Program Team

Elena Kelareva

DR ELENA KELAREVA

Program Director

In 2017, Elena traded in a decade-long technology career in Melbourne for a fresh start in Warragul, to pursue her passion for bringing digital innovation to regional communities. Hence, GippsTech was born.

In the years since, she has grown the company to over a dozen employees, working across digital, web, software, innovation, strategy, creative, consulting, and program delivery. Elena has been the instigator and driving force behind our Startup Gippsland and Work My Own Way programs; she founded and grew Binary Shift into a leading regional innovation conference; and she co-founded the Herd Coworking Space in Warragul to create a hub for the region’s entrepreneurs and innovators.

Elena holds a PhD in Computer Science from the Australian National University and has worked for over ten years in large-scale digital product and software development. Prior to starting GippsTech, she spent 3.5 years at Google as a Product Manager for the Google Maps Web APIs. In 2018 she was selected as one of 3 finalists for the Regional Development Victoria Leadership Innovation Award. Elena is also a mentor at the Melbourne Accelerator Program and has helped many startups and small businesses develop and execute their digital product concepts.

Elena sees GippsTech as an extension of her personal commitment to build communities, foster growth, and create employment opportunities for digital and innovation professionals beyond the cities. GippsTech is a social enterprise, with a commitment to reinvest half of the company’s profits back into the community.

Steph Thoo Startup Gippsland

Stephanie Thoo

Program Manager

For Steph, “innovation” isn’t just a buzzword - it’s a complex and vital discipline that can inform anything from program design and delivery, to business improvement, product development, and mentorship & coaching. She’s spent her entire career supporting and collaborating with innovators, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders.

Day-to-day, Steph is responsible for designing, launching, and monitoring all aspects of the Startup Gippsland and Work My Own Way programs, as well as leading our innovation consulting team. She brings leadership, commitment, and the values of entrepreneurship and innovative thinking to the entire organisation.

With a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Melbourne, innovation consulting experience, and a tenure leading RMIT’s pre-accelerator programs, Steph has coached over 60 ventures and 120 individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and experience. She is passionate about bringing best-practice startup support to her local region, and helping Gippsland entrepreneurs to dream big.

Rob Ruminski

Rob Ruminski

Head of Digital Strategy & Engagement

Rob has always been fascinated by stories: why and how we tell them, and the relationship between the teller and the audience. As a kid, he invented imaginary universes for his friends to play within. Professionally, it has led to a career full of tangents - music journalism, indie film acquisitions and development, and producing branded content. Most recently, Rob has worked as a strategist across brand, content, and digital. Throughout, the focus on developing narratives and understanding audiences has been a constant.

Over the past decade, Rob has delivered strategy, content, and digital assets for a range of ASX 500 companies, not-for-profits, SMEs, and government clients. At GippsTech, Rob heads up strategy, user experience, and digital work for our clients, while managing our marketing team and providing creative direction for our web projects. He’s committed to making world-class brand, content, and digital services accessible beyond the big agencies.

brenna Leech

Brenna Leech

Innovation Consultant

As a facilitator and a sounding board, Brenna helps businesses looking to tap into new ideas, ways of thinking, and develop problem-solving skills from within their teams. When she isn’t fronting GippsTech’s innovation consulting projects, you’ll also see Brenna teaching and supporting entrepreneurs within the Startup Gippsland program. Having worked in 6 countries, she is passionate about championing the value of local knowledge in a global world, and bringing her international experience to Gippsland.

With an MBA and Masters of Not-for-profit Management from the University of Oregon, Brenna specialises in business model design, marketing, impact metrics, fundraising, and change management for startups and SMEs.

Sarah Clarke

Sarah Clarke

Senior Business Consultant

As a coach and consultant, Sarah supports entrepreneurs to build and grow their businesses. She believes in investing as many resources into the local community as possible -- whether through providing opportunities, education, training, energy, or funding. Sarah has a passion for digital innovation, digital business systems, and data-driven, needs based solutions. She is both a capable and empathetic leader and coach, where her relationships are built on the foundations of trust, transparency, and respect.

Across two decades, Sarah’s experience has spanned numerous industries and sectors, including health, agriculture, and retail. She has worked on many projects at the forefront of innovation, and has successfully run her own online business in recent years.

Natasha Wright

Natasha Wright

Program Coordinator

Working in our Innovation team, Natasha is the glue that holds Startup Gippsland, Work My Own Way, and our other programs and innovation projects together. From administration, to event and program coordination, to marketing support, she’s always behind the scenes ready to support her team and program clients.

Working for companies such as Hallmark, Simplot Australia, and Allans Billy Hyde, Natasha has over 10 years’ experience in administration and customer service. She excels at helping clients and the people around her achieve outcomes, and she has a passion for using these skills to help local businesses and communities.

GippsTech team

Sarah Hurwood

Coworking Space & Events Manager

Sarah works to create a happy culture both within our Warragul HQ and online, and ensures all Startup Gippsland and Work My Own Way events run without a hitch. She is a people person at heart, and is passionate about creating an inclusive and thriving community at The Herd.

Sarah has a Diploma of Screen and Media at SAE Institute, and 4 years’ experience in radio sales and production, marketing, media, and advertising. She uses her industry experience to coordinate and market social and networking events, and help Herd members and program participants to grow in their work and businesses.

Zoe Hyde

Zoe Hyde

Copywriter

Zoe brings a background in personal transformation coaching and writing to her content work for GippsTech, Startup Gippsland, Work My Own Way, and our clients. She’s adept at making connections with her subjects and unlocking the “why” behind a brand or a story.

As a published author of “Uncage the Lion Within”, and with 5 years’ experience in blogging, content creation, and freelance writing, Zoe is well versed in delivering messages to a variety of audiences. She is always looking for ways to refine her skills or test out new ideas in service of delivering better messages and stronger voices for our clients.

Aldona Kmiec GippsTech team

Aldona Kmieć

Marketing & Analytics | Digital Content Producer

A photographer and artist by trade, Aldona applies her well-honed eye and visual skills to the full range of content we produce for GippsTech, Startup Gippsland, and Work My Own Way. But she also puts that attention to detail to work in managing our digital footprint, analytics, and managing our day-to-day digital marketing.

With a Diploma in Photography from the London Metropolitan University, Cert IV in Small Business Management, and experience in photography and video production, Aldi has a passion for using her skills to assist startups and the rest of the GippsTech team.

Want to work with us?

Get in touch. We are a passionate and diverse team with both local and international perspectives, excited about helping shape Gippsland's startup community.

Contact Startup Gippsland

Phone

03 5644 3321

Email

hello@startupgippsland.com.au

Mail

PO Box 1412, Warragul VIC 3820