Big break for rural businesses

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By Julian Lehnert

A bush business-centred marketplace hub has launched a nationwide competition for budding rural entrepreneurs, with big prizes up for grabs for those hoping to take their store or idea to the next level.

Buy From The Bush’s ’Big Break’ competition features a $60,000 combined prize pool, ripe for the taking for any regionally-based Australian business that can successfully pitch and present its idea and wow a panel of judges.

“We wanted to find the next big idea and bring it to life,“ BFTB founder Grace Brennan said.

“It’s about encouraging small business owners and innovators, letting them pitch their projects and products, and put themselves out there.“

The competition is open for businesses of all stages of the lifecycle, with a successful pitch potentially just being an idea, but already established products and existing business may also apply.

“It could be about anything – the options are endless,“ Ms Brennan said.

“We want businesses telling us their story as well as the impact they might have on Australia and their community. There are ripple effects when a small business does well.

“We started Buy from the Bush as a response to drought as well as wanting people in the city to support people in the bush by supporting small businesses.

“[With Big Break] we were back in this idea of connecting city and country, celebrating the innovation that happens in small business.“

Budding businesses can enter the competition by visiting the Buy From The Bush ’Big Break’ web page to complete an online entry form, uploading a two-to-three minute pitch video outlining the business offering, product idea or plan, followed by a 15-second Instagram Reel selling the idea in a fun and engaging way.

The top 10 entries will be invited to submit a short-form business plan and pitch their idea to a panel of experts, which includes Jane Cay, founder of fashion label birdsnest, Liandra Gaykamangu, founder of Liandra Swim, and Marco Steinhauer, finance director at PayPal Australia, which provided the $60,000 prize money.

The winner will receive $30,000 plus a business pack to help get their idea off the ground, while the second place will receive $15,000.

The Australian public will also have the chance to vote on the top 10 entries for a People’s Choice prize of $15,000.

“We got a stellar line up of judges – trailblazers of the commerce world, who know what it’s like to launch a business from a remote area,“ Ms Brennan said.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to put themselves in front of industry experts.“

Ms Brennan’s own business started in regional Australia; through Buy From The Bush and the ’Big Break’ competition, she now hopes to give back to other entrepreneurs facing the same challenges.

“Buy From The Bush started as an Instagram account showcasing the beautiful things available to buy from rural communities facing drought,“ she said.

“I wanted to support other big ideas from the bush and give other innovative rural businesses the chance for their ‘big break’. It’s only natural we’d use social media as a channel to make entering easy and accessible.

“I am a farmer’s wife. We were in severe drought at the time – I saw my community suffering, and that’s what motivated me.

“I grew up in the city and moved to the bush later, so it was also about connecting city consumers with rural businesses. They just need to be supported.“

Now, with another crisis consuming Australian businesses in the form of the coronavirus pandemic, the time is once again right to support home-grown stores.

“There is no better time than now to launch a business and tap into this environment where the business field is being levelled as everyone is trading online,“ Ms Brennan said.

“Ultimately, there is a really strong appetite from consumers to support local businesses. Now more than ever, people know the value of their dollar and what it does for small businesses.“

Entries to the ’Big Break’ competition will be open until 12pm on Monday, 11 October.

“We are about long term impact and fostering sustainable growth in rural Australia,“ Ms Brennan said.

“We absolutely want this to be a really strong place on the rural calendar now that we have this fantastic support. Entries just opened, so we are hoping to see some really cool stuff!“