A cutting-edge partnership between Bendigo Bank and Runway Geelong is helping up-and-coming entrepreneurs who want to take their startups to the global stage.
Bendigo Bank has set up a pop-up location at Runway’s co-working facilities at the Pivot City Innovation District.
In a unique model, the bank rotates senior business staff through there.
Under the agreement, Runway will use the investment paid by the bank to provide cash as a capital injection to a winning start-up that has made the most progress at the end of its 6-month incubator program.
Runway helps entrepreneurs to pursue their startup ambitions in Geelong by giving them access to a place to work and services such as mentoring.
Alumni of the business accelerator program include Trusted Food Group, who make a technology to fight wine fraud; SmartSnugg, developing a baby sleeping bag that records temperature and sleeping position; and Rubens Technologies, making sensors to predict the quality of fruit and crops.
John Siketa, Branch Manager at Corio Bendigo Bank, says that Runway’s support of startups and entrepreneurs is important for Geelong because “some of the easiest, most simplest ideas can turn out to be something so wonderful.”
“Their success is ultimately going to be our success and in turn, the community’s success.” - John Siketa, Branch Manager, Bendigo Bank Corio
Runway Geelong Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Peter Dostis says that Bendigo Bank became the business banking partner when he and co-founder Nick Stanley set it up three years ago with a vision to ignite the success of regional startups.
The bank has been “responsive and flexible to meet our needs”, including when Runway launched a new incubator in Ballarat last year.
The bank has also started helping the startup founders with their business banking.
Bendigo Bank staff would sit with founders to see if business loans were a viable alternative to venture capital or angel funding -- which they can be under certain circumstances, Mr Dostis says.
“But then they (bank staff) wanted to help them more. How could they actually help startups and what are the biggest challenges?”
Bendigo Bank were “really good in terms of being creative” in their approach and so took out a desk to have a small presence within the iconic Federal Mills business park where Runway is located.
The arrangement is a win-win.
Mr Siketa says that as some of the bank’s other clients are also based in the Federal Mills precinct, bank staff “get an opportunity to develop a business network”.
“You can pick up your mobile phone and talk to someone,” Mr Siketa says.
“You can do a lot of your banking electronically. Our point of difference is we go down there and talk to them personally. It’s about building relationships. When we do get that phone call, they put a face to the name and that’s a service that we provide, that we try to go above and beyond.”
Runway Geelong has had 35 startups through its 24-week incubator program. The next program starts 21 October.
Mr Dostis says that successful regional start-ups generate wealth and will help drive Geelong’s transition from old industries to new areas.
“If you get a start-up and a startup engages a service provider, that’s money back into the local economy." - Peter Dostis, Founder and CEO, Runway Geelong
"That organisation potentially if they are getting more of those businesses will obviously grow themselves. The startups will start to hire staff as they start to launch the business, which then further generates more revenue into the economy as well.”