We’re back for our second episode of RiverPitch, where entrepreneurs battle it out for a chance in the spotlight and a $20,000 prizepool.
This week it’s Sydney’s turn, with veteran investor and entrepreneur Peter James mentoring the next eight contestants out of New South Wales.
And he’s looking for companies that are passionate about solving “real world problems”.
“Do they have that fire in the heart that is just so necessary?” he asks.
For our Sydney hopefuls, the big theme of the day is all about making our working lives a bit better, with start-ups that tackle commute times, bushfires and meeting rooms.
First up, we meet Brennan Hatton of Equal Reality, who has created a virtual world that allows users to experience what it’s like to be on the receiving end of discrimination.
— OurCareJournal (@OurCareJournal) November 13, 2018
Peter – and Forbes – like the idea, but Peter’s worried it could be too easily copied.
“I don’t want to take away from what you’re doing but… what’s stopping someone in Bangalore, Helsinki or Palo Alto from doing it, and are they already doing it?”
We also meet a couple of entrepreneurs that want to make meetings more interactive and easier to book.
Jake Dimarco of Spare Workspace recons he’s created the “Airbnb of meeting rooms”, while Anthony Collins of Cruiser Interactive wants to “revolutionise the way we hold meetings.”
Anthony’s pitch is that most meetings are time wasters – something many of us will empathise with – but he wants to change that by bringing in interactive tables and walls.
“Democratising the discussion so that everybody can contribute, rather than having a single person presenting at the front of the room,” Anthony says, ironically while presenting at the front of the room.
Carolyn Mee of Sound Scouts wants to change the way hearing tests are run for kids – she says they’re boring, expensive and difficult to run.
Tapping into what most kids of today can grasp – she’s created a mobile app game, and she wants to sell it for $15 a pop.
Nobody likes getting stuck in traffic, but Richard Savoie of Staybil has a solution that’s a little more grounded than, say, UberAir’s proposal.
He thinks the answer lies in pairing companies with employees that live closer to them – and he has an ‘AI-powered workforce geo-optimisation engine’ to prove it.
“Many of you have had to commute to work at some point in time… Not only was this a poor use of your time, but it was bad for your health, the environment, society and businesses,” he said.
Peter seemed to be impressed with the idea but wasn’t all too sure what Richard was actually after.
“It seemed to me like you were saying you just need help. Everyone needs help,” Peter quipped.
Australians love a good firefighter story, and Hanno Blankenstein and Jason Grier of Unleash Live delivered just that.
They used drone footage during the California bushfires in 2016 to send data real-time data back to emergency service workers.
A good yarn, but Peter wants to know what other customers they have lined up. “One could argue that that was a bit of a fluke,” he jibes.
Into the final pitch round, we get to hear more stories and a bit more on the strategy side. And Peter is impressed, “I’ve got to say it’s just been quite hard.”
But despite eight solid pitches, there can only be four companies going forward.
Congrats to our NSW winners – Brennan Hatton, Caroline Mee, Richard Savoie and Hanno Blankenstein and Jason Grier.
Stay tuned for next week!
Watch the full episode in the video above.