Social enterprise innovators recount story of keeping it simple

Thursday, 8 April 2021

University of Newcastle alumni share their innovation journey as founders of social enterprise Borne Clothing at I2N's Startup Stories.

Bal, Pat, Dan and Tim entered the University's Grand Challenge 2019 with a big idea to solve the global issue of mosquito-borne disease. But the team quickly realised honing in on part of the problem would allow for a more sustainable approach and deliver more impact locally and internationally.

At I2N's Startup Stories hybrid virtual and in-person webinar on Wednesday 7 April, the team shared their story of founding Borne Clothing which creates socially, ethically and environmentally conscious clothing while donating half their profits to Nothing But Nets, a company committed to providing mosquito nets and medication to those who could not otherwise afford it.

The founders have gone on to earn a place in Macquarie's Kickstarter Program, and returned for the Grand Challenge in 2020 receiving project funding for an additional initiative under the Borne Clothing brand. They aim to create a difference in the lives of ten thousand people internationally through the sales of their mosquito repellent clothing.

Catch up on Startup Stories with Borne Clothing

Borne Clothing team

Top takeaways

  • When solving a problem with limited resources a great strategy is to mobilise people to help you solve the challenge. The team recognised ‘shared experience’ as a great way to bring people together.
  • The Borne team describe their learnings as ‘failing forward’. Feedback is crucial and when developing your startup and feeding that data back into business model allows you to improve iteratively. I2N Validator teaches founders powerful methods for including customer feedback into their business models.
  • It’s important to define your market. Work out what products you’re putting out there and tailoring it to the customers that are coming to you as well as the customers you’d like to target.
  • The team has come to learn and appreciate through real experience the diversity of expertise, interests, and capabilities when you bring bringing a multidisciplinary team together. It highlights strengths and weaknesses allowing you to move forward constructively. Practice building a diverse team while solving a wicked problem at the upcoming Hackathon for Water Security.
  • Communication is key when you have a supply chain made up of many moving parts. Each channel serves a different purpose, instant messenger for quick feedback and email for longer form discussion. Be clear with communication and don’t leave anything up to chance.
  • The Grand Challenge has been an opportunity that is completely risk free for us to have a crack at an idea. It’s given us a lot of freedom to experiment and get Borne Clothing off the ground as a social enterprise. Learn more about the Grand Challenge and how you can be involved for future challenges.

The University of Newcastle's I2N works with individuals and organisations from across the Hunter region and beyond to turn ideas and challenges into opportunity. As a leading driver of economic and business growth, the I2N cultivates an entrepreneurial mindset that is behind many of the region's most innovative businesses and leaders.

Keep up to date with future I2N events, programs and opportunities by subscribing to I2N's monthly newsletter or visit

Related news

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.