Hi Petriea. You have recently started a vacation care business called Eureka Explorers. Can you tell us a little bit about this new venture and how it differs from other vacation care organisations?
We offer holiday workshops locally that provide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) activities. Our program differs, as we run workshops at authentic local locations where science takes place, as opposed to in the classroom. At the creative environments that we have chosen, children are inspired being at one with nature and having fun with hands-on age appropriate activities. These activities help children develop problem solving skills, foster an entrepreneurial mind set, cultivate social skills, boost self-esteem, build creativity and connect academic STEM skills with practical real-life applications.
What was the inspiration for starting Eureka Explorers?
The inspiration for starting Eureka Explorers happened one day while I was helping my own daughter with a science project. She wanted to have a deeper understanding of the topic, and my word explanations were not enough. That got me thinking that I should be explaining with an actual science experiment and that there must be other children who would need similar help outside of the classroom.
I started to explore how I could do the science experiments with my daughter and once she liked it, I looked into how I could provide it to others here. And from that seed of inspiration we are now up and running each school holiday with a great fun program for primary school age children.
Can you tell us a bit about your background before starting this new business?
Before coming to Port Macquarie, I lived and worked in Tokyo for 20 years. During that time, I taught and developed curriculum and also ran my own business. Since my return to Australia, I have continued with my post graduate studies in the areas of psychology and primary school education. So last year when this business opportunity came about, I jumped at the chance to go back into business doing the things I am passionate about.
What have been some of your major tasks this year to get the business up and running?
The first task was to write a business plan to get organised. Then I started to implement it to get the business up and running. One task has been to liaise with science curriculum developers, so that we can bring the best STEM program to this area.
Another major task has been staff training and making sure locations are safe for students and provide inspiration. Lastly, I also coordinate with my business partner, who is doing the technical side of the business.
What do you believe are some of the important factors involved in running a vacation care service for children?
Ultimately, we want the children who sign up for our holiday workshop program to have fun in a safe environment while learning about STEM. I feel very strongly that there needs to be a high ratio of staff to children in order to have a well-run service that achieves our goals. As the business grows, I believe it is important to continue to give the best service each and every time.
Where do you hope this business will be in five years’ time?
Initially the focus remains on fun and learning. Over the next five years we want to expand our curriculum through partnerships with others, such as our recent collaboration with Charles Sturt University, where we now have access to their campus labs these holidays. We are also looking to expand our technology offerings.
What has been the best piece of business or career advice that you have received?
The best piece of advice was from a wonderful mentor of mine in Japan, who is a very successful international business person. The advice he gave me is very simple – follow your passions! So, following his advice I have followed my life-long passion for education and put it into a business. I am doing what I love and helping children at the same time.
And finally, if you could invite three business people to lunch, who would they be and why would you invite them?
I would invite former Governor-General of Australia, Dame Quentin Bryce, local Biripi Elder Uncle Bill O’Brien, and entrepreneur Elon Musk.
Each of them are inspiring and passionate about what they do. I have been fortunate enough to have met and hosted Dame Quentin Bryce at one of my business events for mothers and children in Tokyo. She is an amazing role model – gracious, caring and passionate about children and education.
As for Uncle Bill, I admire that he is a local inspiration striving for improvements for others. About Elon Musk, he is a person who is unafraid of new challenges and technologies, a problem solver, creative and always looking to the future. They are inspirational to me as passionate people who are living their dreams!
Thanks for your time, Petriea.