Mentor Blaze to set Queensland alight

Story originally published on the Tech Street Journal found here.

MentorBlaze2014 action
Mentor Blaze 2014, iLab, photo used with permission.

Queensland will transform into Silicon Valley this Thursday, when another round of the state-wide mentoring program Mentor Blaze launches.

Six locations around the state will provide Queensland’s budding entrepreneurs a chance to take their ideas, share them broadly, and get feedback with access to over 400 mentors tomorrow afternoon. The two hour program is split into 6×20-minute time slots, where participants can rotate and meet mentors either in-person or through Skype.

ilab director and event organiser Bernie Woodcroft believes that Mentor Blaze goes beyond helping encouraging ideas; it gives independent advice from investors and other successful startups about how to take an idea and successfully commercialise it.

“We’ve also got mentors who are in the middle of living that life, of taking their startup and making something with it,” Woodcroft said. “So that will be a part of the conversation as well.”

Woodcroft also believes it’s vitally important to encourage startup ecosystems beyond metropolitan hubs. Specifically, Mentor Blaze targets regional centres such as Townsville, Toowoomba Cairns and Mackay, as well as hubs in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, Cairns, in an effort to cross-fertilize relationships from different locations.

One regional location that is actively pursuing and inspiring entrepreneurs is Toowoomba, where the networking session will be hosted at the newly launchedCanvas Coworking Space.

Space manager Joy Taylor said Mentor Blaze will give locals the opportunity to discuss their startup idea with experts that they may not otherwise have access to. Mentors come from fields such as communication, sustainable management, commercialisation and finance, amongst others.

“This will benefit the community by having new products, services, technology…whatever those ideas are, to be on the market quicker, solving our problems and providing superior services,” Taylor said.

Canvas Coworking Space launched at TAFE Toowoomba in August, and is being shepherded by Joy Taylor and Toowoomba Startup Group's David Masefield. Photo: Canvas Coworking Space.
Canvas Coworking Space launched at TAFE Toowoomba in August, and is being shepherded by Joy Taylor and Toowoomba Startup Group’s David Masefield. Photo: Canvas Coworking Space.

The not-for-profit Canvas Coworking Space opened on August 14th of this year with support from TAFE Queensland and Toowoomba Startup Group. Regular events at the space include TSG meetings, Startup Bootcamp, French lessons and “Mumpreneur Mondays,” a startup group aimed at supporting parents (and mothers in particular).

On top of internet and access to caffeine, Taylor hopes Canvas Coworking will provide a space for networking and relationship building.

“Providing the facility for people to connect is important, as more and more people are starting to work-from-home,” Taylor said. “They are often finding themselves feeling disconnected from society, which can result in a lack of motivation and innovation, and in some cases, loneliness and depression.”

Mentor Blaze runs from 4 to 6pm tomorrow, September 10th, and you can find out more information here.

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