Curtin University’s Ignition program in action
Curtin University’s Ignition program in action

As a budding entrepreneur with an idea for a new business of product, it can be hard to know where to start to transform that idea into a reality. 

Curtin University’s Ignition aims to do just that with its week-long intensive entrepreneurial program packed full with practical sessions, lectures from business experts and the opportunity to network with the entrepreneurial business community.

Program director Jane Garrett says Ignition is open to ideas from all aspects of business and no prior business experience is needed to apply.

“Ignition is industry agnostic, so we accept people with ideas and businesses from any market sector,” she says. “The only essential criteria is that the idea or businesses has a large market potential. All applications to Ignition are assessed to ensure they adhere to the assessment criteria: the novelty of the business or idea innovation, the likelihood of business sustainability, and a large market potential.

“We encourage applications to Ignition by the owner or originator of the idea or business and specifically encourage new and aspiring entrepreneurs with limited experience of starting a business to attend, as they will gain the most value from the program. Passion and ambition to take the idea forward and make it happen are highly important attributes for success at Ignition and more important than prior business skills.”

Each day in the program focusses on a different aspect of business as Barrett explains. “Monday is marketing, Tuesday is business models, Wednesday is finance and Thursday is all about team building and presentation skills. In mentor sessions delegates apply the knowledge gained in the morning to their own ideas and businesses and build the 10 minute business plan or investor presentation that they will deliver in the pitch panels on Friday afternoon.

“For those seeking investment it is an opportunity to trial their pitches in a ‘safe’ environment and offers the opportunity to meet investors and go forward if there is interest. The sense of relief after delivering their pitch is immense; many say they need a drink!”

Among the applications on offer for the program are 10 female scholarships. Barrett says that encouraging more female entrepreneurs through these scholarships has seen a rise in female participation.

“Women, specifically older women who were brought up to ‘service the needs of their husbands and bring up the children’, may not have had the same opportunity as men, so may need some extra help to ‘get going’. Not necessarily by providing knowledge but by providing them the ability to think ‘I can’.

“Thankfully that world has now changed and women are better able to compete with their male counterparts in business. The Department of Local Government and Communities are sponsoring 10 places on Ignition for female entrepreneurs. They have supported Ignition for the last two years and in that time, female participation in Ignition has risen from 27 per cent in 2013 to 46 per cent in 2014.”

One of the many successful ideas to come out of past Ignition programs was created by mum and housewife, Erica Ferguson.

“As golfer she had a concept for a device to put on sunscreen without getting cream over your hands. We remember Erica as being very nervous prior to delivering her 10 minute pitch but she did it and since Ignition has brought her concept to market as sunSmudg!”

“Other notable examples include Sharon Grosser from SEQTA software, as well as Steve Carolan from CV Check and Clinton House, and Sam Judd has given up her day job to focus on her growing business that produces the FlipLid lunchbox and is going forward to look at other innovative new products.”

Applications are now open for Ignition which runs from Sunday, August 23, to Friday, August 28, at Curtin University.