The crowd at Impact Pitch 2019, with a man standing in the front wearing a shirt that says, "Supporting business as a force for good."

A Recap of Impact Pitch Night 2019

Last Tuesday, Startup Victoria and Giant Leap Fund came together to deliver the third annual Impact Pitch Night—a pitch competition focusing on companies that fuse profit with purpose to make the world a better place and use their companies for good! 

We had an amazing turnout and it was great to see so many people interested in companies with good impacts, especially after the Global Climate Strike the previous Friday!

In case you weren’t able to make it, here’s a quick recap of the night!

Watch this video for some highlights!

The Open

The night began with networking, food, and drinks in the kitchen. Food catering was provided by Pawa Catering, a fantastic local company that serves great indigenous food. Compostable tableware was provided by Pak360, and food waste was collected by WasteNinja, who transport waste to compost sites instead of landfills.

Near the networking we had the Startup Showcase, composed of four awesome businesses:

  • We had B Lab, a global non-profit organisation building a community of B corporations—certified companies that do good by the world.
  • They were joined by Dumbo Feather, a magazine out of St. Kilda that shares inspiring stories of people with strong hearts and souls that might otherwise go unnoticed.
  • Also appearing was Home Care Heroes, a kind-hearted Sydney-based startup that brings Heroes into the lives of people who need companionship.
  • Last but definitely not least, The Nurture Project displayed their great mission: a natural method of defeating anxiety with exercise, nutrition, meditation, self care and sleep.

The Kickoff

Once the crowd migrated to the amphitheater, the emcee Mike Davis—host of Humans of Purpose, a podcast bringing its audience comfortable conversations with purpose-driven leaders—kicked off the night before a welcome speech by Judy Anderson, CEO of Startup Victoria.

Special guest Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade, Martin Pakula, shared his support of the startup community here in Melbourne and announced government support through LaunchVic’s Round X grants in the building of themed angel networks, including the Impact Angel Network: a group of angel investors focused on impact startups. He shares all of our high hopes that the Melbourne startup ecosystem can and will become a world-class environment.

Rachel Yang and Charlie Macdonald of Giant Leap Fund then took the stage to remind the crowd that making a profit and making an impact are not mutually-exclusive goals for companies in the modern world. Profit can lead to growth, and growth can lead to even bigger change. To get the crowd pumped, they shared some examples of the great companies in their portfolio, such as YourGrocer, Sendle, and WORK180.

The Pitches

The first pitcher of the night was Lily Dempster, founder and CEO of The Neighbourhood Effect. Her company’s mission is to “…make local, green living easy.” Starting in the ACT, they aim to have a mobile app and web platform that allow users to analyse the sustainability of their current behaviours and provide personalised steps to living greener, with gamification to reward users for eco-friendly lifestyles.

The second pitch came from Ryan Tilley, co-founder of Gecko Traxx. Gecko Traxx is a company aiming to open up the world to wheelchair accessibility. Their flagship product, soon to be widely available, is a set of portable, easy-to-use wheel augmentations that allow wheelchair users to more easily traverse unstable terrain such as beaches. Far easier to travel with and install than a separate pair of off-roading wheels, Gecko Traxx aim to be a cheap-yet-superior option for everyone.

Next we had Nick Williams, co-founder of Sempo. Sempo has the ambition of being an end-to-end cash transfer platform for developing countries. Allowing for financial aid to be sent to these countries without a near-20% fee, Sempo allows NGOs and family members to send money to those who need it easily and quickly, and allows those who use it—many of whom are unbanked—to store their money without burying it, and use their money without traveling long distances to the nearest bank.

The final pitcher was Jane Kou, founder and CEO of Bring Me Home. Bring Me Home came out of the realisation Jane had when she saw how much unused food went to waste at restaurants when the day ended. It’s a B2C solution allowing restaurants to cut down on the waste of perfectly good food, while also allowing users to get a cheaper meal. They also aim to release a B2B version allowing food suppliers to share their extra food with those restaurants, cutting down on even more food waste.

The Close

While the judges deliberated—for a long time, because these startups were all amazing—Frank Guzman, General Manager of Academy Xi, took the stage to talk about his journey and the growth of their program to to where it is now: one of the most popular sources for skill-specific and practical courses in Melbourne.

When we polled the audience to determine who they thought should win, the winner of the People’s Choice Award was Jane Kou of Bring Me Home! An app anyone can use to get a good, cheap meal while reducing food waste? Count us in!

And finally, the big winner: the Judges’ Choice Award and the big prize package went to Nick Williams from Sempo. A huge congratulations to the great team over at Sempo!

All four pitchers did a fantastic job representing amazing companies, and it was encouraging to see how great the community of impact-based startups is here in Melbourne. I encourage you to check out their websites for more information!

A huge congratulations to Sempo!

If you would like to attend a pitch night like this, register here for this month’s Migrant and First Generation Founder Pitch Night from 6-8:30pm on the 29th of October, sponsored by the amazing Victoria University and City of Melbourne! If you are a migrant or first generation founder, you can apply to pitch here. We hope to see you all there!

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The pitchers, judges, and pitch coach joined the Startup Victoria and Giant Leap Fund teams for a big group photo!

Photography credit to Seam Media.
Videography credit to Video Why.