A number of months ago Startup Daily announced that Australia Post had formally joined forces with Wagga-founded event Regional Pitchfest, launched by Dianna Somerville. As part of developing that partnership AusPost decided to hold a Regional Pitchfest in Bendigo, two hours north of Melbourne, after a number of applications from Bendigo and surrounding areas such as Castlemaine.
Held on Wednesday night at The Engine Room, a charming fire station into theatre conversion, the event was a sell out, drawing a diverse group of local supporters across an even cross-section of gender and age – something that was also a standout feature of the event when it launched in Wagga Wagga earlier this year.
Five finalists were chosen to present on the night after a tough selection process and bootcamp weekend. The top prize for the night went to ecommerce startup Cool Clutch, founded by Suzanne Carroll, which manufactures and sells handbags and clutches that contain ‘discreet’ cooler bag compartments for items as big as a bottle of wine or for something as serious as medication needing to be kept at below a particular temperature.
“The Cool Clutch is perfect for storing food, drinks and medicine, and also features a generous outside side pocket to carry items such as a small purse, keys, phone and lipstick,” said Carroll during her pitch to the judges. Clearly the panel thought it was a winning idea and Carroll walked away with $5,000 in prize money to take her venture to the next level.
That judging panel included local entrepreneurs Paul Chapman of the Australian Turntable Company and Kerry Anderson of KA Rural Enterprises, as well as Startup Victoria CEO Georgia Beattie CEO, and AusPost’s Chief Innovation Officer, Greg Sutherland. All of the judges were impressed by the quality of the ideas being put forward.
“Judges were so impressed by the fantastic ideas pitched at the Australia Post Regional Pitchfest event,” said Somerville. “Not only were they original and creative, but also practical and innovative.”
Additional prizes handed out on the night went to Erin Griffin for her idea The Set Up, a retail subscription box that sends subscribers out $1,000 worth of clothing from Australian designers each quarter. Griffin received $3,500 for coming in second place, while Mark Farrell, who owns a cleaning product company called Brilliant Polish which is starting to gain traction, was voted audience favourite and walked away with $1,500.
Other business ideas included an application for joggers and musos and a collaborative production platform for creatives.
Chief Customer Officer at Australia Post, Christine Corbett encouraged all the entrepreneurs that applied and made it through to the final round to continue working on their ideas.
“We know regional Australia is changing and there’s exciting things happening in local communities everywhere,” said Corbett.
“People are creating new, innovative ways to solve problems and the entrepreneurial culture in regional areas is a wave building momentum that cannot be ignored”.
As an organisation AusPost has no intention whatsoever of ignoring this groundswell of regional innovation; in fact, the company officially announced a national tour that will see Regional Pitchfest held in every state and territory in 2017.
Destinations include Ballarat (VIC), Canberra (ACT), Launceston (TAS), Dubbo (NSW), Toowoomba (QLD), Darwin (NT), Bunbury (WA) and McLaren Vale (SA) with the National Gala Event taking place in Wagga Wagga (NSW), the birthplace of the original Regional Pitchfest.
Entries for Australia Post Regional Pitchfest open nationwide on Monday 6 March and close Friday 28th April.
To find local event dates or find out more about the 2017 Australia Post Regional Pitchfest, go to www.regionalpitchfest.com.