What do a scrunchie, a pet tracker, a traffic light badge and a range of beard products have in common? StartUp Coffs, that’s what!
A Coffs Harbour Council initiative, StartUp Coffs is the biggest startup event on the mid-north coast and facilitates innovation and business growth across the region. Over 240 people from Port Macquarie to Grafton attended the series of the StartUp Coffs Coast events this year.
Over the last couple of months, Six Degrees – an initiative of Coffs Harbour City Council – has been supporting local entrepreneurs to hone their ideas and pitch skills, through a series of workshops and events. These were held to encourage local entrepreneurs to learn how to refine their business idea, understand the challenges, raise investment and pitch to investors.
On the 28th August, the 2019 pitch finalists, exhibitors, and guests congregated at C.ex for the Pitch Competition – an evening of innovation, inspiration and celebration.
With the introduction of a Youth Category in 2019, along with a share of a $20,000 prize package for the winners, the competition was fierce! The number of submissions to the pitch competition grows each year and this year was no exception. Three finalists in the Youth category and seven finalists in the Open category were chosen to pitch and vie for the prizes.
As the event progressed, the room buzzed with elevator pitches, demonstrations, a few nerves(!) and loads of ideas.
One guest, Vanessa Simpson said, ‘I’m really Interested in the program that the Council has initiated. It’s fantastic to see all the displays and ideas, it’s just amazing.’
StartUp Alley was a huge success, with exhibitors gaining valuable feedback on their ideas. ‘It’s really important that we get some validation. People always like it (the traffic light badge) but we need more information. This event gives me a fantastic opportunity to talk to local people, connect with them and find out what they think.’ said local entrepreneur, Sally Pryor.
Taking to the stage, in front of the large crowd, each finalist pitched their business idea to a panel of judges who represented various industries and included local entrepreneur Jess Wilson as well as Fishburners’ Cat Kitney. Questions posed by the judges were thoughtful and challenging; the pitch finalists steady and confident in their replies.
Judge Ian Fitzgibbon from Coffs Harbour City Council explained ‘This competition is a really great example of how new emerging businesses can get together, brainstorm and pitch their ideas and be provided with real-world feedback.’
After some intense deliberation, the judges announced the winners, with Kempsey Adventist School winning the Youth Category for their Real Time Learning apps and Suzanne Douglas taking out the Open Category for Vesticam, an innovative and accessible health device.
Vanessa Baywood, Deputy Principal of Kempsey Adventist School said, “Winning this award acknowledges the students hard work and determination to design and build technology solutions, not just be consumers of technology. It also acknowledges their ability to work together as a team, bringing together different skills ranging from design, coding, digital media and communication. We are very thankful to the wonderful staff at 6 degrees, as well as their sponsors, for giving our students this amazing opportunity.”
Suzanne Douglas had this to say after winning ‘What a wonderful opportunity it was to pitch our new product, Vesticam, at the 2019 StartUp Coffs Coast competition!
Building an innovative medical device has been a huge project for our team, and it’s invaluable to have that acknowledged. Our generous cash prize will support injection moulding our patented design prototype in Australia. And the incredible education, mentoring and membership prizes will further support Vesticam as we look to stage up from a start-up right here in Coffs Harbour.’
The whole evening was a great success, with thanks to our wonderful sponsors and partners, pitch finalists, StartUp Alley exhibitors and guests. Fiona Barden, Council’s Section Leader Industry and Destination Development, was thrilled with the event and the future for innovation in the region. “We are excited to support innovators and entrepreneurs with activities such as StartUp Coffs Coast and incubator and accelerator programs. We will continue to provide opportunities for founders in our region that rival their metro counterparts.”
StartUp Coffs, celebrating innovative culture, big picture thinking and the next generation of entrepreneurs.