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Mackay’s inaugural Startup Weekend tops off diverse year for Queensland

In what has become Queensland’s biggest and most diverse year yet for startup competitions, Mackay has successfully wrapped up its first ever Startup Weekend.

Following the Tablelands’ inaugural event in May and the introduction of vertical themes such as “Education,” “Women” and “Health” across the state, Mackay stuck to Startup Weekend’s standard structure when 33 budding entrepreneurs pitched, validated and presented their ideas at Central Queensland University.

Mackay’s Mayor Deidre Comerford and a collection of local businesspeople rounded out the judges’ table, and the event opened with a video introduction from Science and Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch, filmed during her recent Advance Queensland tour.

Considering the farming and mining town’s population of 120,000, event organiser and Startup Mackay member Joel Cox was impressed by the enthusiasm demonstrated by the total one hundred participants, organisers, volunteers and spectators.

“We had such an influx of questions, and non-technical people, developers, designers etcetera signing up, and people from the business community wanting to be coaches,” Cox said. “The weekend itself was absolutely fantastic for the first time in Mackay.”

“On the Friday night a lot of the pitchers had a fair idea of what the night would entail, but because they’d never been to a Startup Weekend before or heard of a Startup Weekend before, it was very new to them as well,” he said. “So every day there was something new for them to absorb and take in. And then obviously for the mentors it was mind-boggling for them the number of entrepreneurs Mackay had”.

Since ilab’s regional roadshow visited the city in April, the Mackay community has grown. Dennis Murphy launched the Startup Mackay group in July, and local entrepreneurs have since participated in the most recent Mentor Blaze and a number of meetups.

And while Mackay has only produced a handful of startups, notably event judge Darren Cooke’s car-servicing platform Strictly Service, Cox hopes the event will prove to be a catalyst for the community.

Winning team Numismatics, which pitched a live-streaming platform for the current trading value of coins and notes, will now develop their idea at an ilab Germinate bootcamp, and other ideas developed over the weekend, such as a wifi-enabled fire alarm, show no sign of slowing down.

“From what we saw of the organisers of SW there is just so many amazing ideas, that young and old people have, and they now have an outlet to actually take these ideas to and take them off the ground,” Cox said.

The team are working on another Startup Weekend for 2016, and their next monthly meetup is set for this Monday. Queensland’s next Startup Weekend will be at the Gold Coast during the Global Startup Battle.

Photo: Startup Mackay.

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.