After fantastic growth and improvement in only three years, College’s annual start-up competition, Androvation, promised great things in its fourth iteration. Our young entrepreneurs sought to develop their 3-day Minimum Viable Product (MVP) into a pitch to the judges for $3,000 seed funding.
After an extremely successful 2019 programme, there was plenty to live up to. The programme kicked off on the Friday evening with an exciting look at innovation and entrepreneurship with Dr. Steven Hitchcock, a lecturer at the University of Sydney in the discipline of international business. Dr. Hitchcock began the ideation process by giving an engaging introduction into the ‘Politics of Science and Technology’ and the broader impact that these drivers have in shaping social dynamics. The purpose of the session being to give students insight about some of the problems humanity currently faces, and how to develop unique, original solutions.
The genesis stage kicked off early on Saturday morning, with teams forming and beginning to find their footing as a number of probing ideas and potential projects were entertained. The first guest speaker of the Saturday was Bec Weeks, who called in from Chicago to discuss the development of her company’s new app Pique – which uses behavioural science to improve daily cognitive function and performance – as well as venture capitalism’s influence over the start-up sphere and her company.
This was a useful session as it allowed the students to apply Bec’s story as an example when the second guest speaker – Annabelle Scott from Tempus Partners – delivered an excellent crash course into the investor’s perspective in venture capital relationships, and how students may approach their Sunday evening pitches.
As ideas slowly morphed into existence and brains began to tire, each new insight into the business world reinvigorated the groups to view their business ideas in new ways. The next guest, Sam Clarke (co-founder of extracurricular management system app Clipboard), toured the various groups for more intense individual feedback sessions, whereby students bounced ideas of him and further manifested their ideas into more concrete solutions.
Our final guest Craig Blair – co-founder and managing partner of AirTree Ventures – generously came in for a ‘fireside chat’ in which students were just as interested in learning about his diverse and extensive career path as they were about his insight into the world of venture capitalism and his review of their ideas.
After a long Sunday putting together a presentation deck for their MVP, Androvation culminated in 10-minute pitch presentations to a panel of three judges: Will Cesta, John Sergeant and Jason Weeks.
Tom Woodcock took home the winning prize with his idea Flashmob, which aims to re-shape the flash sales industry by incentivising customers to purchase goods more quickly when a sale goes live. The soundbite Tom used was: “Buy now. Get paid later.” In essence, the quicker someone purchases the product from its initial release, the more likely they are to receive a portion of their money back. For example, customers 1-50 receive 80% of their money back. Customers 51-150 receive 40% of their money back. The premise being that customers who purchase the good after customers 1-150 will help to fund the cash backs to the first customers. The theory is that by increasing sales by just 4%, Flashmob will break even on their discount model for any product sold, and with the added incentive and hype created by Flashmob’s discount opportunity, more than 4% more customers will look to purchase the goods, and quickly.
It was an extremely nuanced pitch, and my few lines do not serve it justice, but it was certainly enough to convince the judges that it was worthy of the winning Androvation pitch for 2020.
Other ideas included:
– “Scrunched” An environmentally-friendly, online receipt platform which serves to both eliminate paper receipts and to act as a database for previous transactions, warranties etc.
– “Blue Guru” A tutoring and exam service for STEM subjects, allowing students to target specific areas of individual syllabus points, and providing greater accessibility for rural students.
– “Doubletake Media” A company aiming to collate news articles designed to give readers snippets of both sides of the argument before allowing them to delve deeper.
– “Agile Queue” A virtual queuing platform.
– “Teammate” An app designed for amateur coaches to help structure their coaching sessions, using drills developed by professionals.
– “Jobsie” A job-seeking service similar to Seek and GradAustralia but focussed more on accessibility to university students, employing skills developed during the intermediary stages of their degrees.
The calibre of the pitches this year reached a new tier. The poise of the presentations, the detail and engagement across all groups were strongly commended by the judges. The event was also an exceptional opportunity to network with alumni and industry professionals with strong business acumen, of which all students utilised. The success of Androvation 2020 is undoubtedly indicative of the potential for growth in all facets of the competition and I have no doubt that whoever takes the reigns next year will take the event to further horizons.
I would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the guest speakers over the course of the weekend; Dr Steven Hitchcock, Bec Weeks, Annabelle Scott, Sam Clarke and Craig Blair, as well as Will Cesta, Jason Weeks and John Sergeant for going above-and-beyond in their sagacious enumeration of the strengths and weaknesses of each pitch in what was a tightly contested competition. We are all truly grateful for your time. I can say with confidence that the mentors added an element of excitement and rigour to the programme, and all the groups strongly benefitted from their expertise.
– Lachlan Martin