• NGNY co-founder, Liam Ridgeway with Tim Ella and Grant Hyde from Kadoo Tours. (Facebook / Ngakkan Nyaagu - NGNY)
With only a small group of Indigenous Australians working in the tech industry and even fewer owning a tech business, company NGNY is helping more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders get (and grow) online.
By
Emily Nicol

1 Nov 2017 - 10:27 AM  UPDATED 1 Nov 2017 - 10:33 AM

Getting into the digital landscape as a means to share cultural ideas, values and stories was an easy choice for Gumbaynggirr and Wakka Wakka man, Liam Ridgeway.

In 2014, he and his business partner John Saulo started Ngakkan Nyaagu (NGNY), translates as "see" in Wergaia and Gumbaynggirr languages. NGNY is an 100 per cent owned digital agency, creating web services, design and IT consulting for clients, aiming to be an innovator and inspiration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the digital space.  

Liam says he is inspired by the need to see Indigenous stories history, culture and affairs becoming more prevalent in the online environment.

"I’m motivated by the impact that technology can have on our community to increase sustainability and productivity but importantly can play a vital role in cultural knowledge retention and sharing," Liam told NITV.

 

As an emerging and evolving platform, having an Aboriginal owned and operated business in the digital space is also another guiding principle, with very few currently within the field. 

"There's only a very small group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the tech community and then reduce this even further for ATSI people who actually own a tech business. This allows us to show other people in our community that being ATSI and owning a tech business is achievable."

The NGNY office is based in Redfern at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence, which for Ridgeway was an important way of being connected to community.  "It is important for us to be based in a suburb that has a long history of Aboriginal activism and action especially because gentrification has changed the area so much in recent years. It’s important that places like Redfern this retain some of their important cultural history and identity."

The NGNY team is made up 9 staff with 6 staff being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and with a host of different clients Ridgeway says that there is never a typical day for the team but keeping their eyes on daily goals is an important cornerstone for the company. 

"Every day provides new opportunities and new challenges for us. The only thing that is typical and consistent is that we do a team stand-up meeting every morning. This daily stand-up meeting creates a level of structure to ensure that each and every team member knows what they are aiming to achieve each day.

As a business, their goal is not only to be an excellent provider but to help establish a strong and sustainable impact not only for Aboriginal businesses but in the wider social space. What they offer in comparison to others in their marketplace is unique in wanting to giving back to community. 

"Our main goal is to help grow a dynamic and sustainable Indigenous digital economy through our work. Indigenous digital economy is the way that Aboriginal businesses and organisations interact with digital technology, and we see a huge potential for social impact if the digital engagement and innovation grows in our communities.

"There are a couple of points of difference that we have defined that set us apart in the marketplace; one, having a team that is majority Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in both technical and non-technical roles, and two, we’re not just a business that aims to generate revenue. A core pillar of NGNY is built around developing an Indigenous digital economy. Indigenous digital economy is our focus on investing in and working towards understanding and implementing ways in which technology plays a role in creating stronger, more productive and increasingly self-sustaining Indigenous communities."

"Having a positive impact on community and making sure there is the ability for community to thrive in Western Society is an everyday drive and inspiration for the NGNY team and continuing culture remains at the heart of what they aim to achieve."

"Having a positive impact on community and making sure there is the ability for community to thrive in Western Society is an everyday drive and inspiration for the NGNY team and continuing culture remains at the heart of what they aim to achieve.

"Most importantly for us is to be strongly rooted in our culture so that we can have a strong connection to identity, place and community and that we are able to share this with all of society so that everyone knows about us, the oldest living culture on earth."

A career highlight for the NGNY team was recently launching the Koori Knockout app which provided up to the moment information for the thousands that attend the popular sporting and community event. 

"Whilst we have worked on a few mobile apps previously, this was our first big publically released mobile app which attracted over 500,000 screen views and really allowed us to test the capabilities of our mobile app development." Ridgeway says.

Liam's best advice for anyone wanting to get into the space is to just go for it. 

"You only live once, so if you want to pursue an opportunity in starting up your own tech business then take a leap of faith and do it, don’t just talk about it."

 

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