Start-up firm Tasmanian Air Adventures is set to take off at the end of this year after winning $25,000 from an RMIT University business plan competition.
Christiaan Durrant and Ben Meares founded the eco-friendly seaplane adventure business, which will commence operation in December, in response to an advertisement for RMIT University’s business plan competition.
“We’d been working on the idea for around 12 months, but once we entered the competition and we began to appreciate the size and magnitude, we really began to focus and attempt to win it,” says Durrant.
The competition is open to all students enrolled at RMIT University, with teams consisting between two and five members. Senior manager of enterprise group RMIT Business, Rosemary O’Connor, said participation was up this year by 20%, with 116 teams involved.
O’Connor says the business plan is the most important aspect of the competition, regardless of whether the business eventuates. Other successful winners include Invarion, Kegs on Legs and Geothermal Heat Pumps.
“We judge on the quality of the plan,” says O’Connor. “It’s about teaching the importance of a good plan in business, and having the necessary skills involved to develop that plan. Is there a market? Do the research. Have a good marketing plan.”
This year’s winning business offers eco-friendly seaplane adventures to several picturesque locations in Tasmania, including Wineglass Bay, Port Arthur and Cradle Mountain.
Tasmanian Air Adventures offer tours that will incorporate activities such as fly fishing, kayaking and mountain trekking. For these activities, Durrant and Meares will partner with existing companies in Tasmania.
“By partnering with people to provide additional activities, we are enhancing existing operators,” says Durrant.
O’Connor says the winning team stood out because they are “experienced, mature aged people who are very professional.”
“They had gone to a lot of trouble. They were already quite experienced, and this gave them the edge over other participants,” O’Connor says.
Durrant is currently studying a masters in Aviation Industry Management while Meares is a pilot for Cathay Pacific. They both have extensive history in aviation operations and share a passion for the Tasmanian Wilderness. Both have dedicated a significant amount of time and financial input to the business.
O’Connor is sure that Tasmanian Air Adventures will be a success. “They’re really going to do very well. They definitely have the skills, background and determination to make it a success,” she says.