Meet the Founder of Australia’s first Indigenous Startup Weekend


Dean Foley, QLD –is a finalist for the IDX Entrepreneurship Award proudly supported by UrbanGrowth NSW
Dean is the founder of Australia’s first Indigenous Startup Weekend and Bayaramal (black swan), Australia’s first Indigenous run accelerator for Indigenous businesses.

Meet Dean Foley, a 27-year-old Kamilaroi man and the founder of Australia’s first Indigenous Startup Weekend and Barayamal an Indigenous startup accelerator to showcase Indigenous entrepreneurs.

After finishing Year 12, Dean left his hometown of Gunnedah in rural NSW to join the RAAF.

“The RAAF was an awesome experience but when I learnt about Richard Branson and entrepreneurship I discovered my real interest is in business. So I decided to pursue my dream career of becoming an ‘Entrepreneur.’”

“I rushed into the business world with a ton of enthusiasm, I was fortunate enough to run into a business guru who gave me greater clarity about what I wanted to achieve, which has allowed me to enjoy the process/journey,” Dean said.

After getting involved in the startup scene, Dean saw a significant need for training and mentorship focused on Indigenous people interested in digital technology. He realised the opportunity to develop the capacity of aspiring Indigenous entrepreneurs, to run and grow businesses that benefit them and their community.

“I wanted to launch an event that would not only teach Indigenous entrepreneurs key skills and provide a way to collaborate – but also to prove to the world that they existed,” Dean said.

The startup event and incubator offer a platform for Indigenous entrepreneurs to showcase their ideas and skills, to learn and develop businesses for the future.

The Indigenous Startup Weekend held in Brisbane in August last year, saw 80 Indigenous entrepreneurs learn key skills in starting and growing their own digital businesses. Participants had just 54 hours to create a business model, design, market and pitch their idea to a panel of successful business people.

Following the success of the event, Dean formed Bayaramal, Australia’s first Indigenous run accelerator for Indigenous Businesses. Launched in collaboration with Slingshot, Barayamal offers mentorship, networking and training, with a full 12-week program for Indigenous startup’s to begin in mid-2017.

The Indigenous Start Up Weekend was the first of its kind in Australia, much in the same way that Barayamal is the first Indigenous start up accelerator in Australia. This lack of voice was something Dean knew had to change. He chose the name Barayamal, meaning black swan, as a symbol of change and innovation: black swans were first seen by Europeans in 1697 but before that, Europeans had only known of a white swan.

“The purpose behind Indigenous Startup Weekend and Bayaramal is to promote Indigenous entrepreneurs. Indigenous people make up 3% of the population, yet account for less than 1% of business owners. At the same time, combatting unemployment in Indigenous communities can be helped by the fact that Indigenous owned businesses are 100 times more likely to hire Indigenous people.”

Check out the action from the first Indigenous Startup Weekend here.