As part of the Entrepreneurship and Creativity unit, a group of Curtin Graduate School of Business (CGSB) students were required to develop a business plan, and Currie was determined to get extra marks by turning his plan for a business into a real one.
Using an idea he’d had for a product, Currie and his fellow students, Matt Magill, Alix Paricard and David Goodall created a plan for Squishy Forts, a pillow fort construction kit comprising magnetised, foam construction blocks that fit together to make a pillow fort and pack away neatly in a specially designed ottoman case.
Currie said the project required planning, peer-group review and teamwork.
“Having a team of people who were external to the idea to help develop it was really useful,” Currie said. “For example, the idea to package it away into an ottoman case was only brought about when another team member raised storage as an issue,” he explained.
The project became a business reality when Currie put Squishy Forts – which appeals to young and old – on the Kickstarter website, where it received more than double its initial target of $25,000.
Kickstarter is a crowd-funding platform, recently extended to Australia that enables small, independent entrepreneurs to fund their ideas. A side benefit is that the platform can also be used to market test a product without investing large sums of money.
“Kickstarter allowed me to make my idea real, to show that there’s a real business here. We’ve proven the market and have sales before we even have a finished product,” Currie said.
Each project sets a funding goal that, if reached within a specified timeframe, may be used to launch the business into the marketplace.
After gaining more than $67,000 in pledges, the launch of Squishy Forts is imminent.
Currie’s advice to students thinking about venturing into a start-up is to “go for it”.
“If you have an idea for a business, do it. We live in a day and age when it’s never been easier to launch a new business, or product,” he said.
The success of Squishy Forts is an example of how CBS students can apply their education to business and industry – and Currie has learned some valuable lessons.
“In terms of Kickstarter, get a $25 price point and you’re golden. $149 is a bit harder to sell, not to mention that a bigger product means bigger shipping costs; a major logistical issue when customers are worldwide,” Currie said.
“Just don’t waste your time – too many ‘entrepreneurs’ aren’t running businesses that make money. Working out what it is you can sell and finding a customer to sell it to should be your first priority,” he said.