Lauren’s Venture Dorm Experience

Lauren Knight
Lauren Knight

My name is Lauren and I am a current Flinders student. I am studying a Bachelor of Commerce (Advanced Leadership & Accounting/Finance). I am in my 3rd year of 4. Upon graduation I hope to go into fraud investigation, and help to identify, detect and prevent fraud, misconduct, breaches of rules / regulations, and prevent/resolve disputes.

Prior to coming to university I lived in the Riverland, and went to Glossop High School. I moved to Adelaide after having a gap year in 2014 to start study at Flinders. During my gap year I went on a Rotary Youth Exchange where I lived in Denmark for 12 months. I currently live off campus in a share house that is close to the University.

During my time at university I have been fortunate enough to participate in a number of amazing activities including work experience through the Charted Accountants Achiever program; board room lunches with partners from PwC; and internships. I have also volunteered for the YMCA and Flinders Business School Student Association as the President. A highlight embedded within my degree was completing Venture Dorm which is facilitated by Flinders Partners New Venture Institute.

New Venture Institute Venture Dorm

During the summer of 2015 I was fortunate enough to participate in the New Venture Institute’s program, Venture Dorm. When I first started I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I had done a bit of reading and found out that they assist with start-up companies and building a new venture. Initially I was nervous, I had never thought of running a company, and to be honest I wasn’t even sure if I had an idea of a business that I wanted to create.

I imagined the outline and structure of the program to be similar to university. I thought that it would be a lecture style environment where we were taught the material and then we would go away and complete the set tasks (tutorial homework). Instead it was the reverse. We led the class discussion. We spent class time presenting our ideas, completing business models, and participating in hands on experience. I found it was an excellent opportunity to be able to build on outside classroom skills such as public speaking, and networking. During the program we used principals such as Lean Start-up, customer development and a business model canvas.

The instructors were members from New Venture Institute who provided us with the platform to complete our tasks. I think that the instructors influenced our learning through passion and experience. They kept us motivated, and provided different perspectives, outside the box thinking, and challenged our thoughts and processes. Our mentors were people that had industry experience in small, medium and large businesses. They came from a number of backgrounds including information technology, event management, the corporate sector, non-for-profits, and many more. The mentors changed each week to improve our learning, approach and guidance. The mentors were inspirational and very approachable. The most comforting thing I found was those that had a start-up company (or have had one in the past) all said they felt the same in the beginning. They too were nervous, scared, and unsure of what the future would hold. I think it comforted us and eased our leaning. Both the mentors and instructors could see that as a group we were growing into young entrepreneurs.

Upon conclusion of the program there was a graduation evening and awards night. When I completed the program this was held at Lexus in the CBD. It was just like a red carpet event with glamorous cars, high-wealth individuals, food and drinks. Top students from the class pitched their groups’ ideas to a panel of judges where they had the chance to receive a number of prizes, including funding to launch their idea.

I think from the moment I walked into the empty room at Tonsley I knew that there was room for personal development. From what I expected to what actually happened required flexibility and growth. I had to be open-minded, ready for a challenge, and optimistic. My greatest learning experience was understanding what it actually takes to go from an idea to a fully functioning and profitable business. I would highly recommend Venture Dorm to any individual whether or not you currently have an idea for a start-up company. I would suggest it to anyone who is thinking of creating their own company or start-up business and wants to work on their team building and public speaking skills in a more self-directed learning environment.

For more information on the New Venture Institute, please call 08 8201 7522 or email


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