Shark Tank inspires pitch event for adults with autism

Adults with autism or mild intellectual disability will get to develop ideas and pitch their original business plans to the community in a mini Shark Tank inspired event.

Event organisers are currently recruiting.

They are looking for people who want to explore their personal strengths, interests and passions, with the aim of developing their first business plan and starting a business.

A free five-day course designed to develop those ideas and create self-employment opportunities will be held in Launceston in May and June.

StGiles has teamed with former Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year Adam Mostogl, of Illuminate Education, and the Launceston Chamber of Commerce to develop the course, which they believe is the first of its kind in Australia.

Recruits will develop their plans over four days working with mentors from the Launceston business community, and on the final day will pitch their plans to the wider community.

StGiles business development officer Kirsty Bartlett Clark said the course addressed the employment barriers that people with autism and mild intellectual disability faced.

"It targets adults with autism or with mild intellectual disability because that group are certainly employable but haven't necessarily been given many opportunites in life," Mrs Bartlett Clark said.

"The idea of people with disabilities being recognised as productive citizens is something that our community needs to embrace, but how do you embrace that if you have never seen a person with a disability coming forward with these incredible ideas, which we know they have?"  

Mrs Bartlett Clark said recruits would first be encouraged to talk about their interests, and from these discussions business ideas would be generated, for example, someone might really like dogs, which could translate into a dog walking and grooming business.

She said mentors would work with recruits to educate them about marketing, finance and other business concerns.

"Our message is that anybody can have an idea and be given the appropriate support and information that could translate into self employment," she said.

"Our idea is that members of the business community of Launceston will attend the pitch nights, and we really hope that either someone hears an idea and likes it, like in a mini Shark Tank event, or that they can see that a person is a really creative thinker or has a really good understanding of marketing and finance, and may even consider them for a job."

The course is funded by the Federal Government through the Aus-Industry Regional Jobs and Investment Package.

It will be held on May 28, 29, June 8, 9 and June 21, with the final day providing participants with the opportunity to pitch their business plans to the community.

An interview process will first take place on May 17 and 18.

Anyone interested should contact Kirsty Bartlett Clark by phone or email: 0457751708 / kirstybartlettclark@stgiles.org.au