Canberra was one of five cities visited by the 2015 NRMA Jumpstart program’s Roadshow, a tour to promote the program; the National Roads and Motorist Association (NRMA) has partnered with Slingshot, a Newcastle based accelerator for the program. The Canberra stop of the tour featured the presence of both Kate Lundy, Director, NRMA and Kyle Loades, President, NRMA.
Applications for this year’s NRMA Jumpstart program are due to close shortly, on the 6th of August. The 2015 NRMA Jumpstart program focuses on the following four themes:
- Mobility and connected world
- Families & communities
- Digitise our world
- Safety on the road
The Canberra Roadshow event of the 2015 NRMA Jumpstart program was held in the function room of the CBR Innovation Network, on Wednesday, the 15th of July. Members of Canberra’s start-up community attended the event to learn of the program, and how the accelerator fits into the 90 year old, continuing history of innovation in the NRMA.
The NRMA has a track record of innovation, and this is largely what has led to the organisation’s survival and long history. As one of Australia’s largest member-owned mutual organisations, the NRMA is able to extend an impressive number of opportunities to the participants of the 2015 NRMA Jumpstart program. With 2.4 million members in the ACT and NSW, the NRMA is a logical customer base and constituent organisation for many members of Canberra’s start-up community. The NRMA has a large, expanding pool of services offered to members. The NRMA hopes to augment its services offered; one of the results of its partnership with Slingshot being a ready and progressive association with Australia’s start-up community and national innovations to achieve this goal.
Aside from extending products, services and benefits to its members, the NRMA has consistently extended commercially viable services and benefits to the wider community. Of recent note, the NRMA has invested $700,000 in the online sharing platform TuShare. The member organisation has also delivered the financial product innovation, the Social Benefit Bond, in partnership with the NSW State Government, the Benevolent Society and the Commonwealth Bank. The Social Benefit bond is the fourth product of its type ever to be supplied. Monies generated from the sale of bonds fund a NSW program helping to decrease the collapse of families and the transfer of children to foster homes. The Social Benefit Bond was expected, as of the publication of the NRMA’s Corporate Responsibility Review 2013 – 2014, to decrease the costs usually incurred by the NSW tax payer, and to lead to a six and a half percent annual earnings yield to the NRMA.
The themes of the 2015 NRMA Jumpstart program correspond to both the traditional operations of the NRMA, and its involvement with new and emerging businesses, products and initiatives. The 2014 NRMA Jumpstart program featured innovative approaches to products and services traditionally extended to motorists, and new and exciting innovations in emerging industries. Camplify were participants in the 2014 NRMA Jumpstart program; Camplify is Australia’s principal destination for the sharing, advertisement and booking of caravans, trailers, motor homes and holiday parks. Gamurs were also participants in the 2014 NRMA Jumpstart program; the social platform intends to connect avid computer gamers, and to show relevant, aggregated content from across the internet.
The Slingshot accelerator offers eligible entrepreneurs, start-ups and scale-ups both financial support and access to large-scale customer bases; and as evidenced by its partnership with the NRMA, the opportunity to develop commercial relations with leading organisations and corporates. One of the most exciting innovations currently being developed by participants of the 2014 NRMA Jumpstart program is the autonomous drone piloting technology of HiveUAV. The 2015 NRMA Jumpstart program combines access to networks and capital, with sound and practical advice from experienced entrepreneurs.The 2015 NRMA Jumpstart program features two component programs, the Jumpstart Accelerator program for start-ups, and the Jumpstart Bridge program for mature scale-ups. The Jumpstart Accelerator program for start-ups is a three month long, detailed program carrying $30,000 in attached investment. During the start-up program participating entrepreneurs will develop a business model, validate their idea, develop their product and inform relevant parties of ongoing progress. To be eligible for the program start-ups are required to meet the following criteria:
- Be internet based and digitally orientated
- Be a unique product or service which fits within the 2015 NRMA Jumpstart program’s themes
- Be a scalable business with users and revenue in mind and
- Be comprised of able and willing founders
The Scale-up Program is for existing scalable businesses, looking to quickly scale by using the potential to reach the NRMA’s 2.4 million member and customer base.
