What does it take to build a truly great neighbourhood? A neighbourhood where people feel safe andsupported, and empowered to think outside the box, and achieve their dreams? We think it’s about nurturing ideas, in all shapes and forms, and giving people a platform to be seen and heard. And what if we said Darling Square is that neighbourhood? You better believe it. Social innovation is alive and well in our community, and the Bright business program is so delighted to be supporting it.
Based on a methodology established by the Sirolli Institute almost 37 years ago, the Bright program advocates that all of us collectively have the ideas and the power to make life, cities, even the world better— we just need the support to make them happen.
Connecting local business leaders across the city to support emerging or established entrepreneurs in Darling Square, Haymarket and Ultimo, Bright offers strictly confidential support from a diverse group of volunteers, who bring their extensive knowledge and personal contacts to support good ideas to become marketplace ready.
If you’re an entrepreneur, passionate about your product, then the team will help you get your idea off the ground.
Belinda Lai, Enterprise Facilitator at Bright explains, “The first key principle of Bright is that people are actors in their own development—not the subject of programs or initiatives. Ultimately, this means, we don’t intervene before help is required.”
In a nutshell, the Bright program assists with the key pillars no business can do without—financial management, marketing and product development, offered by a team of voluntary business leaders and facilitators from diverse and multi-disciplinary backgrounds.
How do people come to Bright?
“You can find more information about the program on the website thinkbright.org.au, and our contact details there too, but essentially, it’s a word-of-mouth network and that’s how we believe it will retain its credibility and longevity over time. It also aligns to our preference for face-to-face engagement at Darling Square across all areas of life. We’re building deeper connections that way.”
Bright Program Manager at Lendlease, Cara Wood says “we hope to see people ten years from now, retelling stories of these early days; where they acted on their ideas with support from people who had been strangers in a big city neighbourhood, and as a result have been able to enjoy the social dividends ever since.”
But first: Notes from a volunteer
Kim Hann is an entrepreneur and Chief Customer Experience Officer for a specialised experience management company. She’s also one of our Resource Team volunteers at Bright.
Tell us about your business background
Kim: Early in my career I was lucky to work for large organisations that were innovative mentors in their field. I worked alongside experienced team members, great leaders, and forward-thinking clients who were invested in challenging the status quo to improve the experience for their customers and drive business outcomes. I think I‘ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I took a few leaps of faith to start my own fashion label in my early 20s, I also co-founded 2DataFish, a digital analytics and personalisation agency in my 30s that was acquired by the Publicis Groupe, and then in my 40s I started at One2Ten.
How did you come to Bright?
K: I was introduced to Bright by an existing client, Louise Tran, Head of Purposeful Marketing at ForPurposeCo. a profit-for-purpose innovation arm of OzHarvest.
What’s your role there?
K: I am a volunteer resource team member, providing support to businesses and entrepreneurs in the Bright program. I’m passionate about helping them capture feedback from their own clients and helping them see the value of researching the market to fine-tune their offerings. This can then set them up with strong go-to-market strategies based on what the customer wants. One2Ten is also a client of Bright, so we’re able to access support to build our business and be introduced to others where there may be synergies for us to collaborate.
I understand you hear many client stories.... What is it you look for?
K: Lots of people have great business ideas and can’t see them through. What intrigues me more are the characters behind the ideas. That is, do they have the combination of grit, passion, perseverance, resilience and commercial savviness. These are all important traits to ensure that they keep going when the going gets tough and have the foresight to pivot their business model to change with the market or to create a different offering to gain a competitive edge.
How is the Bright methodology different from other mentorship programs?
K: Bright operates under a framework that is very unique. Based on the Sirolli Institute methodology, it sets an unspoken framework for operating that makes it harmonious, supportive, collaborative and a safe place to share business ideas for both resource team members and entrepreneurs. While it is a place to network and build a community, it is supported immensely by the Enterprise Facilitators, Belinda and Martin that help connect ideas and people together. It’s actually the only program or group that I have experienced where you get more back than what you give. It’s a very unique model.
