You’re on the board of RMIT’s New Enterprise Investment Fund (NEIF). What is the program and what can it offer student and alumni entrepreneurs?
NEIF is a complete game changer for a seed investment platform. It gives students and recent graduates access to pre-revenue capital, which is usually difficult to get, to create a game-changing business. They’re mentored and put through certain workshops and guided through the process. The main thing is that they write a business plan, the NEIF board analyses it and says “Actually, this business is a go”.
It’s very rare to get investment pre-revenue. So the whole point of NEIF is to get them some cash so they can get that website, prototype, or shipment from China, whatever it is. Get it going, get a bit of revenue, prove something and then go and seek some serious capital investment.
I’m really interested in planting seeds, at a high school and university level, of entrepreneurship and giving them access to the people who are doing it successfully. There’s a lot of tall poppy syndrome and people think that everyone’s an overnight success, so it’s really important for that entrepreneur in the early stages to be able to connect the dots and see what success looks like.
What does NEIF offer RMIT entrepreneurs besides funding?
It’s a very successful group of people who have donated their time to the vision, including Eddie McGuire, who is Chair of the NEIF board.
We offer our networks and experience. Eddie is incredibly generous with his network. He’ll sit there and say to the student, “You should speak to this person,” and then just send an email, straight away at the table. Everyone on the board has the same mentality of generosity for our entrepreneurs. So it’s mentoring to a certain extent, but it’s also access to a network.
How did you get the initial idea for your business selling takeaway wine by the glass?
After queuing in line at a music festival for 30 minutes, I found the bar couldn’t serve wine because it was hard to do outdoors – that’s where the idea for Lupé single-serve wines began.
Still to this day friends say, “I can’t believe you’ve actually started a business around that!” But it’s true. I did ruin my housemate’s iron making the prototype single-serve wine glass one night. I’d melted plastic all over it and he gets up in the morning, goes to use the iron and says, “What’s this?!” And I reply, “It’s my new business!”
Now I run Lupé and Beattie Wines, which are company owned, single-serve wine by-the-glass brands sold in Australia and throughout Asia.
Single Serve Packaging is the contract manufacturing arm of the business, working with companies like Treasury Wine Estate for the AFL, ICC and Spring Carnival to create single-serve wines.
How did you get the business off the ground?
In my last subject at RMIT I wrote a business plan. From this I raised seed capital and launched the business. It was quite clumsy – I was quite ignorant.
We had to do all aspects of the business ourselves as they were all tailored to our single-serve wine product: from injection moulding glasses to warehousing, distribution, sales and marketing. We needed to do this to get the company off the ground as the industry didn’t understand its place in the value chain. We also needed to do this in order to understand the product and its customer better. The next stage is building an empire that is efficiently scalable on an international level.
How are you developing the business into something bigger?
Now we’re developing a new patent – we’re speaking to a large luxury brand at the moment about a champagne glass. The new line will allow us to package both still and sparkling wine. Whereas before we were trying to do it all, now we’re really concentrating on our IP, and focusing on something that’s scalable and global.
Then what I’d like to do is focus on the things I enjoy – the sales and marketing, and being a disrupter with our own brands. I’m looking forward to having a dialogue about consumption awareness and incorporating some kick-ass Australian social enterprises.
What impact would you like to make?
For me, it’s really about encouraging entrepreneurship. I believe it’s our generation that will need to develop technology and innovations to address the current environmental issues we are facing. At the moment I’m working with The Prince’s Charities Australia, which is about helping military personnel create their own businesses. It’s just little things, wherever I can help. There’s something that everyone, every business can do.
You’re going to the G20 in September – how did that come about?
I received an invitation out of the blue which I was very happy to accept! It is an honour to be in the room with the other youth representatives as well as the G20 attendees.
My role is to represent Australian youth entrepreneurship. The discussion will be around the current state and future opportunities available to young entrepreneurs. I’m interested to hear what people are doing overseas to encourage and foster an entrepreneurial culture. I have an opportunity to present for seven minutes; I will be covering the exciting growth our start-up environment is going through. I am also keen to address female participation. Business tends to be quite masculine, which limits a woman’s capacity to play to her natural strengths as a leader.
Entrepreneurs are doers, so the learning in Istanbul will be put into action straight away when I return.
What is something that made an impact on you?
Wearing myself out and eventually getting sick early on in the business. I realised I wasn’t treating my greatest asset (my body) with the care it needed. On reflection from the hospital bed I realised it is quite difficult running a business this way!
As a result, I have created balance in my life through meditation and awareness practices. These practices have helped me manage Crohn’s disease and the general stress of building an empire. I often spend time in the ashram in the south of India to gather my energy and thoughts.
Georgia Beattie completed an Advanced Diploma of Business (International Trade) in 2006 and a Bachelor of Business (Entrepreneurship) in 2009. She holds non-executive board positions with RMIT’s New Enterprise Investment Fund and the Prince Henry Medical Research Foundation.
Top: Georgia Beattie is Founder and CEO of Lupé and Beattie Wines.
Insert: RMIT alumni who have received NEIF funding pictured in A'Beckett Urban Square.
Background image: RMIT's Design Hub.