Why a Melbourne company is setting up an incubator in rural Queensland

Why a Melbourne company is setting up an incubator in rural Queensland

If you have read this blog for a while, you may have realised that I am a country girl. I grew up in rural North Queensland in a small township called Charters Towers, just over an hour west of Townsville. It seems like a million years ago now, as I have been living in big cities for the past 20 years or so. I currently reside mostly in Melbourne and from there I have built a multi million dollar international business. What I have realised about business is that the  more mature my business becomes, the more flexible I am with where I work from. It certainly has got me thinking about where in the world people can build successful businesses from and what are the hurdles that they must overcome if they are not located in a major city.

I've always been aware that I have all the things in life that are necessary to become successful; mentors, learning and development, financial stability, and a community... and the right mindset. But it wasn't always that way, and the first thing that you need to know about being successful is that you have to have the right mindset and belief that anything is possible. It takes so many parts to be successful, but I guess for most of us, it just starts with a dream.

In the Sydney Morning Herald, my friend Jo Burston, from Inspiring Rare Birds talked about how she went back to her hometown and interviewed young girls at 10 years of age about what they wanted to do when they grow up. The answers where the same as what they were when she was a child, and they are the same as when I grew up in Charters Towers. It seems that in country towns, nothing has changed.

Changing the script

"When I grew up the script in my head was go to school, get a job, save up, buy a house, get married, have two children, two dogs, an in-ground swimming pool, and start the process again with my own children." 

While there is nothing wrong with that, where I grew up, the unemployment rate is a staggering 10.1%, much higher than the national average. Unlike myself, many of these young girls and boys going through school don't know their options. The most they can be inspired by is watching national television or reading the few magazines that sit on the shelf at the local news agents. Internet is slow, so surfing the net on dial up is not for the faint hearted and requires a lot of patience. 

Charity does begin at home

I've always been charitable. It's in my core DNA. I am the person who doesn't walk past a begger on the street without stopping and offering money or food, and I am not talking a few coins - I am talking about emptying my wallet and giving the begger ever cent I have in my wallet, because they need it more than I do. I believe that if you are lucky enough to have more than you need, then it is your duty to help people that have less than you.

Another issue that is prominent in rural towns, and in particular one's in the US and Australia is cruelty to animals - deliberate or not. Dog fights, for instance, is big in country towns, but education and bringing the issue of cruelty and responsibility to the forefront is the only thing that will bring change.

Country life can be brutual; the elements of rural living doesn't give you access to everything you need and particularly in Australia, drought is a big problem.

But when I grew up, I didn't see that. Instead I saw how amazing it is to grow up a country girl, and be surrounded by people who live off the country and in general ensure that you grow up in a wholesome environment.

Change is needed

Few people embrace change, but I believe it is necessary in all areas of life. To keep evolving and moving brings with it a new norm. My upbringing and privilege of having such a wholesome environment has made me realise just how lucky I am and because of that, I want to do whatever it takes to give back to the community I was brought up in. 

To that end, I have been working with the help of my staff and interns who give up their time for free to develop a program for The World Incubator, a 10 to 15 person incubator program supported by the Charters Towers Regional Council's kindness in donating a building for the trial period and beyond.

We will:
  • Invite 10 to 15 entrepreneurs to sit in the incubator for 3 months, 5 days per week with access to some of the best mentors in the world
  • Payment of $500 per week courtesy of sponsors to key individuals to aid in getting their idea off the ground
  • Constant support and motivation by Community Manager
  • Help entrepreneurs take a business idea and commercialise it to a point where they are able to employ other people 

What the local community will gain out of this:
  • Employment opportunities
  • An entrepreneur culture and exposure to some of the great entrepreneurs in Australia and abroad
  • Focus internationally from people that can potentially help the community flourish and share experiences of doing the same
  • Greater opportunities for locals looking for work or wanting to be inspired by entrepreneurs 
  • More business for everyone

We've seen how a startup can become a large business many times before in rural parts of the world. Now, it's time to put Charters Towers on the map and give entrepreneurs the support and encouragement they need to be successful.

Hard work pays off

Being an entrepreneur is hardwork and requires a lot of determination and strong will. They exist in Charters Towers, but perhaps that person who is just about to finish school hasn't quite realised their full potential or that this is an option.

Please stay tuned to how you can participate and if you are a local in Charters Towers looking to build a business, and would like to be part of this free program, funded by businesses that care about communities and jobs, please email me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Note:
  • This program proudly supports indigenous Australians and is aiming to have a minimum of 30% incubatees that are Indigenous in the program.
  • This is a not-for-profit progam.
  • NSS, regional Queensland's largest stevedoring company, was the first to put up their hand  to pay for an incubatee in the program. Please support them wherever you can, because they care about our community


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comments ( 5 )
  • Bridget Barrie
    Bridget Barrie
    07 May 2016

    Not sure what you mean by dial up and few magazines. We have had broadband for years and the nbn is under construction in charters towers. Also because it is a short enough drive to Townsville I have found that our local newsagents have a pretty good variety of magazines to choose from. I have also never heard of dog fighting in charters towers but I do know someone who ran a not for profit dog rehoming shelter for years.

    Reply
  • Paulina
    Paulina
    07 Apr 2016

    I like reading your websites. Cheers!

    Reply
  • Brendon Body
    Brendon Body
    06 Nov 2015

    Born and raised in Charters Towers and now am an aspiring entrepreneur. Definitely think this kind of program is a good idea! Look forward to hearing more about it.

    Reply
  • Diane Daniel
    Diane Daniel
    22 Oct 2015

    There are a few of us that are looking to setup a Wellness Centre in Charters Towers.

    Reply
  • Gail Clarris
    Gail Clarris
    13 Oct 2015

    Hi Mellissah
    Wow this is so good. I would love a chance to be a part of this fantastic opportunity. I know there are ways to succeed but just have not been able to find something I honest believe in and I lack skills but my determination is that I will find a way. This is a wonderful thing you are doing for Charters Towers and I'm sure it will help the town to develop and move forward. I would love to be involved.

    Reply