Budding entrepreneurs help tourism business

Published in the February 2017 issue

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Southern Cross University business students have gained valuable experience in their entrepreneurial studies, proposing development ideas for the iconic Natural Arch Café Restaurant property now on the market.

Business consultant Ross Keating, tutor Lina Sodin, lecturer David Herold, with students Bree Bagshaw, Bigesh Shrestha, Sapana Dangol and Shrawan Amatya (Clockwise from back left)

Business consultant Ross Keating, tutor Lina Sodin, lecturer David Herold, with students Bree Bagshaw, Bigesh Shrestha, Sapana Dangol and Shrawan Amatya (Clockwise from back left)

Ideas ranged from camping under the stars to hot air ballooning, with three projects winning entrepreneurship awards for their innovative plans for the property.

Also known as The Two Pines Cafe, the business, residence, and land package overlooks Numinbah Valley and faces the World Heritage listed Lamington National Park. It is 900m from the entry to the famous Natural Bridge tourist attraction in the Gold Coast Hinterland.

Independent business consultant Ross Keating, who is working with the clients to cultivate development opportunities, approached the University to ask if students could help undertake a market analysis and create ideas to develop the unused part of the property.

He said the 1.51 hectares of land was zoned commercial/rural, 40 minutes away from both Robina and Nerang.

“Much of this block is under-developed and provides the purchasers options for increasing the business offerings over time,” Mr Keating said.

“We wanted to have fresh ideas from students who think innovatively, so we offered Southern Cross University this collaboration project. The concepts presented by the students provide the prospective purchaser with business ideas which may enable them to maximise the potential of the land.”

The School of Business and Tourism took up the offer, with lecturer David Herold describing the partnership as ‘an exceptional opportunity’ for students to engage in a real-life situation where skills can be developed and agreed.

Students in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation subject visited the site for sale, received internal information about the property, came up with entrepreneurial ideas, and began drafting market analyses and business plans which were presented to a panel, which included the current owners, as part of their assessment.

“Ideas ranged from luxury tents and sleeping under the stars, to a wedding venue, forest cabins, and hot air ballooning,” Mr Herold said.

“The students came up with many ideas and worked hard to perfect their presentation for the owners. And it seems to have paid off: the current owners are already investigating one of the concepts put forward by the students.

“This initiative is a real win-win because you have the owners who were looking for good ideas and have benefitted from these ideas, and on the other hand, you have students who could work on a real-life business situation and present a number of different options— so, the learning curve was incredible.”

Ross Keating said he and his clients were impressed with the students’ real-world market analysis, awarding three student entrepreneurial awards.

Students Sapana Dangol, Shrawan Amatya, and Bigesh Shrestha took first place for their glamorous camping project ‘Sleeping Under the Stars’, followed by Paul Jimenez’s ‘The Natural Arch Forest Cabins’ and Aaidan McWilliams’ ‘Hot Air Ballooning’. Bree Bagshaw was also recognised with an award of merit for student engagement.

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