Fishburners: Connecting our talent pool with a thriving startup community.

Partnership at a glance

  • La Trobe partnered with world-class founders’ hub Fishburners to create an exclusive community for entrepreneurs.
  • The pandemic created the opportunity for a pivot from a physical hub on campus to a fully online experience featuring workshops, mentoring sessions and access to founder-friendly resources.
  • The benefits are mutual, with Fishburners tapping into a talent pool of the university’s thinkers and innovators, and La Trobe providing a supportive, resource-rich ecosystem.
  • The relationship has impact, with more than 40 would-be founders from the La Trobe community already connected with Fishburners, and with capacity for up to 80 in total.

Case Study

To have a shot at success, a fledgling business needs to expect the unexpected and be able to reimagine the future despite obstacles.

So in early 2020, when La Trobe’s Research and Innovation Precinct teamed up with Fishburners Hub - one of Australia’s foremost incubators and a supporter of dozens of successful startups – to co-locate on campus, it discovered from the outset that its partner had the skills and experience to lead by example.

One minute, not-for-profit Fishburners was ready to replicate its lively Sydney coworking centre on the university’s grounds Melbourne to create an exclusive space for La Trobe’s founder community; the next, campuses and offices the world over were closed by COVID-19.

But Fishburners pivoted to a fully on-line experience to support the partnership. Memberships available to the La Trobe community include livestreamed workshops and talks, access to an extensive digital library and over 100 passionate mentors keen to help. There are job listings, opportunities for investor-ready founders to access a venture capital database and a range of practical resources. And, of course, there’s the chance to interact with like-minded entrepreneurs.

We've learned so much about founders’ needs over the 10 years we’ve been in business, so we could pivot quickly and efficiently to a virtual online model. But in the last two years we’ve also been able to appreciate the challenges founders experience while trying to get new businesses off the ground when there's so much uncertainty.

Nicole O’Brien

Through its strategic arrangement with Fishburners, La Trobe has created a bespoke environment for 80 members: so far, over 40 have joined the community. O’Brien says members range in interests, from the food industry to education, logistics to agtech. They include students curious about the basics and fully-fledged businesses ready to fly internationally, like Melbourne-based agritech startup Gaia Project Australia.

Combining machine learning techniques with innovative vertical farming models, the Gaia Project Australia is developing farm-of-the-future technology with implications for food security. Founder and Chief Executive Nadun Hennayaka says La Trobe’s partnership with Fishburners is strategically savvy, offering members valuable resources that boost their prospects. Gaia Project Australia, for example, was attracted by the cloud computing credits available with their specific level of Fishburners membership, representing a significant saving. “For a startup, every dollar counts,” he says.

What does success look like for the La Trobe/Fishburners collaboration? O’Brien says that of course, the birth of bold startups and innovative new businesses, particularly in the blossoming sustainable development space, is an obvious metric. “But it's broader than just using the platform to establish a business. It drives professional development and experiential learning, creates a sense of community and can create jobs.

“For Fishburners, to have the university’s fantastic talent pool to be able to tap into and to nurture in the entrepreneurship space is a great opportunity. And I think La Trobe understands the value of connecting with an established community.”

To find out more on our partnerships, please contact us.