At just 24 years of age, Ashley Ball is already doing everything he can to inspire the Sunshine Coast’s next generation of entrepreneurs. Drawing on his own experience building start-ups, he's helping guide students along the path to success.
Ashley discovered a love for computers from an early age, with the avid gamer often making his own computers.
“I can remember waking up at 4 am before primary school so I could fire up the big old PC,” Ashley said.
“I was just fascinated by how it ran. The less I understood about computers, the more I wanted to know.”
Ashley completed the Certificate III in Information, Digital Media and Technology (ICT30115) in his final year of high school through the TAFE at School program. He then went on to complete a Certificate IV in Web-Based Technologies (ICT40315) which provided him with the skills he needed to start his first business in 2016. For nearly a year, Ashley worked in partnership with a friend — an exercise he said taught him a lot of valuable lessons about the start-up process.
“We built up a fairly good clientele, but the biggest learning curve was managing expectations and the more behind-the-scenes aspects of running a business,” Ashley said.
Ashley then decided to venture out on his own, offering freelance services in web design, social media and search engine optimisation. This allowed him to successfully build his professional reputation and forge strong connections with other small businesses in the marketing space. These relationships ultimately lead to the creation of the digital media marketing agency, Eudomia Group.
“My journey has really given me a broad experience of what it’s like to create a start-up. Freelancing taught me the importance of networking and having a great reputation. And now that I’m part of a company, I’ve learned how to be a director — how to work with different personalities and manage stakeholders,” Ashley said.
“It’s been a progression for me and that’s what I like to bring to the classroom. I have been through basic business formations in start-ups transitioning into bigger phases, and I am able to share that insight.”
Ashley began teaching at TAFE Queensland’s Mooloolaba campus in 2018. He teaches the Certificate III in Information, Digital Media and Technology (ICT30115) to TAFE at School students looking to learn how to harness technology in their future careers.
The course is offered with the support of Mountain Creek State High School’s Coding and Innovation Hub, Regional Development Australia (RDA) – Sunshine Coast, and SPARK Bureau. It teaches students to embrace innovative thinking and demonstrates how they can use coding and digital media in a real-world context to create their own start-ups.
It’s a full circle moment for Ashley, made even more fitting by the course’s entrepreneurial focus.
“Being a teacher is so rewarding. I’ve been in their shoes, and now that I have my own knowledge and experience, it’s surreal to be able to help others get started,” Ashley said.
“An idea I like to instil in my students is the attitude that they are their own boss, which I think is important because the second you leave school and enter the adult world, you need to be able to make decisions and look after yourself.”
It’s an exciting time to work in information and communications technology (ICT), with the Department of Jobs and Small Business forecasting employment opportunities for ICT network and support professionals are set to increase by 15.3 per cent over the next five years.
“The industry moves so fast and there are so many facets of ICT that you can get into, which I try my best to convey to my students,” Ashley said
“I’ve always loved design and software, but there are plenty of other areas in technology, and it’s ever changing. We’ve already seen the introduction of virtual reality and augmented reality, but things like quantum computing are around the corner, and we are seeing more and more web-based solutions. We are moving into a streaming world where data isn’t on our local machines anymore — it’s in data centres.
Ashley now blogs and provides free content for self-learners who want to understand the basics of business, web design and technology via his professional portfolio website ashleyball.com.au. He’s determined to help the local community as he volunteers his time in the Digital Mentors Volunteer Program on holidays.
Based on the proportion of population who own their own business, the Sunshine Coast is the entrepreneurial capital of Australia. And with the introduction of an international submarine cable to the Sunshine Coast among other initiatives, the number of start-ups on the Coast is only going to grow as the region develops.