LAST YEAR I MANAGED TO CATCH SIX INCREDIBLE PITCHES FROM THE LATEST GRADUATES OF THE SLINGSHOT PROGRAM – A ‘CORPORATE ACCELERATOR’ HELPING LOCAL STARTUPS GET GOING. I WAS SO BLOWN AWAY BY THE TALENT COMING OUT OF OUR CITY THAT I VOWED TO INTERVIEW EACH OF THEM AS THEIR BUSINESS IDEA PROGRESSED. ONE OF THESE FANTASTIC PEOPLE WAS ALICIA EDGE FROM COMPEAT, WHO HAD A BRILLIANT IDEA THAT IS ALREADY TRANSFORMING NUTRITION FOR COMPETITIVE ATHLETES.
Currently, Compeat is a website app that allows athletes to log in and have a custom diet built around their training and goals. I sat down with Alicia for a quiet coffee at Portafilter in Mayfield one morning to get the complete lowdown on how Compeat came to be and what she has planned…
Alicia: So you were at the pitches? It was such a good night. It worked out really well. I didn't know what to expect. I'd never been to one before.
A good way to practise. It must help you to make sure you narrow down what you’re actually doing.
We’d just had a meeting with Tim Cotter, our accountant, and we were working out where we were at the moment in our business, where we might be able to go to in terms of grants, and what we could be open to.
He said, ‘Oh, there's this Slingshot program that you guys would actually really enjoy.’ And we were like, ‘Oh, we haven't even looked. We don't know what it's about.’ He’s like, ‘Oh, well, the pitch is in this coming week. Maybe you should apply. I'll contact them, I think you guys would be really good for it.’ Then the next day, they said, ‘Yeah, we would love to see you there. Can you have a pitch to us by tomorrow?’ And I'm like, ‘Oh, shit.’ It was just crazy. It was a mad ten weeks.
Is it aimed at high-level professionals who see physical fitness as part of their role? Like, a corporate CEO who's also intensely fit because they see it as part of that?
Yes, exactly, and so they have that disposable income. For that reason, triathlon was definitely something that was our target market, because triathletes tend to spend a lot of money on their sport. Nutrition is just another thing on there. You've got three sports, so you've got to buy all the bike stuff and all the running stuff and then you've got to buy all the swimming stuff, and then all the entries are ridiculously priced. It's mad.
So, it solved a problem for you in that you could only work so many hours, but it feels like you probably end up working more hours right now because you're building something...
...for nothing. I know, it's ridiculous.
Was it just that there wasn't an option like this out there?
Dietitians are mainly female; it's a mainly female career path. I started a sports dietitians group in Newcastle because there is one in all the capital cities but none for Newcastle. So I organised a meeting every couple of months or so just to catch up.
I guess the thing is, when we go around the room and see what everyone is doing, it's almost like everyone is just so busy surviving that no one has got time to innovate or stop and reinvent and change how we're doing things.
They might have a practice one day a fortnight in Tomago, and then they might have a practice one day in Newcastle. It's like microsites… And it's like every day, you're somewhere else and making money per hour, you're giving away percentages just for rent, or you're hiring out a sports building or a management centre. So what you make isn't yours, and it's also a very inefficient way because you might see someone for an hour but then another hour might be spent designing a race day program or designing something that you then have to then sell to them.
Are you originally from Newcastle?
We're from Newcastle. I'm originally from Taree, but started in Newcastle. Dan's from Newcastle, so Newcastle is very much home. Then we lived in the Netherlands for a year, then lived in Canberra for three years and then back to Costa for a year and then, finally, back to Newcastle.
Do you think you're stuck to Newcastle now?
We always knew that Newcastle was where we wanted to end up. It was just a matter of Dan getting a good enough job here that could provide us enough income to do this.
When you're not working on this all-encompassing project, where do you guys hang out in Newcastle?
We are at the beach quite often, parks...
We usually go to Merewether. It's got the rock pools, so it's...
Yeah, it ticks all boxes. Bike riding...
If you have people come to visit, where do you go to show off? Same thing?
It has to be. It has to be the beach, cafes, parks...
Do you have any favourite cafes in Newcastle? What's the local?
At the moment, our local is in Lambton but we tend to try and get out as much as we can.
The bakery there. It tends to be where we hang out on Saturday mornings. It's not far from home so if Florence is...
It is a good bakery. Good bakers.
What do you wish you got told before you started?
You don't know anything about business, Alicia. You have so much to learn. There's just a lot to it and there's so much you don't learn in Uni that is so important to your profession if you're wanting to have your own business. Especially in health, it's a real - dental profession and that sales and money side of things is definitely not taught and not natural to me, that's for sure. That's why Dan is so good, he's got that sales pitch, he's got that finance, business management kind of stuff, and that's his passion, so that's where we team together.
What else should people know about you?
I'm a bit sleep deprived. That's the first thing that comes to mind at the moment.
Athletes, head to www.compeatnutrition.com to find out how Alicia can help you achieve your health and fitness goals. Keep an eye out for the online version of this article for more details on the Comp.Eat adventure.