How to create a tourism business in 48 hours!

Tilma Group’s Linda, Claire and Kushla joined Start Up Weekend Tourism & Events Toowoomba run by Start Up Toowoomba to support local entrepreneurs to develop viable business plans in just 48 hours!

So great to have such support in starting new tourism businesses- we all know we need new products in regional Australia and this was a great initiative to drive development.

Linda pitched an idea to connect Chinese students studying in Australia with regional Australian tour operators and a team nutted that out with her. Kushla and Claire worked with entrepreneurs beginning tour businesses – Our Town Tours and Fusion Adventures – one in market already (!) and one soon to launch.

Photos: Judges Matt and Wendy with Claire, two of the participants Leisa of Retro Hex graphic and web design based at Canvas Coworking, Councillor Geoff who is always great fun, Claire and Leisa pitching a mock-business in 30 seconds on Friday night


48 hours of business planning

The weekend began with presentations by Linda about the tourism industry, and by two mentors who have been through the start up weekend process. Several pitches for businesses were made, participants chose their favourites and teams to work on the ideas were formed. Pitching entrepreneurs were supported by volunteers who gave their time to help them flesh out their ideas. 

Over the weekend, teams worked through an analysis of

  • the problem they see
  • their solution
  • competition
  • unique selling point/value proposition/unfair advantage
  • target markets
  • market research
  • channels to customers
  • expenses and revenue sources
  • key metrics of success

Start Up Toowoomba’s Dave and Joy kept us fuelled with fantastic catering, good humour and great advice.

Photos: Kushla and some of the other participants working on the ideas, Linda's and Leisa's teams' final pitches, runner-up Heather of Fusion Adventures in her pitch

The winners!

And then the judging! Judges included our local Tourism Portfolio Councillor, Geoff McDonald; a graduate of the program with her own start up business, Wendy Allen of Activate Event s and Greenleaf Bags which she started at a start up weekend; and VP of Canvas Coworking, Matthew Findlay of Audacious Digital. Of the final four pitches, only 1 point differentiated the winner and runner-up and 3 points total separated all four pitches, so the judges’ job was not easy!

Runner up was Claire's team, Fusion Adventures, with a heartfelt idea to connect parents with their adolescent children on nature trek getaways: 'Disconnect to Reconnect', and then join with a local charity after the adventure to maintain that connection. 

Tilma's Kushla, Toowoomba Regional Council's Tourism Councillor Geoff, and Our Town Tours: Kym and Suzanne!

Tilma's Kushla, Toowoomba Regional Council's Tourism Councillor Geoff, and Our Town Tours: Kym and Suzanne!

Drumroll... and the winner was...

Our Town Tours that Kushla worked with, who'll offer affordable daily tours to help visitors connect with the insider's side of Toowoomba.

Congratulations to both tour companies; we wish you every success!

Take outs 

  • You can come up with an idea for a new business and in 48 hours have a potential minimum viable product.
  • Just do it – don’t sit on your idea. With a structure, you can pound it out and test it in a weekend.
  • Don’t waste time going over and over your idea – get to the Minimum Viable Product point and launch it! Take it to market and start testing it. 
  • If you need capital to start, some testing with potential customers can give you the proof of viability/sustainability you need to show potential investors.
    Case in point: Dropbox started with an idea, created a landing page website, asked if anyone who liked their idea could leave their email address so they could be contacted as soon as the product launched, got hundreds of thousands of contacts so went to a venture capitalist and asked for a million to get the product launched.
  • Those outside your industry ask really interesting questions.
  • It’s a high to win! And a real validation for the company cofounders.


The prizes for this weekend include seed money for marketing and a free 8-week bootcamp to finesse the financial model and other aspects of the business plan. Could not ask for a better prize! The cash came from Inspiring Australia which has a project to connect science with tourism to support STEM education, and the start up bootcamp from Start Up Toowoomba (it starts this Thursday evening – learn more).


Join in

If you want to see how a start up weekend works you can volunteer to support other entrepreneurs or to help produce the next start up weekend in November, part of Toowoomba's Festival of Audacious Ideas.


Your business planning on steroids

We have a whole new appreciation for the duo who run our business home, Canvas Coworking, as their contribution to producing the whole weekend was entirely volunteered! You guys are stars, Dave and Joy!

As a thank you to them, here’s a promotion of the Start Up Bootcamp they are running in Toowoomba starting 22 June:

Once a week, on Thursday evening for 8 weeks, you can work through customer discovery, validation, and business model development using Lean Startup principles in a small group environment.

Startup Bootcamp is designed to rapidly develop and test new business ideas by gathering real customer and marketplace feedback, by helping you discover who are your customers, the pain point you're trying to solve, and what is your viable and sustainable business model.

Learn the steps and skills required to get started; practice pitching your idea and having conversations with potential clients and business partners.

With supportive facilitators and peers, you will be opened up to more insights than you could ever hope to discover working on your idea alone.

Many businesses fail by not validating their ideas early on with real-life customers. In order to mitigate that, participants in the bootcamp will learn to get out of the building and search for the real pain points and unmet needs of customers. Only with these, can the entrepreneur find the correct solution and establish a successful business model. 

Each week you will learn important techniques for creating your new business to move forward with purpose and accountability.

Topics covered will include

  • What problem will you solve?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • Defining your solution and forming your unique value proposition
  • Channels to use to reach your customer
  • Relevant revenue streams
  • Setting key metrics and understanding your unfair advantage
  • Perfecting your pitch 

Questions? Contact Startup Toowoomba: David 0422 590 552 or Joy 0407 584 987

Kushla GaleComment