Listen: Dean Foley in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty.
From the times of the Roman Empire and all through the Middle Ages in Europe it was a settled, immutable fact of nature that all swans were white. However that received wisdom all changed in 1697, when Willem de Vlamingh became the first European to record seeing a black swan in its native Australian habitat.
The world was flummoxed. John Stuart Mill cited the discovery of black swans as a lesson in elementary philosophy. Bertrand Russell also wrote about black swans in his 1912 book The Problems of Philosophy.
The story of the black swan chimed with Dean Foley too. His Indigenous Business Accelerator is named Barayamal – a word which means black swan. Foley wanted to show the many naysayers he met as he explored the world of business and entrepreneurship, that just like we learnt about swans – success didn’t have to be white.
Inspiring, educating & supporting
Dean Foley is a Kamilaroi man and grew up in Gunnedah. It was while working in Canberra for the airforce that he first became interested in entrepreneurship. His aim was not wealth or fame. Dean saw it as a way he could give back to the community. Watch the video below to learn about the event Barayamal recently hosted in Brisbane, the first indigenous startup weekend,
Barayamal’s mission is to inspire, educate and support First Nations youth and budding entrepreneurs through technology and entrepreneurship to help them achieve their dreams and create a better world for all who live in it.
He has Master of Business from Queensland Institute of Technology, is half way through his MBA at Griffith University and is also studying International Development at RMIT. However his greatest asset is his energy and positive enthusiasm. He has evolved his dream of business success into mechanism to spread the word that indigenous Australians can have great ideas and be successful in business.
Community and giving back
Barayamal was born out of Dean Foley’s desire to reduce the disparity gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. He saw that the high-growth, high-impact solution to closing that gap is to empower Indigenous entrepreneurs to create employment and community solutions that make a real difference.
He founded Barayamal, Australia’s first Indigenous business accelerator, in November 2016, and since then the organisation has established many valuable programs, from the CoderDojo First Nations coding clubs, to its Budding Entrepreneurs Program, supporting Indigenous business innovators to develop their ideas and take them to market.
With over 50% of the First Nations population in Australia under 25 years old, Indigenous youth are enthusiastically looking for business opportunities to achieve success, break the poverty cycle, and be in a position to give back and create a better world for everyone. Barayamal aims to support them on that journey.
Next month Dean will take some of the best up-and-coming Indigenous entrepreneurs to America. The group will attend TechCrunch’s Disrupt event, spend time at the Australian Landing Pad for startups in San Francisco, and meet Native American entrepreneurs in New Mexico.
“The Startup Tour will inspire the next generation of Indigenous entrepreneur to think big, learn new skills and grow their professional networks. It’s sure to be a life-changing event for everyone involved.” says Dean Foley.
World’s biggest startup event
Disrupt is one of the biggest events in the world for startups, and attracts the best entrepreneurs, investors and technologists from around the globe. Over three days, the Indigenous entrepreneurs will check out everything from the Startup Battlefield competition to a virtual hackathon, hundreds of the best startups in Startup Alley, world-class workshops, and legendary networking opportunities at Disrupt after-parties.
Closing the opportunity gap
The second part of the trip will be in New Mexico, and will give the Indigenous entrepreneurs an invaluable opportunity to meet Native American entrepreneurs and leaders, to collaborate and learn from each other. The massive movement within New Mexico’s Native American communities to increase entrepreneurship and economic development is seen as a way to solve the disparity and opportunity gap created by colonialism.
Meeting American investors
Included in the tour will be a visit to New Mexico Community Capital (NMCC), one of the leading incubator/accelerators bringing tools for success to emerging Native American businesses. In just over three years, NMCC’s flagship program, Native Entrepreneur in Residence, has graduated 30 small Native owned companies, creating 128 new jobs, with 58% of those being Native hires, and over $8 million in new gross revenues. NMCC has served people from 20 different tribes in 5 different states.
The mission schedule includes private group tours and meetings, and the Indigenous entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to meet American entrepreneurs and investors in their own time, too.
Indiginous leaders of tomorrow
“Our aim is to build the future leaders of tomorrow — individuals who can help build sustainable First Nations communities,” Dean explained.
“I am beyond excited for the Startup Tour because it presents an unmissable opportunity to contribute to Indigenous entrepreneurship and what it means to the world,” added Alisha Geary, Founder and CEO at Faebella, and Startup Tour participant. “I hope that this trip will serve as a giant dose of inspiration for me to kick-start my business and get it on the global stage.”
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