Home RiverPitch Roundup RiverPitch Episode 6: Melbourne contestants get personal

RiverPitch Episode 6: Melbourne contestants get personal

Who is going through to the grand final?

Senior Digital Journalist, Your Money

Editor’s note: With all six finalists now through to the final round, the audience polls are now open! Vote here for your favourite business.


Behind every great business is a great story.

But in today’s high-tech world, it can be easy to forget how important the human element is.

In this week’s episode of RiverPitch, we welcomed back our four Victorian winners from episode 3, and get a deeper insight into what drove them to enter the challenging world of entrepreneurship.

In the last episode, they impressed their mentor, angel investor Sheona Devin, with a vision to change the world and the skills to piece it all together.

“You’ve got four founders there who really are painting their version of the future and being that change that they want to see in the world, which is admirable no matter what,” Sheona said.

This week, they face an even bigger challenge by pitching to judges Andrew Johnson, Australian Computer Society (ACS) chief executive, ACS president Yohan Ramasundara and Siobhan Hayden, chief operating officer of HashChing.

First up to the pitching stage was Lucinda Hartley and Jessica Christiansen-Franks of Neighbourlytics, who have designed a platform to improve cities using social media analytics.

Jessica Christiansen-Franks and Lucinda Hartley, Neighbourlytics.

“I love doing what we’re doing because we are changing the world. So without our data, property developers and governments are just guessing at how much we as citizens love the places we live or the places we work,” Jessica says.

Jessica and Lucinda explain that it’s all about creating better and more connected neighbourhoods.

“These are massive issues that affect people’s mental wellbeing and health,” Jessica says.

“Loneliness is as likely to kill you as smoking and heart disease. You know, this is big stuff.”

They say their biggest problem is that they already have too many customers – now they’re looking for capital and greater exposure.

Next up is Tony Wu of Weploy who wants to help companies to recruit staff more easily and by removing racial bias.

Tony Wu, Weploy.

“Growing up for me I’d always been in a situation where, due to my background, I was given less of a choice,” says Tony.

Wu says his platform can recruit in seconds rather than days or weeks.

“The best thing is that one of the most common pieces of feedback that we receive today after using it for the first time is that they will never use a recruitment agent again,” Tony tells the judges.

John Webster from Shiftiez is next to pitch.

He’s developed a platform designed to humanise shift work rosters to give employees a greater work-life balance.

John Webster, Shiftiez.

“My wife is a nurse, so she would often come home after night duty and be sleeping only to be woken up by her work trying to get her to work an afternoon shift. So they had no visibility about the types of work that she did, when she last worked, what their fatigue planning was and even if she wanted to work,” Webster explains.

“Studies show that giving staff a say in their work life balance leads to happier staff with higher throughput.”

Finally, Annie McAuley of Talkiplay delivers her pitch.

Annie has developed software to help children engage in language learning, a skill she personally understands the challenges of.

Annie McAuley, Talkiplay.

The idea for her business was driven by her own personal struggle to learn language skills after a brain injury.

“It wasn’t easy to talk about that and also to build up a business at the same time. But I thought it was important for people to know that I understand what it’s like for kids learning language. I understand what it’s like to struggle,” she says.

With one in five kids experiencing a language delay, she says it can lead to poor social skills, lower levels of education and negatively impact future job prospects.

With four top pitches, the judges have a tough job on their hands in terms of who to send home.

“We thought we had some really good companies last week from Brisbane and I think you might have taken it to a new level,” says Andrew Johnson tells the contestants.

Among the two that are most commercially ready, the judges agree Neighbourlytics is a standout, followed by Weploy.

“I really liked Talkiplay but it is unique and I’m a little bit nervous about the amount of competition in the recruitment space,” says Andrew.

After a brainstorm, the judges finally land on Neighbourlytics and Weploy to go through to the next round.

Congratulations to our winners and stay tuned for next week’s finalist episode!

With our six finalists heading into the finals next week, the audience polls are now open.

Vote for who you think should be the final winner of RiverPitch here.

Watch the full episode in the video above.

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