From uni assignment to food-tech startup, CQUni alumnus takes Gathar global

Published:11 June 2020

CQUni alumnus Jodie Mlikota founded Gathar after designing the food-tech platform for a uni assignment.

It’s a Queensland innovation being invited into homes across Australia, and digital dinner party platform Gathar first began as a CQUniversity assignment.

Described as the Airbnb of dinner parties, Gathar has just closed $600,000 in seed investment funding, at a time when eating at home is surging in popularity as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease.

The online platform matches chefs, cooks and grazing table stylists with people who love to entertain, but don’t love the hard work that comes with it. Customers choose a menu and a Gathar team member comes to them to cook, serve and wash up after.

CQUniversity Cairns alumnus Jodie Mlikota is the founder and chief executive of Gathar, and said the idea began as a uni project.

“The first version of Gathar actually came from one of my entrepreneurship assignments in my Graduate Certificate of Social Innovation,” Ms Mlikota said.

“The project was to think of a problem and design a new business to solve it, and my lecturer was really encouraging, and said that Gathar could actually work in the real world.

“I was super passionate about the idea, so that night I registered the business name!”

That was in May 2017, and the passionate student went on pitch her idea at the Global Startup Weekend Women in Brisbane, winning her way through to an international pitch opportunity in France in March 2018.

Completing her Graduate Certificate of Social Innovation later that year, Ms Mlikota and her co-founders Nicky Jurd and Kaj Haffenden then launched in Cairns and Port Douglas in September 2018, and expanded to Brisbane last year.

Gathar has since expanded into 10 markets nationally, including Sydney, Melbourne, Byron Bay and the Sunshine Coast, with plenty of media interest nationally.

The latest seed capital came from lead Brisbane-based investor ACAC Innovation, along with co-investors FNQ Angels and the Queensland Government’s Business Development Fund.

Ms Mlikota said the investment will enable the business to expand across Australia and ultimately, internationally.

“We will be able to onboard hundreds of new chefs, cooks and grazing stylists to create delicious dining experiences for people across the country,” she said.

The growth will also generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for its “Culinarians”, the term the business uses to describe its cooks, chefs and grazing stylists.

Ms Mlikota said easing of COVID-19 restrictions has seen a surge in bookings, as Australians celebrate the chance to invite friends into their homes.

“Over the coming months we expect to be ahead of where we were before lockdown,” she said.

Social Innovation is an important part of CQUniversity’s strategy to support every student to be a changemaker.

This year CQUniversity was re-accredited as Australia’s only Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, part of an exclusive global network of educators committed to social innovation, enterprise and impact.

Choose from CQUniversity’s 300 courses to start your changemaker career.