QLD Government backed ‘Horizons Accelerator’ helped Brisbane Airport Corporation learn to innovate

 By Ben Hutt, Chief Program Director, Slingshot Accelerator


A major boost for regional entrepreneurship, ‘Horizons’ was the first accelerator program of a three-year engagement with the Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland initiative.

Last year, Slingshot Accelerator won this grant to run the Horizons Accelerator to support the development of local Startup talent and tourism. Given the role innovation plays in growing an already $25 billion asset for the Queensland economy, Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) signed on as the corporate partner.

“BAC chose to be involved in a Slingshot program because we really needed to learn. But we’re also very keen to identify and support new ideas. We think that by pushing existing boundaries, we will be able to tap into disruptive thinking and technologies that will help us look for new ways of growing passenger demand into Queensland and to create unique tourism experiences – not only for our business, but for new businesses.”
Julieanne Alroe – former CEO, Brisbane Airport Corporation


Highlights from Demo Day

The inaugural cohort boasted some of the most experienced travel entrepreneurs in the industry, including InnaReviews cofounder Paul Lupson who was formerly a director at Expedia and RoomRanger, a StartMate alumni whose experienced team have worked on product for leading companies, like ANZ, Heinz, Wesfarmers and Nestle.

Horizons also saw Slingshot reaffirm its support of Not-For-Profit businesses, with the inclusion of Indigenous Tour Agency and Reef Restoration Foundation.

How the Startups went?

At Slingshot we often say that to raise a child takes a family, but to raise a Startup takes a community, and we all know what an amazing community Queensland have.

As with all our accelerators, we gather a really eclectic, special group of people; and the Horizons cohort, which ran out of Cairns and Brisbane, was no exception. There were some amazing businesses, all at different stages of their life.

The accelerator process Startups go through is really interesting. Slingshot spends about a month helping re-refine the business model and get close to customers – understand that they’re solving a problem that is meaningful, not just to them, but to someone who is actually going to give them money at some point in time – and then we help them grow.

For a full list of the Horizons alumni, click here.

What BAC learnt?

Being part of an accelerator offers loads of transformational levers for corporates. Not only by participating in the accelerator itself – from sending staff to content days, to the mentoring exchange; but a way to start chipping away at established cultures and learn from the Startup world. Outside of the ability to find and work with disruptive businesses, BAC’s former CEO Julieanne Alroe commented that their greatest value came from the cultural shifts provided by the accelerator. It gave employees a new lens into how to get things done, hustle and work in an agile, frugal fashion. It infused enthusiasm and life back into their networks and day jobs through things like pilots and trials. This is something that needs to be injected into a business, it can’t be found from within.

The Horizons Accelerator will be run again in late 2018. For more information on participating, click here.


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