Four lightbulb moments from four start-ups

Pauline Morrissey

Lightbulb moments; it's the moment where you suddenly realise there's a solution to a problem – and it flashes right before you. These below entrepreneurs speak about their own lightbulb moments, which then became the basis of their business venture, all of which have gone on to burn brightly.

Michael Rosenbaum: Founder of Spacer

After more than a decade spent creating Deals Direct with Paul Greenberg, I decided it was time for a change and made a couple of tech pilgrimages to Silicon Valley to look for inspiration. I used these trips to observe the new and emerging global trends and it was there that I fell in love with the sharing economy.

Uber and AirBnB had launched and were quickly disrupting the market. I could see the huge potential in peer-to-peer marketplaces and knew I wanted to be involved in this fast growth sector. I also really liked the fact it enabled anyone to become a mini-entrepreneur and start generating a passive income from otherwise unutilised assets.

When I thought about it, space sharing just made sense to me. Everyone either has space or needs space. Whether that’s spare space on someone’s home like their attic, garage or spare room to rent - even business can make extra cash from unutilised space. On the flip side those needing space pay 50 per cent less than commercial self-storage options, so everyone’s a winner.

With property prices continuing to rise in Australia, space has become the next tradable commodity. This is where I saw the gap in the market and decided to launch Spacer.

"I knew that there was always something rad worth going to somewhere in the world at one point-in-time."

Oli Russell-Cowan: Founder of Rad Season

The concept for Rad Season came about when I was trekking around Latin America on a four month trip in 2015. I found it difficult to find cool events and festivals going on that were a bit different and had an element of adventure and general ‘radness’ to them.

I knew that there was always something rad worth going to somewhere in the world at one point-in-time, but there was no single platform bringing information together for like-minded people. If you were to get lucky and hear about an event in time, you still have to pull up multiple websites to work out all your travel details, accommodation, transport, and reviews.

I wanted to eliminate the click-work by integrating all these elements and making the planning process seamless to get people stoked on discovering their next adventure.

"We realised we had the perfect mix of skills and experience to solve this problem."

Emily Carding: Co-founder of Designbx

The idea was formed after Kerena started her own interior design business, where she identified a number of barriers standing in the way and a common perception of professional interior design. The traditional model of face to face interior design didn’t provide flexibility for clients or designers. There had to be a better way.

While every other form of design had moved with the times and entered the digital era, professional interior design had stagnated. We realised we had the perfect mix of skills and experience to solve this problem. Kerena had the interior design background, Kylie had the commercial business and management experience in the construction and interior fit out industry, and I enjoyed a successful career in marketing and tech management. So we not only saw a huge opportunity and gap in the market, but realised we had the right team to create the solution. Naturally, the concept for Designbx was born.

With many other sectors being transformed by the digital age and with concepts like crowdsourcing disrupting traditional ways of working, we saw an opportunity to create a new marketplace for interior design services.

"It is with a touch of shame that we admit the founding moments of The Footnotes."

Sarah Warmoll: Co-founder of The Footnotes

It is with a touch of shame that we admit the founding moments of The Footnotes. The idea came at a time when both my co-founder, Samantha Devlin, and I realised that while we could list things like the Kardashian's last four holiday destinations or Harambe's full family tree, neither of us could articulate where we wanted to be in a few years time.

In our early twenties and feeling stuck in transit, we both laughed and wondered – if we had of known what we knew at that point about our career industries, would we have chosen to take that same path after school? And the idea was born.

The bridge between school and university is yet to be effectively built. Only 15 per cent of students know what they want to do when they finish school, and the dropout rate – which stands at one in five, is the highest it has ever been. The Footnotes aims to disrupt the student recruitment market by helping students and their parents, make more informed decisions by learning the missing footnotes from those who have been before them.

Pauline Morrissey

Pauline is a Sydney-based journalist for Domain and is frequently featured amongst various Fairfax Media mastheads including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.