Based in the Sydney CBD, co-CEOs and founders Wes Sonnenreich and Beau Leese set up Intersective to ensure university students have access to real and relevant work experience before they graduate.
This involves a collaborative process between universities, striving to ensure their students accumulate skills that make them more employable, and employers who are looking for opportunities to shape the workforce before it even arrives in the office.
‘To actually organise, manage, and deliver quality experiences to students on that scale was time-consuming, complex, and nearly impossible using the traditional manual techniques,’ says Sonnenreich.
Financial assistance from Jobs for NSW has helped the company conduct crucial market research and use the results to develop and refine its innovative experiential learning platform.
The need for investment: Intersective meets Jobs for NSW
In 2013, Intersective developed a cloud-based platform called Practera, to help students and mentors collaborate on work-integrated learning experiences, such as business projects, internships, competitions, and workplace learning and development.
‘There is a lot of practice and science behind experiential (‘real-life’) learning that delivers strong outcomes to students and employers that we needed to build into the platform,’ says Leese.
‘The platform had to capture data about that experience and make it easier to design, deliver, monitor, manage and personalise the learning journey of all participants.’
To help the business reach this next stage, Jobs for NSW awarded Intersective two grants: $15,000 under the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) program, and $100,000 under the Building Partnerships (BP) program.
The MVP grant allowed Intersective to get the market feedback they needed to test their business model, while the BP grant allowed the company to fund new partnerships and hasten market adoption.
Both Leese and Sonnenreich say the BP grant enabled Intersective to develop the platform with feedback from key customers University of NSW and professional services firm Ernst & Young (EY).
Intersective’s Practera in action
With a viable product endorsed by its target market participants—universities, students and employers—Intersective was able to help EY scale up its Asian Century Growth Program.
Through the program, more than 600 students from University of NSW, Queensland University of Technology, Macquarie University and Melbourne Business School have delivered Asian growth and innovation projects for clients including ANZ, Flight Centre, Murray Goulburn, QBE, Lonely Planet, BUPA and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
Along the way, students gained guidance and feedback from EY mentors and, most importantly, have entered the workforce with real-life work experience. Some students were lucky enough to have joined the client companies they worked for as part of the program.
Intersective scales from startup to SME
In 2017, with Intersective advancing from startup to fast-growth SME (small to medium-sized enterprise), Jobs for NSW backed the company with a $300,000 Accelerating Growth Loan to expand its workforce and further commercialise its products.
‘The pipeline of assistance and endorsement of Jobs for NSW was quite a powerful signal to our customers; it helped us to go out and get new customers as we had the stability of the NSW Government brand behind us,’ said Leese.
‘It raised our profile with institutional buyers who are traditionally reluctant to purchase from tech startups. It de-risked us.’
The assistance from Jobs for NSW served as a major accelerant for job creation, with Intersective growing from a team of two to a team of 25 over four years.
Today, Intersective is actively used in more than 15 countries around the world including the USA, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Germany and New Zealand, with plans to expand even further over the next 18 months.
Download the Jobs for NSW – Intersective success story PDF