New founders shine at Sydney Women Startup Weekend
An app for sharing the safest walking routes for the evening commute, a service connecting travellers to locals in new cities and footwear that harnesses your steps to power your phone, were just some of the ideas heard at the latest Sydney Women Startup Weekend.
Over the course of the weekend, 80 women networked, developed and launched their own companies, competing for a prize pool featuring free co-working spaces, scholarships and a chance to pitch at the APAC Women Showcase, an international Techstars event in Bali this October.
Each team worked intensively in the UTS Startups collaboration space, validating ideas, identifying audiences, and communicating the value of their startup. After two days of networking, building and refining, the final showcase saw 16 startups pitching their ideas to a panel of expert judges.
Following deliberations, Julie Trell (Head of muru-D and SheEO Country Lead), Sally-Ann Williams (Engineering Community & Outreach Manager) of Google Australia) and Julie Demsey (entrepreneur, formerly of SBE Australia), awarded prizes.
1st place – Vouch, a diversity recruitment referral system to help companies find top talent and remove unconscious bias in the process.
2nd place – Melo, a workflow task management app organising household admin, and saving relationships one task at a time (team of three including UTS Design, Architecture and Building student Kate Paterson).
3rd place – Eva, reducing waste by eliminating paper receipts. (UTS Design, Architecture and Building alumna Marsha Levina).
4th place – Sidekick, a navigational service, crowdsourcing the safest walking routes to and from home (UTS Arts and Social Sciences students, Claudia Brown and Nicole Cottam).
First place winners Vouch took home $1000 towards their trip to the APAC Women Showcase in Bali, a bootcamp and course scholarship worth $4000 from Academy Xi and one month of co-working space at Fishburners.
Vouch is led by former HR executive Siobhan Savage, who spent the weekend developing the idea and getting people on board to support the venture. She is currently searching for a tech guru to join her team and will be meeting with UTS with the aim of finding a student with the perfect skill set.
The overall prize pool, shared out amongst the rest of the winners, included:
A prototyping workshop with UTS Rapido.
Access to the community workshop at Cicada Innovations.
Scholarship to coding and digital marketing courses with Coding Academy.
Scholarships and bootcamps at Academy Xi.
Free co-working space with Wotso and Fishburners.
A hustling workshop with Will Robinson, VP of Sales, Techstars APAC.
A crowdfunding workshop with Jill Storey, CEO of ReadyFundGo.
Teams with a UTS student will also be encouraged to join the UTS Startups student startup program.
The startup weekenders also had a chance to vote for their crowd favourite, which went to Beauty on the Go, an online and on-demand hairdresser booking service. This featured a team of five including UTS alumna and FEIT staff member Amy Chandler.
A special prize based on potential to prototype was also awarded to Grow Power, which plans to harness people’s everyday movements to power personal devices, through customised footwear.
Grow Power Co-founder and UTS staff member Daisy Amanaki said their product would target an existing market incorporating fitness technology.
“Grow Power allows you to harness your energy from wherever you go, and use that to power your phone. We’re targeting the fitness industry, as there are lots of people already walking and competing against each other.”
Second place winners Melo, see their relationship-saving app as having global potential due to family admin stress being an issue in many homes.
“If we target dual income working families, there are two million families in Australia that fit that description. And when we validated our idea with the people in our target market, we were met with positive feedback: ‘We need this and we will pay for this!’” said co-founder and UTS student Kate Paterson.
“We want to keep the app clean for time-poor people. We’re going to prove it works in Australia first, get some traction, then go to North America next. After that, of course, comes world domination!”
Jill Storey, CEO of ReadyFundGo, commented: “Whilst the first place team demonstrated a real clarity of purpose and provided a compelling case with support for their vision, all the teams in the room were winners. I know many a large corporate who would love to even get a glimpse of their potential employee productivity.
I always find startup weekends amazing to see how, within 54 hours, a random group of individuals can come together and create so much energy in the room and so much amazing output. It can be a life changing event and highlights the value of a motivated team focussed on a common goal.
Participants at the event formed a diverse cross-section of the startup ecosystem, with UTS students, alumni and staff making up 50% of those taking part.
They also benefited from 15 entrepreneurship mentors including representatives from SheStarts, Optus, CSIRO/Data 61, UTS, Techstars and Google, who assisted teams as they validated ideas, mastered new skills and worked towards the final pitch.
In addition to the prizes up for grabs, all those who took part also received $300 in Google platform credits, free .co domains and access to BlueChilli’s StartupU online course to help founders develop ideas further and pitch their venture.
Sydney Women Startup Weekend was an initiative of Techstars and the UTS Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit, which runs a range of co-curricular student entrepreneurship programs, including UTS Startups.
To keep up to date with the exciting array of entrepreneurial opportunities on offer at UTS, both co-curricular and curricular, visit entrepreneurship.uts.edu.au and sign up to our newsletter here.