Great business ideas brought to life at Startup Weekend Brisbane 2017

STARTUP Weekend Brisbane brought great ideas to life – ranging from blockchain tracking of beef and equine data management systems to gamification of health systems and drone imaging technologies – at River City Labs last weekend.

Incubators River City Labs and Fishburners Brisbane joined forces for the weekend staging one of Australia’s largest business ‘startup’ events. Both organisations worked together to bring together industry mentors, business experts, judges and attendees bursting with ideas to execute into a potential business within 54 hours.

River City Labs CEO Peta Ellis said the goal of Startup Weekend was to inspire, connect and encourage attendees to launch a startup business in just 54 hours. 

“It’s positive to see the growth in attendance and collaboration at Startup Weekend over the years,” Ms Ellis said. “This year we collaborated with Fishburners, one of our Startup Community neighbours to partner on Startup Weekend Brisbane 2017.  It is important to showcase the camaraderie of our ecosystem and bring together multiple organisations to support future startups and founders.”

Over the weekend of November 17-19, more than 100 attendees gathered at River City Labs in fortitude Valley to take part in three days of business creation. Friday night saw more than 130 attendees, 90 participants, and 34 ideas pitched culminating in 13 potential businesses formed.

Team Pegasus Equine Management who took out first place for the remarkable creation of an information storing and data management system linking service providers in the equine industry.

In second place was team Hearty Habits who used gamification to increase activity and exercise, while the team members of Flytly were awarded third place for their concepts around drone imaging software.

Another inspirational group was Team Daisy Chain which worked on blockchain enabling an end-to-end tracking system for beef. Another team, Tribly, developed a tool to help people make genuine connections – cleverly connecting individuals before an event so they do not have to go alone. 

All weekend, ideas pivoted until they found their place.  Team VitaminMe was a proposed app designed to tackle Mental Health issues. VitaminMe founders proposed to assist individuals, in important moments, to ‘bump into the persona’ needed at a particular time.

Teams worked on their ideas on Saturday, gathering data validating their assumptions by talking to potential customers and creating business models ready for presentation on the Sunday evening.

The Startup Weekend Brisbane panel of judges included Dominic Holland, CEO of high-growth, Brisbane based, and co-founder of private tech accelerator Alicorn Ventures; Nikki Durkin, founder of Codemakers, an online coding school for kids and previous owner of 99dresses, an online fashion trading platform for women; Rebecca Hay from Optus Innov8, a business and investment specialist helping startups; and Esther Gergis, who is the  Microsoft Startup Program manager across Australia and New Zealand. Ms Gergis also runs the Microsoft BizSpark and BizSpark Plus programs locally.

“It was so great to see such a large number of people pitching at Startup Weekend Brisbane 2017 who had commercialisation at the core of their pitches,” judge Dominic Holland said.

“It was a great turnout, and I’m so happy to be part of the blossoming tech startup world in Brisbane; a huge shout-out to River City Labs and all the organisers involved for their work.”




Last registrations for Female Founders Mission to the UK

INNOVATIVE business founders wanting to participate in the Female Founders Mission to London, are being called to finalise their applications.

Organiser Startup Catalyst is taking final registrations for the mission, which connects Australian female entrepreneurs, investors, corporate innovation leaders, and policy decision makers with UK female counterparts and start-up community leaders, as well as potential partners, investors and customers.

The mission is being led by Peta Ellis, CEO of River City Labs, which is Queensland’s largest start-up hub and community of early stage technology companies. 

Over seven days on the Female Founders Mission to London, participants will learn from some of the leading innovation programs globally, gain insights into the European market, develop strong relationships with the cohort of female participants from across Australia and attend tailored meetings and introductions assisted and supported by the UK Department for International Trade.

“I hope each participant will immerse themselves throughout this mission, to learn, connect, explore and grow,” Female Founders Mission leader Ms Ellis said. “It’s special when female founders start off by coming and going together to eventually growing together. It’s a privilege to be leading a group of women to one of the most advanced start-up ecosystems in the world.”

Ms Ellis is also the program director for the RiverPitch investment series, lead organiser for Startup Weekend Brisbane, and has more than 20 years experience as an entrepreneur.

There are five female founders receiving Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland funding assistance towards the mission to London. They are:

  • Bronwyn Buksh, co-founder and director of Digital Precinct Pty Ltd based at Peregian Beach, Sunshine Coast. Digital Precinct is a platform for local technologists to create a digital hot-spot in Noosa, where founders, start-ups and technologists can live and work in a unique beach environment, enriched by arts and cultural experiences.
  • Jannah Dryden, founder-director of Album Registry Pty Ltd based in Cairns. Album Registry is an online gift registry platform for professional photographers who provide photographic print products and services for their clients.
  • Megan Avard, founder and CEO of SurePact Holdings Pty Ltd, based at Pimpama, Gold Coast. SurePact is an enterprise SaaS start-up providing contract and procurement analytics and risk identification solutions to governments and businesses, saving millions of dollars avoiding cost, time and scope blowouts.
  • Bronwyn Fenech, managing director of FMStudios, Rockhampton. FMStudios is a bespoke graphic design and website design studio for the region.
  • Anne-Marie Walton, CEO at Wantu, Ipswich City. Wantu is a for‑profit impact enterprise making parenting easier for happy kids, encouraging social play by using technology for quick fun and activities together, off-screen.



