This post aims to tell two stories intertwined. One story about the development of a young startup and its founder students that became entrepreneurs and the parallel story about development of a support service, network and community at one Australian university during its growth.
I’ll always have a sweet spot for Forcite Helmet Systems and their young founders Alfred Boyadjis and Julian Chow. They are amazing designers, talented entrepreneurs and great guys. That’s why I am so excited that within a few hours of launching they have already raised $31,851 of a $200k target in their current Kickstarter campaign.
They have had a really inspiring and interesting journey which in many ways has run in parallel with the journey we have had with our UNSW Innovations Student Entrepreneur Development initiative. Universities, incubators and accelerators do not “create” companies or startups – people do. So although we have been around for the Forcite ride from the beginning, it would only be right to give most of the credit to the original founders and amazing team Forcite have built around them since the original designs of a “robocop-like motorcycle helmet” came out of a major project Alfred was working on during his Industrial Design degree with the Faculty of Built Environment.
Forcite Co-founder Alfred Boyadjis during 2013 UNSW Startup Games (right)
Alfred and Julian have natural swag. It was a pleasure seeing them further develop their pitching skills during the first ever UNSW Startup Games co-founded by UNSW Innovations and Bart Jellema, founder of ZeroMail and Tjoos back in March 2013.
During the process of formally setting up Forcite as a registered company, Alfred , Julian and the team worked with the UNSW Student Legal Centre and developed their know-how around the sometimes confusing forms and processes related to intellectual property, registering trademarks, shareholder agreements and business structures.
An early prototype of the helmet on show during one of the UNSW Sydney Angel Mixer events hosted by UNSW Innovations
Aside from lawyers, Alfred and Julian also had to present and communicate with a diverse range of people and organisations that the UNSW SED team introduced them to – from NSW Trade & Investment representatives who ended up paying out a Minimum Viable Product cash grant to the team, to various Professors and Academics from different Engineering schools on campus as they developed their product and business. Even other students from the entrepreneur ecosystem on campus who were eventually hired as coders and in other roles.
School of Computer Science & Engineering grad George Constantinos joined as the 3rd core team member and the trio hustled for space on campus to do some of their early video and photo shoot sessions, used the UNSW Innovations board room for big meetings with potential partners and even met with mentors from the Mentors for UNSW Entrepreneurs group, including a meeting with angel investor Michael Drysdale who has now come on board as Director of Business Strategy for the young startup.
More recently, Forcite have switched to ‘give back’ mode as mentors for on-campus student innovation programs like the recent Cisco backed UNSW Ideathon as one of our resident UNSW Internet of Things mentors alongside other alumni like Danny from GoFar, Shane from InstrumentWorks and Jai from Edisse. It’s beautiful when things come full circle like they have for Alfred, Julian and George in their journey from student, to entrepreneur to mentor and I wish them best of luck in this current campaign – hope you can get behind them and this great Australian entrepreneur story too!
Above: One of the teams of upcoming UNSW student innovators mentored by Alfred during the recent IoT themed UNSW Ideathon at the new Michael Crouch Innovation Centre
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.