Justine’s Story – Indigibites
“To me, IndigiBites is much more than a business, it’s a personal journey. I found out I was Indigenous at the age of 16 but I never learned about my own culture at the time. When I became homeless 11 years ago with my four-year-old daughter, I turned to The Big Issue and Two Good Co where I regained my confidence, and in 2019 I found out about FoodLab Sydney. That’s when I started to really discover my Indigenous heritage and find healing through food.
Having grown up in Palawa (Ind. Tasmania), right underneath Kunanyi (Ind. Mount Wellington), my life was scattered with vivid images of living off the land. From our daily fishing trips off Bruny Island, to making bush bread with mum on camping trips, I want people in Sydney to experience that same nourishment I felt as a kid.
FoodLab Sydney has given me the confidence not just to launch my dream business but to think bigger and broader. I now not only sell my native bush bites to local cafes and cater events, but I am also mentoring in the program and sharing my knowledge with the new cohorts.”
How we measure our impact
FoodLab Sydney is a University-backed food business incubator that takes an evidence-based approach to measuring the social change of our participants and our food system. This makes the program quite different from incubators around the world who may not have the means to focus on data collection, analysis, and evaluation.
Our rigorous program evaluation methods are carried out by academic researchers who measure a number of different impact areas through multiple data collection points. These impact areas include: food business education, startups, community leadership, empowerment, financial resilience and community networks.
Social Impact Areas
Food business Education
“I have a strong understanding of food business and have learned the skills and attitudes required of a food entrepreneur.”
Good Food Start-ups
“I am creating a food enterprise that is aware of and stands against the wicked food problems that exist in the world.”
“I am able to connect and influence others positively in my own network, and want to give back to my local food system.”
“I have gained confidence in my own abilities, and better understand the political forces at play in my local food system. I have freedom and choice.”
“I belong to a community of like-minded food business owners, and stronger networks, and therefore opportunities.”
To date, FoodLab has welcomed 60 entrepreneurs into the program of all shapes, sizes and food business ideas ranging from a backyard market garden, traditional Indian Dosa, handmade artisanal tortillas, a Vietnamese Pho cookbook, medicinal small-batch chocolate, and everything in between.
After the program, our entrepreneurs note a:
- 230% increase in their knowledge of food business
- 215% increase in their pitch confidence
- 190% increase in their connectedness to their local food system
“FoodLab went way over what my expectations were. No stone was left unturned. It was a really comprehensive program, and there was an incredible body of mentors and professionals who contributed. It feels like a movement!”
What Happens Next
93% complete the course
70% launched or are close to launching
66% get employed within a food organisation
25% get employed within another industry
Mark's Story - Dilectio
Converting from an IT geek into the food sector is not the most obvious transition. But when I started to realise that I could indeed live without laptops and phones but not cheese, that’s how Dilectio started. Our mission is to empower people to live a compassionate life with new food choices. We set a new standard, without sacrifice, to create the most flavour-full plant-based cheeses we can imagine.
I found out about FoodLab Sydney through a mentor. The program was such a fun start into the food industry. It was great to meet new friends and network with all of the guest speakers and mentors. That’s my favourite part of FoodLab. Let’s face it, you don’t have to be a Michelin Star chef to make it these days, but you will need a good network around you.
Dilectio has grown from strength to strength – we now stock our products in Harris Farm and several IGA chains across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Every day still brings new challenges and we keep pushing forward with a smile.
“I am so grateful to the FoodLab program and the experience it has given me. I have been surviving for the last 17 years. I feel like I am coming alive again.”
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