South Australian start-up Odd Games won three of five awards at the state’s annual MEGA event as the South Australian start-up scene starts to heat up.
MEGA is an entrepreneurship program aimed at innovators in the mobile, digital media and ICT industries, with participants ranging from game developers to students and MBA graduates.
Held every year in Adelaide and Sydney, participants form project teams and under the guidance of industry experts develop ideas over a four-month period.
The program culminates in a pitch day, attended by investors, buyers and business identities, where participants present their product or service in the hope of winning a prize.
This year’s entries included a student accommodation finder, an alternate reality game system for marketers, a social network for meal planning and an emergency alert system.
MEGA chair Paul Daly says there were five prizes on offer at this year’s event, most of which were cash prizes up to $6000.
Odd Games, a game development studio based in Adelaide, took out the Pitch Panel Prize, Best Written Business Proposal and the Peer Assessed Award.
Founded by brothers David and Terry O’Donoghue earlier this year, Odd Games is developing a game called Monster Truck Destruction for iPhone, Android and Facebook.
David O’Donoghue says he was surprised to win three awards, saying he and his brother along with a part-time employee had put in the hard yards.
O’Donoghue said their success wouldn’t have been possible without mentor Graeme Kennelly, who introduced the team to MEGA. Odd Games walks away from the contest with $6000 and two iPad 2s.
According to Daly Odd Games stood out for its interesting idea and “sensational” pitch.
“Theirs is a consumer application based on an interest in monster trucks and they’ve already started distributing through a major iPhone publisher,” he says.
aProxyMate won the Innovate SA Investment Ready Award and StudyPad took out the People’s Choice Award.
Daly says aProxyMate had a really entertaining pitch, using humour to good effect and undertook extensive research while StudyPad was recognised for its solution-based approach.
“They’re creating a Wotif application for international students looking for accommodation in Australia so they’re solving a very real problem and understand their market incredibly well,” he says.
This year’s pitching panel featured representatives from Enterprise Connect, News Digital Media, Project Factory, ANZ and South Australian angel investor Nick Foskett.
Daly says this year’s competition uncovered a diverse range of ideas and will kick-start several enterprises in the digital media arena.
“While the day is about engaging the audience and convincing the panel that the idea is a winner, the real purpose of MEGA is to encourage innovation for the long-term,” Daly says.
MEGA’s mission is to increase the size and capability of the digital content and applications industry for South Australia.
According to Daly there is an enormous amount of energy and enthusiasm among South Australian entrepreneurs, particularly those operating in the digital media.
“The space we’re working on in digital media – there are lots of opportunities because of the launch of Apple’s iPhone and iPad, and the Android market,” he says.
“Adelaide is a hotbed due to a number of elements. Whereas people tend to think of Melbourne and Brisbane for video games traditionally the mobile space is a focus in Adelaide.”
Daly says while Adelaide is a small market tech entrepreneurs have their eye on national and international opportunities.
“If you’re trying to get a consumer application into the App Store it doesn’t matter where you’re working from whereas with physical products and services you typically need to be very close to your customers,” he says.
Daly points out that South Australia is a more affordable state to live in so entrepreneurs have more scope to test their ideas.