After nearly a year of hosting meetups and organising startup events, the Toowomba Startup Group is working towards hosting the city’s first coworking space.
On Tuesday, the group began trialling coworking with local entreprenuers directly after their fortnightly meetup at the Engine Room Cafe.
Co-founders David Masefield and Leanne Griffin plan to have a physical space up and running this year, and have conducted surveys and organised the casual co-working meetups as a way of tailoring the concept to the community.
Masefield hopes the open nature of the space will foster more collaboration amongst the Darling Downs startup community, which he describes as robust but currently a “traditional, old fashioned startup scene where people are doing stuff on their own.”
“We’re going to be discussing in open forums and finding out what a co-working space looks like for Toowoomba, how does it function, and what does it provide that suits Toowoomba,” Masefield said. “We’re not trying to be Melbourne, Sydney, Perth or Adelaide, and while we can learn things from those places, we will endeavour to be Toowoomba’s co-working space.”
Founded by Masefield and Griffin last year, TSG has thus far operated through the smaller cafe meetups and monthly events at the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce. The group was also instrumental in running the city’s first Startup Weekend in November, which, among other startups, spawned the quad-bike safety platform RollCall Global.
The team are also organising Startup Weekend Education Toowoomba, an event for both students and education-oriented entrepreneurs, to be held from May 15-17th.
On her experiences with both the group and the broader Toowoomba community, Griffin stresses the city’s growth in population, investment and innovation. Just last month the Australian government announced a $14 million investment into three QLD research projects, to be used over the next five on research into productivity and sustainability.
On top of the group’s inclusion of traditional entrepreneurial areas like tech and social enterprise, Griffin hopes the group will highlight the push for for innovation in agriculture.
“We see the opportunity for the region to become leaders in sustainable agriculture as really quite untapped, and that’s one of the things we’re really trying to raise the profile around,” Griffin said. “There’s a lot of early agriculture campaigns happening, especially around the use of drones, big data and mapping tools, to change farmers from an intuitive model to a scientific model.”
Griffin also wants to see the group incorporate a variety of startups, and says that, “unlike some of other groups, which are focusing on either social enterprise or tech startups, we’re really trying to be as inclusive as possible.”