Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Innovation ACT Pitch Night

Greetings from the pitch night of Innovation ACT, where teams of university students are competing for prizes by presenting their business ideas. The event is being held in the Inspire Center at University of Canberra. This was an excellent event (even though the team I was mentoring did not make it to this round). In August I dropped in on Philippe Kruchten at UBC  in Vancouver to hear about his "New Venture Design" course, where students are encouraged to enter a innovation competition as part of their studies. I am designing a similar course to be run alongside Innovation ACT.

The pitches:

1. The first team "Vacant Space" are promoting an advanced version of the "Renew Leichhardt" initiative in Sydney, which provides vacant shops to artists and artisans.

2. Team "KRIGE Tech" are offering a smart power system using switches controlled by a smart-home app. This is claimed to reduce energy use. However, I am skeptical that such remote controls save any energy, whereas simpler automation in individual devices does.

3. Siege Sloth Games are producing more non-violent computer games. This seemed the most mature of the pitches. The graphics were good (which they should be for a computer game project).

4. Bio-Mine: This initiative is for electronic certificates, similar to the Digitary service (based in Ireland). While ANU already uses Digitary (I was issued with a digital Grad Cert in Higher Education). However, I found Digitary's system clumsy to use and it has not had a high take-up. There is therefore room for a better product.  One interesting aspect is that Bio-Mine proposes to charge the graduate an annual fee and pay the university a commission. Also they plan to link this to the Intellidox product which ANU already has a relationship with. This sounds very promising.

5. BehavioMatrix: This team is producing a diagnostic aid for depression. This would use sensors rather than a questionnaire or practitioner's opinion. I am not qualified to asses the clinical validity of the technique, but if it works this could be a good business.

6. OzGuild: This team scans trading cards so that collectors can search for cards to complete their collection. While pitched for the "Magic: The Gathering" card game, but could be applied to other collectible cards.

7. Ingiv: This team organizes volunteers for non-profit organizations online. While pitched for non-profit organizations this may also be attractive for for-profit organizations who encourage staff to volunteer to work on projects. In many cases the companies have difficulty keeping track of what their staff have volunteered for.

8. CanBAR: This team has the best logo of the night (a stylized cocktail glass with a Google style map pin as the cocktail stick). Their product provides demographics of patrons for cocktail bar owners, via an App.One technique the team might try at their next pitch is to hand out cocktails. I was part of a team pitching a line of boutique spirits at one such event and we handed out drinks to the judges, which put them in a good mood. ;-)

9. Meeting Cost and Timer: This App is billed as "The Taxi Meter for Meetings". It estimates the cost of a meeting, in terms of staff and other resources used. This might be fun to have on a large screen during a meeting. Of course the solution is not to have meetings. I am not so sure about having his in the Microsoft Office Apps store. what I would like is an application for preparing for meetings, which would prompt for all the necessary materials for a good meeting and prompt those involved to try to complete tasks before the meeting, thus eliminating the need for a meeting. I noticed there are some simple Meeting Meters already, such as "Meeting Cost Meter".

10. Young Money: Comparing insurance policies for young people is the topic of this product. It was not clear how this would differ from the many insurance comparison websites already available.

Based on the presentations, my ranking of the teams from highest to lowest would be:
  1. Siege Sloth Games
  2. Bio-Mine
  3. OzGuild
  4. Ingiv 
  5. CanBAR
  6. KRIGE Tech
  7. BehavioMatrix
  8. Vacant Space 
  9. Meeting Cost and Timer
  10.  Young Money
ps: The Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN) will launch on 7 November 2014. An open innovation event will be held on 29 November.

1 comment:

Rish said...

Hey Tom,

Thanks for your post. The CBRIN event has had a date change to 22/11. It turns out there is a Hackathon on 29/11!

Best, Rish.