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 When one Hunter businesswoman used her corporate marketing skills to drive a run-down mechanical workshop into a thriving business, she never imagined it would lead to her launching a business in North America.

Necessity was the driver for Rachael Sheldrick's innovation that has disrupted the automotive after-market industry. Five years down the road, Mrs Sheldrick expects to launch The Workshop Whisperer by the end of May into the US and Canada.

The Workshop Whisperer is based on an eight-week business transformation mentor program for self-employed mechanics; she describes it as “a survival to success strategy."

Mrs Sheldrick knows it works because it was the process she used to take her husband, Glen’s new business, GS Mechanical, from zero to profit in three months and the profit has continued to double every six months. 

As the word of the success spread, other mechanics started to ask Mrs Sheldrick for advice. As she started to mentor and educate them on how to run a business, Mrs Sheldrick realised she needed a one-to-many business model.

Her vision was a training platform to increase their efficiency and productivity by a minimum of 25%; to improve their cash flow cycle; and increase profitability for their individual businesses by 10 to 20%.

From scratch, she created an automated system that was easy to use, mobile responsive and user friendly as well as engaging. It also used personalised responses based on previous information.

Building this bespoke software was expensive, however, Mrs Sheldrick took a punt on herself, believing that one day it would pay off.


A chat with Lisa Kernes of Ignite Alliance saw Mrs Sheldrick receive Federal Government assistance through its Research and Development Tax Incentive. By meeting the eligibility criteria of being a company, and spending more than $20,000 on R&D in a financial year, Mrs Sheldrick was able to claim back 45 per cent of the platform’s costs against the 2015/16 tax liabilities and received a cash refund. In 2016/17 she will be able to claim again.


With her expansion into North America, Mrs Sheldrick has also accessed the Export Market Development Grant. After spending more than $15,000, she will be able to claim 50 per cent of any additional expenses.

Mrs Sheldrick said she had no idea these types of grants were available.

“They have allowed me to invest again in the business’ direction, especially the North American program and its marketing,” she said.

Like many business owners, Mrs Sheldrick associated R&D and innovation with the high-tech sector.

It was not until she spoke to Mrs Kernes and local innovation expert Christina Gerakiteys, she realised her disruption on the industry.

“The mentoring program is the only one of its kind. Then we created the industry’s first non-competitive community where best practice is shared.”

To date more than 3000 workshops have benefited from being part of The Workshop Whisperer community.

“When I started, I was just following my nose. Retrospectively, I realise I am an innovator because innovation is anything working towards change in any industry and it is everywhere.”

“My advise is be the change that you know needs to happen. Don’t wait for some one else to do it – jump in and be the maker and builder.”

 If you have something you would like to talk to us about that may be eligible for an R and D or EMDG grant, give us a call on 1300 22 46 86 or make an appointment for a free consultaion. Too easy!


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This article originally appeared in Hunter Business Review.


Topics: Innovation

Lisa Andrews

Written by Lisa Andrews

Lisa Andrews, after experiencing adversity in her life, decided to focus on positive momentum, intent on taking part in global conversations to make the world a better place. Having a data, engineering and financial background, she is on a mission to pave the way to give everyone a fair start in life and to maximise human potential. A serial entrepreneur, in 2018 Lisa won the Hunter Outstanding Young Entrepreneur of the Year. She is founder and part owner of several companies that all focus on profit with purpose. Lisa is currently working on projects with Singularity University, the United Nations, ACTAI, the Extreme Tech Challenge, Arm, Treasure Data, 2030vision.com, Ocean Elders, Unicef, EO, GSEA and others. Lisa's focus is on projects that aim to solve the world's greatest challenges using exponential technologies, beginning with achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Lisa is passionate about creating a vision for the world for the next 100 years. In her spare time you’ll find her reading, travelling to exotic locations or kite surfing.

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