Now in its third year, the UNSW Startups Games has given over 80 individuals an intense entrepreneurial experience – four full weekends over one month – and essentially a platform to launch a startup for the first time or, in some cases, use the experience to become employees with an entrepreneur’s skillset.
Some of the star alumni of the program include: Internet of Things smart-helmet entrepreneurs Alfred Boyadgis and Julian Chow of Forcite Helmet Systems; Brigitte Poletto of Community Insight Australia; Hassan Ahmad and Prashant Mehta of the New York City-based social startup Conscious Step; and Pasha Rayan of OperationsNext. Outside of this, we have had great feedback from student participants, who have singled out their experience with this program as a point of difference in the job application process.
From humble beginnings in a small lecture theatre on campus, the games now take place in the new UNSW business school’s state-of-the-art, flipped classrooms, and the final pitching and networking event is being hosted in the Deloitte Sydney offices on the afternoon of March 29.
Founder of ZeroMail (and previously Tjoos) Bart Jellema approached UNSW initially with the idea for the program and in partnership with UNSW Innovations a variety of mentors have supported the program with the aim of providing an avenue for entrepreneurial students who want to have a serious shot at a startup with motivations beyond the completion of a for-credit university course.
Diversity has also been an important challenge for the program. This year, females outweigh male mentors and female participant ratios have increased to 40%. The participants include stem cell PhD research students, MBAs, chemical engineering undergrad’s, art and design majors, physics students, business and computer science students and a medicine student, just to name a few.
Two young alumni passionate about providing platforms like this for students, Anatoly Logunov and Mitchell Kardan, have donated thousands of dollars in cash prizes for this year’s winners out of their own pockets.
So who are this year’s competing start-ups?
- HideouslyDelicious – Sustainable eating
- Unbottled – Fresher drinks with a focus on you!
- FoodRunna – Peer-to-peer food delivery
- Join My Pact – Put your money where your mouth is
- AminoWater – The new way to consume protein
- adventurer – Unique short trips that suit your budget and schedule
- SimpliCity – Easier information upon arriving in a new city
- GoFlyer – Personalised event platform so you don’t miss a good time
- MyClassFit – Unlimited fitness. Unlimited options.
Mentors who participated across the four weekends include Jodie Fox, Sarah Riegelhuth, Julie Stevanja, Walta Kazzi, Todd Heslin, Nicole Kersh and Adam Brimo. Sydney Seed Fund, Kath Purkis and startup-facing Deloitte execs will participate in the judging at the final event.
There are still some seats available for this Sunday’s final, so please see registration page for further details.
Joshua Flannery is manager, student entrepreneur development at UNSW Innovations.