Four student businesses will be given a financial leg-up through $25,000 interest-free loans, in the latest funding round from RMIT’s New Enterprise Investment Fund (NEIF).
NEIF Chairman Eddie McGuire said the fund injections would provide a great boost to the start-up businesses and capped off a big first year for the program, which has invested a total of $250,000 in 10 student businesses in 2015.
“Helping to transform great ideas into great businesses is part of RMIT’s DNA,” McGuire said.
“RMIT is uniquely placed to produce successful entrepreneurs because of its practical, industry-focused approach to education, training and development
The four businesses who will receive $25,000 each in NEIF funding are:
Metta Skincare – manufacturer and marketer of natural and organic skin care products pitching to the growing “green beauty” market. It provides products for a growing market of environmentally and socially conscious consumers in Australia and North America and already has a loyal following from a number of organic beauty therapists in these markets. The loan will finance the purchase of equipment, product, packaging, design and photography. Founded by Anca Grigoras, a graduate of the NEIS program at RMIT.
The Young Ones (TYO)– independent publishers of a biannual magazine focused on emerging Australian design. TYO focuses on the unique Australian design scene and is produced to be of “keepsake” quality, filling a gap created by the visible decline in the print industry and the demand for current design and creative trend news from the design community. The first edition of TYO sold out and the loan will finance the local publication and marketing of the magazine’s upcoming issues, and development of the TYO business. Founded by Advanced Diploma of Graphic Design graduates Patrea Dickinson and Katarina Matic.
MAUDE Studio – An accessories brand creating high-end designer handbags offering conscious consumers an alternative to leather. MAUDE Studio fills the gap in the accessories market by producing innovative and inspiring accessories using synthetic fabrics crafted into luxury items. The fabrics have been selected for their stand out qualities and are in line with the MAUDE design philosophy of providing brilliance into each beautifully crafted bag. The majority of the bags are handmade in their Collingwood studio, Melbourne, using locally-sourced materials where possible. Founder and creative director Courtenay Tyrrell completed a Bachelor of Design (Fashion) – now the Bachelor of Fashion (Design) (Honours) – with first class honours and was named “most promising student” in her third year. The loan will support manufacturing expansion, product development and marketing.
The Smoothie Bombs– an on-the-go nutrition-packed healthy breakfast alternative that is quickly produced at home by combining a “bomb” in a blender with a piece of fruit and milk of choice. The product capitalises on the popularity of smoothie retail products and liquid breakfast products such as Up & Go, but is nutritionally balanced and low in sugar. The funding will enable manufacturing to be moved from a home kitchen to an organic, gluten-free, purpose-built facility and will also assist in the marketing and promotion of the product. Founder Cinzia Cozzolino is a qualified nutritionist who came to RMIT as part of the NEIS program.
Courtenay Tyrrell, of MAUDE Studio, says the NEIF funding would help her take the next step in her accessories business.
“MAUDE Studio celebrates the design benefits of synthetic fabric, and we have found that this addresses a gap in the market,” Tyrrell said.
“We create luxury handbag designs utilising brilliant fabrics and considered design details which are available at an accessible price point.
“With the interest-free finance through the NEIF program, we will have the funds to reach a wider audience through marketing and manufacturing in order to expand our business through a wider global marketplace.”
Gregory Ward, Manager of the RMIT NEIF program, said it was part of the University’s emphasis on educating, training and developing graduates to be work-ready and enterprise-focused.
In addition to an interest-free loan to kick start fledgling student businesses, the program provides business advice and mentoring along the way.
“The University is delighted to be able to get behind these exciting businesses in a very practical way through the loan scheme and help them towards greater success,” Ward said.
“The financial and practical support offered through the NEIF loan program is part of RMIT’s broader focus on enterprise.
“RMIT naturally attracts students who are entrepreneurial in their thinking and career minded in their focus.
“The NEIF interest-free loan scheme is not a means to an end. It provides successful applicants with some ready funds to help them develop their enterprises but it is their ingenuity, dedication and drive that will continue to make their businesses successful.”
Story: John Fergusson