Inspiration and Validation

Published on 24 October 2019

Daniel Johnsen and Ben Kennedy sitting on a black couch

In the life of an entrepreneur, nothing is more crucial than how you bring your idea to market. 

In a recent HubLive, SmartHub’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Daniel Johnson sat down with Ben Kennedy, budding entrepreneur and founder of Gecko, to chat about creating, validating, launching and growing a new business.

As an entrepreneur; even one who formally studies the craft, Ben Kennedy acknowledges that coming up with a great idea can be an elusive feat.  Some people scour the market for a need and aim to fill that gap, some people are struck with inspiration, but for a lot of entrepreneurs this old saying ring trues – “Necessity is the mother of all invention!”


Ben Kennedy studies Digital Creative Enterprise Management at UTS Sydney and was looking for a meaningful business idea that would help in some way.  Whilst on a holiday in New Zealand, Ben stayed with his cousin and he had his first glimpse of the idea that would later become Gecko – an online rental community marketplace for household items. 

During this holiday, the cousins needed an extra bed to accommodate sleeping arrangements, and Ben’s cousin was able to borrow an airbed from a neighbour a few doors down.  Raised by two entrepreneurial parents, Ben wondered how that situation might have played out if there was no-one handy to borrow from, and the answer was that you’d have to buy a spare mattress or sleep on the floor. 

This got Ben thinking about the waste of money, of having to buy and store an item you don’t really need or use and the impact that has on the environment.  Like the time he and friends went to the Falls Festival and had to fork out a heap of cash for tents, tables, chairs and ALL their camping needs. These were items that they may have only ever need once a year if that.

Ben seemed to have an idea that filled a need, but was stuck on where to go next…  How do you find out if the need is great enough to build a business on?


To find out if the idea you have is worth moving forward with, you need to validate the heck out of it.  To validate an idea, firstly you’ll want to find out if there is already something similar in the market. Then you’ll want to look at what your potential costs and profit might be, who your target audience is and if that target audience needs what you have to offer.

After advice from a lecturer, Ben set out on a market research expedition, to find out if people would be interested in renting their items to others and vice versa.  He created a survey, got as many people as he could to complete it, and the numbers that came back were lukewarm to say the least.  Only 65% of people surveyed showed an interest in the type of service Ben was thinking of - these were definitely not big enough numbers to launch a business on. 

Ben realised he needed to get more specific and in his next survey he started to advise people that in renting their items a security/insurance policy would be offered and that they would get paid too.  This time the survey numbers came back at an impressive 95% interest. This is a fantastic example of how important the questions and information provided on a survey can shape the vital data that comes back, and also a positive sign that Ben could move forward with his business idea.

Once you have validated your business idea, other key points for start-ups to consider is the creation of a business plan, working out where your funds are coming from and how much you might need. Then you’ll need to consider who’s in this with you supporting you or working with you and start moving towards setting up your website and your social media profiles. 

Ben, specifically, needed to think about the kind of online platform he would need for an online rental community and how the transactions would work between Gecko and it’s consumers, plus how he would kick-start his revenue stream.

In setting up a new business venture there can be a bit of stage fright in actually just getting started and making that first sale. However, it is important to remember that you don’t necessarily need to have the platform complete with 100% functionality and all the bells and whistles before you start making contact with your consumers.


Sometimes you just need to get out and talk to people, put your sales skills into action to get some momentum happening for the launch of your business.

It just so happened in Ben’s case, that before he had even launched his website, he made his first sale!  A friend needed a sound system for his 21st birthday party, and all the local suppliers had none, so he was in a jam.  Ben had what he needed, and Gecko came to life from that moment.

There was still a lot of work to do to get Gecko up and running, such as building the foundations of a successful business, scaling, automation, lead generation, marketing, analytics – the list goes on and that’s where the Turbo-Traction Lab became a part of Ben’s journey.


The Turbo-Traction Lab is a funded program designed to help businesses gain traction for their product or service in the global market in only 80 days. Entrepreneurs have an opportunity to gain significant traction in their global market with hands-on assistance from world class experts. The Turbo-Traction Lab is not a standard presentation style program. Rather, it is a hands-on workshop style program delivered with a ‘lab’ mindset.

This was Ben’s next step with his fledgling start-up Gecko, only 7 short weeks ago he started his collaboration with the Turbo Traction Lab and now he’s already looking to take Gecko global!

“The incredible Turbo- Traction Lab program has really heightened our growth and it's been a really amazing journey with incredible mentors that have really helped our growth.”

“If you are really keen on entrepreneurship and really making waves when you start your own business, definitely join Turbo-Traction Lab. As I said, it is the best thing that I've ever done.”


If you are like Ben and would like to take your business global, be sure to get in touch with the Turbo-Traction Lab. This is an incredible program funded by the Australian Government, the Rockhampton Regional Council and Bevan Slattery.

Being part of the SmartHub gives business owners opportunities to meet with and learn from mentors and to help learn the discipline required to succeed in business. If you’d like to learn more about becoming part of the SmartHub, message SmartHub Rockhampton on Facebook or just head over to Customs House at 208 Quay St, Rockhampton for a tour.

Tagged as: