Why is SPARK BUREAU a not-for-profit?

Photo: Stocksnap.io

Photo: Stocksnap.io

by Zach Johnson

Did y’all know that SPARK BUREAU is a not-for-profit organisation? Do you care? Should you?

I’ll start by declaring that NFP is a tax designation, not a business model. NFPs should operate as any other business with customers and shareholders using sound practices and good governance. Ultimately, the main distinction between a for-profit company and a NFP is what happens with any money or assets made beyond what’s necessary to cover costs. This profit, or ‘surplus’ in NFP parlance, is redirected back into the business to support activities related to its mission as defined in its constitution and not distributed to owners, directors or other beneficiaries.

In the case of SPARK BUREAU, we exist to support startups. By extension, supporting startups allows us to assist in realising the Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Strategy by playing a meaningful role in launching new businesses, creating new jobs in the knowledge economy, establishing high-wage career pathways for Sunshine Coast residents and elevating the reputation of the Sunshine Coast as a leading regional hub of innovation in Australia.

Our constitution states that the objective of SPARK BUREAU is to “support, assist and facilitate the growth and development of startups to achieve quick expansion, capital, knowledge, global opportunities and connections with corporate leaders and investors.”

We do these things by:

  • offering startups a comprehensive and tailored mentoring program which will provide advisory support including but not limited to strategic, technical and investment advice;
  • facilitating opportunities to offer start-ups quick expansion;
  • offering startups the opportunity to source and gain seed capital;
  • endeavouring to provide a state of the art purpose built and adaptable working space for startups; and
  • educating startups in the necessary areas required to support the growth of a startup, including but not limited to personal relations, human relations, business planning, pitch coaching, networking and presentation.

The activities listed above are taken verbatim from our company constitution, approved by our directors before we opened our doors and commenced operations. Do you care? Maybe not. Should you? Well… I think you should. Why? It’s probably important to understand where we’re coming from as an organisation. 100% of everything we do is dedicated to supporting startups and entrepreneurs and 0% of anything beyond covering our costs makes its way into anyone’s pockets.

The federal funds we receive as a pilot of what is now called the Incubator Support Programme go to directly support the above activities. So does the generous support from the Sunshine Coast Council to help bring expert speakers into the region or make virtual reality equipment available to the public (stay tuned for more exciting news about that!). Coworking membership fees and venue hire fees? Guess what? They also go to help provide open and accessible support programs to startups as per our constitution.

So if you’re a paying member of our startup community, you are contributing to the self-propagation of your very own startup community which exists solely to support the Sunshine Coast’s startup community. Cool huh? Do you care now?

Good — me too! A lot.