Southern Cross University startup success stories

Published in Issue 1 - 2017

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Sarah Beardmore

Sarah Beardmore

Southern Cross University business graduates are blazing an entrepreneurial trail in the global surf industry.

After years of carving her name in the waves, former professional surfer Sarah Beardmore is now making her mark in the app development world.

Sarah studied a Bachelor of Business Administration online majoring in Tourism and Hospitality  through Southern Cross University’s Elite Athlete Program, while she was competing.

Now she is the founder of Nown, an interactive social and crowdsourced global directory mobile app that connects like-minded people, places and things. It is currently in beta testing.

Sarah is also a co-founder of Dorsal, the Australian crowdsourced shark reporting and alerting app, which was recently launched in the USA.

“I am using my degree more than I ever thought I would. My education helped me in my surfing career to identify niche markets and really understand the business side of things.

“Many athletes go into a post-career slump when they finish their competitive career but I felt equipped and motivated for the next journey.”

Sarah was part of the international World Star surfing tour, winning European, British and English titles. Alongside app creation, Sarah is involved in a zero-intelligence company and other consultancy work for people who have ideas and want to make them come to life.

“My distance studies taught me to be motivated and have self-discipline which mirrors the qualities I need as a nomadic entrepreneur,” she said.

“Understanding how to work from different environments empowers you and can help you discover new ideas.

“I’ve followed my passions and created my own positions. Now I can work from anywhere, which is the lifestyle with which I resonate best.”

A new national report released in March ‘Startup Smarts: universities and the startup economy’ confirms universities are the driving force in Australia’s startup economy, with more than four in five Australian startup founders being university graduates.

The report showed startups are projected to create more than half a million jobs in Australia over the coming decades and are already contributing more than $160 billion to the Australian economy, with universities playing a central role in helping create new jobs and develop parts of the economy.

Karina Irby

Karina Irby

Another startup success story is Southern Cross University sports graduate Karina Irby, who founded her own global swimwear empire Moana Bikini. She was recently named in Business News Australia’s 40 Under 40 Top Young Entrepreneurs on the Gold Coast.

Karina established Moana Bikini in 2011, borrowing $800 from her dad, with the simple desire to create beautiful, cheeky-cut bikinis.

“The reason I started was because about seven years ago there were no cheeky-cut swimmers here in Australia, it was almost frowned upon, but I wanted to break the rules and create them,” the 27-year-old said.

“I had been wholesaling a brand from overseas, but I decided I really wanted to design my own brand, I had such a passion for it and there was a gap in the market.

“I really wanted to be my own boss and work for myself, which is a thought I’ve always had in the back of my head.”

Last November, Ms Irby held her biggest season launch yet releasing more than 50,000 pieces to market for the Australian summer and is expecting an even bigger season as the northern hemisphere heats up.

“I never expected Moana Bikini to go global,” Ms Irby said.

“More than 75 per cent of our sales are overseas; it’s definitely our biggest customer base, which is great for us to cater to summer all year round.

“Right now we are starting to design our 2018 campaign, releasing new products and focusing on the fitness segment of the brand ‘Bikini Body Burn’ where we’ve teamed up with a gym in Burleigh Heads.”

When Ms Irby moved to the Gold Coast from Port Macquarie to study, she originally planned on becoming a professional surf coach.

“My degree opened up so many doors with networking and learning so much. The skills I was learning ending up benefiting me with what I’m doing now with Moana Bikini,” she said.

“I had a huge passion for the marketing course we did, all the event management classes have been so helpful and even little things such as using spreadsheets.”

Ms Irby’s advice for startups is to find something you are passionate enough to tell the world about, create a business plan and over-analyse every aspect to be as prepared as possible.

“I think you need to have the initiative and passion to do what you want to do – it takes a certain person to keep going and be the passionate driver of your dream,” she said.

“You need to get out there and research it, love it enough and care about what you’re doing.

“If you simply just want to be an entrepreneur or make money without any hard work or passion, you need to reassess and make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.”

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