10 years of celebrating student entrepreneurship

In late October, we celebrated the tenth year of the UniMelb StartUp Pitch Competition. Almost 300 students from across the University of Melbourne came together to work on startup solutions to solve real-world problems, all vying for up to $15,000 in prizes.

Dr Adam Bumpus facilitating the Primer Workshop with early stage competition participants.
Top three winners and judges at the UniMelb StartUp Finals Pitch Night. L-R: Chenghao Wu and Ben Ong (second place winners); Prof. Colin McLeod (judge); Caitlin Fleming and Angela Stevens (first place winners); Michael Lew, Bryan Ha and Eason Hong (third place winners); Jane Kou and Nick Williams (judges).

While the night saw the top teams pitching their carefully honed startups, it was a nine-week intensive journey to get them to this stage. Supported by Management and Marketing academic experts plus the Wade Institute of Entrepreneurship, Melbourne Accelerator Program and Translating Research at Melbourne (TRaM), participants worked through team formation, ideation, customer discovery, strategic business planning and prototyping to deliver 43 viable startup ideas.

For first place winners and best friends, Angela Stevens and Caitlin Fleming, the preparation and competition experience opened up a new world.

“Entrepreneurship enables us to create value for the world on our own terms. The entrepreneurship space is one that encourages us to be confident and innovative whilst finding tangible solutions to complex social issues," Caitlin said.

"Both of us are committed to working with and learning from as many mentors within the collaborative social enterprise space as possible to not only cultivate our own skillsets, but also inspire others who intend to follow a similar path."

bumpus
Dr Adam Bumpus facilitating the Primer Workshop with early stage competition participants.

Angela and Caitlin, both Bachelor of Commerce students, are part of the Banking on Women Student Society and passionate about community building and social impact. Their startup Vida drew on their interest in improving the opportunities for women and finance.

Vida looks to encourage financial independence and empowerment to remove the gender gaps associated with personal finance. This will be done through in-person workshops at schools and universities and via the development of an online platform.

“At Vida, we target the gender gap in personal finance head on. We provide young women with the necessary financial literacy skillset to navigate their personal and professional futures," Angela said.

The co-founders already have plans to cement Vida in the Melbourne metropolitan area and from there grow the online platform and educational workshops to regional and interstate schools. They are also working toward applying for a place in the Melbourne Accelerator Program once the startup has cemented a strong base.

While Angela and Caitlin had a great idea for a social impact business, they credit the Unimelb StartUp Pitch Competition with giving them the skillset, female mentor network and funding to enable them to make real their dream to create an Australia where young women are encouraged to be financially capable, confident and courageous.

Unimelb StartUp Pitch is proudly sponsored by the Faculty of Business and Economics’ Student Experience and Experiential Learning team and Academy Xi.

StartUp Finals Pitch Night
Angela Stevens and Caitlin Fleming pitching their idea at the Finals Pitch Night.
Participants and guests networking at the Finals Pitch Night.
Participants and guests networking at the Finals Pitch Night.

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