial enterprises.   

Run by early stage investment group Investible, the inaugural Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) accelerator saw participating entrepreneurs gain insights and experience from a line-up of startup founders, mentors and investors over eight weeks. In total, entrepreneurs were introduced to over 65 potential customers and partners plus 45 investors, with seven deals closed during the program including four with multinationals.

All participants continue to receive support through the IBA accelerator; however, three founders – Josie Alec from Jummi Factory, Kylie Bradford from Kakadu Tiny Tots and Greg Hodgkinson from Indigispace –  received additional tailored prizes to kick-start their business.

For example, Alec, a Pilbara healer producing bush remedies and skin care products, has received help from Investible to scope a trademark approach and cover the cost of a consumer product marketing expert to assist with packaging, social assets, website creation and re-branding.

Following the program, Alec pitched against 79 other startups to place second at Investible’s AngelPitch event. She also placed second at the Overseas Talent Entrepreneurship Conference (OTEC) Sydney pitch, which resulted in her flying to China to represent Australia at the Global OTEC startup conference.

Alec said the IBA Accelerator program not only inspired her to pursue her dream of running a business that celebrates her heritage, it also helped her validate her business model to ensure it was commercially viable.

Four months on from the program, the Jummi Factory is in the process of developing a new nursery in the Pilbara which utilises aquaculture techniques, to develop the next version of her products. With the rebrand almost complete, Jummi Factory products will soon undertake consumer testing, before the product rolls out across Australia for a multinational client.

Alec will now take part in IBA’s second accelerator program as a mentor. The program, set to kick off in late November, will be delivered virtually to allow

Indigenous entrepreneurs to overcome difficulties with being away from their communities for long periods of time.

Investible program lead, Elisa-Marie Dumas, said while the first program was a great success, the virtual format has allowed them to scale across remote communities.

“There is huge demand in the Indigenous community for economic independence and programs like these can help move the dial in a meaningful way. Tailoring the program to those who physically need to be in their communities means we have founders participating in places as remote as Groote”, she said.

“Given the success of the first IBA Accelerator program, we’re incredibly excited to begin working with these 15 entrepreneurs.”

The program will begin with a two-day kick off in Sydney, followed by a seven-week virtual program and a Demo Day where participants pitch to investors.

See also: Investible co-founder Trevor Folsom on the value created by astute start-up investors