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Discover the student-led business project supporting Indigenous mental health

Underscored by valuable practical experience, it’s no secret that Bond Business School students are continually challenged throughout their studies as they develop key entrepreneurial, leadership, and collaboration skills. 

Perhaps one of the most rewarding and practical aspects of a Bachelor of Business is the opportunity to undertake both Business Model Generation and Business Model Executions, a foundational two-subject sequence that’s all about building a business. The primary purpose of these two subjects is to guide students through the typical organisational life cycle of creating a business model, growing and maintaining the business, and eventually shutting down their ‘company’. This process allows students to apply their knowledge from more theoretical subjects, and better understand the evolving nature of businesses in society.  

Dreamtime Air is one of the newest projects to arise from this subject offering. The business aims to support Indigenous mental health by selling air fresheners, which are designed and hand-drawn by Indigenous student and artist Imogen Clarence. Dreamtime Air donates 100 per cent of its profits to Headspace’s Yarn Safe initiative, which is Australia’s first youth-led national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health campaign.  

How Dreamtime Air was born

Dreamtime Air is led by nine Bachelor of Business students, and was launched less than two months ago. In this brief time, the group has already sold enough air fresheners to cover the start-up costs of the business, which means all future profits will go directly to Yarn Safe. Through their product and sales, Dreamtime Air aims to reinforce Yarn Safe’s mission that there is ‘no shame in talking it out’ and aspires to continue supporting Headspace’s services for Indigenous youth.  

As a business driven by a group of young and creative students, the Dreamtime Air team feel connected to Yarn Safe as a youth-led initiative. Dreamtime Air artist and designer Imogen Clarence says that the choice to donate to Yarn Safe was an obvious one. 

“Our business is run by young people, which means that Yarn Safe’s campaign directly benefits us, our friends, and our colleagues. During the customer research phase of developing Dreamtime Air, we also found that our target market cared strongly about supporting mental health and Indigenous wellbeing, making Yarn Safe the perfect place to direct our business’ proceeds,” Imogen says. 

Throughout the year, there are also a number of Indigenous events that align with Dreamtime Air’s vision to advocate for the Indigenous community, like Sorry Day, National Reconciliation Week, and NAIDOC Week. Paired with the group’s passion for Indigenous mental health and Imogen’s artistry, the team was able to clearly envision the purpose of their business and bring it to life in an important time for the Indigenous community.  

Imogen Clarence (right) and Dreamtime Air member holding their hand-drawn air fresheners
Imogen Clarence (right) and Dreamtime Air member holding their hand-drawn air fresheners

Inspiration and ideation

When establishing a new business model in Business Model Generation, students are encouraged to identify a gap in the market and create a product or service that provides value to a specific target audience. A Dreamtime Air member by day and retail assistant by night noticed an upward trend in air freshener sales when working their part-time job. This spike in purchases suggested that harnessing a simple product and combining it with an innovative design could lead to a successful business model.  

The idea was solidified after the group conducted market research, which revealed that most participating university students had use for air fresheners in their cars, accommodation rooms, or homes. After evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of their business idea, Dreamtime Air was officially born – a quality, reasonably priced product designed to drive awareness and act as a pillar of support for Indigenous mental health.  

Creating a business as a university student

Starting a business is no easy feat – particularly as a full-time university student. The overall experience varies from student to student based on major: where a management major might expect to lead a team, learn to manage conflict, and create a positive team culture, a marketing major may instead focus on creating content, copywriting, and analysing social media insights.  

Working with a large team on a tight timeframe can impose challenges, such as meeting competing deadlines and expectations, maintaining group motivation, and communicating effectively with various personalities.  

“It was very evident when effort and communication within the team was lacking,” Imogen says. As a result, the Dreamtime Air team quickly learnt that effective communication was essential to the success of the project. 

Dreamtime Air hand-drawn air fresheners

Advice for future business students

Imogen’s advice for Bondies studying Business Model Generation and Business Model Execution is to prioritise the customer discovery phase, as this ensures the product you develop has value for your selected target audience. Without exploring this phase thoroughly, students may find it challenging to develop a product based on a customer's desires or needs – an objective at the very root of the entrepreneurial process.  

“My advice is to embrace the team projects, utilise the small class sizes, and give 110 per cent of your effort,” Imogen says. 

Thinking about pursuing a Bachelor of Business? Well, you might be pleased to know that the Business Model Generation and Business Model Execution subjects are more than a simple stepping-stone to completing a Bachelor of Business. In the last six years, the Business Model Execution subject has donated $136,024 in student project profits to charity. It's a rare opportunity to be given the support to create impactful change and a lasting effect on your charity of choice, all while developing the fundamental skills required to establish a start-up enterprise – making this an ideal hands-on learning experience for any business-minded Bondy. 

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