Machines Plus Deliver Tailor-Made Printing Solutions

Machines Plus Deliver Tailor-Made Printing Solutions

Machines Plus is a printing company providing Australian garment makers with high quality DTG (direct to garment) printers. Focusing on customer delivery, Machines Plus delivers solutions to businesses with a wide range of needs, providing water based, dye sublimation, solvent and UV printing options.

Gus Altmann, Founder and Product Specialist of Machines Plus, established the company after working in the printing industry for 15 years. A graphic designer by trade, he attended Mackenzie University in Brazil before moving to Australia and working with brands such as Canon, Roland DG, Mutoh and DTG.

“I felt there was no one in the market that focused on building relationships with end users, so the natural progression of my career saw me filling that gap by creating Machines Plus,” says Gus.

By helping businesses make the right decision about their printing equipment purchases, Machines Plus aims to sell more than just a printer, but a thorough knowledge of the product.

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“We care about our customers and their business, their growth is our growth, we want to see successful businesses flourishing,” says Gus.

In July, Machines Plus moved into Melbourne Innovation Centre’s Greensborough site to begin their next phase of growth.

“We find being surrounded by businesses like us, that are keen to learn and develop new skills, necessary to be successful. It creates the right atmosphere for growth and development,” Gus explains. “With the right advice from the Melbourne Innovation Centre, we are already finding new ways to be successful in our field.”

Gus and his team are looking to grow exponentially in the next 3-5 years. With an aim to have thriving and driven sales, marketing, and service teams, they are hoping to open branches in NSW and QLD in the coming years.

In the meantime, there are many exciting things coming up. Machines Plus was recently approached by Roland DG and made Australian Dealers for its entire range of printers. The launch of a trial program has also been proposed, called Try Before you Buy, which will allow small businesses to have access to the Machines Plus printers.

“We have a plan, we have goals and we are focused! Now it's just time for a bit of good old hard work to collect the results,” says Gus.

Startup with Sustainable Life Cykel

Startup with Sustainable Life Cykel

Melburnians love café culture, but did you know that coffee grounds end up in anaerobic landfill, which prevents decomposition, ultimately turning our caffeine consumption into methane emissions? MIC’s newest startup, Life Cykel, is reusing the waste of our urban tastes to create sustainable, high-protein food – mushrooms!

Wild Melbourne Preserving Nature's Future

Wild Melbourne Preserving Nature's Future

Not-for-profit Wild Melbourne is dedicated to enhancing the Victorian public's understanding of native Australian wildlife, science and environmental matters. Focusing on inspiring and enabling people to seek their own intimate connections with nature, Wild Melbourne’s ultimate objective is to protect the world.

Instigating this level of cultural shift within communities is not an easy task, yet the world is facing a growing environmental crisis that can’t be ignored. Simultaneously, we are facing a societal crisis of disengagement and depression, fatigue and frustration that also must be addressed.

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“We are now learning about nature’s role in our mental and physical wellbeing,” says co-founder Leonardo Guida, Wild Melbourne’s Community Operations Manager. “It’s more important than ever that we grow and maintain strong connections with natural environments.”

Wild Melbourne understands that nature needs us as strongly we need it. And the team is intent on spreading the word.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to caring about the environment or interacting with the great outdoors”, says Leonardo. The team find that the best way to incite a response is to promote personal connections with nature that are relevant and unique to individuals. 

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Through articles, community events and school talks, Wild Melbourne aims to educate communities on the changing environment. This new information will act as a catalyst for change in the way people relate to the environment and will therefore make an impact on the wider world.

“It’s a fantastic thing to witness people discover something about the natural world they never really understood before,” says Managing Director Chris McCormack.

Wild Melbourne boasts an incredibly diverse and passionate team, primarily individuals trained in the biological sciences, whose skills are utilised through film, sound and storytelling to produce engaging and informative content.

While the majority of the team are volunteers, Wild Melbourne has made a move toward establishing their organisation by employing one full-time staff member and setting up residence in Melbourne Innovation Centre Greensborough. “We needed a place to grow and find our legs,” said Leonardo, “Melbourne Innovation Centre offered a welcoming environment with great support services that could aid us in doing this”.

Now well-established in the space, the team have been presented with many opportunities for growth. They recently received a grant from the Norman Wettenhall Foundation to produce a video series that highlights the hard work of Victorian community conservation groups. Titled Community Conservationists¸ this project aims to bring some much-deserved attention to five dedicated groups helping to protect and conserve Victoria’s natural heritage.

