New building inspires existing iAccelerate start-ups

Looking ahead: UOW graduate Leanne Connelly cofounded educational company Me3D and has been a part of iAccelerate for the past three years. Picture: Robert Peet.
Nanjing Night Net

The physical space for the University of Wollongong’s new iAccelerate may have been officially opened on Tuesday, butLeanne Connellyis proof the program has helping boostbusinessesfor years.

The UOW business graduate is one of three co-founders of 3D printing manufacturer Me3D, which has existed since 2013 and uses Greenacres Disability Services to build printers which can be used by children.

“Our dream isto engage as many kids in [science, technology and maths] education as possible, so that we can prepare the next generation of workers for a world where cars, houses, body parts are made and customised locally using advanced manufacturing,” she said.

Speaking at the building opening, Ms Connellysaid iAccelerate had helped Me3D movefrom being “just another failed start-up with a great idea”to being an award-winning, profitable,job-generating company.

“We learnt very quickly that we were doing everything the hard way,” she said of the iAccelerate education programs.

“The other residents at iAccelerate have helped us to set up our accounting and financial processes, to do our customer discovery, to hone our pitches, to find suppliers, they’ve been our suppliers, they even helped us to test our product, they’ve purchased our product.

“And frankly, just sharing the room with smart, motivated people who are all invested in seeing each other succeed has been the best environment to incubate our company.”

After moving in to the new building last month, Ms Connelly said she and husband Matt had relished being able to join their co-workers to swap ideas overdrinks on the shipping container filled rooftop.

“The move into this building has instantly changed our mindset about our business,” she said.

“We now think about expansion and growth, we are furiously working to fill our desks in our room, and expand into the bigger office next door.

“We just put on operations staff and production staff, we’re working on product development of our second and third product, and we’ve even set up a creche in the corner for my newborn.”

“Now all that’s left is to conquer the world.”

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