Local Startup Business Driving Latrobe City’s Ecosystem

Latrobe City Council has supported local businesses and and provided resources they need to grow and succeed.

Through the LaunchVic Regional Startup Fund, Startup Gippsland is delivering the Startup Gippsland Ecosystem Activation Program over a two-year period.

The Program will encourage the development of a self-supporting startup ecosystem in Gippsland by bringing together alumni, mentors, and members of the public at networking events such as workshops, pitch events and meetups, as well as development of soft infrastructure via online alumni community management to rebuild relationships and connections across Gippsland.

Council hosted the Startup Gippsland Pitch Showcase in June 2023, which was attended by over 120 people. The project aims to re-energise Gippsland’s startup ecosystem and build community capacity to ensure local startups are always able to access connections and support.

JON & TREY KNIGHT

Jon & Trey Knight, runner ups for Founder of the Year 2023, have also attended many of Council’s facilitated Small Business workshops to further enhance their knowledge and skill set.

Jon said attending the Small Business workshops and Startup Gippsland showcase has provided their startup company BuzzBay with support.

“I’ve gone from not knowing opportunities such as Startup Gippsland and Small Festivals existed, to knowing I’m in a very fortunate position being placed in Latrobe City.”

“There is so much going on to help support big ideas and small businesses,” Jon said.

Jon and his son Trey are in the process of developing an Electric Vehicle Charging network and have recently partnered with RMIT and Federation University.

This partnership came about after attending the Council’s Small Business Festival – Collaboration with Universities session and have attended multiple workshops over the past 12 months.

BuzzBay proposes providing small EV charging solutions that allow businesses and workplaces to generate profit from their carparks.

“The EV charger we are developing is about the size of a hand-dryer that can be connected to the wall. It’s designed to be effortless for the user,” Jon said.

“Electricity is everywhere in the modern world – the problem is you’d be taking someone else’s power to charge your EV.”

Jon explained the importance of energy solutions for electric vehicles in the future.

“The fundamental issue is that if you’re going to put electric vehicles on the streets without massively increasing the grid infrastructure, we need to charge EV cars during the day,” Jon said.

In regional areas such as Latrobe City, electric vehicle cars need to be charged every week.

“If everyone’s driving an EV every day and every car on the road is an EV, we will need to manage charging to keep prices low. This is the problem we’re solving,” Jon said.

Jon, who previously worked as an aircraft engineer before moving to Latrobe City six years ago, said he always had an interest in renewable energy.

“When I started this journey, I had never run a business before – I had always worked for other people and there was a big gaping hole in my knowledge of how to run a business,” Jon said.

“Fortunately, being right here in the Valley, we are surrounded by skills in business and engineering for running the power network.”

“We’ve had some fantastic conversations, usually starting with asking power engineers to kick the stuffing out of our ideas!”

As part of the partnership with Federation University Churchill campus, a local PhD student will work alongside Jon and Trey on the development of their EV charger.

Trey said supporting local students is important to the pair.

In closing, Jon and Trey encourage others who have big ideas for start-up businesses to get involved in networking events around Latrobe City.

“There’s some amazing connections at events through Start Up Gippsland, LaunchVic and the Small Business Festivals,” Jon said.

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