Pacific Collective cleans up #startupcoffscoast

17 JUNE 2017

7 finalists Pitching on stage for the big Prizes
14 truly inspirational Speakers sharing valuable insights
20 new businesses showcased in Startup Alley and the new Innovation Lab
160 attendees networking, sharing and learning



We searched the world for the best source of learnings for Coffs Harbour to diversify its economy and found it in Telluride, Colorado. Marc Nager, an international guru on startups for regional areas was beamed in from the USA to inspire the audience. We thought there would be a lot to learn if they can do it in a small tourism based town of 3500.

Marc’s message was clear and simple. Regional areas are the next untapped area for economic growth and he had a five point plan of how this can be achieved:

  • #1 Connectivity – i.e. superfast broadband (a tick for Coffs Harbour – NBN fibre to the premise)
  • #2 Central Hub or Coworking Space that everyone points to as the place for entrepreneurs to go, we want everyone to point to the one spot when someone with an new business idea says here can I go for assistance. (a tick for Coffs Harbour with 6 Degrees Coworking Hub in the Coffs Harbour Innovation Centre and the new 6 Degrees Woolgoolga opening last Thursday!)
  • #3 Capital – how we need to create new models of capital raising that suit regional startups – i.e. those not chasing the unicorn exit but aimed at creating local jobs for the long term (work in progress)
  • #4 Culture & Mentors – Creating a culture for our entrepreneurs a safe space to fail and try again, and mentors interested in being a part of growing new businesses to be integrated into the accelerator programs (working on it – calling all mentors! ).
  • #5 Government, this one was for us. Marc suggested the best role for government is “nose in – hands out” with a focus on enabling the entrepreneurs to do what they do best without too much bureaucracy. We are doing our best on that one and the Jobs for NSW Minimum Viable Product program is also a pretty much spot on balance to assist our early stage local entrepreneurs.

Marc Nager at Startup Coffs Coast

Complemented by a fantastic lineup of local speakers who motivated people with the stories of their journeys, the lessons they have learned along the way and how to spot a winning idea.

  • Tony Rothacker from Coffs Harbour Innovation Centre outlined the future plans and showed how we will incorporate all the lessons from Marc into our programs and events.
  • Demogene Smith from the Mid North Coast Local Health District provided a Child’s eye view of eHealth and transported us to a not too distant future, inspiring all our local “navigators” to search out the critical problems and connect the innovation dots.
  • Mark Wolf shared his experiences of creating several successful businesses from scratch.
  • Adam Doyle showcased the hard life of a startup (compared to big corporations releasing a new line) and the essential ingredients for success that he sees through his business Bruxner Product Development: Design, Resources, Market. The key being if you have a pathway to market and you are addressing a real problem then you are more likely to keep going and overcome the hurdles.
  • Stacey Smith, herself an innovator in the world of law with her award winning practice Vivid Legal, provided the structures and checklists for new businesses to establish early so they are not over exposed to risk before they start.

All our local innovators could really relate to our 3 journey stories covering a diverse range of businesses – food service product, transport service and fintech solution.

Q and A

  • Luke Floyd with his i-Milk product, automated milk dispenser that after 2.5 years of hard work is now currently being trialled in large franchises such as McDonalds, Donut King and Gloria Jean’s.
  • Cath Savy and Simon Robinson of Go Buggy are dealing with massive expansion
  • Aaron Wittman and Troy Brown, last year they were on stage pitching, this year they are speakers after having launched Risk Angel. A solution for small businesses looking to be ahead of financial issues rather than fighting fires.

Startup Alley was a highlight of the day, providing fresh new businesses the opportunity to showcase their plans to attendees and speakers.

The diverse range of businesses we had included all those pitching along with:

  • Spark* Connection aiming to bring together retired professionals to provide expert advice for small and micro businesses in regional areas;
  • bBiller is a globally-available blockchain-implemented supply-chain commerce platform;
  • iTProMedia who specialise in looking after Small to Medium Businesses in all aspects of IT support and services.
  • Smart Maisons are gearing up to help you get to grips with all the new home automation tech that promises to streamline life.
  • Shop it Forward allows you to shop all the brands you know and love with the click of a banner while raising money for charity.
  • Creative Social Solutions has been created to help you develop a social media strategy that works;
  • Worlds Easiest Music System is there to help you get over your fears and start strumming the strings instantly.

Ekokid Spaced In has a fabulous new line of children’s furniture that requires no allen keys or screws to assemble!Formulater 1

Finalists of Startup Coffs Coast Pitch Competition pitched their innovative business solutionfor the chance to win the $33,000 in prize money and support they need to make it happen. This year’s competition saw seven finalists selected to battle it out, with each having only 5 minutes to convince the judges of their winning business idea.
We were wowed by the awesome pitches from all of our 7 finalists. The very professional and polished presentations really impressed the judges and made it a difficult decision. The judges deliberation went down to the wire with the pitches providing the compelling story on the need in the market, the innovative solution they can provide and the business model they will use to take it to market.

Judging Panel

Thanks to our awesome judging panel: Tony Rothacker, Coffs Harbour Innovation Centre; Sam Wardman, CornerPost Creative; Natalie Gillam, AusIndustry; Stacey Smith, Vivid Legal; Mark Wolf, Emalte International.

We heard from Goblin Surf who are set to transform the way surfboards are created with affordable CNC machines. Fibre Network Choices streamlining the transition to NBN for businesses. Tracy Chapman ready to disrupt death with, a marketplace for all things related to getting your affairs together.  Elliot Daniel from Stitch Films is gearing up to be the next generators of premium VR and 360 content creation. The recently launched Keepsake App which allows you to record and share heirloom stories and other keepsakes.

Demogene Smith (MNCLHD) congratulates THE PACIFIC COLLECTIVE - Winner

GRAND PRIZE WINNER – Louise Hardman, The Pacific Collective

​A passionate scientist, educator and now entrepreneur who has been working on creating ‘The Shruder’ over the past 18 months. The Shruder is a small scale, mobile plastic shredding and extruder all-in-one machine. The small scale and mobility of it allows it to be used in remote locations with a focus on the Pacific Island communities where waste plastics is a huge problem both from being washed up and also from post consumer waste. With the help of The Pacific Collective these communities will be able to take plastic waste and turn it into valuable products they can use themselves, or sell and create incomes.

HIGHLY COMMENDED – David Freeman, Formulater. 

A young entrepreneur who is tackling the challenge of making sustainable housing construction choices affordable with his small scale, mobile rammed earth machinery.  Traditional rammed earth houses are only for the cashed up environmentalists, David hopes to break down the cost barrier so rammed earth can be considered by more people when choosing how to build their dream house.

Congratulations to all involved and we can’t wait to see where our startups head over the next 12 months! Thanks to all our sponsors who enable the magic to happen.



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