When worlds collide: harnessing the creative power of entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurs, by their very nature, are creative leaders.
They are driven to build, scale and grow businesses continually and repeatedly; fuelled by the desire to create and ideate.
Yet, until recently, creative technology startups were vastly underrepresented and underfinanced in entrepreneurship programs.
QUT Creative Enterprises Australia (CEA) CEO Mark Gustowski said entrepreneurship held a very broad definition, even within the startup space, but many entrepreneurs exhibited similar, creative characteristics.
“What I certainly see is entrepreneurs want to keep driving and moving things forward and once they achieve something, they’re looking to do the next thing. They’re never standing still and that’s a key trait of an entrepreneur,” Mark said.
QUTCEA launched its Collider Accelerator Program in 2017, specifically targeting creative tech startups operating in the fashion, music, design, digital media, gaming, marketing and immersive technology sectors.
A unique accelerator called for a unique approach, according to Mark, with Collider’s delivery and methods tailored specifically for creative founders.
“What we often find in the creative space is founders, a high percentage of the time, are not technical; they’re not coders or programmers, they’re following a passion pursuit, something that is deeply important to them, their ethos, where they sit socially and what they believe in.”
The 12-week Collider Program partners creative founders with those who have the technical and business acumen to grow their startup — through outsourcing, contracting or bringing in a co-founder — and scours the globe to enlist mentors and advisors.
“They need to have a real empathy and a real understanding of the journey that creative founders go through,” Mark said of the Program’s expert mentors and facilitators.
“Founder welfare is a really big issue across the whole of the entrepreneur eco-system. It’s a lonely journey being a founder and with creative founders in particular, it’s very much a passion pursuit. There are some highs but there are lots of lows as they follow these passions.”
This is a sentiment echoed by several founders who completed 2018’s Collider Accelerator.
Sunshine Coast music producer Taran Croxton launched Prysim, a platform for connecting musicians, venues, agents and event planners to quickly and easily organise, book, manage and pay for live gigs.
“Collider has done so much for Prysim but in its absolute essence the quality of mentorship and advice I received was absolutely incredible,” Taran said.
“And, for the first time in my journey as a founder, I was sitting in a room with likeminded people. The relationships I made out of that were incredible and helped me see that I’m not the only crazy person in this world who sees the future differently.”
In the same 2018 cohort was graphic designer Ruth Stephenson and her business consultant husband Scott Thomas whose Creatively Squared customised imagery startup has grown to four times its size in the past 12 months.
“Starting a business can be quite a lonely existence at times so to find other people in a similar situation to bounce ideas off and get feedback from and learn from each other is incredibly useful,” Scott said.
Applications for 2019 Collider Accelerator are now open and close on 3 March.
Up to 11 founders will be selected and mentored by industry-leading entrepreneurs and start-up specialists, receive $30,000 in pre-seed funding and spend a week immersed in Thailand’s world-renowned start-up ecosystem.
The 12-week Accelerator Program begins 29 April in Brisbane.