Laurence Kain - Business
I came to CIT to study hospitality straight from Year 12. I worked in hospitality at the time, and I wanted to further my career in that area, and work overseas.
I really enjoyed the course - it gave me hands-on, practical experience as well as the theory. The teachers were also very experienced in their field. As part of my course, I did a placement in a hotel. It wasn't the most glamorous work, but it gave me a really good insight into the hotel industry, and I got a lot from it.
After my studies and working in cocktail bars in Canberra, I moved to the United Kingdom.
I worked in cocktails bars including Match Bar and Milk and Honey in London, which were some of the best in the world at the time. I really had an advantage, because my training at CIT had given me an insight into how systems and processes worked, as well as experience with guest services and customer services.
When I came back to Australia, I came back to CIT to study business development. Our studies were very practical, and as part of our assessment, we had to write a business and marketing plan. I figured if I was going to put my time and energy into it, I should make it about something real - and the teachers were very encouraging. At the time, I was managing venues and had an idea to start a music festival. I used the assignment as an opportunity to write a business plan for a music festival, and after approaching the owner at the bar I managed and giving him my plan, the music festival Block Party in Dickson was born. We sold out the show to about 1,000 people, and donated $10,000 to Oxfam. We continued to run the festival for three years, and kept selling out and donating more money each year.
Eventually Block Party got too big, and we couldn't get the approval to run it because of nearby residential areas and noise pollution. In 2007, the same year as starting Block Party, I also started the music festival Foreshore. Foreshore went from selling 7,000 tickets in the first year, to selling 24,000 tickets five years later. The business model that had essentially started from a CIT business assignment was now a multimillion dollar enterprise!
Alongside music festival promotion we were also promoting club nights at Academy Nightclub. In 2008 I came on as a partner in the nightclub and my company Kicks Entertainment provided a full-time marketing and promotion service to the venue. Interestingly, I was an opening member of the bar management team at Academy when the venue opened in 2004, I poured the first drink!
In 2011, while in my last year of running Foreshore, I started Honkytonks in Garema Place: a 200-capacity venue right in the middle of the city focusing on beer produced by independent Australian breweries, sangria, wine and awesome Mexican food!
In 2013 I had the opportunity to take on and fully renovate Hippo Bar, a Canberra institution for cocktails for over 13 years. I had actually been working at Hippo as a bartender back in 2007 when I needed some casual work while getting my businesses off the ground.
For both of these hospitality ventures, I used a lot of the marketing and hospitality skills I learnt from CIT.
I think that in my industry, nothing beats experience - but having that grounding, and the knowledge and theory behind it all is incredibly important. I wouldn't have achieved what I have today without having developed that at CIT first.
Outside of business, my interests include organic gardening and backyard food farming, surfing, rock climbing, sailing and telemark skiing. I am now 30 years old and semi-retired with plenty of time to pursue things outside of work and running businesses.