Wild Melbourne believes it is more important than ever that we grow and maintain strong connections with natural environments. Every individual is a unique opportunity to protect the world. A cultural shift may be a slow process, but it is also a vital step in bridging the gap between our community and our ecosystems.

As Leonardo says, “We hope to contribute to a cultural shift whereby people within our community consider themselves more and more a part of a bigger picture, and in turn, are willing to protect that picture.”

Education delivering lasting change

Education delivering lasting change

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Education Campaigns Australia (ECA) is an educational consultancy that develops school curriculum resources and programs for clients wanting to engage with youth and secondary schools. It offers online and blended learning design and multimedia content development, project management, and specialist educational writing, editing and publishing.

David Williams from ECA moved into MIC Greensborough in June –  right on the cusp of launching a new phase of the business. This will combine its capability and experience in public relations and education to help clients achieve their awareness, learning, and behaviour change goals.

“ECA has developed a trusted network of companies and talented individuals including award-winning writers and editors,” David explains. “We are always on the lookout for creative freelancers and engage them often.”

David is currently teaching at Melbourne Polytechnic, and has been a secondary teacher for 12 years. He has also worked in corporate elearning and was general manager of a national training company and CEO of a Registered Training Organisation.

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A current ECA project is Disaster Resilience Education, which is being rolled out across Victoria in both private and public schools. This explains disaster resilience to students, particularly those in areas at high risk of natural hazards such as fire and flood. ECA is also redeveloping Country Fire Authority’s School Education Partnerships Program and Junior Brigades Program.

Melbourne Innovation Centre appealed to ECA with its networking opportunities and productive working space. “I like having the right space to meet clients and work alongside freelancers and collaborators on creative projects,” says David. The plan for growth in the next 2-3 years is to double revenue each year.


As for David’s passion for the industry: “I love helping clients to create highly engaging and effective learning experiences.”

The Flavour of Alphington

The Flavour of Alphington

Every bottle of La Sirène's farmhouse ale is an embodiment of its locale. This microbrewery specialises in the enigmatic flavour profiles of yeast unique to the Darebin Parklands, situated behind the brewery at Melbourne Innovation Centre.

La Sirène is an urban farmhouse brewery with a strong sustainability focus. It produces beer like that made in farmhouses in the early 14th century—yet it is six kilometers from Melbourne’s CBD. This anachronism sees the contemporary warehouse emanating the mystery and charm of a beer sleeping room, custom-built cool ship fermentation vessel, and 130 stunning traditional French oak barrels.

La Sirène founder, Costa Nikias, explains, “We wanted to make beer with a sense of place. Over the years, it has become so industrialised and process-driven. We want to have a more authentic approach and pay homage to where our beer is made.”

La Sirène's business owners: Costa and Eva Nikias

La Sirène's business owners: Costa and Eva Nikias

The Darebin Parklands and creek contains a huge amount of flora which La Sirène coerces into their brewery. “We typically do wild brewing on a windy day with the roller doors open. It’s all about expressing natural yeast.”

In doing so, La Sirène has captured the flavour of Alphington. It uses the yeast to ferment the beer and then takes those yeast strains to a lab. La Sirene now has a full culture in a lab, so it can recall all the natural yeasts that originate from that location. “We’re a brand of Alphington,” says Eva Nikias, Costa’s partner in business and life. “I don’t think you’ll find any stronger than us.”

The Darebin Parklands are pivotal to this brewing method. La Sirène is a corporate member, supporting the land that enables it to incorporate wild fermentation into the brewing process. One beer was forklifted down to the creek in the tank and left there for three days so it could inoculate naturally. “Other beers have a bit of house yeast and a bit of parkland yeast,” Costa says. “But that one is a true representation of the parkland in beer form.”

Positioned in a large warehouse at Melbourne Innovation Centre, the brewery has received mentoring and support from the business incubator to assist with its business growth. Initially brewing Saisons and farmhouse ales, La Sirène has transcended that process since moving in, now focusing on making beer in barrels. “Wild fermented,” Costa explains, “Spontaneously fermented in the cool ship. You can’t get any higher than that in terms of brewing.”

