Supporting Young Entrepreneurs
Entrants participated in the Mandy Money Movers and Makers day, which allowed young Australians to learn how to innovate and create their own startup. Hosted by Haileybury College, Exo Digital was part of the judging panel, alongside Deloitte and the Mandy Money team.
The competition took place over three rounds, with the expert judging panel watching and discussing the pitches and giving constructive feedback. The judging panel then voted for the idea that was the most innovative and viable to go to market.
Up for grabs was an Innovation Sprint workshop, which would run over the Christmas break.
Pitch Tank Structure
The Pitch tank was made up of two rounds, which each entrant was required to complete.
Round 1 – Social Media
Each participant was encouraged to like, comment and share their pitch on social media. The purpose of this was to see which team was the most innovative when it came to attracting attention and to see which pitch was the most popular with the public.
Round 2 – Internal Voting
The Exo Digital and Mandy Money team held an internal showcase and judging session of the entrants. They watched each pitch, discussed their thoughts and cast their vote for the idea that they thought was the most viable.
The Judging Panel
Rob Wijaya – Managing Director & Founder at Exo Digital
With 20+ years of experience bringing the vision of big business brands to life, Rob was the perfect candidate to form part of the judging panel for the Pitch Tank. He is passionate about assisting brands in creating meaningful results.
Rob connects brands with their target audience by focussing on designing impactful solutions that drive positive change within those businesses.
Andrew Budiman – Co-founder and CPO at Detexian
Andy has had a lot of experience with the journey that a small start-up goes on to become independent and fully able to stand on its own two feet. Since coming on board at Detexian, Andy has ridden the start-up rollercoaster of ups and downs and navigated his way through many obstacles and opportunities to get Detexian to where it is today. Andy’s knowledge and experience of making a start-up successful added another dimension and depth to the judging panel.
David Lenberg – General Manager at Exo Digital
David has spent his career in customer-facing roles, developing an intuitive and deep understanding of how his high emotional intelligence can be leveraged and adapted to suit differing personalities.
David brought this experience to the judging panel, coupled with his years in marketing and leadership roles.
Elle Marengo – Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA)
COSBOA has a proud history of strong advocacy on small business issues ranging from taxation and workplace relations to competition law and retail tenancy. Elle represented this organisation on the judging panel. It is the voice that vouches for small businesses across Australia and acts as a conduit of information and facilitator between their members and other organisations.
Friska Wirya – Change Management Consultant at Fresh by Friska
Friska owns her own company that specialises in implementing change in businesses.
She comes into a company on a consultancy basis as the champion for change within that business. She ensures that the changes that they want to implement actually happen, without wasting precious resources.
All of the entrants in this competition are from Year 10, 11 or 12 at high school. Their ideas and the pitches that they produced were incredible.
Given their ages, this would likely have been the first time they had the opportunity to confidently present an original concept to a group of people that have the potential to bring the idea to life.
Getting into the job market is extremely difficult for people with no prior experience in the industry they want to get into. Continued knockback from being fresh to the workforce can be very difficult for people, impacting long-term unemployment rates.
JobFish aims to remedy this situation by providing opportunities to gain this coveted experience. JobFish charges employers to list internship programs on their application, which becomes a fantastic resource for those specifically looking for positions requiring no prior experience.
Boredom increases stress and destructive behaviour. The Ideas Lounge aims to remedy this boredom by recommending ideas, such as games, new hobbies and even mental health tips. The app will generate income through ad revenue.
This product is targeted towards supporting young people who struggle to access mental health services. It does this by providing content helpful to those undergoing mental health challenges and supporting good habits through a habit tracker function.One of their biggest goals is to destigmatize mental health issues with young people.
Shopping has a negative impact on the environment due to fast fashion. Step Up aims to make it easier and more accessible for everyone to buy and sell or donate second-hand clothes through a post, packaging and delivery service.
The product will incorporate a rewards function that gives users points that can be redeemed with their key business partners.
StudyMeter wants to bring education planning for students into the 21st Century. Students are overwhelmed by studying, and this product aims to remedy this through study tracking.
There are plenty of study planning apps, but nothing available to measure, track and improve their learning. The target is for schools to purchase seats for this product, not the students themselves.
JobFish presented an interesting concept aimed at creating a marketplace for students seeking job opportunities. The panellists had mixed feedback, highlighting potential issues with unpaid labour and ethical concerns. However, the overall response was positive, and the panellists offered suggestions for improvement.
The main idea behind JobFish is to provide a platform for young people to connect with potential employers and gain valuable experience. While some panellists questioned whether the startup was promoting free labour, the founders emphasised that the platform is meant to provide students with an opportunity to gain practical experience and build their resumes.
