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Nicole Lander - An Innovation Maven

Battlefield Sports Executive Invited To Judging Panel

Each year, arguably the most prestigious award for business people is judged - the Telstra Business Awards. This award recognizes not just innovative, but the best and brightest in business across the nation.

nicole lander a maven

Nicole has previously won a Telstra Business Award for her innovations. This year she has been invited to be a judge for the business awards. 

Who are Innovation Mavens?  

The word maven comes from the Yiddish "meyvn" (מבין) meaning "one who understands." Nicole Lander was also invited to judge Anthill's SMART 100. 

Each year Anthill’s SMART 100 recognizes not just innovative, and unique products, but also ranks products based on their potential to achieve consumer adoption and commercial success. 

In 2004 Battlefield Sports was part of this distinguished list, named in the nation's Smart 100. Battlefield Sports was named number 37 in the Smart 100 Readers' Choice Awards. 

This year, Nicole Lander from Battlefield Sports was asked to be one of the cohorts of business leaders and innovators - the "Mavens" - who has been tasked with judging the Smart 100 for 2018. 

The judging cohort of the Smart 100 are mavens in their field and have created remarkable businesses of their own.

The 2018 cohort features judges from academia and industry with expertise in venture capital, marketing, science and medicine, philanthropy, and technology. 

As an expert on innovation and a former Smart 100 winner, Nicole Lander was one of the Smart 100 judges. 

According to James Tuckerman from Anthill, a maven also means a person who seeks to pass on this knowledge to others – an intense gatherer of information and impressions, the first to pick up on new or nascent trends and share them.

Mavens play a vital role in the commercial success of new products and services.

Unlike early adopters, who are attracted to any new technology, mavens are more discerning. They are thoughtful in their approach to the adoption of innovations and that is why they are often turned to as trusted advisers.

A successful innovation may be attractive to your average early adopter but mavens are the people who will bring a successful innovation into the mainstream.

As a result, Anthill’s SMART 100 are not chosen simply due to the novel or unique nature of the innovations but because of the potential of each to achieve consumer adoption and commercial success.

With more than 700 nominations and 100 innovations profiled and ranked each year, the SMART 100 Index is the largest awards program dedicated to innovation in Australia.

Nominated innovations were invited to submit a detailed application featuring open-ended questions that focused on how the innovation improves the status quo. 

The outcomes of these applications were then amalgamated and short-listed to assemble the Top 100.

To rank the Top 100, the 100 ‘maven’ judges evaluated the entries, across eight criteria.

The judging favored commercially focused innovations.

The combined 'crowd-sourced' wisdom of the maven judges provided the resulting ranked list.

"On behalf of James Tuckerman, we would like to sincerely thank you for being a part of this prestigious competition," said Faye from the Anthill Team. 

Entrepreneurship at Play - Lessons On The Start-Up Journey

Before Nicole Lander became a successful entrepreneur and co-founder of an international export company, and before she was recognized by Telstra’s Business Women’s Awards, she didn’t know much about manufacturing play equipment.

“When I initially founded Battlefield Sports I was not familiar with supply chains and manufacturing,” Lander explained.
entrepreneurship business start up “I learned a lot about fulling customer orders and about research and development on the job.”

Starting a business can be challenging.

But the faster you get your idea to market, the faster you can get feedback from real customers and the faster you can get your return on investment.

"The feedback loop is really important, listen to your customers and end-users, this feedback will inspire your next innovation," she said.

After growing up in a family of civil servants innovating outdoor laser tag and starting laser tag export business was a bit out of the left field.

“It just goes to show that you don’t have to be an engineer or programmer to succeed in the ITC industry. Just believe in your business concept, start somewhere, and follow your passion,” she said.

Lander says she has learned four key lessons in her start-up journey as a female entrepreneur.

1. Believe In Your Idea? Act Fast

Do you know that your idea is viable? If you have researched your market and believe your idea is workable then don't hesitate. Act fast. Test your idea in your marketplace.

"Once you commit to starting a laser tag business, start fast," she said.

Some consider the laser tag industry to be a man’s world so often women have to go the extra mile to be taken seriously, Lander said.

But the only way things will change is by more women entering the combat entertainment sector.

2. Avoid Costly Mistakes

During the early stages of setting up a laser tag business, one of the biggest hurdles is trying to save enough money or access enough finance to launch.

Seek out info from reputable suppliers and mentors.

“Asking for help is not a sign of weakness it makes savvy business sense,” she said.

We have a new ebook called "7 Mistakes To Avoid" that provides some useful insights for a new business start-up.

Claim your copy today, click here.

3. Invest in Legal Advice

There are lots of steps to run through before you can open your doors; from registering your business and opening a business bank account to setting up your website.

Lander says it is important to invest in an attorney to protect your idea and establish an intellectual property framework that suits your business.

"Consider registering your business name as a trademark and register the associated domain names. Also, consider your social media accounts such as Twitter and Instagram handles," she said.

4. Be Prepared for Set-backs But Savor The Successes

Working in the business world can be challenging Lander says. She had to deal with IP theft and expensive legal battles and other challenges along her business journey.

But there have also been many successes along the journey.

“The thing is that I’m still here, fighting the good fight. My team is going from strength to strength. We are looking forward to the latest innovations we have in the pipeline," she said.

"Being able to work with my family has been terrific," she said. Nicole works with her husband Peter and both of Nicole's teenage children work in the Battlefield Sports business.

"It is an exciting time to be in business,” she said.