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Getting a head start


Luke Di Stefano has momentum. In his final year of a business degree and fresh from a trip to China pitching his start-up clothing company to foreign investors, he’s getting a head start on his future.

There’s no denying Luke is a born entrepreneur.

“Right from the get-go I’ve always had that mindset and I knew I wanted to work for myself. As a kid I always dreamt of running my own cafe and I want to open a jazz bar too.” But for now his clothing company, Deceptiv Apparel, is where Luke’s attention lies.

 

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Fever pitch

“My company wasn’t about me trying to start the next Adidas. It began as a side project because I wanted to learn how to run a business and how to start up something new,” he said. “But I started to see my idea had legs and I decided to run with it.”

When Luke was invited to attend a pitching event in China through the Sydney School for Entrepreneurship, with help and support from Collaborate Plus (ACU’s on-campus business incubator), he had no idea what he’d agreed to.

“I’d never done a professional business pitch in my life, so I was really nervous and had to wing it. I showed up in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and found myself with people way more experienced and older than me, talking about how much money they’d already made. However, being a 20-year-old uni student turned out to be my biggest strength.

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“It was eight straight days of pitching our businesses to investors. One day I found myself on stage in front of 500 people, including one of the biggest investors in China. Even if nothing comes from it, I made so many connections with people and I’m certain the Chinese market is where my business is heading.”

Lesson learned

Luke has his eyes set firmly on the future. And in spite of the growing momentum for Deceptiv Apparel, he knows uni is where he needs to be right now.

“Gathering resources is definitely what my degree has given me. If I had left school and skipped uni to start my business straight away, I’d never have had the opportunity to go to China. I wouldn’t have developed efficient time management skills, I wouldn’t have been able to utilise the workshops from Collaborate Plus, and I wouldn’t have met my lecturer, Dr Hormoz Ahamdi, who has really helped me develop my entrepreneurial mindset.

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“I’m also doing a minor in entrepreneurship as part of my degree – and I’m so grateful for these subjects. I’ve been able to transfer everything I’ve learnt in these classes to the real world. It was simple things, like learning you have to be able to give a 20-second pitch for a business. Sure enough, when I was in China I was told I only had 20 seconds to talk about my company on stage. In fact, every day in China I was able to link my experiences back to something I’d learnt in my entrepreneurship subjects.”

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Ease of entry

Luke also joined the Passion for Business (P4B) program when he first came to ACU, which proved invaluable support before his degree had even begun.

“P4B offers guaranteed early entry, so when I was finishing Year 12 and knew I was already accepted into my degree, it took a huge weight off my shoulders. And once I got to uni, I was given a gift voucher through the program that I was able to put towards textbooks.”

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With just one year left of his degree and a ticket to China all but booked, Luke’s determined to keep following the path he’s already set out on.

“The possibilities feel endless, and I’m only 20, which I can use to my advantage. I have momentum and the last thing I want to do is say I went to China five years ago and nothing happened. I’m confident I’ll get there.”

 

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Find out more about studying entrepreneurship through an ACU business degree and how Passion for Business and Collaborate Plus can support your goals.

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Impact brings you compelling stories, inspiring research, and big ideas from ACU. It's about the impact we’re having on our communities, and our Mission in action. It’s a practical resource for career, life and study.

At ACU it’s education, but not as you know it. We stand up for people in need, and causes that matter.

If you have a story idea or just want to say hello, do contact us.

Copyright@ Australian Catholic University 1998-2019 | ABN 15 050 192 660 CRICOS Reg: 00004G