While I was doing my masters, a friend and I heard about Elon Musk’s SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition. A hyperloop is a sealed tube which a ‘pod’ can travel through at up to 1200 km/h – imagine commuting from Melbourne to Sydney in 50 minutes!
We formed a team of aerospace engineering students to develop a pod prototype – we were the only team from the Southern Hemisphere who made it to the finals. The global interest in the competition made us realise that there’s definitely a market for the technology.
So we decided to form a company VicHyper to develop the network in Australia. It’s a whole new mode of transport that needs billions of dollars of infrastructure; we’re prototyping, building an engineering facility, creating business cases and also trying to learn the ropes of running a company. There are 13 of us, nearly all graduates now, so that’s been a big learning curve. Which is where RMIT Activator came in, originally it was just office space, but we have also accessed coaching and lots of advice and resources.
I think the first operational Hyperloop will probably be built in the Middle East. VicHyper are working towards building an Australian test track, we’ll see what happens, that’s the goal for 2018.
Zac McClelland is Project Lead and CEO of VicHyper, he completed his Associate Degree of Engineering Technology (Mechanical) in 2012.
Smoothie Bombs and Nutrition Darling
My business, Nutrition Darling, rose out of necessity. As a health practitioner in a clinic, and with my own teenage children at home, I began to realise that, essentially, people weren’t taking time to have a healthy breakfast. This really bothered me. Initially, in response, I started making Smoothie Bombs for my family and friends and my business grew from there.
I didn’t start Nutrition Darling with any capital. Instead, I made sales where I could and kept putting the profit back into the kitty, so to speak. I was working part-time at the local gym, so at least I had some outside income. Yes, the first year was tough and I worked long hours, but things progressed well. Now, I’m able to focus all of my time and effort on my business and I’ve started to reap the rewards.
Cinzia Cozzolino is a qualified clinical nutritionist who completed a Certificate IV in Small Business Management in 2013.
In 2015 Forrester predicted that by 2020 about 25% of B2B sales people, globally, will be obsolete or transitioning to some other role.
So I started to think about the opportunity, what sort of business could I create that could help these people, drag them out of the 20th century. That’s where the idea of Sales Tribe first originated – how can I help sales people with career transition management? And clearly entrepreneurialism and small business is growing, so let’s build a platform that connects the two, that’s fundamentally what Sales Tribe does.
Had I not done an MBA I don’t think I would have been in a position to manage all of the elements of my business that I can now confidently manage. I’m more multi-faceted now, more than just a sales guy.
For me, starting my own business was a natural follow-on from what I’d always done. Except, instead of fighting for commission, I’m now building something that is, I hope, valuable for my family down the track.
Graham Hawkins completed an Master of Business Administration (Executive) in 2014.
The Clothes Loop
The Clothes Loop was originally my honours project … I spent that year researching and understanding the problems in fashion sustainability and the businesses out there that were combating them.
In my research I found that increasingly our clothes weren’t being utilised to their fullest potential and were often thrown out after a few wears. So I wanted to create a better way to make sure our unwanted garments went to people who wanted them.
So that’s how I started The Clothes Loop – an online fashion store that allows customers, to swap their purchases with other fellow customers, through a complimentary online service that matches people together based on previous purchases, location and size.
I had an idea that was pretty grand and complex at the beginning, which meant it was incredibly hard to communicate, risky and an expensive build. So I spent time to reduce my idea to a single core concept, which made it easier to write small assumptions for testing. I was able to make mistakes quickly and cheaply, which is incredibly important when starting out.
I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by a supportive network through the Activator program. They’ve introduced me to lots of people within the RMIT network, from lecturers to industry leaders, encouraging me and advising me through my entrepreneurial journey. They’ve also offered me space to work out of, which means every day I get to ‘go to work’, which definitely boosts my own morale and gives me structure.
Rose Duong completed a Bachelor of Design (Industrial Design) in 2013.