Gwen O’Toole and Megan Luscombe, founders of The Ideas Library

In 2013 event industry professionals Megan Luscombe and Gwen O’Toole teamed up to launch The Ideas Library, a boutique communications and event company helping Australians make their ideas happen.

O’Toole moved to Australia from the USA in 2001 and has spent nearly 20 years working in publicity, professional writing and event management. In 2005, she launched Australia’s first special events dedicated monthly magazine, SPICE, and later its news-driven industry website counterpart, spicenews.com.au

Australian-born Luscombe has spent the last 9 years working with some of Australia’s leading companies, sourcing venues and event suppliers, project and event management and strategic supplier negotiations.

We were both seeing a reoccurring theme of companies or individuals who had great ideas but didn’t know where to start to make them happen

ideaslibrary.com.au @ideaslibraryaus facebook

 

Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?

About 2 years ago we were both sharing a taxi and chatting about some of the frustrations we were experiencing in our current roles.

We were both seeing a reoccurring theme of companies or individuals who had great ideas but didn’t know where to start to make them happen. Whether it was a new business being launched that needed a logo and a website; or an event that needed a venue, supplier or management assistance; or a company who desperately needed help with their social media and public relations, we were both consistently being asked if we had a contact who could do this or that.

It occurred to us that together we had not only a broad variety of creative skills between us, but also a huge pool of resourceful contacts who knew how to get things done, and the concept was born.

We wanted to offer clients a service that was highly personalised, reliable, outside the box and adventurous. We don’t have any cookie cutter solutions. Every project we work on is specifically designed for the needs of our clients.

Please explain your business model.

We have a variety of ways that we work with our clients including a monthly retainer for those who need ongoing help with projects such as social media, public relations or ongoing event management. We also work on a flat rate, per project basis which is established after meeting with our clients and determining exactly what services best suits them.

What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months? 

We currently have a few really exciting projects that are ongoing where we are assisting a few restaurants with their social media, PR and hosted events. We have also recently assisted some brides in organising their weddings and a corporate company with their customer loyalty event by helping them find the right suppliers.

We’ve even helped a gentleman who was struggling to plan a proposal in secret get everything organised without his partner being any the wiser. (She said yes!)

The last few months have been filled with helping businesses and individuals get their websites designed and built, logos created, press releases written, you name it.

How do you make ideas happen?                                                   

We meet with our clients and individually assess exactly what it is they need to make their ideas happen.

If we aren’t actually able to provide the service ourselves, we certainly can find the right contact for the job. We have a huge team of creative professionals from photographers to web developers, caterers, graphic designers, etc who we can rely on to get the best results for our clients.

What does your typical day look like?

Our work day can be incredibly varied. Most days we work from home with the exception of visiting with clients, however we do use an open workspace in the city called ‘The Village’ which is part of the NAB building and allows small business owners (or anyone with a business account) to use workspace in the city for free. Kind of like a business lounge. It’s a great option for when we both have a lot happening and need to stay focussed or need to be in the city for meetings with a few hours of time to kill in between.

Also, because we work with individuals who are launching a small business but have a Monday to Friday job or are planning personal events like weddings, proposals, private celebrations, etc it’s not uncommon for us to meet up with our clients on weekends to assist them with their upcoming event or launch of their new website, etc.

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business in Australia?

We’ve been so fortunate to have a great professional network who believe in what we’re doing and have been willing to recommend us to their clients. We’ve been really lucky that so far it’s been smooth sailing.

The hardest part about starting up for both of us was simply getting up the courage to make the leap.

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

Surround yourself with likeminded people who are keen to collaborate – you’ll find your best ideas are always supported, the motivation will always be there and you’ll always get more accomplished.

What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry at the moment?

In our industry in particular, there are several companies who are doing some really creative work. I’ve always admired some of the creative concepts that Sydney-based event management company Belle-Laide Events create, and for creating engaging brand experiences, Melbourne-based experiential marketing organisation Carrspace are creating some really exciting concepts.

What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?

Businesses can be a great role model for creating focus on important social issues and impacting how people perceive the world around them. Even small businesses can help make a significant impact in generating awareness, assisting with fundraising through financial or in-kind support to ensure important issues are at the forefront of people’s minds.

Speaking of affecting social change, we’ve teamed up with Shout for Good to encourage readers to ‘shout a coffee’ to charity by clicking the button below. Is there a particular charity you’d like to support? 

Both of us find the work of Beyond Blue and the RSPCA to be really worthwhile.

Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.

  1. Laughing Squid (full of great ideas, random bits of news and info and all kinds of inspiration)
  2. Humans of New York (an inspiring photoblog that was a genius small idea that went big — and it consistently humbles us)
  3. The Ideas Library (Is it cheeky to say ours?) 

Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter.

1. @katekendall (Kate Kendall)

2. @silkCharm (Laurel Papworth)

3. @charliepick (Charlie Pickering)

Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?

Our idea is helping others with their ideas, so if anyone has something they need us to help make happen, we win too.

We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, marketing, social media, accounting, monetization, product development etc. What would it be?

How do you differentiate yourself among a wide variety of other businesses?

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

Because of the area we live in, we are absolutely spoilt for choice among all the great little hotspots popping up every day along Chapel St.

We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?

We have a strategic alliance with Starting Today Coaching and would be keen to offer a free 1 hour executive coaching session for the winner. (Valued at approx $250.)

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