Winning a three-month long entrepreneurial program has given a number of promising startups a foot in to the international market.
The New Venture Institute's Venture Dorm, an intensive 12 week entrepreneurial program at Flinder's University in South Australia, finished with an awards ceremony and a visit to the most iconic tech companies in the United States for two of the lucky winners.
Scott Perry of Plumbers Mate took home the Gold eNVIe award for his pragmatic solution to a common plumbing problem.
"It was quite an amazing feeling. The competition was really fierce, looking at some of the other ideas. I actually got off the stage and my longest serving employee said to me, 'you should approach ProFile Direct and buy their services,'" Perry said of the Microsoft Innovation Award winner.
"When I heard my own staff suggest that, I thought, well, this is going to be a tough competition."
Perry pitched his backflow prevention device - a replacement for current units that suffer from high water resistance, low flood rates, and a severe theft problem, as they're easy to steal and made of valuable metals. Perry's device is plastic, removing the value of theft, easy to install and has a high flood rate.
Six of the twelve graduating companies presented their pitch to the audience, with judges selecting the most promising ideas for the gold and silver prizes, which include a trip to the USA in March of next year.
The winners of the last eNVIes are currently touring the likes of Google, Twitter, MailChimp and other big Silicon Valley players. They had recorded a message for the graduates, giving them an idea on what to expect if they won the top prizes.
"It's going to be really good to see what the US market is like in terms of backflow," Perry said.
List of winners from the program:
- Gold eNVIe Winner: Plumber's Mate, Scott Perry.
- Silver eNVIe Winner: Eternal Memoria, Nizar Rasheed.
- Outstanding Female Entrepreneur: Sami Peachey from Lend a Skilled Hand.
- Microsoft Innovation Award: ProFile Direct, Jessica Dewar.
- People's Choice Winner: Travel Buddies, Aaron Ou-Yang.
Eternal Memoria augments traditional cemetery memorials and headstones with digital content; visitors can use a QR code to access online dedications, videos, photos and other memories of loved ones who have passed away.
Lend a Skilled Hand gives professionals the chance to link up with NGOs and other organisations in need of skilled volunteers.
ProFile Direct is a filing service that organises documents and files with ease and efficiency.
Travel Buddies is rather like a AirBnB or Uber for people looking for a local experience while travelling. It links up a traveller with a local person to be their guide. They can then leave a tip and rate each other.
Perry marks the Venture Dorm as a significant step forward for his business.
"The best thing is having to turn up every Tuesday night and present what you've done in the week on your idea, business or invention. I made a lot more progress in the 12 weeks that I was in the Venture Dorm program than I did in the previous 12 months.
"I'm not new to business. Just that you've got to turn up - it's embarrassing to say I've done nothing this week - so to avoid that, you push your idea along."