Indigenous startup founders set to make an impact in 2018

Indigenous Australians have inhabited this land for tens of thousands of years and personally, I think that the fact I learned more about ancient Sparta and the Vikings in school than I did about the history of the land on which I actually live is a huge failure of the Australian education system.

Although there still so much work to be done preserving the Indigenous history of our nation and not just acknowledging but celebrating the fact that commerce and innovation in our country can be dated back more than 60,000 years (hello boomerang and didgeridoo), what has been great about the last two years in particular is the way in which the local startup ecosystem has embraced and supported Indigenous founders and their ideas....

First Nations Founders Stories

Phillip Harris_Indigipreneur.png

Name: Phillip Harris

Mob/Heritage: Wiradjuri and Eastern Arrernte

Business concept:
Our short-term platform is a music-booking marketplace, which aims to help connect musicians with customers. In the long run, we will be adding new and improving on existing online features that will assist in setting us apart from the generic marketplace model and our competitors. 

The biggest reward I will get out of this venture is the relationships and connections I build with and between customers, helping me create something they not only want, but also need. I am very excited to see where Aartbi takes me. 

What's your inspiration?
My biggest inspiration would be Brian Chesky and the other Airbnb founding crew. Everything about Airbnb’s journey is inspirational to me. But I also admire how they do not shy away from taking a stance on social injustices and inequalities. I wish that one day, I can help make the same social impact for my mob.

The biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I had to overcome during my entrepreneurial journey, was not having a strong technological background. I really had to dig deep and research all of the tech requirements needed to build such a platform. After spending months of learning, I was ready to bring my idea to life. It just goes to show that you don’t need to be a techy to build a tech company – there’s always ways around it.

Why do you think entrepreneurship is important for Indigenous communities? 
Indigenous entrepreneurship is pivotal towards Closing the Gap on issues concerning economic development and employment. I believe it is up to powerful and wealthy Indigenous leaders to give back by funding real solutions and hiring our own mob. Apart from being gifted footy players, we are also naturally creative thinkers and hard workers – it is time we prove that Australia.

Barayamal Budding Entrepreneurs Program kicks-off in Queensland and New South Wales


Our Barayamal’s Budding Entrepreneurs Program will accelerate your business success by providing free working space at Australia’s largest community of scalable tech startups (Fishburners) and an Entrepreneurship Development Program (mentoring from successful Indigenous and non-Indigenous entrepreneurs, workshops and training by Barayamal) for 3-months in Brisbane or Sydney

3-month Budding Entrepreneurs program kicks off today with four inspiring Indigenous entrepreneurs in the program who have access to Fishburners (Australia's Largest co-working space for tech startups) and an Entrepreneurship Development Program (mentoring from successful Indigenous and non-Indigenous entrepreneurs, workshops and training by Barayamal). 



Budding Entrepreneurs Program 2018.jpg

What's holding back investment into businesses led by Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders?

Dean Foley, a Kamilaroi entrepreneur and head of accelerator program Barayamal has questioned why the economic body known as Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) are holding over $277 million in cash reserves for Indigenous entrepreneurship & businesses while delivering a lower amount of loans since 2014 according to the IBA 2016-2017 Annual Report.

Others have also questioned why IBA are holding back this money as well. 

New program helping Indigenous youth to excel in technology and entrepreneurship

We recently launched CoderDojo First Nations to do exactly that - to show Indigenous youth what's possible and teach them the right skills that can help them achieve their dreams....

Our first program ran for 7-weeks at Capalaba State College and recently concluded at Microsoft’s Innovation Centre in Brisbane on the 6th of December. The students who stayed at school during the last week of Christmas holidays got to play with new Microsoft technology and present their cool projects.

What did they learn during the 7-weeks? [Read more...]

Barayamal joins a national panel discussion on diversity

Barayamal's Founder, Dean Foley will join a panel discussion at one of the biggest tech startup events in the world, TechCrunch Startup Battlefield.

So what's the panel about and who else is on the panel? 

Strength in Diversity: How and why to make inclusion a foundation in every startup

In conversation with Greg Moshal (Prospa), Catriona Wallace (Flamingo) and Dean Foley (Barayamal)

[Event Agenda]

National Indigenous Digital Excellence Awards: Dean Foley, Kamilaroi man, Gunnedah

Former Gunnedah man Dean Foley has received recognition for Indigenous innovation.

The Kamilaroi man recently won an entrepreneurship award at the inaugural National Indigenous Digital Excellence Awards in Sydney.

Full story:

A massive congratulations to our Founder for winning the IDX Entrepreneurship Award

Barayamal Founder, Dean Foley was recently announced as the winner of the Entrepreneurship Award at the 2017 Indigenous Digital Excellence (IDX) Awards.

"It's humbling to recognised by the community for the awesome work we are doing at Barayamal, which would not have been possible with my own efforts alone - without the support and mentorship from people who genuinely want to help and make a difference, none of this would have been possible. I cannot thank you enough!

I would like to thank the organisers of the IDX Awards for this extraordinary honor and to the many First Nations Entrepreneurs throughout Australia who are just as worthy of winning this award, I’m so proud to be in your company."

