This past weekend, non-profit Startup Steam hosted their second annual Startup Weekend Youth event on the Sunshine Coast, for children in years 10 to 12. With the opportunity for the winning team to score a one-hour mentorship session with Shark Tank’s Steve Baxter, twenty-six students from seven local schools threw themselves passionately into the challenge.
“As a mentor, I found their enthusiasm to be contagious – even more so than at adult Startup Weekends – because the students were so keen to get results,” said Neil Waldbaum, who’s been a mentor at four Startup Weekends for adults.
Guest judge Samantha Wong from Blackbird Ventures in Sydney, echoed Neil’s sentiment. “Compared to the adult hackathon I recently judged at, I have to say that some of today’s student presentations were better.”
The winning team at Startup Weekend Youth was QuickGig, an online marketplace connecting musicians and venue owners, making it easier to book gigs.
In addition to Baxter’s mentorship, members of the winning team each received a collectable Star Wars USB flash drive, a portable power bank, and a funky skull-shaped speaker, thanks to guest judge Vanessa Garrard’s electronics distribution company, E3 Style.
A bonus prize was awarded to Caelim Allison, the student selected for demonstrating the most commitment and personal growth over the weekend. Caelim’s prize is an internship with Taj Pabari, the powerhouse sixteen-year old Brisbane entrepreneur and winner of The Australian Young Innovator of the Year 2014, in association with Shell and the federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.
All students who participated for the entirety of the weekend at incubator space Spark Bureau earned a holiday internship with one of twenty-five Sunshine Coast companies doing their bit to support youth entrepreneurship, and two free online coding courses, courtesy of Brisbane’s Zenva Academy.
The other four teams who pitched to the judges were:
Xplore – a meetup app for adventure sports to help you “hang out with the friends you haven’t met yet”
Get It For Better – a group buying website so you can buy the latest Beats speakers (and everything else you need) at a wholesale price
Byte Box – a company that recycles computers and parts, in order to save you money and save the environment
PantryMate – a hardware chip that attaches to the bottom of a container in your pantry, to monitor its weight and tell you when to restock
“What’s interesting about most of the team concepts this year is that they’re about the power of collaboration,” observed Dean Alle, Chief Mentor for the weekend and Entrepreneur In Residence at the Innovation Centre. Alle also used the event to launch Nexti – a three-to-six-month paid traineeship program for young entrepreneurs.
Graeme Breen, head of the Department of Coding and Innovation at Mountain Creek State High, and an organiser of the event, was very happy with the weekend. “I was impressed, yet again, by the students’ ability to take on the lean startup process and brave the judges with confidence.”
Dana Summer, a year 11 student at Nambour Christian College whose team Xplore narrowly missed out on victory, summed up the participants’ feelings about the weekend best. “I’m so happy I came. It’s been such an amazing experience.”
Andrea Martins is on the organising committee for Startup Weekend Youth.