Entrepreneurs and investors: Understanding the ecosystem with One10’s Geoff Gourley

25 August 2016

Incubate, accelerate, innovate. These might sound like business buzzwords, but for One10 Founder Geoff Gourley, helping entrepreneurs thrive isn’t just a money-making exercise, it’s a calling. The Melbourne businessman is committed to getting socially and environmentally responsible ideas off the ground and into the public arena.

It might have officially launched last year, but the seed for One10 was planted back in 2008 when founder Geoff Gourley was graduating from the Centre for Sustainable Leadership (CSL) fellowship program. (A course our very own Wildwon co-founder Sally Hill is an alumni of, too.) Surrounded by budding entrepreneurs wanting to make a positive difference, Geoff realised that a lack of business experience was often holding them back.

“Most people in the CSL program already had a double-degree or were qualified in a niche or specialist areas,” Gourley recalls. “But they lacked business experience and had never raised money.”

“They needed a model or framework to pursue their idea – a solution that would help the world in some way… I saw a gap.”

For Gourley, who already had a string of successful enterprises under his belt, the notion of lending his business acumen to a socially or environmentally beneficial cause was one he kept coming back to. And so, in 2008 he designed a program that would incubate clever ideas and give entrepreneurs access to investors.

Only, the response wasn’t as he’d hoped.

“I was met with questions, like ‘What is an incubator?’ and ‘What do you mean you take ideas to business?’” says Gourley, who, reluctantly, put the idea back on the shelf.

It wasn’t until 2015 that his idea – a social impact incubator – made its comeback. By then “start-up” was no longer a strange word and Australian social enterprises, like Who Gives a Crap, had entered the mainstream consciousness.

“There had been a big groundswell of people wanting to make change in world,” Gourley remembers. “So I brought out my CSL presentation and notes and didn’t have to change a thing.”

Basically, the market had caught up to Gourley’s thinking.

Since then, One10 has opened offices in Melbourne and Sydney, with plans to develop similar hubs in Brisbane and Perth. The organisation may only be a year old, but already Gourley has big plans for the future, hoping to incubate 1000 social enterprises in the next decade and set up ties with impact investors in Singapore, Tel Aviv, Berlin, New York and Boston.

In the past six months alone, the company’s already experienced huge growth, hiring 10 staff members and donating almost $40,000 to start-up charities and organisations that need financial support.

But for budding entrepreneurs, the real benefit lies in One10’s ability to grow an idea into a company and collect financial backing via impact investors.

“There’s an ecosystem at play,” explains Gourley. “If we offered acceleration without money, there’d still be a stumbling block for entrepreneurs. And if we offered money without acceleration, businesses wouldn’t be investable. One10 offers ideation through to commercialisation. We’re able to develop the businesses and link them to the money when they need it. It’s an unbroken pathway.”

One10 are offering six Purpose attendees the chance to win one of six places in their Fundamentals program (valued at $15,000). For your chance to win, simply purchase your ticket to Purpose and enter here. You can also catch Geoff Gourley speaking at Purpose in Sydney, 5-6 December, 2016.

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