Student Entrepreneur Program winners score mentoring session with Shark Tank star

16 June, 2017: Students pitching for Queensland’s inaugural Student Entrepreneur crown walked away with a slew of prizes, with the winning team securing an invaluable mentoring session with entrepreneur, investor and Shark Tank star Steve Baxter.

The Student Entrepreneur Program is an initiative by technology startup hub River City Labs in partnership with Brisbane Grammar School and Brisbane Girls Grammar School.

The 12-week program was open to 30 students from Years 9 and 10 who were introduced to the disruptive world of innovation and technological advances facing communities in Queensland and beyond. The goal was to identify budding entrepreneurs amongst the cohort of teenagers.

During that period, students participated in brainstorming business ideas, evaluating risks and opportunities, learning how to interact with customers, how to create a brand, and developing a minimum viable product. They were supported by River City Labs’ mentors and teachers from both schools.

The program culminated in a ‘Demo Day’ and pitch competition in early June where students spruiked their ideas to judges Bruce Stubbs, R&R Strategic CEO, Anthony Micallef, BGS Headmaster, Jacinda Euler, BGGS Principal and Mr Baxter.

The winning idea came from Team SMAT for a smart desk charging mat to reduce desk cord clutter.

Runner-up SneakerVille received a business support package from Pitcher Partners for its online marketplace where users purchase or trade new and pre-owned sneakers.

Team Noted received special mention and a mentoring session with QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA) for overcoming the niche problem of members of large orchestras missing specific guidance to certain string sets within an orchestra.

Thomas Bizzel from Team SMAT said the Student Entrepreneur Program was “fun and challenging and proved that anyone could be a successful entrepreneur”.

“The program showed us that people who start great companies are just like you and me, and being an entrepreneur and running your own startup is a viable option for the future instead of getting a mainstream job,” Bizzel said.

Mr Baxter, River City Labs founder, welcomed the opportunity to mentor the winning team, saying “it was an honour to help nurture the next-generation of successful Queensland entrepreneurs”.

Pitcher Partners partner Cole Wilkinson said the company was pleased to be a part of the ground-breaking Student Entrepreneur program.

“It is fantastic to see programs such as this being run to encourage entrepreneurship for Queensland students.

“We’re looking forward to conducting our financial literacy and business startup session for the runner-up, SneakerVille.

“I’ve already been very impressed by Vinesh’s ideas and can’t wait to help him grow as an entrepreneur,” Mr Wilkinson said.

CEA Acting CEO Mark Gustowski said, “the future of Australia’s entrepreneurial spirit and economy lies within our ability to harness the minds of our creative youth.”

Mr Gustowski said that the highest proportion of Australian internet users are in the 15-17 age bracket, (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015).

“The data tells us that we should be investing in our youth now. Programs like the Student Entrepreneur empower our youth to be problem identifiers and solvers while also nurturing creative and entrepreneurial thinking”, Mr Gustowski said.


Additional information:

Six teams participated in the pitching competition. They were:

SMAT – a smart desk changing mat to reduce desk cord clutter (Grace McFarlane, Amelia Gilbert, Thomas Bizzel, Emily Bowden, Tayla Ainsworth, Bianca Anderson, Massimo Musso, Stephanie Jones, Nicholas Lynch)

SneakerVille – online marketplace where users purchase or trade new and pre-owned sneakers (Vinesh Sharma)

Noted – a solution for members of large orchestras missing specific guidance to certain string sets within an orchestra (Devika Varsani, Yuwen Guo)

Simple & Sweet – a solution to create sugar sticks from palm sugar as a sweetener replacement (Calvin Lam, James Crane, Matthew King-Koi)

Cast & Co – a method to make casts more dynamic and effective through 3D printing (Georgia Kassman, Kirsty Viljoen, Kelsea Sudrikku, Chris Sole, Sophie Watkins)

Real Food – an app to empower people with food intolerance to shop more easily (Leon Mojarrabi, Ben Allison, Rishi Goel)


About River City Labs

River City Labs fosters the growth of startup companies solving big problems. We provide resources to empower, support and connect entrepreneurs. Central to everything we do is a focus on collaboration and connection.

Since 2012 over 460 entrepreneurs have called RCL home. Through our events program we have welcomed more than 16,000 guests into our community by hosting over 500 events aimed at supporting founders on their entrepreneurship journey.

River City Labs powers a range of programs, events and engagement opportunities, enabling our Corporate partners to innovate differently and embed their teams within the startup community.

River City Labs is a human-led organisation ensuring founders come first always and every engagement is underpinned by our core values of Give Learn Grow, Take Action and Always Challenge.