Going local for your start-up funding

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Successful applicants can use the grant to fit out business premises, to build a web site, to buy IT or specialised equipment or to help expand the business.

 

Like Frankston, the City of Melbourne is looking for businesses with a strong point of difference, a product or service that is well thought-out and which will deliver an economic benefit to Melbourne.

 

Applications from industries including advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, finance and business services, environment services, creative industries, higher education, information and communication technologies, hospitality and retail will be looked on favourably.

 

Past grant recipients have included, Electron Workshop, a co-operative workspace for digital businesses, City Handyman, a mobile property maintenance service and Gumbo Kitchen, a food van that specialises in dishes from New Orleans.

 

The City of Sydney also has a program to help fund start-ups, originally borne of its initiative to revitalise Sydney’s laneways.

 

The ‘fine-grain’ initiative awards funding of up to $30,000 to young businesses that are located in underutilised spaces that have not previously been used by businesses of the type that are applying for grants.

 

The City of Sydney’s business adviser, Richard Roberts, says successful grant applicants have to demonstrate their business is unique.

 

“An example is the Absinthe Salon in Surry Hills. It’s the only business of its type [in that it] only sells absinthe-based drinks,” he says.

 

The City of Sydney grants program has been running since 2008 and has awarded $245,000 in grants to date.

 

One of the successful recipients of the City of Sydney’s grants is Yu Sasaki, who runs a macaron business Café CreAsion.

 

Sasaki heard about the program when one of his staff saw it featured in the free newspaper mX, and encouraged him to apply. He says he was awarded the grant because of the unique nature of his shop: it’s solely focused on handmade macarons. Customers come from all over Sydney to try one of his macarons.

 

The shop also meets the council’s criteria of helping to revitalise Sydney’s laneways.

 

Sasaki has used the grant to fit out the shop and buy kitchen equipment and his involvement in the program has also assisted him to learn better business principles to help lift sales.

 

His advice to other businesses wishing to win a grant is to focus on differentiating the enterprise from other similar businesses.

 

“It has to be a very unique concept which attracts people from other areas,” he says.

 

Tips to being a successful council grant applicant:

  • Know your business – be clear in your application about what you are trying to achieve and your strategy.
  • Be concise and honest in your responses.
  • Make sure your point of difference is front and centre in your application.
  • Take part in council-sponsored information and advice sessions to learn how to properly structure your application.
  • Talk to other winners about what led them to win their grant.
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