After a wine tasting night two years ago, siblings Alicia and Pete Cain were amazed by a big wine company’s branding and ability to tell the story of where their wine came from.
Looking at their parents’ 800-hectare farm in Natte Yallock, 90 kilometres north of Ballarat, they realised they could turn their dad’s highest quality oats into a foodie favourite.
Now living in Millbrook, Mr Cain shared his story at the Ballarat launch of start-up support hub FoundX on Wednesday night, held at Runway’s co-working space in Albert Street.
“We were pretty green and knew basically nothing,” he said. “Everything from packaging, processing, the whole way through we’ve kind of learnt along the way.
“We’ve continued to expand in all our main areas – online sales, stores and cafes we’re stocked in – and improve our packaging and ramp up our volumes … it’s only just starting, really.”
In April 2016, Dad’s Oats crowdfunded $19,300, far past their $10,000 target, to get their single origin oat story off the ground.
Mr Cain said events like FoundX were vital for early stage businesses, because you get to hear experiences from entrepreneurs and meet other people with lots of knowledge and ideas.
“The moment I see someone in the food business doing a talk, I’ll be the first to sign up, first to go along because I’m still very much learning,” he said.
FindeX’s communications and community manager Stephanie Trethewey built the FoundX program from scratch 15 months ago, when it first launched in Geelong.
She said seeing agri-business owners drive three hours to metro networking events proved there was a need for more regional start-up support.
“We feel as a business there’s a lot of money from corporates which is sort of thrown around in the start-up space in capital cities,” Mrs Trethewey said. “But there’s a real gap to support and get behind regional entrepreneurship, which we feel is the backbone of our business.
“They want a place to hear inspiring stories and hear other entrepreneurs talk about their mistakes as well.
“And we get local start-ups and small businesses to actually practice their ‘pitches’ to a room full of people, panellists and investors ... basically like a benevolent Shark Tank.”
FoundX will now host events at the space every two to three months.