Teacher tool takes top prize at start-up gig

Summary:The $15,000 prize at Startup Weekend Sydney was taken out by a document collaboration website for teachers, which pipped 12 other business ideas, including a modern remake of the Tamagotchi.

The $15,000 prize at Startup Weekend Sydney was taken out by a document collaboration website for teachers, which pipped 12 other business ideas, including a modern remake of the Tamagotchi.

The 54-hour start-up-building event was held at Redfern's Australian Technology Park where over 50 individuals formed teams and developed an idea into a working prototype, which was presented to a panel of judges on Sunday afternoon.

The winner, GetClassMate, was the brainchild of Jesse Black, who wanted to develop a way to store and access lesson plans online and share these with other teachers.

The service would help teachers save time because they can use lesson plans developed by their peers, Black said.

Startup Weekend Sydney organiser, Tyson Lundbech, said that GetClassMate will receive the top prize of $5000 worth of products and services from Microsoft, as well as $10,000 worth of mentoring services from consulting firm The Bailey Boys. There is also a cash prize from the NSW Government, which was one of the sponsors of the event, he said.

Lundbech said that the teams and ideas greatly benefited from the presence of the high-profile mentors and judges.

"By the end of the weekend the guys did have some really nice products built," he said. "A lot of teams changed their idea, did a complete pivot. Everyone was really passionate around their ideas and the teams."

Mentors were on hand the entire weekend to advise teams on how to develop their prototypes. They were: Natasha Munasinghe (The FRANK Team), Andrew Stead (ATP Innovations), Bart Jellema (Tjoos), Niki Scevak (Homethinking), Brett Morgan (Google) and Nick Johnson (Google).

The judging panel included Randal Leeb-du Toit (AngelLoft), Dean McEvoy (Spreets), Mark Pesce (The New Inventors on ABC) and Catherine Eibner (Microsoft).

Second place was awarded to pet-a-gotchi, a "social Tamagotchi", which allows people to take care of a digital pet, according to team member Zac Altman.

The 18-year-old uni student and mobile developer and designer believed he was one of the youngest attendees, who ranged in age from late-20s to early-30s and were primarily male.

He worked across two groups over the weekend.

"I found a lot of fun," he said. "The people there are really engaging and interesting.

"You have to have something at the end of it and everyone is working really hard to a common goal. We all spur each other on.

"You're not obliged to do anything, everything you do you want to do not for the benefit of someone else, [but for the] benefit of the team. I thought [it] was cool."

Altman said you couldn't go in with any expectations.

"Don't go in there expecting your idea to be picked. Expect to be part of a team and idea you didn't necessarily think of before.

"I haven't been in gaming space before, but there I was building a game, and I found that really rewarding. Be open about the experience."

Topics: Government, Government : AU, Start-Ups, Tech & Work


Mahesh Sharma earned his pen licence in his homeland, where he covered the technology industry for ZDNet, SMH, Sky Business News, and The Australian--first as an FTE, and later as a freelancer. The latter fueled his passion for startups and empowered a unique perspective on entrepreneurs' passion to solve problems using technology. Armed... Full Bio

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