The bank refused to give Wagga Wagga entrepreneur Simone Eyles a merchant account when she proposed her idea of an online coffee ordering system six years ago.
“The ATO had no category to plonk our business into. There were a lot of things we had to figure out,” the co-founder of mobile application 365cups said.
Ms Eyles is one of several Australian digital innovators speaking at the upcoming Binary Shift conference in Traralgon.
The hurdles were a “blessing in disguise” for Ms Eyles, as without a bank account this made it easier to extend 365cups overseas.
“We were in New Zealand in the first 18 months because we weren’t tied to an Australian currency,” Ms Eyles said.
Six years on entrepreneurs may not have the same hoops to jump through with fast changes in the tech world, however she said now “in Sydney and Melbourne, every second person is building an app or a start-up”.
Ms Eyles identified a competitive advantage for regional innovators, as regional areas were “really great testing grounds”.
In her case, it was easy to walk to the caf around the corner and speak to the barista about their needs and tweak the business model.
She recommended people with an idea should just get started, as it was better to have a clunky version of an idea on the market that could be improved, rather than nothing at all.
“I think the quicker you start doing stuff and talking to people as well – that’s really important – the quicker you can refine that idea,” Ms Eyles said.
Infoxchange chief executive David Spriggs will also be speaking at the event about digital inclusion and the “widening gap” for regional areas.
“So for us it’s all about how can we empower communities and help build digital skills, which is all about getting people back in employment and skilling up for the digital age,” Mr Spriggs said.
The not-for-profit started out of a garage in suburban Melbourne 25 years ago, and now has grown to 120 staff.
“We started in the homeless sector and the very first project was to connect homeless shelters together to be able to share information about bed availability,” Mr Spriggs said.
Ask Izzy is the successive mobile website which has helped more than 500,000 people connect with services.
The Binary Shift conference is part of the state-wide Digital Innovation Festival and will focus on regional start-ups, community building around innovation and technology, and the practical skills to start a business.
The event will be at the VRI hall, Traralgon, on Wednesday, 30 August from 9am to 5pm.
Tickets are available through Eventbrite.
binaryshiftconf for more information.