SEVENmile Venture Lab incorporated in late 2018, and was funded entirely from the Directors and their associated personal contribution and actives in late 2018 and early 2019. As at early 2020, SEVENmile remains funded by the Directors and some volunteers and paid members.
A celebration was held in Manly on November 28th, 2018. A Board of 4 Directors was formed: Julija McDowell, Mitchell Filby, Cameron Shaw and Greg Twemlow. The Directors, who are not remunerated, have generously given their time and personally sponsored various meetups during 2019. The Board, which meets monthly, has ensured SEVENmile Ltd operated professionally and with appropriate governance.
Throughout 2019 we have received wonderful support and direct help from many people in our community. I would like to acknowledge the following people who have been instrumental in helping our mission to empower our community, by providing emotional support that builds resilience, creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to succeed and to strengthen the local economy.
With many thanks to: our Directors; Julija McDowell, Cameron Shaw, Mitchell Filby, and Greg Twemlow. Our supporters in Northern Beaches Council; Felicity Shonk, Deb Kempe, Nikki Griffith, Sue Heines, Mayor Michael Regan. MP for Manly James Griffin. Also big thanks to Courtney Brown, Martin Stark, Flavia C. Ribeiro De Souza, Maria-Elena Chidzey, Mirna Wildholzer, Janaína Sofia, Matthew Mays. Our pro-bono sponsors; Jaromir Milos (Jeremy) Turanec and Matt McGoldrick from Kickstart Advisory, Michael Zhu from Blueprint Accounting, Catalin Anastase from Lunar Media TV, Eric Chan from Chargebee, Dave Shepherd from Hubspot, and Jessi Roullier from North4Films.
Even though the organization started 2019 without a home or base we were able to use local venues for our early monthly meetups. This was far from ideal as each meetup was in a different venue and there were costs associated with use of the venues.
In early April, with the support of the Northern Beaches Council, we were granted access to the Training Room and Reading Room at Seaforth Village Community Centre. This was a key development, giving us the ability to engage with the community and offer a program of regular monthly meetups, workshops, and roundtables. Please see Appendix A for a list of all the events we hosted.
During 2019 SEVENmile hosted close to 600 people at the various events and mentored 63 northern beaches founders who were actively involved in developing their business idea. 25 of these founders were working on their idea as a side-gig, i.e. they held a full-time job and worked part-time on their idea.
We created a $199 paid membership program called SEVENmilers and asked the community to support our work by signing-up. To date we have 18 SEVENmiler members (thanks to Dave Holland for being SEVENmiler #1): David Holland - #1, Errol Pollnow - #2, Catalin Anastase - #3, Keith Mason - #4, Therese Ravell - #5, Hwei Oh - #6, Marty Davis - #7, Amy Bingham - #8, Ryan Caudle - #9, Anne McKeown - #10, Tiago Thiers - #11, Patricia Jeffs - #12, Caleb Gibbins - #13, Alexey Dubrovin - #14, Joe Prelc - #15, Liliane Azevedo - #16, Peter Horan - #17, Kathryn Sellick - #18
Our May meetup event was a celebration of our ACNC status and our ongoing use of the Seaforth Village Community Centre. It was a great celebration, greatly helped by Mayor Michael Regan, who spoke about Council's support for SEVENmile.
In late June we welcomed two college students from the USA who had asked to Intern with SEVENmile. Adriana Facchina and Marshall Morris were wonderful additions to the SEVENmile community and both gave us invaluable assistance, primarily with marketing and community-building. Everyone who met Adriana and Marshall found them to be wonderful people. We hosted a farewell lunch in early August in fine style at the Manly Skiff Club.
SEVENmile held our first formal pitch event in Manly in July in conjunction with Newcastle Business Centre. The event was well attended with about 60 attendees who saw 6 startup founders pitch their company. There were 3 startups from Manly and 3 from Newcastle.