The panellists also discussed the need for JobFish to differentiate itself from other job sites that allow companies to advertise internships. They suggested that the startup should look into offering incentives other than experience and money, such as an associate program or a compensation fee for employers who trial an applicant but do not end up hiring them.
One of the biggest challenges for JobFish is ensuring that the platform operates ethically and does not exploit young people seeking job opportunities. The panellists suggested that the startup should look into the legal requirements of internships in Australia, where the company cannot benefit financially from a free intern.
Despite these concerns, the panellists acknowledged the potential of JobFish to help fresh grads struggling to find opportunities. They also noted that the startup had captured the market sentiment well and encouraged the founders to look into the competitive landscape and consider how to differentiate their offering from other job sites.
JobFish is an intriguing concept that could provide a valuable service to young job seekers. However, the startup needs to address ethical concerns and differentiate itself from the competition to succeed. With the right approach, JobFish could become a go-to platform for students looking to gain valuable experience and kickstart their careers.
The Ideas Lounge
The Ideas Lounge received positive feedback on their pitch during the competition. The team's collaboration and expertise in the concept arena were highlighted as strengths. Additionally, their use of research and visuals to define the problem statement was well-received.
Some feedback included suggestions for more definition with the target audience/user and how the platform could be made more engaging. There were also questions about how the app would differentiate itself from existing search engines and platforms. However, there was recognition for the platform's potential to address mental health issues and encourage an innovative mindset among teenagers.
Overall, the pitch was well-structured and included a mock-up to help visualise the platform. Some feedback suggested that more engaging visuals would have helped better convey the idea. The team was also encouraged to compare themselves with competitors to better communicate their unique value proposition.
The Helping Hand team presented an idea to create an app to help teenagers manage their mental health. The team showed great collaboration and a well-defined problem statement, citing research and statistics to back up their idea.
However, some of the feedback from the panellists included concerns about differentiation from existing products, moderating chats to prevent cyberbullying, and monetising the app for cash-poor teenagers. The team was confident in their pitch, but a visual aid could have improved the quality of the presentation.
Overall, the idea of a mental health app for teenagers is promising, but the team will need to address the concerns raised by the panellists and find ways to differentiate their product from existing options in order to be successful.
Step Up is an innovative concept aimed at addressing the problem of fast fashion and encouraging more sustainable shopping habits. The team presented a solid pitch with attention to execution, however, some areas of the concept were unclear, leaving some of the judges unsure about the exact proposition.
One of the key features of the app is its rewards system, which incentivises users to shop for sustainable brands. While the concept of rewarding users for sustainable shopping is certainly an interesting one, there were concerns raised about the potential for the rewards system to take over the app and become its primary focus. The judges discussed the importance of striking a balance between encouraging sustainable shopping habits and promoting excessive consumption. For example, if a user buys a lot of items from one sustainable business for points, more than they actually need, aren’t they effectively creating more waste?
There were also concerns raised about the environmental impact of shipping and packaging. The judges discussed the importance of offsetting the environmental impact of shipping and packaging, especially if the app aims to promote sustainable shopping habits.
Love the visuals! The concept of performance tracking applied to school students is a great idea. The pitch was very clear and the demos presented were impressive, along with the validation work that had been conducted.
Some questions were raised about where the data and course structures are coming from and whether different schools have different curricula. The tagline was well-liked, but the conclusion that students are overwhelmed by work because they can’t effectively track the pedagogical cycle for each subject was questioned.
While it's important to measure progress and improvement, the concern was raised that school is already very metrics-based and this product might not reflect useful skills. It was suggested to test the product with students in action to see whether they actually want it.
There was interest in seeing data and validation from schools to prove the idea. Some panellists suggested facilitating different styles of learning, such as visual or audio.
Overall, the pitch was seen as very well presented with a clear problem, solution, business model and market validation.
Ultimately the finalist of the Exo Pitch Tank was decided by the panel of expert judges, taking into account the following:
- Product uniqueness
- Commercial viability
- Identified market gaps
- Strength of the proposed business model
In a landslide vote, StudyMeter was the most popular pitch and came out on top.
That’s not to say that it’s the end of the road for the other entrants. There is always room for collaboration and networking, expanding your ideas and pivoting to something else. Don’t be afraid to question yourself, strive to continually improve and embrace change.
This is just the beginning for these young minds. We can’t wait to see what they go on to produce in the future.
To learn more about our Innovation Sprints, reach out to our team for a free consultation.
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