Cool ship wild fermentation resulting from a very cold Melbourne night. Now ready to be put in oak barrels for three years

Cool ship wild fermentation resulting from a very cold Melbourne night. Now ready to be put in oak barrels for three years

A cool ship is a large open vessel that catches the yeast and bacteria in the atmosphere as it cools. It demands very cold conditions and can only be used within a period of around two weeks each year. La Sirène is one of very few breweries globally to use this old school method that originates from Belgium. Costa calls it, “the Champagne of beer making.”

La Sirène is a certified green business from the Darebin City Council. Making beer with a sense of place feeds into the brewery’s emphasis on sustainability. The spirit of farmhouse beer-making involves using local ingredients as much as possible—and La Sirène uses Melbourne Water, hops grown in Myrtleford, and yeast from Alphington. All of La Sirène's beers use 100% grain (larger breweries tend to use around 30%), which then goes to a piggery in Macedon to be used as feed. It doesn’t use chemicals to clean the floors and recycles a lot of its cooling water.

The business hires locally and organises all deliveries in-house, which further minimises its carbon footprint. “It’s our responsibility to minimise our footprint,” Costa says. “For us it’s about building up a local market. It would be ideal to sell all of our beer in metro Melbourne.”

“La Sirène is a gem in the middle of Alphington,” says Eva. “People are very proud of us.”

Marketing: 4 Things You’re Probably Doing Wrong

Marketing: 4 Things You’re Probably Doing Wrong

How are you choosing to market your brand right now? Facebook? Email campaigns? Letter box drops? How much money are you sinking into these methods currently (think about costs in printing, Facebook ads, labour)? Are you seeing results?

If your answer is no, then it’s time to take a look at the way you’re choosing to market, particularly your content marketing. Don’t know what this is? Put simply, content marketing is the creation and sharing of online material that provokes interest in a brand by indirectly promoting a product or service (e.g. blogs, social media posts, infographics, videos, etc.).

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If you’re already pushing these out and it still doesn’t seem like it’s working, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Although the majority of businesses are doing content marketing, most of them are failing at it.

Why? Here are four reasons:

1. Your content is not your problem – it’s your content strategy

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The issue for most businesses attempting content marketing is their strategy. And an even bigger problem? Most businesses don’t even have a strategy. If you don’t have one – make one. Take a look at Hootesuite’s article on how to create a content marketing strategy for a comprehensive walkthrough if you don’t know where to start. As you’re creating your strategy, do some research into your competitors. If their content has been successful, learn from it. Look at what platforms they share their content on and learn how to use them. Take note of who is engaging with their content and target them. Once you create a strategy and deliver on your objectives you will have a much higher chance of being a successful content marketer. Give it a go and see if it makes a difference in the success of your content marketing.

2. You need to invest

If you don’t have the finances to invest in your marketing, don’t worry! We understand not every business can allow for a large marketing budget. Instead, invest time and commitment into creating a solid content strategy, implement it and consider investing financially in your marketing in the future. Most businesses plan to spend more on content marketing this financial year than ever before – this can only mean one thing – done well, it works. Use your time well to create good content and work towards a time when you can invest financially into your marketing.

3. Your content is boring

People are not going to like, share or follow something that is not entertaining or informative. If people aren’t engaging with your content, then it is highly likely that you need to re-establish your understanding of your target audience. Who are the people you are trying to reach? Would they be interested in what you are posting?

Just because your brand doesn’t sell something fun doesn’t mean you can’t produce engaging content. Selling tissues? Write a blog about every situation a tissue would come in handy. Growing beetroots? Publish a recipe featuring beetroot once a week. It is definitely harder to produce content in ‘boring’ industries but we are yet to find a business where it is impossible.

Your content should inspire people. It should make them identify with your brand. It should make them remember you.

4. Utilise the content you create

If you do decide to create content, utilise it to the best of your abilities. Take the beetroot recipes example. If you take the time to find some beetroot recipes and publish them on your website, ensure you take the next step and promote them – publish them on Facebook, post them on Instagram – this is a major component of content marketing. No one will see your content unless you promote it. Putting content on your blog and not sharing it is like organising a party and not inviting anyone to attend. It’s a waste of time.

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Don’t waste your time. Make the creation and implementation of your content marketing plan a priority. If there’s one thing to remember, it’s have a strategy. Now is the time to set yourself up for success, not failure. Don’t expect it to happen overnight, it’s going to be a long process and it’s extremely easy to get frustrated. Be patient, invest in it, build a community and keep pushing on. If you need any assistance with your content marketing, don’t hesitate to contact us for mentoring sessions on (03) 9499 9100.

