Unbound's Ideas Summit a startup conference with a twist

Unbound's Ideas Summit a startup conference with a twist

From solar powered tuk-tuk networking sessions to Colombian dancing performances, Unbound's Ideas Summit promises to be nothing like your normal entrepreneurs conference.

To be held on Monday 20 August at RMIT University, Unbound's latest concoction supported by funding from LaunchVic is an educational event aiming to improve access and participation in the Victorian startup space.

The Ideas Summit has a key focus on getting migrants and refugees into the world of entrepreneurship, and hopes to teach budding and established entrepreneurs a thing or two about social entrepreneurship.

Attendees will all get stuck into hands-on, practice-based workshops tailored to the needs and skills of whoever's in the room.

Business News Australia spoke with Unbound CEO and founder Julian O'Shea (pictured) about the future of social entrepreneurship and his expectations for the big event. 

How you got started with Unbound?

I did my engineering degree in South Australia at Adelaide Uni and worked as an engineer for a bit, but I was really interested in education and social impact. I spent some years working in the not-for-profit sector, so I headed up the education section of a not-for-profit called Engineers Without Borders. I was quite keen to do other types of projects around entrepreneurship or sustainability or community. 2.5 years ago I launched Unbound as a social enterprise to work on innovative education projects. I found that the university experience whilst it has a lot of positives also could be a lot better in a lot of ways. So it's still very non-standard to do any education that's not on campus or working on a real world project, so I felt there was a role for external institutions to develop interesting real world projects where the answer's not on google or where the whole point of it isn't just to get a good mark; to create something for the real world.

What's going to be happening at the Unbound Ideas Summit?

Unbound is really interested in cultural and cross-cultural entrepreneurship. A lot of our programs happen overseas and we were funded on refugee and migrant entrepreneurship education, so that's what's provided the impetus. We were really interested in diversity and entrepreneurship in Australia and we're running over the course of this program a lot of events. It's really around ideas, innovation, entrepreneurship and we want to make it really inclusive so the event's got a lot of people from a range of backgrounds from academia to enterprise doing interesting projects and a chance to get the community together.

What are you looking forward to about the event?

It's all about the vibe.So Unbound does education a bit differently and we look to do conferences a bit differently. So the people on the stage are not the point of the story - you often get people that plant ideas. I'm really excited about the conference that's going to have Colombian dancing and tuk-tuk conversations (people can get in the back of an electric three-wheeled tuk-tuk and meet fellow entrepreneurs) and participant-led sessions of innovators who look and sound a bit different than you'd normally see at an entrepreneurship conference.

I like the inclusion of the pay-as-you-can model for pricing. Why is that something you wanted to include?

Inclusivity is really important to us. People have different contexts and abilities to pay and join so we really want to make it for everyone. We've found the people that have the capacity to pay will pay more and the people who can't can still come absolutely and fully and their experience is just the same.

Social entrepreneurship isn't for everyone, so what are your main tips for entrepreneurs looking to start their own social startup?

It would be to understand the language and really understand the issue that you want to solve. And be committed to that. Be flexible in your business - don't say you want to do exactly the same type of business supporting exactly this community, but really understand the problem and how you can make a positive impact. Business is hard. Making a sustainable business for profit or social enterprise is challenging. So don't underestimate it. really do your homework. Understand the issues but have a go - there are people who really want to support initiatives like this and the world always needs good ideas.

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