New businesses may emerge from a free workshop in Dubbo funded by 2018 NSW/ACT Agrifutures Rural Woman of the Year Jillian Kilby.
Ms Kilby is putting her money where her mouth is by investing the $10,000 bursary accompanying the title into supporting “future founders and start-ups” in regional communities.
As part of her Regional Start-ups Insight Study, workshops in Dubbo, Armidale and Sydney aim to “identify and explore the needs” of regional start-ups and future founders using Design Thinking techniques.They also seek to help service providers, such as government departments, graphic designers and accountants, better understand the needs of wannabe and new business people in the bush.
About half of the 40 people at the Dubbo workshop on Wednesday were either future founders “wanting to start a business” or owners of fledgling businesses dubbed start-ups. Service providers made up the other half of the capacity crowd in a conference room of workshop sponsor Dubbo Regional Council.
Ms Kilby has brought Natalya Thakur to Australia to run the workshops. They are both graduates of the “home of Design Thinking”, the D-School at Stanford University in California.
On Wednesday, workshop participants enthusiastically engaged with Design Thinking that Ms Kilby said was a “five-step process”.
“Number one is empathise with your user,” she said. “If you are rolling out a product and want to test the market it’s not unreasonable that you go and do 20 immersive interviews with your future customers. You don’t ask them what they need, you ask for their history.”
“Prototyping” was another step involving the trialing of an inexpensive version of a product. Ms Kilby gave the example of a spare battery for an iPhone made from “alfoil, Paddle Pop sticks and play dough”.
“You get a user to attach the battery pack to their phone and you follow them around to see if they can still press a shoulder to an ear and if it catches on their clothes,” she said.
Mrs Kilby said men and women of all ages at the Dubbo workshop were running or looking to launch businesses in a range of fields including cybersecurity, clothing manufacturing and farm services. Teams were formed during the workshop to help a future founder or start-up overcome a hurdle.
“We need to help all of the next businesses in Dubbo,” Ms Kilby said after applauding NSW Regional Woman of the Year Juliet Duffy for building Regional Enviroscience. “Wouldn’t it be great if there were 100 Juliets in Dubbo because our start-up culture was so collaborative and helpful,” she said.