by Peter Gatehouse, startup founder from South Gippsland
Premium and uniquely Gippsland raw honey and beeswax products
In a fast paced and ever-changing world, where it is becoming increasingly difficult to know the source of your produce, we take pride in providing quality, locally. We look after our bees because they look after us! By running small, local and sustainable apiaries, we don’t lose site of our most important asset, our bees.
Born and raised in Melbourne, I decided to move to the countryside at age 26 with my wife, Margaret. I have always gravitated towards more ‘earthy’ interests and hobbies, even though I have been working as a Medical Laboratory Scientist in various Hospitals and medical facilities for the past 30 years.
My interest in beekeeping has been a fascinating and rewarding hobby for the past few years, however a recent workplace restructure found me being retrenched after 22 years with the same company. Rather than despair, I saw this as an opportunity to create the lifestyle I have always yearned for, so I founded Hill Top Hives in the Spring of 2016.
My qualifications and experience as a medical scientist have actually helped develop my skills to work as a beekeeper. In particular, being able to inspect hives for pests and diseases is not all that different to scanning different samples in a pathology laboratory. Once you have a good grasp of what is normal and healthy the abnormal and diseased is easier to spot.
Working hives is an absolute joy. Bees are fascinating insects to watch. They don’t work for their individual needs, instead working together as one ‘organism’ which is the colony or the hive. We could all learn a thing or two from the ways that bees live their lives.
Startup Gippsland: How did you learn about Startup Gippsland and what was your first thought about it?
Peter: An email appeared in my inbox. I didn’t really know what it was about but was interested to find out more as it may be a great opportunity, which it was!
Startup Gippsland: Why did you want to join the program? What was the problem you were trying to solve?
Peter: I needed to work on my networking with other professionals and startups and become less isolated.
Startup Gippsland: What was your experience like in the 12 weeks of the program?
Peter: Over all it was a positive experience. The first weeks were a steep learning curve examining all the aspects of a small business, much of which I hadn’t given adequate thought to, but in a very
The last weeks were quite intense taking me out of my comfort zone with the pitch, but looking back I’m glad I did it, it was a positive experience and the startup team were very positive and a great support.
Startup Gippsland: What are the biggest benefits of you undertaking the program? Can you provide an example of how it worked for you?
Peter: Networking with other startups. Learning how to pitch your business and products to potential customers. Learning how to project yourself on social media. Last, but by no means least, looking after yourself!
It’s worked for me as I have been able to grow my business since taking part in Startup Gippsland, particularly through encouragement from my mentor [Darren Hotchkin], making me accountable between each meeting and seeing a definite increase in monthly turnover.
Startup Gippsland: Have you discovered new or different users for your product/service, compared with original expectations? Are you still pursuing your original startup idea?
Peter: I wouldn’t say I’ve discovered new or different users however retail outlets have increased.
Startup Gippsland: What was your biggest success after undertaking the program? Personal or professional (or both)!
Peter: I would say personal, gaining confidence, not feeling as isolated as I did before doing the program.
Startup Gippsland: what was the most important skill you’ve learnt, and a realisation you’ve had during/after the program?
Peter: Having a better understanding of how to pitch my business and products.
A realisation would be that I see that my product does fill a need in the market, particularly due to adulteration of honey and “fake honey” and it’s not just honey.
Startup Gippsland: Thank you and we wish you best on your journey!
“A realisation would be that I see that my product does fill a need in the market and I am not feeling as isolated as I did before doing the program.”
“When I first signed up for Startup Gippsland, I have to be honest I did wonder what I was going to get out of it, (not knowing a lot about the startup programs) but now I leave every meeting buzzing with enthusiasm! and coming away with another piece of knowledge.”
Watch Peter’s Startup Gippsland Pitch
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