Farmwall Startup to Sustain Cities

Farmwall Startup to Sustain Cities

Picture a small-scale, vertical, edible garden that grows herbs and microgreens in urban cafés. It’s environmentally-conscious, sustainable, visually appealing—and it’s being turned into a reality right now by Farmwall at the Melbourne Innovation Centre in Alphington.

Farmwall is a community-oriented social enterprise that aims to grow fresh, local and natural produce in close proximity to food venues. This groundbreaking concept will provide custom design, installation, and maintenance of vertical farms and fresh produce maintenance systems inside restaurants to provide high-value crops at chefs’ fingertips.

Farmwall cofounder, Geert Hendrix, explains the motivation behind the Melbourne-based startup. “It’s possible to combine food production, design, and nature through innovative science and technologies. If we grow our food in coherence with natural ecosystems and implement this mindset in designing our living spaces, we create a beautiful, healthier environment for ourselves, as well as solving major issues that cause climate change and pollution.”

Environmentally, the Farmwall reduces food miles, food waste, pesticide and herbicide usage, water and energy costs, and deforestation.

In addition to vertical farms, Farmwall will also build urban aquaponics farms on under-performing land such as parking lots and rooftops. “Transforming them into food-producing spaces,” Hendrix describes. Farmwall intends to inspire the city-based food industry to pursue a more sustainable approach to acquiring fresh produce.

Melbourne Innovation Centre’s CEO, David Williamson, says, “We are really excited to have Farmwall joining MIC’s business incubator program. Farmwall is addressing some key market and societal issues around food security and urban farming, combined with a unique and clever business and distribution model.”

Farmwall will build its prototype and establish its first aquaponics system while at MIC. Few locations in Metropolitan Melbourne could provide the necessary resources to nurture such a project, including onsite workshop space and land, business mentoring and support, and a diverse business community for collaboration. Hendrix applied after hearing about MIC’s strong track record as a business incubator.

The prototype will be built in workshop space and the aquaponics system will be set up on outdoor MIC land. This system will grow vegetables sustainably using fish, water, and sun, with the aim of supplying restaurants without a Farmwall with local produce and providing those that do with larger produce that won’t fit within the structure.

MIC’s Business Incubator has a strong relationship with the City of Darebin, utilising a council asset to grow local businesses and create jobs. Williamson says, “The energy of Farmwall’s highly credentialed team is abundant and we feel they are a great cultural fit within the existing MIC incubator community, as well as the broader local community and the City of Darebin.”

The first sketch of Farmwall was made in October 2016 and the team has rocketed through Melbourne’s startup ecosystem in the short time since. They joined the Nest Coworking community in December 2016, taking part in the boost program and receiving valuable support and assistance from owner Jay Chubb. In May 2017, Farmwall started the Two Feet acceleration program at The Difference Incubator (TDI), which will run until October this year. Through this, the team has already learned how to design a solid model and dig deep into their value proposition, intent, and customer desirability.

TDI Two Feet Program Lead, Meagan Williams, believes, “That a sustainable, values-driven business that is financially and commercially sustainable is the greatest tool for change. Our Two Feet program aims to help entrepreneurs understand the critical elements needed to build a sustainable business, identify the gaps in their current business model, and what to do next on their journey to sustainability.”

Farmwall’s journey highlights that there is a definite shift in the right direction in the startup ecosystem in Melbourne.

“Initiatives such as LaunchVIC are seeking to build a more cohesive start-up ecosystem,” Williamson says. “This is case in point of how the ecosystem can work in tandem, with Farmwall utilising coworking space at Nest in Thornbury, receiving support and participating in The Difference Incubator’s program, and now launching into the validation and enterprise phase at Melbourne Innovation Centre.”

The multilayered startup network is firmly in place to support Melbourne-based businesses like Farmwall. And the more sustainable, globally-conscious entrepreneurs that grow out of it, the closer Melbourne will be to leading the world into a better future.

As Hendrix says, “The world looks like a very bright, positive, and happy space when we imagine our cities as green, natural and productive spaces: abundance, resilience, jobs and community without harming our environment.”

