Australia’s first ever Indigenous Startup Weekend was held in Brisbane recently, bringing together over 80 Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians looking to encourage Indigenous entrepreneurship.
The weekend was organised by entrepreneur Dean Foley and Queensland University of Technology Indigenous Employment Coordinator Troy Casey, both Kamilaroi men from northwest New South Wales.
Dean said the weekend came out of a wish to help build wealth and employment opportunities for his community and encourage more Indigenous businesses to get started.
“I knew the Indigenous community could really benefit from learning entrepreneurial skills,” Dean said.
Troy said they wanted the Startup Weekend to be a powerful movement for everyone involved and help create a better world for their community.
“We thought it was a great way to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia,” Troy said.
“Indigenous businesses are 100 times more likely to employ Indigenous employees. So by encouraging Indigenous business, we are helping to create Indigenous employment and sustainable economic development opportunities, which allow money to stay within Indigenous communities.”
Participants pitched their ideas to the group, then formed teams based on people’s knowledge, skills and interests.
The winning teams from the Startup Weekend were Realty-in-Check: who developed an app that acts as a one-stop-shop for real-estate companies, home owners and tenants, and utilises a cloud platform to help them access important business information and documents; and Calmr Kids: who developed an app that helps kids with behavioural disorders such as ADD and ADHD by gamifying the slow-breathing process and instilling mindfulness in young children from an early age.
Troy said his own personal outcome from the weekend was to quit his job at QUT and start a social enterprise business.
“I’m now working towards minimising the digital divide for Indigenous Australians, with a focus on regional, rural and remote communities. The first step in the process is to enable remote Indigenous communities to access free Wi-Fi. Following this I’m aiming to co-design with local communities a digital literacy program, including cyber security and safety training sessions and also improve access to laptops and tablets.”
Dean has since launched Barayamal, an Indigenous Accelerator program for Aboriginal and Torres Strair Islander entrepreneurs in Brisbane. He has also been busy planning the next Indigenous Startup Weekend to be held in Cairns.