The Women bridging the GAP for Innovation through COVID

Meet the women bridging the GAP for innovation businesses.

“Believing there is a bridge from where you are to where you want to go is 99% of the battle. The other 1% is to cross it.

But do I have to build the bridge? Maybe.

But everything is first created in the mind and then in the world. The bridge is there. See it. Cross it.” Says Richie Norton, coach and author.

(GAP) for innovation businesses. The Program is specifically designed for scaling innovation founders and innovating businesses leaders who need specialist advisors and coaches to fill and enhance their knowledge and skills. Three women who are passionate about helping innovation thrive in Australia are part of the team that have brought GAP to life.

The program fills a number of gaps.  For Eastern Innovation it is a new business model, for scaling innovation founders and business leaders it provides dedicated connections to skilled and enthusiastic, global advisors and for Australia, it is a much-needed alternative to the traditional accelerator program.

“The middle of a pandemic isn’t the best time to play with your business model,” says Danielle Storey, CEO of Eastern Innovation. “But I learnt – never waste a crisis.” She smiles as she says that.

“We, like everyone else in the world, had a crisis and found some gaps. Our suite, desk and room hire is an important income stream to our NFP business. It reduced significantly because of the pandemic and extended lockdowns in Victoria. We needed to implement a paid-program income stream. Importantly, we also needed to offer something valuable to continue supporting our clients while they scaled their ventures whilst working from home.” says Danielle.

For participating ventures and businesses, the GAP program starts with a custom-designed assessment process that uncovers the true and specific needs of each participating company (and its founders) based on their stage of growth, available resources and key gaps in their knowledge or experience.

After the assessment, the GAP team matches founders with advisors from across the world who have the knowledge and skills to help them scale the problems that often stall progress. The EI expert team host tailored, monthly Advisory Board meetings for each participating Venture, using skilled facilitators to keep the business conversation on track. The whole program can be run completely online or in hybrid meeting style to accommodate the flexible nature of the pandemic and the participation of the international advisors.

GAP gives founders and leaders direct access to the knowledge, know-how and the network they need for the growth stage they are operating at, as well as the growth stage they aspire to. The Program provides a dedicated facilitator and coaches also work individually and regularly with the founders and with the advisors to ensure that all parties reap value from the engagement.

It’s not an accelerator program and it doesn’t focus on getting founders to pitching stage before they know how to handle the money they are pitching for,” says Allira Cundy, EI’s Innovation Project Manager. “One of the big problems we see in innovation ecosystems today is the industry’s focus on the ‘accelerator program’. They put businesses in the same box and often miss the point. Our programs have always been tailored to suit the varied needs and wants of our founders. We have seen and worked with hundreds of innovation ventures and we know the ones that succeed are led by founders who are coachable. They know where to look for the best advice and which advice will work for them. They also know how to run a business – that’s vital for success.”

Allira is also cofounder of her own innovation venture Sticky Snaps. She and her cofounder, Holly Donaldson haven’t hesitated to engage knowledgeable advisors to help them with big decisions. “We have consulted our collective network to work through some of the harder questions regarding viability of Sticky Snaps. It gave us the clarity to make the decisions we had been sitting on because it felt too big to answer by ourselves.”

Tina Manolitsas, one of EI’s GAP Advisors believes the biggest benefit is the exponential growth of founder/s in just three months. Gaining insight from subject matter experts gives clarity and direction which you can’t get on your own or as a group. “It’s hard to see things from different perspectives, to be challenged, and to be sure of the decisions we make or the direction we intend to take. If we only see things from our own perspective, we miss opportunities that are right before our eyes. Good advisors will help you see what you can’t.” says Tina.

“Every startup reaches a point where they’re challenged but must keep moving forward. Founders find themselves with so much to do that overwhelm sets in, while everyone one around them has an opinion on what they should be doing. Who to listen to is the real question?” Having a dedicated advisory board, facilitator and coach on hand to support the team and guide the business based on their professional skill and experience provides the founder/s with advice and confidence to make decisions.

Tina also says, “There is no university course or accelerator program in the market that brings together a dedicated advisory board to help start-ups address gaps, challenges and identify opportunities, build networks, and make introductions (locally and globally) to grow. The GAP Program does this and more, it builds the business and grows its people.”

It’s important to note that the Global Advisory Program has been expertly developed and nurtured by some incredible men too. “It takes a village to raise a child,” says Danielle Storey. “GAP has united us with our passion to stimulate and support innovative people and their Ventures. When Allira and I met experts, Vlad Finn and Hong Kong based, Mark Sims, we knew we had to build this program together. We saw the bridge. Now we are helping others bridge their own gaps.”

For more information on GAP go here


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