With Australian small businesses facing unprecedented challenges, leading early stage investor Investible is expanding its support programming aimed at helping small business owners adapt and innovate in the face of change.

The company has expanded its THRIVE program and is seeking interest from local government councils, corporates and universities who are eager to build more resilient and innovative small business sectors.

THRIVE builds on the learnings that resulted from the Retail Innovation Program, which Investible developed and delivered in partnership with the City of Sydney and which has supported more than 40 local businesses.

The program has now been expanded to support a wider variety of businesses (including retail, food, hospitality, fashion, wellness, shop-based services and more). It has also been transitioned for 100% online delivery to improve scalability and accessibility, particularly in light of COVID-19.

An iteration of the program is also now currently running in partnership with LaTrobe University and supporting 20 small businesses across Victoria.

“The first two Retail Innovation Programs generated so many positive learnings, insights and outcomes – not just for the participants for also for Investible and the City of Sydney. We’ve used what we’ve learned to make the program accessible to even more businesses across Australia – many of which are struggling to stay afloat,” says Elisa-Marie Dumas, Investible’s Head of Programs & Partnerships.

Delivered over 12 weeks, THRIVE is designed to empower business owners with a growth mindset that enables them to embrace new solutions, quickly test their ideas and adapt seamlessly.

Mixing real-time expert workshops, small group mentoring and digital tools, THRIVE guides participants through Investible’s Business Model Blueprint, a proprietary business model development and validation framework that has been used by thousands of entrepreneurs and business owners around the world, including in Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Singapore and Thailand.

Participants are also welcomed into an active community of like-minded business owners, who support one another through the process, and afterwards as program ‘alumni’.

Helping businesses THRIVE

Illa Kim, owner of SOUL Dining, a contemporary Korean restaurant in Surry Hills, was one of the participants in the most recent City of Sydney program. The program was in progress when Covid lockdowns were enacted, forcing the restaurant, and many others, to temporarily close their doors.

Illa Kim and Daero Lee of SOUL Dining

With the support of the program and feedback from their fellow participants, SOUL Dining pivoted quickly, launching a successful delivery sub-brand in just one week.

“We knew takeaway was our only option to survive, but our contemporary food couldn’t be experienced in the same way in a takeaway container. The program provided a framework to help us prioritise our focus. Instead of just shutting down, we redirected our team’s energies and ideas to develop BOWL by SOUL – a fresh take on Korean comfort food,” said Kim.

“The new BOWL by SOUL concept was such a hit that we’re now working to find a separate location for it. It’s quite amazing that through this program, we were able to turn Covid restrictions into a new business opportunity.”

Investible says encouraging a strong sense of community amongst the participants has played a significant role in the program’s success to date.

“We designed THRIVE to support the whole person, not just the business owner. We see hundreds of messages of support, advice and feedback exchanged every day between these retailers. It’s taken on a life of its own and it’s really incredible to see how different types of businesses have banded together to get through the current crisis,” says Dumas.

According to the RBA, small businesses account for 35 percent of all value generated in Australia and a fifth of the nation’s gross domestic product. As an early stage investor, Investible sees value in bringing an entrepreneurial mindset to traditional retail and small business sectors.

“It takes more than passion to be successful in this environment. Business owners need to be willing and able to make significant changes to their business quickly – just as a seasoned entrepreneur would,” said Dumas.

“THRIVE gives business owners permission to experiment, gather feedback and test new ideas within a trusted environment – and that’s something that all businesses need.”

If you would like to see a THRIVE program established in your region or local government area, please register your interest now at investible.com/thrive-program.

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