During the Canberra Roadshow event of the 2015 NRMA Jumpstart program the finer particulars of both the NRMA and Slingshot, and the 2015 NRMA Jumpstart program were expounded. Staff and representatives from both the NRMA and Slingshot actively engaged the members of Canberra’s start-up community attending the event, over refreshments. Mr Loades, President, NRMA spoke of his shared perspective with the entrepreneurs present, having run his own business. Ms Lundy, Director, NRMA has strong connections to Canberra’s start-up community, its ‘innovation ecosystem’ and the focal point of both, the CBR Innovation Network; Ms Lundy spoke of her enthusiasm for the program . Both Mr Loades and Ms Lundy kindly answered The Canberra Entrepreneur’s questions regarding the 2015 NRMA Jumpstart program, and its place within the NRMA.
Do you believe there will be any inertia in introducing the innovative products and services arising from the Jumpstart program to the employees and members of the NRMA?
I don’t believe there would be resistance to Jumpstart Program discovered products or services by either our employees or members. The Jumpstart businesses we sign commercial agreements with or invest in will offer products or services of interest to different segments of our membership. I believe the NRMA team will welcome new businesses as they understand the NRMA embarked on a program of diversification to ensure business longevity and to ensure relevant products and services are offered to our members.
Has the NRMA so far invested, during the second round of funding, in any of the start-ups and businesses participating in the Jumpstart program?
Jumpstart Program participants from our first intake in 2014; start-ups Camplify and Careseekers as well as scale-up participants Villalet, Pricepal and Fixed Price Car Servicing are currently finalising commercial agreements with NRMA.
You have been quoted by the ABC as saying that there was once a time when changes in the hierarchy of the NRMA were controversial and detrimental to the organisation. The ABC has also quoted you as saying that the board of the NRMA is now more mature, as is the organisation as a whole. Does this maturity inform the forward thinking behind the NRMA’s decision to partner with Slingshot and others to deliver the Jumpstart program?
Post demutualisation, NRMA’s management and board was focused on building a newly independent NRMA by purchasing several businesses. We decided we needed to innovate and diversify beyond mergers and acquisitions. The NRMA Jumpstart Program powered by Slingshot was a way of accelerating the process to find new services and products to offer NRMA members. NRMA only needs to discover a few new businesses to make a difference to our member offering.
Do you envisage that you will advocate for the rights of motorists, building upon the efforts of your predecessor? If so, do you think your contacts and experiences in government will inform and further this advocacy?
The NRMA has a proud history of advocating on behalf of motorists; more recently this has evolved to road users in general including the safety interests of pedestrians. As directors and management we advocate on behalf of our NRMA Members and NSW and ACT motorists.
Do you believe that there is the potential to address in part the safety concerns of roads such as the Princes Highway, through the innovations arising out of the Jumpstart program?
Just a few weeks ago I was travelling south from Shellharbour to Eden along the Princes Highway and the mobile coverage was patchy, perhaps an app that can crowd source feedback to build a geolocational heat map of actual coverage would be useful.
The NRMA has made campaigning for the remainder of the Princes Highway to be a dual carriageway a priority because the safety outcomes are clear.
Do you believe your experiences with start-ups, innovation and entrepreneurship gives you an informed perspective from which to make recommendations and comments on the Jumpstart program?
Well, it won’t be up to me. The Jumpstart program is managed by the Strategy & Investment team in a partnership with Slingshot. Jumpstart has been designed well and as a relatively new NRMA Director, I was thrilled to see it in operation. I believe all large companies need a systemic approach to innovate and access the energy and ideas of Australia’s entrepreneurs. NRMA is leading the way in this regard. I am confident my experience will be useful to the NRMA management and board as we negotiate our next phase of digital transformation to better support our members.
Applications for the 2015 NRMA Jumpstart program close on the 6th of August, visit the NRMA website to learn more about the program and its eligibility criteria.
Other noteworthy partners involved in the 2015 NRMA Jumpstart program include: Fairfax Media, the UTS Business School, PWC Australia, Sparke Helmore Lawyers, Artesian Capital Management, the University of Newcastle and the Mitchell Lake Group. Details and profiles of these partners are available over the NRMA website.