Diving into entrepreneurship

How this UOW graduate combined a knack for marketing and a passion for diving into a successful business

When he graduated in 2019, Curtis Tredway thought his love for the ocean would have to wait for the weekends.

Now the Bachelor of Business graduate is a celebrated business owner, launching his Illawarra-based freediving business Deep Sensations in 2022. 

Having completed his PADI Divemaster course in Indonesia, Curtis returned to Australia and put his University of Wollongong (UOW) business degree to work, but soon realised a corporate nine-to-five wasn’t going to cut it. Within a year, he left his Central Coast Council marketing job to train in freediving under national record holder Adam Stern. 

“I could have gone to other coaches, but I just knew that to be one of the best instructors around, I wanted to learn from the best so I could bring back some of their knowledge to Australia because, particularly around here, there was no real freediving school at that time,” says Curtis. 

A man is free diving downwards in the ocean, parallel to a safety line

Curtis Tredway trained under national record holder Adam Stern. Picture: supplied

He then noticed a huge gap in the Illawarra - no locally-based diving schools in a region that is renowned for its pristine coastline. Who better to start a company than someone with a business background, marketing prowess and the best diving qualifications available? 

“My whole life I have had big ideas, but they often would fade away. But this was something that for the first time, I wrote on a vision board. I set out goals at the start of 2022 of how deep I wanted to dive, I want to start my own business, I wanted to find my own tribe. And I thought they were going to be four separate goals I was working towards, but ultimately, they all worked through the business,” he says. 

Deep Sensations has grown massively in less than two years. The school offers a range of services including breathwork and pool workshops, hosted at UOW’s own pool, to weeklong retreats across Australia and internationally. But with exponential growth comes extra responsibility, which Curtis describes as a bit of a juggling act. 

“As a business owner you're the admin guy, the marketing guy, you’re content, you’re customer service and sales - all of it. There is an ever-growing to-do list," he says.  

“Fortunately, through my education and some personal upskilling I've created a well-rounded skill set. I didn't have to fork out thousands of dollars to hire people to help me build a business. I've been able to do it from the ground up.” 

In early 2024, Deep Sensations was recognised as the number one freediving school in Australia for digital presence, which Curtis attributes to the marketing skills he learnt at UOW, and his personal and professional network.  

“In 18 months, we have gone from zero followers [on social media] to around 35,000. While I’m basically a one man show, I do have a great network. My roommate and best mate is an underwater photographer, so he helps me a lot with content,” he says. 

“Doing a business degree, it's really broad in the electives that you can do. I got to do a lot of electives that I was personally interested in like creative writing, marketing, consumer behaviour. I learnt how people flow through your business from seeing you on social media first through what it takes to get them to trust you or look at you as an opinion leader.” 


A group of people are in a tropical lake with their arms in the air, smiling and celebrating

A freediving retreat in Far North Queensland. Picture: supplied

As Deep Sensations continues to take off, Curtis has exciting professional and personal plans in the pipeline, including talks to collaborate with one of the world’s leading freediving education companies.  

Personally, he’s looking to take his own diving to new depths (and temperatures) by ice diving to the bottom of Jindabyne's Blue Lake in 2025. 

“As far as I understand, I could be the first person to dive to the bottom of Australia’s deepest altitude lake in winter. It’s as much of a mental challenge for me as a physical challenge; bodies are a lot more capable of things than we think.” 

Alongside the many hats he wears at Deep Sensations, Curtis continues to work part-time in freelance marketing roles which he says helps take the pressure off.  

“I think if you go all-in too early, it can stray away from that passion. When there's a lot of skin in the game, it can become stressful and it's no longer fun. Even though the business is in a good position, there's still high seasons and low seasons, so getting that extra part-time income allows me to get through that part,” he says.  

As for advice for other young entrepreneurs, Curtis suggests finding something they love and committing to your cause, rather than worrying too much about having the “perfect idea” straight away. 

“If you're genuinely passionate about something, it’s not going to feel like work. If you stay consistent in absolutely anything, you're going to make tons of progress. I always knew I wanted to start a business, I read all the business books and watched the entrepreneur YouTube videos but didn’t have that one perfect idea. Then I had this thing I was so passionate about, I was like ‘okay, I’m going to invest in this’,” he says.  

“There's plenty of times where self-doubt comes in, whether it's putting content out and worrying that it might be cringey, or what will my friends and family or other businesses think? But I just kind of push it to the side and stay consistent, because I know that I'm loving what I'm doing, and I've made massive progress. I think it's about understanding that doubt is normal but not letting that stop you.”