First Nations Founders Stories

Murray Saylor, Tagai Management Consultants


To share knowledge with others, and facilitate empowering partnerships with people, communities and businesses creating their own destiny from a social and commercial perspective.


  • Business support mechanisms
  • Brand identity
  • Capability


When establishing Tagai Management Consultants I approached the process with the mindset of "what could I do to establish my company with no money?" With that approach in mind I applied by own form of business strategy which has involved a strong belief in my business, organic business growth, learning, remaining flexible, and experimenting with various business processes while maintaining respect to my traditional values.


Tagai Management Consultants is entering our 3rd year of business, and I am focused on business sustainability, growth, exploring new markets, and respecting the people, community and businesses I have the pleasure to interact with in our business journey.


"Maximise opportunities to make a difference." - Murray Saylor


Torres Strait Islander whose family originate from Darnley Island (Erub)

First Nations Founders Stories

Jesse T Martin, Founder of The Streets Movement Organisation


I started TSM due to a number of circumstances both in my personal life and circumstances
of the community and environment I grew up in. In a community context the place I grew up
in had a number of socio-economic challenges with little to no places for youth to partake in
if you had no money. I was given a home at a local boxing club where they did not charge to
attend. Once this closed the local youth who attended this facility along with myself where
without a place to call home, train or occupy our time in a positive way. Hence the reason
TSM was founded, to provide a place and path in the community particularly for those with
little opportunity or for those with nothing. TSM was born out of necessity as a response to
lack of opportunity and support within our community.


We have faced many challenges as a organisation. Some of the major ones include;

1). Knowledge and Education. In the initial stages lack of knowledge and know how in a
professional context of how a organisation is supposed to operate i.e. meetings, minutes,
departmental forms, administration etc. Being young and with little support in this regard we
were oblivious to many things that make a organisation operate efficiently day to day. This
was a major hurdle to overcome however with greater knowledge, education and
understanding we were able to remedy this fault to build ourselves into the national
organisation we are today.

2). Lack of Finance and Funding. A major hurdle which in many ways is a ongoing challenge
of any organisation. Particularly in the stages of our organisation when we have operated
community spaces and centres ensuring funding for rent, electricity and gear has always been
a struggle. For any organisation to grow and be truly effective finance is essential as it gives
your org and its staff the capacity to expand and work beyond its parameters and does not
leave you in a position of relying wholly and solely on handouts or volunteers (whom are
fantastic and fundamental to community success however still have drawbacks in that it is
only limited in what they can work towards for the org i.e. times around work, weekends etc).

3). Legitimacy and Respectability is a major challenge to overcome. Being a young org in the
beginning our greatest struggles came from any businesses, organisations or even the
community taking us seriously. Particularly a problem faced for young orgs (and young
people in general) is the stakeholders seeing the enthusiasm but not taking yourself or the
organisation in any serious way. This in turn impacts the org in a major fashion as you are
unable to acquire the support or funding necessary to drive forward your programs.

4). Keeping staff/volunteers motivated. A challenge faced for many orgs is keeping your staff
and volunteers motivated and excited for the cause they are representing. We found that
although volunteers are in abundance keeping set individuals for a prolonged period of time
in tackling major community issues (many of which require constant and consistent attention)
is a challenge. As many people have lives outside of this volunteerism and give only set
hours or pieces of time when they can. Due to this being a secondary priority volunteers and
staff can lose motivation, focus or even interest in dealing with issues which impact the
community and org.

5). Consistency. A major hurdle to overcome is consistency, which can encompass a vast
array of different aspects. Consistency in program outreach, staff/volunteer approach,
organisational quality, community action etc. Consistency is key in building a solid
reputation as well as having a meaningful and ongoing impact within the community.

6). Belief in the oneself and the organisation. It is all too often to find yourself asking why
you are doing what you are doing? Within the organisational context this holds true with at
times a hard and bumpy road ahead. At these times when you are alone, isolated and without
a dollar to your name these are the trying and testing moments which as an individual must
be overcome so as you can embody what it means to be a leader and an individual who stands
for your org and cause no matter the cost. I faced too many of these moments to count being
at times without a home, bed to sleep in or even where the next meal was coming from?

However during these times it is important to remember who you are and why you are here.


Belief and Attitude. Whether the challenge was possible or impossible was irrelevant. It was
necessary to overcome.


TSM is currently in a expansionist phase having now grown from a local grassroots
organisation with a regional impact to now having its first national program with an
international focus. Being able to offer a program which engages on the local grassroots level
to communities across the nation whilst being able to bring in international networks and
partnerships for these individuals is what we hope to hold. The utilisation and knowledge of
both worlds is fundamental to ensuring a successful outcome for our latest venture the
Mulumulung International Scholar Initiative.

Future growth for the organisation will encompass greater community development projects
and impact. With greater expansion through Asia poised to centre stage over the next 12 to 18
months we will deliver our initiatives and opportunities not only on the national stage but
through providing pathways to the international community. Through utilisation of
educational institutions and companies worldwide we look to frame our programs to have a
holistic impact upon individuals and community. Through the utilisation of education this is
truly the way forward for not only us as an organisation but for us as a species.

Favourite Quote

"Veni. Vidi. Vici"
"I came. I saw. I conquered".
Julius Ceasar.