Mick Spencer AIMe, founder of sports apparel company ‘On The Go Sports’, says Canberra is very kind to local entrepreneurs – and there’s much more to the nation’s capital than politicians
I started my business in my parents’ garage in Canberra in 2012. I was studying sports science at uni and had $150 in the bank. I spent $140 of it on a business registration and had $10 left over to take my first customer out for coffee. I dropped out of uni to work on the business full-time and have no regrets. I sold about 4000 units in the first year and now employ 19 people. We’ve just signed a contract with Hockey Australia.
I was born and raised in Canberra and the city has been very kind to me in terms of getting my business off the ground. It’s a very small city but also ambitious. It’s got a good little economy, so it’s almost a utopia in that it can operate on its own.
There’s a lot of loyalty in the city. When I was getting my business off the ground, people would say, “let’s support Mick because he’s a local”. Then as the business grew, it was, “let’s support On the Go because it’s local”. Canberra [contributes] about 10 per cent of our P&L, but it’s still quite important. Hopefully in the long term we’ll be a large employer for the city.
Government obviously has a big presence here. A lot of talent goes to the government. It’s not always the best for their career development, but they chase the pay cheque and that’s fine. If you’re a private company with budgets to meet, you can’t compete with the government, so you’ve got to offer something different. So for us, we have probably the coolest place in Canberra to work. I’m blessed to have a team that loves coming to work every day and who will do anything for our customers. And it’s a fun company. We get tens of thousands of people into sport every year and we make them look really good.
Canberra is a super-safe city. It’s healthy, clean and it’s got a strong economy. If you’re coming here for business and have some free time, we have some of the most beautiful mountains in the world to explore. I’m a mad mountain biker and we have great trails, so you can spend a whole day riding. Questacon, our science and technology centre, is also a great place to visit. There’s also the National Gallery and the National Library.
The city has changed a lot in last five years. We’ve got a great night life and lots of really good cafes. I like to test new ones out when I’m on my way to the office.
CANBERRA FACT FILE
LOCATION: Canberra is located in the northern end of the ACT, 280km south-west of Sydney
LEADING INDUSTRIES: About 40 per cent of ACT’s workforce is made up of Federal Government public servants. The city is home to leading aerospace and defence companies, including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Airbus Defence & Space and Raytheon.
Interested in events in Canberra? Be sure not to miss our AIM Great Debate 2017
‘Equal pay will close the gender gap’
Enjoy lots of laughs and network with like-minded professionals. In short, it’s a whole load of debating fun over lunch whilst networking and celebrating diversity in the workplace!