Marina is one of the delegates at Ignition 2014. We interviewed her while she was waiting for her turn to pitch.
//SN: How’s your experience at Ignition been this week?
MA: It’s been fantastic to be honest, way above my expectations, I loved all the presenters, all the inputs they’ve had from all those different backgrounds. I was just commenting with another attendee that it would have taken us about a year to meet all those people if we were doing it on our own, so it’s been not only time-saving but also a really good lifetime experience.
//SN: So what’s been the effect on your idea?
MA: You have that initial idea which is almost a romantic concept of how you’d like it to work in an ideal world. But you get asked a few questions that show you weren’t quite paying as much attention to it as you wished to, so there’s a lot of the administration components of it that I have no experience of and there’s people here with lots of experience in that. But they just put your eyes towards what the market is looking for so there’s the two components of your business, the one that the customer will see is what you’ve got in your hand, so if you want to provide them that service you want them to see your idea and share your vision, but there’s also the business side of things and what the business really looks like and that’s just as important, if you haven’t got a well-structured business your staff won’t have a good time and later on down the track that will mean your customers won’t have a good time. So this is what they’ve helped me a lot with, just focusing on the management components of the business, not just the customer side of it.
//SN: What is your idea? Can you give us the elevator pitch?
MA: An online agency for international students to assist them in coming to Australia, essentially I will act as a middle man offering them all the services that they need. Obviously no student will just come and do their course, they need somewhere to stay, they need assistance with opening bank accounts, completing applications and so on. So I’ll be giving them assistance from beginning to end, and ongoing after that they’ll be able to find a portal where they can get the information they need and keep themselves informed.
So once this is consolidated and actually been successfully applied in Australia, we can easily duplicate it for different destinations so I’ve researched the top destinations for students in the world, for English-speaking countries. I’ve divided them into three areas. We’re starting with Australia and New Zealand, primarily focusing on the eastern states and expand to New Zealand. And after that we’ve tackled that market we can go on to the UK and the United States.
//SN: What’s the next step for you to make this dream come true?
MA: I need investment obviously because it’s not going to be a simple system to put in place. I mean once it’s there it’ll be easy to run, but it’s not going to be easy to build. So I need a lot of expertise and a lot of good professionals in the area of IT and that will cost a lot of money and also marketing will be just huge for me. My public is the 18 to 26 year old and they are hungry, they just want information and you need to provide that content creation. So a lot of the investment will just go towards capturing their intention and really just feeding the bird, making sure we give them the information they need so they can concentrate on their studies. So investment is going to be the next milestone.
//SN: So if any of our readers are interested in investing, how can they reach you?
MA: They can contact me directly at email@example.com, I’d love to hear from anyone who shares the same passion I do. This opportunity is not going anywhere, it’s just going to keep growing. The Australian government cannot afford to lose its international students, because they are funding the research centres, the infrastructure, and a lot of the economy is revolving around them as well, so if someone can see there’s an opportunity there they can contact me and I’d love to talk to them about it.
//SN: thank you very much and good luck with your business.