It was only after more than a decade in executive directorship roles for multinational companies that Professor Alex Maritz returned to university, this time as a mentor.
He’d been a corporate entrepreneur for Sony Playstation, Blockbuster Video and in pharmaceuticals. Since then, Professor Maritz has built an international reputation in entrepreneurship education. His insightful and inspirational teaching has even earned him an Australian Learning and Teaching Citation for excellence in entrepreneurship education.
‘The teachers are more like mentors,” said La Trobe graduate, Jake McKeon. “Because my success is their success.”
We recently reunited Jake with his business teacher, Professor Maritz.
Jake studied a Bachelor of Business in 2010 and left armed with knowledge of business management, communications, marketing, accounting and economics. He didn’t have a plan, but he was inspired to carve his own path by mentors like Professor Maritz.
After a few false starts that, nevertheless, earned him a place on Startup Daily’s Top 50 Male Entrepreneurs Under 40 list, Jake hit on his big idea. He conceived of it while holidaying in Bali – eco-friendly coconut bowls.
Since launching Coconut Bowls in 2016, Jake’s sold hundreds of thousands of products to customers in more than 150 countries. In doing so, he’s replaced single-use items in cafes with handcrafted natural, reusable products and has supported dozens of low-income farmers and artisans in Vietnam and Indonesia.
With revenue in the millions, Coconut Bowls also donates tens of thousands of dollars every year to environmental initiatives.
Jake attributes much of his success to Professor Maritz. “If I hadn’t gone to La Trobe University, I may never have started my own business,” said Jake. “I learnt more about myself and I learnt the tools to apply to my career.”
“At La Trobe, we’re very good at putting the theory to practice,” Professor Maritz told us. “We see ourselves as a catalyst for all these ideas, and a springboard for launching all these new ventures.”
Meet more inspiring mentors at La Trobe.