Friday, June 6, 2014

Day 1704 - ACT Government Grants

Did you know there were grants available for small business in the ACT?

I have been very fortunate to have been the recipient of four ACT Government grants to assist with getting Cheer Chick Charlie off the ground. Why? Because my brand is deemed to be innovative and shows possibilities for growth in the ACT.  How did I get the grants?  Well, firstly I registered with Canberra BusinessPoint to find out what was available and then I put in the work to "sell" my idea.  That easy.

There are a bunch of grants available and I don't know the ins and outs of all of them but I can tell you about two:

  • Innovations Connect
  • Trade Connect

I have received two Innovations Connect Grants - both for $10,000.  One for getting Cheer Chick Charlie off the ground (trademarks, website construction and marketing strategy) and the other to create the Cheer Chick Charlie app.

The thing about this grant is that your product has to be innovative.  So for Charlie, my idea was seen as creative not because I am writing a new book series, not because I am creating entertainment for kids, not because I have a new merchandising idea ... not even because I'm educating children (all of that has been done to death); I got the grant because I have created entertainment for children where they absorb messages to help with confidence, resilience, health and fitness naturally through the entertainment process.  So rather than teaching from the top down ... or counselling ... or advising ... children are learning optimism and good thought patterns through entertainment.

I have also received two Trade Connect grants - both to cover half of my travel costs to the USA. One to introduce Charlie to the USA via the New York Toy Fair and the other (granted just this week) to attend the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas to pitch Charlie for licensing opportunities.  To get this grant I had to show export potential for a business whose hub would be here in the ACT.

The idea of these grants is that the ACT Government is trying to create business opportunity in Canberra over and above the  home of the Federal Government.  Businesses to help employee other Canberrans.  Businesses that are creative, innovative and multi-national.

This isn't free money of course.  For every dollar these two grants give you, you have to put in a dollar yourself (either in money or in time). So for the trade grants they pay 50% of my travel costs and I have to commit to the rest.  I also have to have real meetings, with real people, with real results.  For the innovations grants I had to match the grant dollar for dollar every step of the way.  I did this in both dollar terms and by costing out my time ...the hours I personally spent on each component of the project.  Everything has to be reported on.  Results have to be achieved.  Milestones have to be reached.

So next week Derek and I head to Las Vegas.  Not to hang with the showgirls, gamble or drink copious amounts of alcohol ... but to attend "Licensing University", to meet with contacts that have been arranged by our agent and to introduce Cheer Chick Charlie as a licensing opportunity within the USA.

I'll blog about it of course.  And there will be some pool side shots, a few cocktails and some casino visits.  But the bulk of our days will be spent indoors walking the walk, and talking the talk.

If you've got a small business with big ideas in the ACT, be sure to check out their grants.  There may be something with your name on it!

Check out all the grants available in the ACT via the Grants website.

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