RCL Accelerator BNE3 kicks off

AFTER months of organisation, interviewing and testing, River City Labs is kicking off its third RCL Accelerator – known as BNE3 – powered by muru-D. 

“We had so many solid applications. It was hard to narrow down but we've locked in 10 teams for this cohort,” River City Labs CEO Peta Ellis said.

“This is the most rich and diverse cohort yet and our ‘entrepreneurs in residence’ (EIRs) Llew (Jury) and Mike (Knapp), are pumped and ready for an exciting six months,” Ms Ellis said. 

Mr Jury is the founder of Brisbane-based digital services agency Reload Business Group, while Mr Knapp is the co-founder of Shoes of Prey.

“To give all the teams that extra push we're lucky enough to have both muru-D Sydney EIR Ben Sand and Perth EIR Tim Brewer in town over the next few weeks sharing their wisdom.

“The first few weeks for us will be figuring out what this amazing journey looks like for the teams and we will be sure to reach out for subject matter experts along the way,” Ms Ellis said, calling for others to help where available.

The teams’ projects are being promoted through e-mail links and through social media.

The team cohorts for the River City Labs 2017 Accelerator Program, powered by Muru -D are:

1. Bidhive  A bid management platform supporting organisation’s ability to procure opportunities, manage access and assemble corporate knowledge and bid content.

2 . Carisma  Solving the communication hassle between auto vehicle owners and their mechanics, Carisma is a tool designed to build a car’s visual service history, to show where money is being spent through a visual log of the repair or service appointment.

3 . Creatively Squared  Connecting global brands with visual content creators. Creatively squared provides brands with affordable and customised content by connecting them with people that do it best.

4. Divvito  A shared parenting solution app, Divvito allows the transitioning of separation and divorce to take place in a manageable process. The app allows parents to keep track of shared expenses and school events. Divvito aims to ‘take the messy out of moving on’.

5. Flyfreely  In a world where the remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) industry can be complicated, Flyfreely is designed to streamline the end- to-end risk management for the entire drone operation. Flyfreely delivers on-demand insurance and risk mitigation strategies using a web portal and a smartphone app.

6. Games 4 Hearoes  Designed to enhance and assist in the rehabilitation for the hearing impaired, Games 4 Hearoes allows its users to rehabilitate through interactive auditory training.

7 .Kapiche  Some of the best companies (for example, CUA and Nissan) use Kapiche when it comes to data analysis from unstructured data. Kapishe draws information from online reviews and social media, into a readily understood format.

8 . Math Mate  Engaging students with complex mathematics is more important now than ever before with the trend into a STEM driven future. Math Mate develops innovative math interfaces to create this engagement.

9. Tyrestock  Solving the time consuming dilemmas of fitting tyres, Tyrestock offers tyre fitters a purchasing system to gather the stock of multiple suppliers with the assurance of buying at the right price.

10. Vygo  With an increasing dropout rate among university students, Vygo connects students with peers who have ‘been there, and done that’ when it comes to understanding the course structure, subjects and assignments.




Four start-ups join CUA-backed RCL Entrepreneurs Program

CUA, Australia’s largest credit union, and technology start-up hub River City Labs, have welcomed four new start-up teams to the CUA Sponsored Entrepreneur Program (SEP).

The teams are based at River City Labs’ new innovation space in Brisbane for 12 weeks, where they will have full-time desk membership to help accelerate their start-up ideas. Under the membership, the teams receive support such as structured mentoring, specialist masterclasses and support with publicity and promotion. 

CUA has been supporting River City Labs since 2015 and has sponsored 24 teams to date. The collaboration is part of CUA’s innovation strategy and the member-owned organisation’s focus on leveraging external expertise, tapping into innovative new ideas and supporting start-ups to develop solutions to real-world problems.

The latest cohort is working on developing business ideas which include:

  • Helping retailers to create better customer experiences by providing them with vision technologies and customised data analysis to personalise their services.
  • A payment system which allows travellers to use and pay with their choice of digital currency.
  • A software platform that empowers corporates and their lawyers to automate high-volume contract negotiations
  • Providing structure to otherwise casual lending arrangements between parents and millennials for major life purchases.

CUA’s head of digital innovation, Melissa Witheriff said the SEP was an excellent opportunity for the start-ups to build successful foundations to become strong, global businesses.

“The teams have identified a significant market need and responded with unique ideas that are currently being turned into value-added solutions,” Ms Witheriff said.

“Working with River City Labs gives us a real insight into the start-up culture as well as access to smarter and more agile ways of working.

“It’s exciting that this year, the winning team from the 2017 CUA Hackathon is among the four new teams joining the program, so they can continue developing their idea around formalising family lending arrangements.”

River City Labs chief executive Peta Ellis said, “The Sponsored Entrepreneurs Program is one of the most successful programs at River City Labs. With CUA as a major partner in this year’s program, we can continue to deliver the support to each team.”