From Virtual Reality to Recycling

Over 100 guests, including students, parents, educators, Upstart industry sponsors and business mentors, celebrated the region’s young entrepreneurs. With 274 students participating in this year’s Upstart Challenge, the challenge to ‘positively change their world’ saw 85 business ideas created. The judging panel had their work cut out narrowing it down to just 12 winners of the $300 cash prizes available.

“The diversity of ideas is something that is unique to this competition, with students from fourteen schools taking part,” said Upstart Director Jen Perks.

Recycling was a big theme with Sam Nolan (Year 11) from Belmont High School submitting his Automatic Garbage Tax business idea to reduce landfill quantities by taxing garbage on weight, and the Talking Bin from St Joseph College students Lachlan Demasi, William Baum and Sascha Wheelwright (Year 9), who have already created a prototype, to encourage recycling by making it fun. Josh Walker (Year 10) from Covenant College continued in this theme, focusing on an online fashion business to create personalised recycled vintage clothing for the growing hipster market.

Yasmin Tigani and Phoebe Campbell (Year 10) from Clonard College were thrilled to win with their idea Wheelchair Storage to create easily accessible storage for wheelchair users.

Mitchell Davies (Year 10) from Geelong Grammar impressed judges with his understanding of the expanding tech market for Virtual Reality with his idea Beyond the Edge, providing Geelong with its own virtual reality arcade.

Serial student entrepreneur Zac Rushbrook (Year 12) was delighted to win this year’s Smarter Tech Award sponsored by Enterprise Monkey for his idea Eyewitness, a local news app by the people for the people. Zac has participated in the Upstart Challenge since 2013, each year building his practical business startup skills and networks.

Zac’s Eyewitness app will now go into production with the team at Enterprise Monkey, with the aim of delivering a carry anywhere app for people to respond to news events with eyewitness accounts on their devices.

The Upstart Judging panel will now narrow down the top 12 Big Ideas winners and invite 6 teams to participate in the Upstart Startup Challenge where students work with industry mentors to develop their ideas into businesses and learn to pitch like pros. They will put their skills to the test at the Pitching Showdown on August 28 at The Pier, where one team will be awarded the 2017 Upstart Young Entrepreneur of the Year and take their share of the $25,000 prize pool.

This event will be part of the Small Business Festival and promises to be a night of creativity, innovation and celebration for the whole community.

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