Accelerating entrepreneurial thinking in regional NSW

with the Office of Environment & Heritage NSW

Start Something Workshops

Start Something, an initiative of the Office of Environment & Heritage, is for those who have the passion and desire to help their community and the environment but don’t know where to start. The Start Something brand, curriculum, workshops and engagement strategy was created using the Wildwon design process, specifically to meet the needs of people in regional NSW.

The challenge

The Office of Environment and Heritage wanted to move away from being ‘grant givers’  towards providing education to help social and environmental initiatives turn into sustainable enterprises. Wildwon was engaged to develop this educational toolkit for up-skilling individuals and groups in regional areas to deliver their own solutions to social and environmental issues and maximise the impact of these projects and ventures.

The champion

Rhianna Dean
Senior Project Officer*
Office of Environment & Heritage NSW

*Since working with OEH, Rhianna has moved on to work for the Australian Centre for Social Innovation, where she is continuing to build her knowledge and experience applying human-centred design – she Started Something by working with Wildwon also.

The approach that Wildwon apply to their work makes them an excellent agency to contribute to improving service experiences and strategic communication. They have a unique combination of human-centred design, communications and creative skills that inform their approach to branding, engagement, planning and event hosting. We found this mix of skills to be refreshing and very valuable. Wildwon were able to create an exciting, engaging suite of communication and learning assets for us that were specifically relevant to our stakeholders, while still aligned to existing government brand guidelines and strategy.
— Rhianna Dean / Office of Environment & Heritage NSW

Learning to think like a local

For the project to gain a foothold and be successful in the long term every touchpoint from the curriculum to the design and promotion for Start Something needed to be co-designed and locally endorsed. Interviews and testing with identified partners and stakeholders of the project early on was paramount to starting the project on the right foot.

Designing a purpose-built curriculum

Through user interviews and co-design activities we engaged with our target audience of ‘hard to reach’ regional community members who were active on social and environmental issues but didn’t yet identify as entrepreneurs. We uncovered common challenges to these audiences and prioritised these in order to create our focus areas for the Start Something content:

  • idea generation and project definition, which became ‘Shape Your Idea’;

  • early stage financing which became ‘Finding Finance’; and

  • digital storytelling which became ‘Tell Your Story’.

Giving Start Something a distinctive identity

Key findings from the research phase showed that when it came to language in regional areas we needed to strip out jargon and focus on ‘keeping it real’ and ‘telling it straight’. Additionally, we found that many people we interviewed had a wealth of experience working on community and environmental issues and when they saw a problem they simply started doing something about it, and had never considered it to be ‘social entrepreneurship’. There was also a mistrust of Government as well as inner-city visitors entering their community to ‘teach’ them. These insights helped build up the case to rename the project ‘Start Something’ and create a brand that looked very different to any Government initiatives these communities may have seen in the past.

Building great ideas on solid foundations

As with all our projects, experience design principles were developed that became the guide and measure for all design and communications leading up to, during and after the workshops.  These principles informed everything we did for the project; from the language, images and promotional channels we used to the key moments we created for the workshops.

Start Something_Journey Map_Mock.png

A roadmap for our roadtrip

Pacing through the experience of a ‘Start Something’ participant via a detailed Learning Journey Map meant we were able to pre-empt any pain points throughout the workshop experience and change the model accordingly. Surveys with participants after each workshop also helped us adapt the flow for the next stop on our road trip to four regional areas of NSW.

Amplifying reach and spreading the know-how

One of the key objectives of this project was to make the workshop model replicable. By creating a facilitator handbook we gave each participant the ability to deliver the knowledge back to their communities. Each attendee left with a 44 page handbook, covering everything in the workshop with extra references. They also became part of the online community via the Start Something Alumni Facebook Group to continue their learning and sharing. A four-episode podcast series was also recorded as a training tool  to further extend the reach of Start Something to others in regional NSW, many of whom spend hours driving or doing manual labour. You can listen to full episodes of the podcasts below.

Real tools for real change

At the oversubscribed Start Something workshops, people readying to launch sustainability initiatives and social enterprises got hands on with real tools such as the Business Model Canvas, a Digital Storytelling Canvas and the Value Proposition Canvas to refine their plans. They heard the story of a successful social enterprise startup journey from a ‘local voice’ (ie. someone like them from their local area) and scripted, filmed and produced a pitch and crowdfunding video end-to-end. Projects included eco-tourism enterprises, solar farm startups, sustainable hemp farming, an insect-based protein company and an exciting social housing initiative for recently arrived migrants.


Start Something Podcast Series

The podcasts were created because some people couldn’t attend the regional workshops and we wanted to be able to include them. From the insights report we knew that people in rural areas are out and about a lot so they wouldn’t have access or be able to use screens (e.g. driving long distances, working on a farm) so a podcast was the best mode of delivery. 

We started (and finished) something!

Through localised learning and up-skilling, Start Something is allowing individuals and groups in regional areas to deliver their own solutions to social and environmental issues. The program was initially delivered as four workshops in Western Sydney, Bathurst, Byron Bay and Albury and now continues as a set of resources available to anyone here and on the Start Something website.