Connecting business people with a place to work and great minds to motivate them is the goal behind new startup business centre The Exchange.
Created by Rural Woman of the Year Jillian Kilby, The Exchange is partnering with Charles Sturt University Dubbo to build a community for new and growing businesses within Dubbo and the region.
“When I won the rural women’s award we had the opportunity to go and explore what start ups and new business in Dubbo and Armidale need,” Ms Kilby said.
“We also had the opportunity to meet some of the incredible service providers and we found there were two things needed in Dubbo: one, was a place where you can work and two, is a community of people, both service providers and new business owners who can network.”
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CSU Dubbo head of campus Cathy Maginnis said there had already been a fast response from startups keen to work from the university.
“The community will use allocated space at the university in Dubbo free-of-charge and The Exchange will coordinate with the existing service providers in Dubbo to ensure regular events to be hosted at the campus to bring this community and others together,” Ms Maginnis said.
Ms Kilby said she wanted to establish a space where business owners could get away from the kitchen bench and to somewhere they felt like they could hit five green traffic lights. When she started her own business in Walgett in 2009, Ms Kilby said running it in isolation had been quite hard.
Members of the exchange will have access to a range of CSU facilities during business hours from meeting rooms to video link-ups and the campus cafe, as well as free Wi-Fi.
But more important than the space was the people, Ms Kilby said.
“We have the most incredible people reach out to us and they all say ‘I’ve been sitting on this idea for so long’, they say ‘I don’t love my job, I’m just trying to work out if now is the right time to do it’. What we’ve found is a lot of the time it’s the confidence to be brave with your life and take the first step,” she said.
“The other thing new business owners will say is after three months is ‘it was so difficult to navigate at the start but once you’re in the space it all becomes so clear’. So how do you get those people who have been in the space for three months or a year help those people who are on day one?”
Ms Kilby said five years down the track she wanted to hear about people who remembered when they took the biggest risk of their life and started a business or created a second income for the family.
More information about The Exchange is available on the website: yourexchange.co.