Maria Collyer – Incubator Mentor 2020
Maria Collyer is a Growth Facilitator for the federal government’s flagship business initiative, The Entrepreneurs Programme. She delivers strategic advisory services to established businesses in Northern NSW and works with most of the region’s well-known brands across food, beverage, fashion and advanced manufacturing.
Maria is a multi-awarded food entrepreneur and business expert as the founder of Sweden’s largest juice bar chain, Naked Juicebar. She has experience from many stages of brand building and operational development, with key skills in scalable models to support continuous growth. She also is experienced as a board member in an angel investment group, and as a jury member in pitch competitions both domestically and internationally.
At European Food Service Summit 2011, Maria featured as a guest speaker, sharing line-up with Starbucks’ Howard Schultz. Her own journey has fuelled a passion for business that she is thrilled to share with fellow entrepreneurs.
Where did you grow up?
In Lerberget – a small fisher village in the south of Sweden.
Given the choice between living in the city or country which would you choose and why?
I would totally choose country – I have always cherished nature and open space over the dynamic city environment. On the other hand, I do love hipster coffee and a Friday cocktail, so my small hometown of Byron Bay fits me perfectly.
Describe your area of expertise?
I am quite a holistic business expert with experience across many areas, but my one superpower would be scaling through systems and processes. My background in franchising has taught me that replicable processes are essential for business growth.
What are you looking forward to most about participating in the Norfolk Island Incubator Programme?
I look forward supporting the participants in their business aspirations as well as encouraging their personal growth and confidence going forward.
What wisdom or knowledge do you hope to share with the participants?
I hope to validate their innate ability to learn, grow and problem solve, and to encourage them to tell an authentic brand story.
What is the greatest hurdle you have had to overcome in your career and how did you do it?
As a young CEO and founder of a juice bar franchise, I was challenged legally by PepsiCo’s trademark department. I had invested my savings into my business and barely had $1000 to throw at a lawyer. So, I did a whole lot of research into trademark law, found a loophole, composed a letter, and asked a cheap lawyer to sign it for me. And it worked. We got to keep our name and brand in Sweden, where we were established, and the chain now operates 25 shops.
If you could solve one problem or issue what would it be?
Peace. Peace starts inside every human. We need to find peace inside, in our families, in our communities, so it can spread from there.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Learn the art of switching off and experience deep relaxation. There is no A for achievement at the end of the road, so you might as well enjoy they journey.
If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be and why?
My mum. She’s in Sweden, and I haven’t seen her for more than a year. I suspect it might be another year before I get to catch her again. She is such a spark, 72 years old and walks 10 k’s per day, dances at every opportunity she can get, and laughs at herself.
Best advice you have been given?
Crunch the numbers. Don’t guess.