Student entrepreneurs compete in Pitch Fest
13 Jan 2012
Four teams of entrepreneurial-minded University of Sydney Business School students recently competed in the inaugural Project Edge Pitch-Fest competition, presenting unique and inventive business start-up ideas to a panel of industry judges.
The competition is the brain child of Bachelor of Commerce/ Law student Agatha Yu and Bachelor of Commerce student Cindy Xiong, who were keen to foster the entrepreneurial spirit of their classmates.
Project Edge was a semester-long program whereby small teams of students created a framework for a business including choosing a name. After a couple of months brainstorming and fine-tuning their big idea, the four teams had 10 minutes to pitch it to a group of industry judges and wait for questions and constructive criticism about the strengths and weaknesses of their ideas.
Winners of 2011 Pitch Fest, team Natalis, with the judging panel
Ironically, many of the inventive news business ideas presented by the students showed a return to "old-school" concepts like Shakespeare, Snail Mail and picture books.
The panel of judges, included Jessica Gardner, journalist from Business Magazine, BRW; Faycal Fassi-Fihri, Entrepreneur and Founder of Wetoo, Brett Morgan of Google; Dr Leanne Cutcher from the Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies at the Business School and Rowan Kunz of Educational Tutorial firm, Art of Smart.
One entrepreneurial idea proposed was picture book adaptations of classic literature with the purpose of introducing children to complex classic literature in preparation for their higher studies. Other teams proposed utilising popular technology to cater for fast paced lifestyles, including a Smartphone application for small to medium enterprise and a social network personal life coach.
The winning team's business idea was a creative take on old-school snail mail. The team proposed the personalisation of conventional direct mail for SMEs to drastically improve customer retention. The team strategically employed skilful graphic design and low cost remote printing operations to personalise an advertisement, as an alternative to largely ineffective spam mail. The judges' unanimous decision and the success of the pitch in already achieving a client demonstrated the validity of the product and students' professionalism in execution of the pitch.
Agatha Yu said that the program intended to create innovators within the student body: "Project Edge compliments the Business School's learning experience by encouraging students to experiment with potential business opportunities in the real world."
Dr Leanne Cutcher praised the high calibre of the business proposals and highlighted the positive impression made on the judges: "All the judges were incredibly impressed with the innovative business ideas and I'm personally very excited about the future if this is the calibre of entrepreneurs we have coming through the Business School."