The Farmwall team. Image courtesy of Farmwall

The Farmwall team. Image courtesy of Farmwall

Media enquiries – please contact Melbourne Innovation Centre on 03 9499 9100 or info@melbourneinnovation.com.au

Mistruths Women in Small Business Believe

Mistruths Women in Small Business Believe

We have recently begun advertising our fourth coworking space (check it out here now!), and desks are beginning to fill up. Amidst the excitement of our new space becoming an active hub, I was initially unaware of just how strong the male presence was in comparison to females. And it got me wondering: where are all the ladies at?

According to recent ABS studies, women make up 34% of small business owners in Australia, which represents a 46% increase in the past two decades. In other words, ladies – we’re getting somewhere. This is great news and it is worth celebrating! YAY!

But what more could we be doing to increase this number? What is preventing women from taking a leap and manifesting the idea we’ve had brewing for months and months? In our years of working with small business owners, we at MIC have observed that often women are victims to society’s misbeliefs. These misbeliefs are repeated to us, over and over, until we start to believe them, begin telling them to ourselves, and worst of all: we let them prevent us from taking action.  

1. You’re way too busy to make it work

This first misbelief is particularly targeted at full-time mums who are chasing around small toddlers or teenage kids. If you’re getting a bit restless at home with only your offspring to keep you company, then don’t be disheartened. Research shows that “mumpreneurs” are in fact more effective with their time then most full-time employees. No one nails time management like a mother! If you have a passion, it is possible to commercialise it. Don’t get us wrong, it’s going to be a challenge and you can’t be scared of hard work – but, trust us, it will be rewarding.

2. People don’t take mumpreneurs seriously

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Unfortunately, this has a small amount of truth to it. Some people, and sadly it can be our friends and family, think that these ventures are created to keep us busy and make us feel useful, with no financial benefits. This is your chance to prove them wrong. Show them that they shouldn’t underestimate the power of a determined lady and her laptop. In theory, it’s only these people you need to convince (and yourself!). If people love your product or service, they won’t care if you’re in an office, a park or your living room, they’ll buy your product because they can’t live without it– not because they feel sorry for you.

 

3. You’ll never have a healthy work-life balance

A healthy work-life balance is about making a choice. It’s about planning to have a weekend – and sticking to that promise. It’s about working on responding to emails for two hours after work/uni /yoga/putting the kids to bed and then turning your laptop off and relaxing. It’s setting rules and sticking to them. For some people, it’s allowing home to be the place you switch off, and finding a completely different environment to work. Facilities such as our new Greensborough coworking space with easy access to schools, childcare and gyms, as well being surrounded by other like-minded small business owners and mentors, are perfect for women who want to leave work at work (whether full-time or part-time). It truly is possible to have a healthy work-life balance when you run your business. We’ve seen it. Be the person who achieves success because of the boundaries she sets.

Let today be the day you take a risk. Write down a business plan and take action. Feel free to call us if you’re seeking mentoring, office space or events. We’re always keen for a chat!

3 Things You Need to Stop Doing as a Small Business Owner

3 Things You Need to Stop Doing as a Small Business Owner

Working tirelessly to stay on top of the upkeep of your small business is like running an endless marathon – you’ll never reach the finish line. If you don’t create time to work on improving your business and searching for opportunities to reach new markets, you will remain stagnant and only ever have small wins.

Here are the three things you need to stop doing as a small busines owner.

Startups to Work for Talented Millennials (and vice-versa)

Startups to Work for Talented Millennials (and vice-versa)

A startup’s wealth lies in its team – which is an issue if you struggle to attract top talent. Take the lead of Melbourne-based small tech firm Scan-Xpress and ensure your startup or small business is millennial-friendly.

 

David Purser graduated from RMIT University with First Class Honours in December, 2016, with a Double Bachelor Degree of Aerospace Engineering (Honours) and Business Management. He completed an internship at Airbus Defence and Space in Germany and is on the VicHyper team that competed in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition – the only Australian team to reach finals in Texas and subsequently progress to the second phase.

David is focussed, intelligent, and ambitious – and is currently working as an Application Engineer at small tech Melbourne firm, Scan-Xpress.

Traditional Craft Thrives on Modern Technology

Traditional Craft Thrives on Modern Technology

Bern Chandley is a sole-trader furniture maker based in a workshop at the Melbourne Innovation Centre – and he has a humble 38.4k Instagram followers.

Instagram is predicted to overtake Twitter as marketing platform in 2017. With over 500 million active monthly users and 48.8 percent of U.S. brands using it to engage customers, it has well and truly established itself as a platform of social discovery.