ENTREPRENEURS, innovators and creatives wanting to take their business idea to the next level took the stage to pitch to more than 100 investors and collaborators at the recent Regional Innovation Showcase.
Held at the Perth Town Hall, the evening was a hub of bright ideas with investors keen to hear from passionate people on how their funds, guidance and time could be well spent.
They heard from innovators in the Great Southern and South West who had previously undergone one of the three CONNECT Regional Innovation Hub programs, delivered by AgriStart.
It included a two-day business bootcamp, followed by monthly interactive online and in-person masterclasses with expertise in business and financial resilience, digital marketing, cyber security, export readiness, online systems, capital raising and pitch training.
Investors heard from 19 presenters in one minute or three minute pitches, which ranged from businesses in tourism, education, construction, community engagement, coffee, mental health, food and agriculture.
Peter Gilmour was one of the presenters.
He is the managing director of his family agricultural business Irongate Wagyu, at Two People's Bay near Albany, and spoke about his meat sales subsidiary brand Futari Wagyu.
Futari began with the dream of delivering luxury Wagyu beef of the highest quality and strong provenance to high-end international markets.
Mr Gilmour said there was strong demand for his products, but upscaling had been difficult as maintaining a fullbood Wagyu herd has meant building up numbers has been slow and currently they run about 2000 head.
It was this reason why Futari Wagyu was seeking investment; to increase its scope to fill the strong export demand.
"We have been in Wagyu beef production for almost 16 years, but it has taken us that long to fill the herd with some substance so only in the past two years have we have vertically integrated into meat sales and started to build those markets," Mr Gilmour said.
"We tried crossing into other breeds but found it was so hit-and-miss."
Rather than selling carcases to the export market, Futari has taken a different route by selling by the cut.
Although it requires the business to break down its distribution channels and supply chains, Mr Gilmour said the process was now very efficient.
"Buying by the cut does come at a higher price point, but it's what our customers want," he said.
"This really came from travelling to the markets overseas, where they said they could take the whole carcase for a lower price because they saw it as being quite lazy by not sorting the cuts, so we responded to those international markets.
"We have managed to get to a point where we can segue very well to deliver different cuts to different customers."
Value adding has been another avenue for Futari, with products such as chorizo - which was available to taste at the event - being popular with the domestic market.
Mr Gilmour said they hoped to build their value-added products up for the export markets.
Overseas, Futari sells to markets including Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea - targeting Michelin star restaurants and even the royal family of Qatar.
The business's domestic markets have varied, with Mr Gilmour saying he has noticed customers from different areas have been keen to try their Wagyu.
"We thought our classic domestic marble market would be people in Perth's western suburbs, and while that certainly has been part of our market, a huge part has been areas all over the metropolitan region, such as Mandurah, Rockingham, Bull Creek, Bullsbrook etc.
"They are people who genuinely want to try it and some come back two, three, four times."
Also from the agricultural sector was Joe Davis, founder of PharmSteward.
A veterinarian by profession and based in Busselton, Mr Davis developed a cattle (or other livestock) logbook.
With an abundance of data being collected throughout the supply chain, Mr Davis felt there was a need to consolidate the data to help farmers, agents, buyers - anyone involved throughout the process - make more informed decisions.
"I felt there was a real need for connectivity with data on farms all the way to the abattoir, so the data isn't just silent at that one place in the supply chain," Mr Davis said.
"Data can inform decisions so farmers and anyone involved in the supply chain can know which animal is best for their system, how much they will pay for the animal and how much they will get for a return."
For example, he said the system could be applied to vaccinations, so farmers can know the vaccination history of their stock to then determine the protocol needed going forward.
Mr Davis said it could also be used as a tool for selling and buying livestock, as sellers could present the data to prospective buyers for a more transparent sale.
As well as providing welfare and productivity insights at a farm level, PharmSteward could also be used to inform the industry in a broader sense and governments.
Mr Davis was seeking investment to take PharmSteward to the next level - applying it to an actual farming system.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.