Case Study 1: Reality Bytes
For many years, Boris Poletan has worked in tech. In fact, he still counts cloud company Oracle as his day job, where he’s a senior innovation architect, helping customers understand and use Oracle products on their innovation journey. But a few years ago, he had a big idea of his own. It’s called BuzzBox—an augmented reality platform that’s here to shake up consumer marketing and enhance the in-store retail experience.
Tell us about your business idea…
Boris: BuzzBox is an augmented reality (AR) platform that allows people to create interactive AR experiences that they can share with friends, customers and broader communities. On our platform we can incorporate elements like payments and other utilities, allowing businesses to create additional streams of income. They can also measure and analyse their marketing activations and create cool and unique experiences for their loyalty base.
Can you share an example?
B: Imagine a customer is shopping at their local pharmacy. How can we make this a more engaging experience? With Buzzbox, a customer can browse, scan a product’s QR code on their mobile device and then interact with products. They can view product pricing, third-party review videos, consumer reviews, see similar products, and select those products to purchase. From the Buzzbox platform you can also open up live chat and use the system as a self-service tool.
How did the idea come to you?
B: Like all good ideas, it started as a bad idea that came in the middle of the night. I had a phone call with my business partner where we decided we were going to be the next big thing with business gifting. Naturally, we pivoted from this first idea to arrive at where we are now.
How did you stumble across the Bright business program?
B: During our time working out of UTS in their start-up program, we met Belinda from Bright. We were soon introduced to Martin and all the great people over at Bright and things got moving from there.
At what stage of your journey were you when you began having these conversations?
B: We were at post revenue or early product development stage. We had a couple of key clients on the go, and we were evolving our product based on a number of feedback loops.
How has the Bright program changed or enhanced your business model?
B: Bright has helped us get in front of the right people. We’ve learnt a great deal from these meetings and have established meaningful relationships because of them. Even though it’s just the beginning, we’re definitely on the right path.
When do you plan to launch / what are your next steps?
B: Right now we are focusing on building a great product that is able to scale. In the immediate future, our plans are to continue to work with our clients, build a solid product and push towards a potential Series A round of funding if needed.
What have you learnt through the Bright program? How have you been inspired?
B: It’s inspiring to know that so many people are out there in the community volunteering their time to help start-ups. Building a business is one of the hardest things you can do, and it makes me happy knowing that people like the folks over at Bright are there for us during some of the hardest times.
Case Study 2: All that glitters
In her 20s, Susie Sierra was a successful model. Having worked in an industry where putting your best face forward is part of the day job, it’s no surprise that she developed an affinity for great skincare—something she’s still passionate about today. After noticing a gap in the market for women aged from 40 to 65 and over, Susie set out to create luxury products that are more relatable, contemporary and do what they say they’re going to do.
Tell us about your business idea Susie:
I designed and developed a luxury skincare brand in my namesake.
My brand includes a range of gold-infused face oils that I created for the global luxury market.
How did the idea come to you?
S: I noticed most of the beauty brands on the market were either tailored to the millennial audience, or were big name brands that had been around for decades—the kind that my mum used (Estée Lauder, Clinique, La Mer, La Prairie and Revlon). Personally, I felt uninspired by these products. So I started thinking about the kind of products that I would like to use. Then at the same time I began to research female entrepreneurs who had successfully created their own beauty brands. It became clear that most new beauty brand founders and ambassadors were targeting the millennial market. There wasn’t a lot out there for the 40-65+ demographic that was fresh, creative and contemporary, and didn’t treat women like wrinkly old ladies. Interestingly, in 2016, Fabrizio Freda, CEO of Estée Lauder said that this was a much overlooked and powerful demographic for the beauty industry.
How did you stumble across the Bright business program?
S: I approached someone who I thought might be a good business mentor for me. He was on the Bright Resource Team and introduced me to the program. I was very happy to be accepted! I could see it was a really great opportunity.
How has Bright changed your business idea?
S: The Bright program has provided the resources and support to take my business forward with greater confidence and application. It has given me more structure, and a clearer vision on how to achieve my goals. I have met and received support from people with great expertise and business acumen. The program has really turbo charged my whole trajectory.
What have you learnt from the Bright program? How have you been inspired?
S: I have learnt that if you want to turn an idea into a successful business, it’s best to engage with the right people who are a good fit for both you, and your business. In order to expand, you need to be inclusive. We are much better together than we are alone