99dresses and rome2rio among iAward winners

Online start-ups 99dresses and rome2rio have been honoured at the 2011 iAwards, while Sajari and Calibre Hosting were among the winners of this year’s MEGA NSW event.


The iAwards are considered Australia’s premier ICT awards, honouring the achievements of homegrown Australian innovators.


This year’s awards were hosted by the Australian Computer Society, the Australian Information Industry Association and the Pearcey Foundation, which aims to raise the profile of Australia’s ICT industry.


NSW start-up 99dresses won the award for best start-up company, while Victorian-based business rome2rio received a merit in the same category.


99dresses.com is a peer-to-peer clothing business, enabling users to share high quality clothes. It was founded in 2010 by Nikki Durkin, who was 18 at the time.


Durkin attributes her success to Mick Liubinskas, co-founder of Australian incubator Pollenizer. Since the end of 2009, Liubinskas has acted as Durkin’s mentor.


“Having an experienced mentor and support network who have already made mistakes, and can point me in the right direction, saves me a lot of time and money,” Durkin says.


“If I didn’t have an experienced mentor, I think I would still be trying to figure out how to execute my idea.”


rome2rio was also founded in 2010, by Michael Cameron and Bernhard Tschirren. The site was born out of their frustration with the lack of a user-friendly multimodal transport search engine.


Users enter an address, city or landmark and rome2rio shows them several ways to get there, including by plane, train, ferry or car. Users can then compare routes, journey times and costs.


Meanwhile, brothers-in-business Lars and Jens Rasmussen – who created Google Maps – were the winners of the Tony Benson Entrepreneur Award.


Ian Birks, chair of the 2011 iAwards committee, says the winning companies showcase the very best of Australia’s ICT industry.


“These are the ideas that will allow the Australian business community – regardless of region or geography – to compete on the world stage,” Birks says.


In addition to the iAwards, the winners of this year’s MEGA NSW event have been announced.


MEGA is an after-hours course targeting entrepreneurs, with a mobile and cloud technology focus, who want to launch their business with the potential to go global.


The event culminates with a pitch day attended by industry experts and investors, enabling entrepreneurs to make connections and seek financial assistance.


At MEGA NSW, online recruitment service Sajari won the prize for most promising start-up, while game service provider Calibre Hosting was recognised as the most promising cloud-based start-up.


Event manager Roger Kermode says the event attracted a high number of participants, many of whom benefitted from the program enormously.


“This year, we had 32 people go through the course, with 12 of these teams pitching after an intensive four months of coaching and preparation,” Kermode says.


“The general feedback on the [pitch] day was that the standard was very high… It was noteworthy that many of the teams were already in market, with one having received a small round of angel funding before the program even finished.”


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