In light of last month’s ASEAN summit, a networking breakfast conducted by the NSW Department of Industry highlighted an entrepreneurial venture from international students at Macquarie University.
Packsy is a welcome pack of essential items designed to help international students moving to Australia for tertiary study adjust to their new home. The initiative was built by students, who took time and significant manual research to create a service that is personal, localised and understanding of the needs of international students.
“In our team we have lots of international students, so it’s really essential that we have that kind of mentality, we’ve all been through your struggles so we know exactly what you need on your arrival in an overseas country,” said Edwin Do, Strategic Marketing Executive for Packsy.
“When we came up with the pack ideas, we sat through four weeks of 280 interviews with students around the world, and we had to add so many local items to the packs to make sure that everyone has something they want to have,” echoed Rita Do, Co-founder of Packsy.
So much of what sets Packsy apart, and perhaps what won these students the opportunity to work in Macquarie University’s Incubator program, is the attention to detail that comes with localising the products so they appeal to a wide international market. Through networking with students and agencies in India, China, Korea and South East Asia, it became clear there are key differences in the use of everyday items.
“So an Indian student may use a plastic mug in the bathroom, and with the chopsticks that come in our packs, everyone uses a different kind of chopstick, so we have to import that from different countries so that when they get the pair of chopsticks it’s what they’re used to using,” Rita explains.
“It’s little things like that that make the packs feel like a second home compared to a standard Western pack that they might get.”
The process to get Packsy off the ground wasn’t an easy one, a laborious task of manually sourcing out the community research to ensure the products would be effective takes its toll on the entrepreneurs not only adjusting to living in a new country, but also studying and working part-time jobs.
“The journey has been incredibly difficult to be honest, because we’re students, we don’t have the experience, we don’t have the networks, we don’t have the capital to fund it, so we’ve been bootstrapping a lot of things and asking for help from everyone we meet,” said Rita.
“As a new start-up company, we are filling a social gap, so basically when we address that there is a problem in society, other partners who have the same interests are all happy to join us in our venture,” Edwin explained.
“On an ongoing basis, the [Macquarie University] Incubator also gave us a networking space and a community, and being in that space where people are so motivated and so hardworking really kept us going.” Rita added.
The team at Packsy are hoping to expand their product for the next intake of university students this coming July, with further expansion detailed in a solid 10-year plan to ensure that the current state of international student community services continues to improve in the future.