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Mathew is a 19 year old health and safety entrepreneur based in Adelaide, South Australia. At the age of 17, he began his first startup, ‘Nightlife First Aid’ after seeing an issue of excessive teenage drinking at parties and a need for it to be fixed. Since, due to great success, he has heavily entered the business world, being highly regarded in the health and safety niche.
City where you’re from: Adelaide, South Australia.
Hobbies: Business/Entrepreneurship, Public Speaking, Parkour.
Favorite quote: Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
What are you working on?
Mathew D’Onofrio: Despite many side projects, I am currently focusing on my first ever startup, ‘Nightlife First Aid’. Nightlife First Aid is a first aid service dedicated to creating safe partying environments amongst youth and alcohol consumption… Events which other companies typically and actively avoid.
How did you come up with this idea?
Mathew D’Onofrio: I was a ‘St. John Ambulance’ volunteer for 5 years prior to founding Nightlife. Every event I attended, especially parties, I would end up helping my sick, injured and drunk peers or travelling with them and their worried families to hospital at 3am in the morning. After this happened at my ‘Year 11 Semi-Formal After Party’, I decided to voluntarily offer my services the following year at my ‘Year 12 Formal After Party’ but was paid by the organiser. After seeing such a desperate need for my service and the willingness to pay for it, despite my lack of business knowledge… I decided to try and turn it into a business.
How is your company different?
Mathew D’Onofrio: As stated above, most companies within this industry actually avoid these kinds of events. This was also the case when I approached St. John Ambulance before starting Nightlife. I asked them to do it instead and they declined, multiple times. In fact, because I founded Nightlife, I was kicked out of the organisation despite my dedication to the service. Nightlife are also more advanced technologically. We prefer to be active on the Facebook event of parties we attend which also allows us to check on the recovery of our patients post-event.
What’s your dream with your company?
Mathew D’Onofrio: My dream, the ultimate goal for Nightlife (which is also where I see us in due time) is to expand internationally. We already have research that shows us it is required in many other countries but also very possible with the necessary resources.
How do you creatively advertise?
Mathew D’Onofrio: I have to be honest… Our advertising is not all that ‘creative’. Even more surprising, all the advertising we have done has been organically on Facebook yet still allowed us to reach over 50% of our potential market. Market research shows us that this is a big task as in South Australia, almost every teenager has at least one party to go to every weekend. Word of mouth has been a huge advantage to us and something we have strongly been able to leverage.
What support do have have to help you through the tough times of entrepreneurship.
Mathew D’Onofrio: At first, I didn’t have much support. I joined St. John Ambulance for a personal reason so my family weren’t supportive of me leaving it. I also didn’t have a very large circle of friends. Over time, however, my family have warmed up to my idea and my work with Nightlife. I have met an amazing girl I am proud to call my girlfriend who supports me endlessly and I have also expanded my network which is great. I have met some very successful and interesting people.
I am also a part of the Aspiring Millionaires Club (or better known as AMC) who are a small group of young, budding entrepreneurs and business people residing in the city of Adelaide, South Australia. Together, they educate and learn from each other, support one another, discuss ideas and future goals together and entertain each other.
Coming from different business and lifestyle backgrounds and each having goals leading to all aspects of the business world, each member has a different set of skills and knowledge to share with the group.
What was your biggest failure and biggest success? What did you learn from them?
Mathew D’Onofrio: Failure- I don’t see failure as an opposite to success but a part of it so what others may see as failure, I see as success.
Success- I was a top 4 finalist for the ‘Young South Australian of the Year Award’ and the ‘Channel 9 Young Achiever Awards’. I have also won some very honorable awards within the Adelaide startup community for what I do. These achievements make me proud, not for bragging rights but to see that others recognize and support the change I am trying to make.
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have.
Mathew D’Onofrio: Do. That’s what I did, that’s what others can do, that’s what i advise. Many people have amazing ideas and the potential to go with it but see starting a business as something only rich and famous people can do, even though that is a misconception. I come from a mediocre, working-class family. We are not wealthy or knowledgeable in business, in fact, I had absolutely no business knowledge when I first started Nightlife. I simply heard the first step I could take from a friend and did it, then the next step lit up so I did it and as I kept taking each step, the next continued to brighten up… Now I am here.
Thanks so much Mathew for letting us feature you on Future Sharks! Best of luck to you and your future endeavors!