SOME of Brisbane's brightest young entrepreneurs battled it out over the weekend in the country's first creative tech industry Startup Weekend, hosted by Queensland University of Technology Creative Enterprises Australia (QUTCEA).
A total of 44 live pitches were boiled down to 14 finalists through an intensive 54-hour creative sprint, with musicians' sharing platform Shario taking out top gong on the final night.
Dubbed as the new 'Gumtree for musos,' Shario is a platform that allows users to trade, share or swap musical gear either temporarily or permanently, with the added bonus of participants being able to network with each other and build stronger peer-to-peer communities.
Co-founder Ellen Hartwig (pictured right) says the team was inspired to create Shario after facing the reality that industry-grade gear isn't cheap, and musicians typically aren't earning top dollar.
Hartwig and her team have been motivated to build their idea for a wider market, congratulating all other teams who pitched on the night to an esteemed panel of judges including River City Labs founder Steve Baxter, Blue Sky Venture Capital investment director Elaine Stead and former COO of Sony BMG Michael Smellie.
"The atmosphere was inspiring and the results each team managed in just 54 hours was honestly insane," says Hartwig.
"A key takeaway and challenge for the Shario team was the need for market segmentation and a deeper understanding of the niches within our target market, we received some great advice on this from Steve Baxter and Michael Smellie."
In the coming weeks Hartwig and her team will be moving forward from the prototyping stage towards a functional web service and application, before pitching again as a wildcard entry into Brisbane's 'Bragger' event.
CEO of QUTCEA Anna Rooke says Startup Weekend on the whole was a great success, and she believes many of the teams are in prime position to take their ideas further amid a booming startup sector.
"There's never been a better time in Australia to be a startup," says Rooke.
"We have some very proactive venture capital funds in the ecosystem and a federal government that is really backing the ideas boom, trying to create tax incentives and programs to help commercialise ideas."
Rooke believes events that encourage young entrepreneurs to enter the market are essential, particularly as south-east Queensland's reputation as Australia's answer to Silicon Valley grows.
"I think we need to see more events like Startup Weekend happening in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and right across Queensland," says Rooke.
"Startup Weekend especially demonstrates to the broader community that it is okay to be an entrepreneur, to embrace risk and to experiment with new ideas."
QUTCEA will hold its yearly Creative3 conference in September, where all Startup Weekend participants will be invited to refine their pitch and present again to a number of internationally renowned entrepreneurs and business minds.
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