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Project Tripod founder Jordan Knight, Australian Ambassador to Denmark Damien Miller, His Royal Highness Prince Frederick and QUT Enterprise Australia's Executive Manager of Business Development, Cynthia McNee. Image courtesy of Carly Cadogan.

On the value of startup competitions

Project Tripod’s recent journey to the Creative Business Cup in Denmark highlights the benefits that international competitions can bring to early stage businesses, as well as some of the potential costs.

Co-founder Jordan Knight became the first Australian to compete at the three-day international finals in Copenhagen, where he pitched against creative entrepreneurs from over 60 countries and encountered Danish royalty when a boxing kangaroo caught the eye of His Royal Highness Prince Frederick. While the team’s product, an app for timelapse-enabled photography, did not progress to the next round, Knight saw the experience as a validation of the team’s idea and growth, and said that losing to peers of that calibre was “strangely comforting”.

“Seeing them struggle with the same things we are, it brings it all home that even the best people in the world have the same problems and deal with them in similar ways,” Knight said.

Instead of the more tangible prizes the Cup offered (worth over $100, 000 USD), Knight saw momentum as the competition’s main benefit. Assisted by Creative Enterprise Australia’s Cynthia Macnee, Knight met with representatives from Brazil, Morocco, the UK, Germany, Latvia, Iceland and Finland, and had access to companies such as Google, Ikea and Lego. He also  pitched to, and received feedback from, an international jury of experts.

“The main message really is that Project Tripod could never have received the exposure that they have in Europe without being invited to present at the Creative Business Cup,” Macnee said. “Entrepreneurs and their host organisations in 63 countries are now aware of Project Tripod’s app and business, and they will be tracking them in the future.”

But momentum and publicity are immaterial benefits, and this journey required a substantial amount of time out of running Project Tripod for Knight. He believes the next challenge will be transforming his experience into more concrete growth, like expanding his app into European markets.

“To go over and do that you need to weigh up whether it’s worth it, and it absolutely is but you have to come off the back of it with momentum,” Knight says. “Because momentum you can’t cash in later.”

“For example, we got a bit of press before the cup, and what we found is it didn’t result in 50 million sign ups on the website,” he says. “But what we did get, all of a sudden the guy from the government rang us back, and people fishing around and wanting to get back on advisory roles.”

For more information on QUT Creative Enterprise Australia, visit www.creativeenterprise.com.au.

Main Image: Project Tripod founder Jordan Knight, Australian Ambassador to Denmark Damien Miller, His Royal Highness Prince Frederick and QUT Enterprise Australia’s Executive Manager of Business Development, Cynthia McNee. Image courtesy of Carly Cadogan.

About Chris Woods

Chris Woods (@tophermwoods) is the Tech Street Journal's Editor-in-Chief. He lives in Brisbane, has worked in places like Sydney and New York (State of), and will someday update his media-news blog.