Anna Minns: How can we foster circular entrepreneurship?

Anna Minns: How can we foster circular entrepreneurship?

Anna Minns: How can we foster circular entrepreneurship?

Anna Minns: How can we foster circular entrepreneurship?

Acknowledgement of Country: This interview was conducted on Gadigal Country. We pay our respects to the traditional custodians of this land, past, present and emerging. We recognise their deep connection to the land and their unique cultural heritage, which continues to enrich our shared community.

Anna Minns is the co-founder of Boomerang Labs. We were very fortunate to learn from Anna in Boomerang Labs' first accelerator program in 2022. In fact, it's the knowledge that we've learnt that inspired Circular Sydney.

In this interview, we talk to Anna about Boomerang Labs' mission to support circular entrepreneurs, the evolving circular economy landscape and the challenges faced by circular startups. Anna also shares her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who're starting out in this innovative space.

How does Boomerang Labs support circular businesses and entrepreneurs?

Boomerang Labs supports a transition to a circular economy by helping circular businesses grow. Traditional businesses have set ways and it's hard for them to change. But emerging businesses can start with the right ideas. They can design their business model to reduce waste from the get-go. By helping them, we grow the circular economy faster.

We help businesses at all stages. For those in the idea stage, we guide them to test viability with customer research. Our main focus is the accelerator program for the more established startups. We provide them with the tools, resources and networks they need to take their businesses to the next level.

Entrepreneurship is vital for any economy, but it's especially challenging for circular startups. They need significant support. While helping them directly, we also foster a community where everyone can support each other.

We're proud of our growing community. Building connections takes time, but it's crucial. Nobody has all the answers alone; it's a collective effort. Through our community, we create a space for knowledge sharing and support.

How do you see the circular economy evolve in the coming years?

The natural resources we use are finite. We can’t keep wasting them as we have for the past century. We need to improve how we design, create and value products. We know that’s going to happen. 

But we’re in the early days of this transition. We’ll likely be developing this for the next century. You, me and others are the pioneers in this area. Even after we’re gone, the transition will continue. Some countries are talking about it more than others. It’s a big change to the industrial system built over centuries. We’re not undoing them, just improving for the future.   

Opportunities for circular business models will increase. As we’re running out of landfill spaces, governments will need to promote innovation. As resources deplete, we must think smarter. This will bring many opportunities and lead to lots of innovation and positive change.

A profitable business model often sees no reason to change. It requires political will and many smart people with innovative ideas. No one will easily shift from a profitable model, especially if discarding something is cheaper than recycling it. So, there’s much to change.

What are the unique challenges for circular startups?

Many people still don't know what circularity is, and often mistake it for recycling. Circular startups don't waste anything. There's no loss of resources. It's a closed-loop system.

Circular startups have unique challenges that tech startups don't have. In countries like Australia, the geographical spread adds logistic and supply chain complexities. The market is dominated by a few large players, making it hard for circular startups to compete. So there are big barriers to entry to start with.

The main concern for investors is viability, not necessarily its circular nature. At the end of the day, a good business should thrive, whether its model is circular or not. We still need to focus on profitability and market demand.

We need diverse solutions to overcome these challenges. The way forward is to encourage all forms of innovation, from both small startups and large corporations.

How can we overcome these challenges?

Price is key. Sustainable products and services shouldn't be expensive. But we won't be able to lower the price until it becomes mainstream. So first, we need to create a level playing field for these businesses to be competitive. This is the role of governments with policy change. For example, introducing regulations against single-use products can help circular businesses compete against traditional ones.

We also need to educate consumers on why they should support circular businesses. And we need investors to invest actively in the sector too. Circularity has a big opportunity for growth. There's a financial return, but they also contribute to a more impactful future.

What’s your advice for aspiring circular entrepreneurs?

Always seek advice and don't hesitate to ask for help. Immerse yourself in a community.

Join Boomerang Labs. We bring together entrepreneurs, mentors, students and professionals who are interested in the circular economy—to share expertise and build a strong community.

We launched our first accelerator program in 2022. We've worked with great circular businesses like ReCo, along with our mentors and corporate supporters. All participating businesses are still going strong. We're now running our second accelerator program.

If you're working on a circular startup, you can apply for our next bootcamp and accelerator program. You'll also find useful insights from our webinars and newsletters. Sign up on our website

Learn more
boomeranglabs.org.au

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This interview is part of ReCo Circular Sydney 2023 Series, supported by the City of Sydney Knowledge Exchange Sponsorship program. Explore more free content at: reco.net.au/circular-sydney

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Author

Interviewed by Danling Xiao. Edited by Adam Matthews.

Adam Matthews is driven by a deep-rooted passion for environmental protection and sustainability. He’s currently pursuing a masters degree in environmental management and sustainability. Connect with Adam on Linkedin.  

Danling is the co-founder of ReCo and creative director of reco.digital. Danling has an unwavering passion for creativity, spirituality and the pursuit of positive change in the world. Connect with Danling on Linkedin.

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