Most startups, established brands or entrepreneurs who are thinking of launching a business have their eyes on one common thing: funding.  But you don’t have to find it alone when there’s so many business investors and so much support available – in fact, there’s an array of options to put you way ahead.


This was the focus at GCJCC’s latest business breakfast, showcasing three Gold Coast-based entrepreneurs who’ve built up leading brands and leveraged success directly off investor funding and government assistance.


Vincent Fletcher – CEO of CartonCloud


Who is?  

CartonCloud is a Gold Coast-based company developing cloud-based transport and logistics software for SMEs. Today CartonCloud has offices in Australia and New Zealand but it wasn’t a straight line to success from the get-go.  Vincent purchased his first transport logistics company with his business partner in Sydney before quickly realising it was in serious trouble.


“My business partner was passionate about warehousing and I had the background in programming so we started the partnership, but the business was nearly out of cash within two weeks – the setup and existing structures just weren’t working.  We turned it around by building CartonCloud for ourselves initially.  But then we started to see that we were doing things differently to our competitors.  So we started re-evaluating, cold calling businesses and, after selling the transport business to another buyer decided to start a company on the Gold Coast.”


“We’ve been going through capital-raising for the last two months, presenting to a dynamic mix of business investors along the way.  Before we started seeking investors, we were told there’s many different types.  Once you get in you realise there’s a huge array of what they’re looking for and what motivates them (like building a company versus turning a profit).  My personal takeaway from dealing with around 30 investors is they care very little about what your business does – they just want to see how they can make money.  What investors you approach will depend on what you want to achieve so I suggest seeing different types.  The last thing you want is committing to someone whose vision doesn’t support yours.”


“The upside to pitching, apart from the funding, is that investors give you some of the best feedback you can possibly receive – if you can handle it.  When you’re inside your own bubble you can end up in an echo chamber of people agreeing with everything you do.  But if you go out to investors, they’ll cut you down and say exactly what’s on their mind, which is brilliant if you can handle it, because although it’s really ruthless, its super useful career advice.  You don’t even have to pay to pitch – just turn up and do it.”


“We’ve sought support through various types of government funding.   The R&D (Research & Development) Tax Incentive available through the Australian Government has really assisted us.  We’ve also just been accepted for the Ignite Ideas Grant, started a mentorship program through the City of Gold Coast, last week were awarded the Knowledge Transfer Partnership Grant and there’s a few other things too.  There seems to be a tonne of state government grants in Queensland and if you look at what’s available it will probably be the most valuable use of your time – because you can spend a day filling out an application form and you might get $100,000 in funding.”


Josh Smith, Co-Founder and Brand Director at Mxstore and Strategic Brand Director at Kaliber Studio


Who is?

MX Store is a Gold Coast-based dirt bike and accessories company, while Kaliber is a design, branding and product development company working with start-ups Australia-wide.

“Over the last two and a half years, my companies have raised a combined $20 million for our various start-up clients purely through our presentation strategies to investors.  My number one tip for businesses is don’t use your own money to grow.  There’s plenty of it out there. We’re currently doing funding applications for both companies; for Mxstore it’s to fund development of new technology because we’re a digital platform and for Kaliber Studio it’s to source mentoring for future business development.”


“When it comes to finding support and where to start, reach out to the City of Gold Coast.  There’s so many business people based locally who are happy to mentor you and so many people at City of Gold Coast to connect you to them. I wasn’t aware of this until 12 months ago so learning there are so many different levels of support and funding has been a real eye-opener.  If someone is willing to give you a small handout then take it because it can do wonders for your business.”


What can professionals do to make their services stand out to entrepreneurs and startups?

“Attending functions, networking and reaching out because as much as entrepreneurs think they know everything, we don’t; we have certain skill sets that we excel at but lack in others.  So if you’re a legal firm you could potentially go to an agency that’s working with a lot of startups or speak to business owners at events and lend your expertise.  It builds relationships that lead to working partnerships.”


Natalie Carosi – Managing Director at Lemon Tree Marketing


Who is?

Lemon Tree Marketing is a full-service advertising agency and marketing company that really shines when it comes to getting their clients seen.  Their concepts are nowhere near the box and they boast a mix of whos who clientele around the Gold Coast and Australia.


“What really helped us was the City of Gold Coast’s Education Master Class which gets you into a room of around 20 new business owners to understand what their pain points and solutions are.  There’s a lot of need for coaching especially in a medium-sized business because we have half the resources in-house compared to an expert marketing team.  So spending one-on-one time with each of these businesses and swapping information is great.  We haven’t applied for grants directly but the Master Class has actually helped our business because we can go to a client and lay out the various funding options.”


“I’ve found it surprising how much funding is available, and when we started out we had no idea that any of it existed.  I went to a Founders Forum event back in May and met a lady who works on the State Government Grants Committee.  Later, we spent half an hour on web chat just discussing what grants are available.  I applied straight away for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, which lets you employ a recent university graduate and get $50,000 of their wage covered.  It might sound like it’s hard work to go out and find these things but actually it’s not – they’re all listed down in a super concise document (see the business and industry portal websites further down) showing how to apply, then you just complete an application and send it through. If you don’t get it, it’s half a day in time lost and if you do, it’s $50,000 for four hours of your time.  So it’s really worth investigating – there’s so much available in Queensland.


Best business accelerator advice?

“People.  To make money, you have to surround yourself with smart people not only at the mentor level but also hire character and train skill – being in a service industry without the right people just doesn’t work.   Secondly being nimble and adaptive to situations.  If something’s not working then change it or if you see an opportunity, grab it.”


What can professionals do to make their services stand out to entrepreneurs and startups?

“There’s a lot of competition out there and they’re all offering a very similar service but all trying to differentiate themselves on customer care. I think on the Gold Coast it’s especially all about relationships, not straight up selling.  It’s more about what you can do for them than waiting for the right situation.  We constantly get asked if we know a good lawyer or accountant so it’s all about building up rapport.”


Where to start?

There’s a myriad of funding and support programs available locally, state and Australia-wide but a great place to start is at the City of Gold Coast who have the business programs and resources to put you way ahead.   Their initiatives are designed to equip Gold Coast businesses with the capacity to lead their sectors into the future.


If they can’t assist directly, they can point you in the right direction – so instead of going through 20 doors, we’ll take you straight to door 20.


Visit the following places to access support and funding at all levels:

City of Gold Coast:

Queensland Government:

Australian Government: