Introducing innovative entrepreneur Ollie Bazzani

Ollie Bazzani is a creative young businessman changing the dynamic of Mandurah's entertainment scene and mentoring the next generation of budding entrepreneurs.

Behind a fun, admittedly giggly, exterior Ollie is one of the best and brightest young business minds in the region.

He is an unassuming character, humbly dismissing compliments, but he is driven and focused as he goes about achieving his goals.

At just 24 years old, Ollie already has a long and impressive resume - from the head of partnerships at local non-for-profit, The Makers, to the co-founder of events company, Lost x Found Community.

And he is the first profile in the new Mandurah Millennials on a Mission series, as we meet the young people from around the region helping to shape a new narrative.

The series aims to provide an insight into some of the fresh new talent who have grown up in our great city, and are just getting started making a name for themselves.

Introducing Ollie Bazzani

I met up with Ollie and his business partner, Nic Bevan, in the empty buildingabove Spurs restaurant on the eastern foreshore.

I thought they were having a laugh when they told me to meet them there after we teed up our interview - a location I didn't even know existed until I stumbled upon the staircase.

I lugged up my camera gear in the middle of a hot December day to be greeted by two larrikins, sitting at a makeshift desk, typing away furiously on their laptops.

It is obvious right from the get-go that these guys have vision.

They politely gloss over the fact that I am a breathless, sweaty mess and take me on a tour of their new digs, aptly named Scott's Garage.

Boasting epic views of the iconic Mandurah Bridge and water as far as the eye can see, the fact that this venue has never been occupied before blew my mind.

But, their latest venture is just one of many Ollie has been involved in as he carves out his young entrepreneur career in Mandurah.

Despite thinking I knew everything about him after countless hours stalking social media (like any good journalist doing their research), we sit down and get chatting like old mates and I learn a lot very quickly.

I'd seen Ollie around the tracks before, done some work with him for the paper and been to a few of his Lost x Found events, but I was excited to dive a little deeper into how he ended up on this inspiring journey.

'Out in the sun, out in the water, having a good time'

After moving to Mandurah from England at eight years old, Ollie and his family settled into the relaxed beach lifestyle pretty quickly.

When he wasn't at school, he was running amok at the beach or outdoors somewhere with mates.

"Coming to Mandurah with all the beaches, waterways, the sun - that defines my childhood. It's being in the sun, being out in the water, having a good time," he said.

I loved my childhood and growing up here.

"I loved my childhood and growing up here. I have so many good memories, including playing rugby at parks around town and spending all our time at the beach.

"Mum and dad's place was 200 metres from the beach so you'd finish school, grab your board with your mates and run down to the beach, have a surf, come home all salty and just hang out."

After finishing high school at Mandurah Catholic College, Ollie started his next journey and moved to Perth to study finance and business law at the University of Western Australia.

Ollie Bazzani back at his old high school, Mandurah Catholic College, inspiring students with his entrepreneurial knowledge.

Ollie Bazzani back at his old high school, Mandurah Catholic College, inspiring students with his entrepreneurial knowledge.

'I have always had a bit of that entrepreneurial spirit'

I can speak from experience when I say that most twenty-somethings still have no idea what they are doing or what they want to do with their careers.

But Ollie has been full of exciting new ideas since he was knee high to a grasshopper, and said he always knew he would pursue a business path.

"I grew up working at mum and dad's restaurant in Singleton and that experience was always a really big part of me," Ollie said.

"I went from washing the dishes and worked my way up to managing it.

"I have always had a bit of that entrepreneurial spirit. In school, I was always coming up with different ideas to make millions of dollars, as you do, and I had a few different businesses throughout uni."

It wasn't until 2014 that Ollie connected with two other young entrepreneurs in Mandurah - his now business partner Nic Bevan and close friend Andrew Britton.

They had just created Ugly DJ Co - another super successful events company providing the tunes for all sorts of gigs around town.

The trio met up to discuss any potential opportunities for working together and the rest, as they say, is history.

Soon after their meeting, Ollie and Nic launched Lost x Found Community - a business that aims to encourage collaboration between creatives to help them achieve their best work.

It also hosts epic events around Mandurah, many of which I have been to, that always deliver on good music, good people and good vibes.

Movers and shakers

"Movers and shakers in your local community! We bring people and places together letting them shine."

That is how Lost x Found Community is described on their social media pages.

Through lxf, as the boys tend to call it during our interview, the pair have done everything from raising the profiles of young DJs to play at the popular festival, Groovin' The Moo, to helping local cafes with marketing and social media.

"It's been really special," Ollie said.

"We're able to connect with the young ones to help bring them up. We're trying to mentor and foster this next generation that are coming through to give them the same opportunities we've been lucky to have."

They have also run sold-out local events like Melo day parties and been a part of activating spaces in the city centre, including Scott's Garage (a full run down on that exciting business venture to come soon so stay tuned!).

Ollie said the inspiration came from wanting to "showcase the best of Mandurah".

"A frustration of mine was how people would speak about Mandurah, from outside of Mandurah, which I wasn't overly familiar or in tune with when I was living here," he said.

"It just didn't align with the town I knew and the town I grew up in.

"I think of Lost x Found as this overarching idea more than a business, but it has grown up as a business as we've grown up with it.

"We want to connect, collaborate, chat and create a shared vision - it's a platform for everyone, to help other people create and do cool things."

The Makers' Head of Partnerships

Balancing his uni studies and co-running Lost x Found, Ollie laughs as he says he then decided to pile even more on his plate and spend some time studying abroad in Canada.

Embracing the opportunity to work with new people with "really interesting ideas", Ollie said the experience "lit a fire in me".

"I finished up my uni studies in Canada and had the opportunity to work with some start-up businesses over there," he said.

"That's where I really got into this start-up and innovation space and fell in love with the fast nature of it."

He never expected to end up back in Mandurah quite so soon, until a particularly special opportunity came knocking as the Head of Partnerships for local non-for-profit, The Makers.

"It was an opportunity to connect with so many diverse people across the region doing really cool things and to be working within an organisation that was really pushing to try and facilitate this new story of Mandurah," he said.

"The Makers is an interesting organisation because you've got the innovation side with Make Place, but then you've also got Yoh Fest and Youth on Leadership, so it opened my eyes up to all these even younger people doing some amazing stuff.

"Then to be able to work alongside our board and Skipper [van Peer] and Rhys [Williams] as a bit of a mentor for me during that time - I'm so glad I jumped on the opportunity because I loved every moment of it."

Ollie Bazzani teaching students as part of The Makers' Yoh Fest.

Ollie Bazzani teaching students as part of The Makers' Yoh Fest.

Momentum in Mandurah

"There's so much momentum right now, which is really exciting for us because we've been working on this for a number of years now and it's all starting to come together," Ollie said.

"We feel like it's on a tipping point now where you've got this groundswell coming from the community, local government that wants to enable it and once it tips, there will be no stopping it."

When I ask Ollie what he loves about Mandurah, his face lights up and he has plenty to say.

It surprises me, given that so many young people have to think pretty hard about this question, often leading with something about Mandurah's "bad reputation".

But not Ollie, who has nothing but praise for the town he calls home.

We live in this beautiful coastal city with incredible natural assets and an incredible community.

"We live in this beautiful coastal city with incredible natural assets and an incredible community. It's a creative, innovative, beautiful place to work and have fun," he said.

"You can do anything from here - we live in a time now with technology that allows you to come up with an idea from Mandurah and be global if that's what you want.

"You could create something locally or make a multi-million dollar business selling around the world - you can do both of those things from Mandurah."

As for putting those entrepreneurial ideas into action, Ollie's advice is "just to start".

"Give it a go, test it, try it. The hardest thing is just starting but once you do, it will never take the direction that you thought it would but you'll make progress," he said.

"I never expected my journey to lead me here - going through uni, I was very certain I'd be going down the traditional path with the 9-5 job.

"My journey since has been completely different but it's allowed me to travel around the world and have so many amazing experiences and collaborate with so many interesting people.

"I love it, I wouldn't change it for anything."

To follow along with all the events happening under the Lost x Found banner, visit their Facebook page or Instagram page.

The next Mandurah Millennials on a Mission profile will explore the life of a powerhouse sporting champion whose burgeoning success has not gone to his head.