In the face of rising social disconnect initiated by the COVID-19 pandemic, students Sarah Yoon and Catherine Muir pitch an innovative spin on long-distance relationships, taking home a victory in the 2022 UniMelb StartUp Pitch Competition.
On the 13th of May, eight teams competitively delivered innovative pitches at the 2022 UniMelb StartUp Pitch Competition (US22) Finals. Providing a platform to sharpen their entrepreneurial mindsets, US22 is an enriching learning experience for students from any faculty to collaborate, ideate, and develop their own startup ideas.
Hosted by the Faculty of Business and Economics and Melbourne Business School, the competition offers participants exclusive access to a multitude of workshops, mentoring sessions facilitated by entrepreneurship experts and invaluable feedback to further refine their ideas.
The winning team, ‘Boundless’, was formed during a casual friend-group lunch, where Commerce student, Sarah asked Science student, Catie, to join the competition with her. For Catie, business was a foreign but exciting area to explore. Sarah always had a passion for entrepreneurship, pitching the solution of a social app for long-distance relationships. Both students leveraged their own strengths and educational backgrounds, with Sarah focusing on the commercial aspects while Catie approached the idea from a technical perspective.
Their start-up idea, Boundless, is “a social app targeted towards people in long-distance relationships. Our goal is to transform ‘long-distance’ relationships to a ‘Boundless’ relationship, where people can give love and feel loved, no matter the distance.” The team was aware of the abundance of dating apps centred around meeting new people, but noticed a gap in the market for a product designed to enrich relationships that were already established.
“We noticed that with the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing use of technology, more and more people were in long-distance relationships and confronted by the lacking intimacy and excitement of in-person relationships. It was important for us to change this because, like so many others, we had personal experiences with long-distance relationships and empathised with the struggles.”
Reflecting upon their experience, Sarah and Catie advise future students that it is wise to keep the business solution simple, understand the stakeholders' interests and perspectives involved, and predict the questions the judges may ask to be fully prepared. They emphasised the importance of believing in and expressing passion for the product.
The team’s business proposal was developed further during the competition’s four weekly workshops, where highly experienced mentors guided the students, from their initial ideation of ‘Boundless’ to the minute details of the final pitch that was delivered to the judges: Experts from Telstra, Fortress Australia and the Melbourne Accelerator Program.
Jon Satterley, CEO and Co-Founder of Fortress Esports remarked, “The UniMelb StartUp Competition is a fantastic opportunity for young entrepreneurs to get exposed to the challenging "marketplace of ideas" and showcase their business models. I was grateful to be invited as a judge in 2022; the finalists who presented to us all showed great thought and passion. Congratulations in particular to Team Boundless whose concept was very impressive."
Team Boundless received a cash prize of $5,750, Alienware headsets, and a place in Melbourne Accelerator Program’s Velocity Program, thanks to the generosity of sponsors that will help them move forward with their goal in the next two years. “We will work with a small team of developers to create the basic software for our app that will allow us to bring it to market, and continue to add features as our customer base grows.”
“We are excited about the potential of how Boundless can change the dynamic of long-distance relationships, whether they be platonic, familial or romantic.”
US22 was proudly supported by Telstra, Fortress Melbourne, Melbourne Accelerator Program, and the Wade Institute of Entrepreneurship. Find out more: UniMelb StartUp Pitch Competition.