False start makes for a better startup

29 February 2016

Lord Mayor’s Budding Entrepreneurs Program helps Jenna with her Brisbane startup

Jenna Williams is starting again.

She describes herself as a social entrepreneur with grit, determination and passion for a global issue.

CarePassport is her second attempt at a startup.

While disappointed that her first attempt didn’t make it to market, Ms Williams is happily putting that “failure” and hard-earned experience to good use.

She has built a socially focused digital platform aimed at creating targeted support networks for families caring for people struggling with a mental or physical disability.

As a recipient of a grant from the Lord Mayor’s Budding Entrepreneurs Program, she was awarded $5000 in 2015 towards professional mentoring and coaching sessions at Impact Academy Brisbane.

“The award has definitely helped my enterprise forward by connecting me with mentorship that’s been critical for bringing revenue into the business and building my skills,” the West End-based Ms Williams told Digital Brisbane.

“I have secured a partnership with a major disability service provider and brought on three new founding partners who bring enormous talent, skill and experience to the enterprise.

“We’re about to push forward with our first capital raise.”

Brisbane has a growing community of exciting and inventive startups with relatively low entry costs and the potential to reach global markets, which could bring significant investment into the Brisbane economy.

The Lord Mayor’s Budding Entrepreneurs Program provides practical support to some of the city’s best emerging startups.

It offers $5000 grants for entrepreneurs to attend a startup event or conference, obtain professional advice, join a support program, undertake education or participate in a trade mission.

Ms Williams cared for her sister while developing her first startup, which was a crisis intervention service for people with complex medical, social and legal needs.

She says assisting with her sister’s recovery was a huge personal achievement “as it would be for any carer who puts their life on hold to care for someone who needs their help to survive”.

“CarePassport marries all the things I learned about supporting her, managing her care and looking after myself, with my intimate knowledge of broader carer needs and the challenges and opportunities faced by the community services sector.”

Ms Williams believes access to professional mentoring has made a huge difference this time around.

“It’s imperative. It’s impossible to see for yourself how your daily behaviours and choices will affect your future,” she said.

“Having people around who can spot issues and provide solutions while you’re moving forward is invaluable.”

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