The Upstart Journey

Before becoming an independent Not For Profit and charity, the Upstart Challenge began in 2012 as a concept created by Geelong’s St Joseph’s College Foundation in response to the region’s transforming industrial economic heritage and the need to better prepare young people for the changing employment landscape.

What is the Upstart Challenge?

Our flagship program. The Upstart Challenge is entrepreneurial ideas challenge, startup accelerator and mentoring program for secondary school students. It aims to build an essential life and employability skills to better equip students for the jobs of the future.

A period of growth

With the support of the St. Joseph’s College Foundation and growing from strength to strength, the Upstart Challenge evolved to becoming an independent not for profit organisation and registered charity. This was achieved through the additional support of the Victorian State Government, Industry Sponsors, the Education Sector, and continued financial sponsorship from the St Joseph’s College Foundation. During this time, over 1,633 students have participated in the Challenge, 22 schools have been involved and over 380 innovative Big Ideas have been submitted!

2017 and beyond

With the continued disruption and rapid change being experienced in the employment landscape globally, Upstart’s mission to inspire, educate and amplify today’s innovators and tomorrow’s changemakers continues to be a driving force behind the growth of our organisation. Upstart has grown from its early pioneering start to become a leader in entrepreneurial education. Offering a range of experiential learning opportunities, tools and resources to educators, youth leaders, communities and young people, we work closely with our clients to develop bespoke solutions for maximum impact. Rather than a simple imparting of information, at Upstart we remain committed to building the capacity of our participants and the global village that supports them.

Upstart Impact

students have developed entrepreneurial skills
people joined our workshops and event network
Industry mentors and partners



Our flagship entrepreneurial ideas challenge and mentoring program for secondary school students. This program encourages and inspires all students to have a go, discover their inner changemaker and win some cash.


An innovative range of programs and resources for education professionals, teaching staff and youth leaders, to take entrepreneurship into the classroom and beyond. Take the first step on your journey by clicking here.


A range of fun and immersive indoor and outdoor action packed entrepreneurial and leadership bootcamps suitable for changemakers of all ages.


A two day hands on intensive for getting your business started. Learn invaluable skills and connect with experienced mentors. Find or develop your idea and launch your business.

“The Upstart team are passionate, driven and true collaborators. They pull together a unique and diverse network of industry leaders, educators, young people and the community; all connected by the common drive to shape the future for the benefit of everyone. And I’m delighted to be part of this team.”

Jason Clarke, Mindworker