ISLAND escapes, including a Noosa River haven, have played a major part in four business leaders wanting to discover Australia's emerging entrepreneur.
Deborah Morandin is one of the four business leaders inspired by a week's retreat with Sir Richard Branson at his home at Necker Island earlier this year to found Entrepreneurs' Paradise.
The company's CEO is helping drive the search to be the centre of attention at the Entreprenures' Paradise Makepeace Island Summit on October 14-16.
Deborah, the 2008 winner of the Australian Entrepreneur of the Year for Small Business Champions, is the creator of business development programs the Butterfly Experience and Squiggly Training.
She has been a regular ambassador for Australia Day for her work in helping start thousands of businesses.
Deborah said she has known Sir Richard for more than 10 years, from when she was in a wheelchair recovering from a surfing accident that left her unable to walk.
"I actually emailed him and said, 'Richard, I've got a great idea. If I follow it through can I present it to you?' and he just said 'sure'.”
"I was personally invited to Sir Richard's home, which was probably one of the biggest bucket lists of my entire life,” she said.
She was part of a group working at Necker on a "massive venture” Sir Richard was working on.
Deborah said Sir Richard and wife Joan had created a "paradise” and he'd done that at Makepeace as well.
"It feels like the ultimate business area where you got to create massive ideas, because so much creativity is flowing.”
Deborah said as she admired flocks of flamingoes flying overhead during the Necker retreat, Sir Richard challenged them by asking, "What could you do in Australia? I can't be everywhere.”
"He said, 'Who will step up and help the emerging entrepreneurs? Who will help all the struggling small businesses to get them to think bigger?
"Together we saw a future of helping emerging entrepreneurs to take their ideas all the way through from a think tank to a viable business, with funding and mentoring, learning from some of the most influential minds in business,” MsMorandin said
"This opportunity will provide the ultimate springboard to launch their business.”
The Emerging Entrepreneur winner will receive mentoring from all four founders, $10,000 cash towards their venture and the chance to work with 10 of the biggest CEOs across Australia at the summit.
The Noosa summit is billed as the ultimate networking opportunity, with 100 business influencers.
Fellow founder Adam John said: "If Richard Branson has taught us anything, it is that giving back and helping others is one of the core ingredients for success.
"We have all been blessed through business - it is nice to give back.”
Another founder, Chris Dutton, said: "When you mix the brightest and most visionary minds in Australia together with some of the country's 100 most influential people at the Australian home of Sir Richard Branson, you create the ultimate think tank.”
The competition closes Wednesday, September 28, with judging finalised on September 29 and the winner announced on Monday, October 3.
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