Pictured above are executives from SEVENmile Venture Lab and Newcastle Business Centre along with the founders of the six startups who pitched at the inaugural Startup Pitch Night held July 24, 2019
SEVENMile and Newcastle Business Centre will continue to partner in 2020 and expect to host another pitch night in Manly in July.
In February we were advised that a grant application to Multicultural NSW had been approved and that $10,000 would be provided to support our work with migrants. This grant funding has been directed back to activities that relate to the key objectives of Multicultural NSW – therefore we have not used the grant to fund any other SEVENmile activity – all current business development and program management activity is funded purely out of the Director's contributions.
The grant funds were not received until early July due to budget issues at Multicultural NSW. The funds enabled SEVENmile to engage primarily with the Tibetan and Brazilian migrant communities.
Several events for migrants were held at the Seaforth Village space and at Brookvale Community Centre with the help of Maria-Elena Chidzey.
Pictured above are Tibetan migrants who attended a SEVENMile Venture Lab seminar on June 27th. Seated centre front are Maria Elena-Chidzey and Deputy Mayor Sue Heines
Pictured above, SEVENmile Venture Lab barista training held Aug 10, 2019, for 3 Tibetan migrants, l-r Lobsang, Dorji and Pema, held at Seaforth Village Community Centre. Far left is Deputy Mayor Sue Heines. Second from right is Christine Alcord, Master Barista and owner of Grassroots cafe.
Our Multicultural NSW grants also enabled us to work the Brazilian migrants, of which there are many residing on the northern beaches. Our access into the Brazilian community was courtesy of Martin Stark and Flavia C. Ribeiro De Souza. We held seminars and meetups and a number of the Brazilian migrants attended the Sir Richard Branson event.
SEVENmile received cash support from Freshwater Community Bank for the October and December meetups. This was very welcome sponsorship organized by Sandra Kleiner, Community & Business Relationship Manager, Freshwater Community Bank Branch of Bendigo & Adelaide Bank Ltd.
Our use of Seaforth Village Community Centre changed in September when NB Council agreed to offer a lease for our use of the Training Room for up to 3 years. The current status is that the SEVENmile Board will be in a position by the end of January 2020 to advise Council whether the company will have sufficient funds to sign a lease at the end of February.
As we approached the first anniversary of the incorporation of SEVENmile we planned an event to celebrate the milestone and we enjoyed the company of Mayor Michael Regan and Manly MP, James Griffin along with 60 guests.
It was a memorable evening and a video booth ran to record the thoughts of a range of the guests.
Our 2020 Plans
This year the goals are to establish a group of 8-10 co-workers who use our space on a regular basis. We are making good progress towards the target of at least 8 co-workers.
A group of 8 or more co-workers will enable SEVENmile Ltd Directors to enter into a lease with Northern Beaches Council, which will provide certainty for our plans to hold regular paid workshops and training.
We have recently formed a sub-group called Perennial Learners, which we will promote to people who have retired or who are have difficulty finding work, so they can network with peers who want to keep an active mind. The first meetup for Perennial Learners is January 22nd.
Our monthly meetups will continue to be held on the second Wednesday of each month. The format is to invite a startup to give their pitch and for a well-credentialed expert to give a short talk followed by food and networking.
In conjunction with Newcastle Business Centre, we will stage a formal pitch night for our local startups to an audience of VCs and angel investors.
Additional programs of work will be offered subject to securing grant funding.
Finally a primary goal for 2020 is to secure sponsor/s and further grants to fund our work and provide the option to offer formal startup accelerator programs for Northern Beaches entrepreneurs.
Thanks again to everyone in our community for your contribution in 2019 and we greatly look forward to supporting our northern beaches economy in 2020.
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SEVENmile is a community of creative change-makers. SEVENmile Venture Lab is a For-Purpose Enterprise, supporting our community in launching new enterprises, focusing on women and men who want to design their future, young adults (16-25 years), diversity, migrants and over 50s. We were founded in Manly on Sydney's northern beaches in late 2018.
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