By LACHLAN MOORHEAD
WHEN Anthony Cheeseman hosts a seminar at Harvard Business School this week, he may look back at his trip as a watershed moment in the evolution of his business.
The Narre Warren local and co-founder of MadCap Cafe Enterprise left for Boston on Wednesday to present to prospective investors at Harvard’s Social Enterprise Conference this weekend.
Speaking before his plane flew out, Anthony said the international opportunity came after he searched online for social enterprise conferences.
“Then when I saw the upcoming Harvard conference I wondered how I was going to get there – if I told my boss he might knock me back because it costs money to go over,” Mr Cheeseman said.
“So I emailed Harvard and told them what MadCap is, a social enterprise business, and told them that I’d like to be one of the facilitators at the conference – what did I have to lose?
“Within 12 hours they got back to me.”
MadCap Enterprise has now been operating for six years and has four cafes in its stable, including at Westfield Fountain Gate. The cafes give employment and work experience opportunities to people who suffer from mental illness and other disabilities.
Owned by the Eastern Regions Mental Health Association (ERMHA), MadCap Enterprises has employed more than 200 people since its inception, winning the Casey Business of the Year award in 2011.
Mr Cheeseman said his presentation at Harvard would encompass several elements.
“It’s selling madcap in the beginning, I’ll start with a DVD presentation,” he said.
“Then I’ll get up and talk about MadCap. I think the core thing is to discuss the importance of MadCap.
Mr Cheeseman also spoke of the importance of finding social investors for MadCap, people who want to invest in the business for more than just financial gain.
“Our business is good for the economy, we’re getting people off pensions,” he said.
“I want to show the people at Harvard my passion for it.
“I’ve been working on MadCap for five to six years and I’m more passionate now than I ever was.”
Mr Cheeseman said there could even be a potential investor in his seminar audience at Harvard.
“I always believe if I keep pitching that there’s a $5 million investor out there,” he said.