2016 Innovation Challenge Wrapup

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Well, it’s been just under a fortnight since the judging of the QUTbluebox Innovation Challenge.  Now that the dust has settled, we thought it would be worth reflecting on the third edition of one of the most significant innovation competitions in Australia.

This year’s Challenge was the third – and definitely the biggest – competition run by QUT to date.  Over 160 teams entered, which was more than twice as many as last year.  And with $250,000 in prizes on offer, there was plenty of incentive to throw a hat into the ring!

The quality of the entrants was also incredibly high.  Narrowing them down to the final five was tough enough, but the judges faced the even more difficult challenge of choosing one of the five outstanding entrants to award the major prize of $50,000.

Just to recap, the five finalists were;

  • Conweigh – a novel mobile container weighing system
  • Med Augment – augmented reality to assist in medication consumption
  • Velvet – creating the Wi-Fi sharing economy
  • LookBooker – book hair and beauty salon appointments online
  • Field Orthopaedics – bringing relief to suffers of wrist pain

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All five finalists displayed the qualities we look for in startups at QUT – creativity, a strong business model wrapped around an innovative idea, capable teams and strong pathways to market.  Every finalist delivered on these through compelling pitches, making the judging extremely challenging.

“The finalists in this year’s QUT bluebox Innovation Challenge were of an incredibly high standard” said lead judge Jane Andrews, director of TechnologyOne and the advisor for the Wound Management Innovation Cooperative Research Centre in Brisbane.

“The pitching was of a very high standard, all the finalists had compelling business propositions and each understood their markets extremely well” she said.

“Field Orthopaedics impressed us with their technology, the depth of their team and the market potential for their wrist replacement innovation”.

“Separating them from the other teams was really challenging, but in the end we had to choose a winner, which this year was Field Orthopaedics.”

QUT bluebox CEO Tim McLennan also noted that there has been a groundswell of entrepreneurialism and startup activity at QUT, with that groundswell flowing directly into the number and quality of entrants in the competition.

“We are incredibly proud of the tradition of innovation and entrepreneurship at QUT and we see the Innovation Challenge as a chance to really showcase the leading position QUT has taken in this space” he said.

“QUT bluebox will continue to sponsor the Innovation Challenge and we look forward to an even bigger and better event in 2016.”

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qutbluebox Innovation Challenge Finalist: Conweigh – Q&A

conweighWe round out our Q&A sessions with our Innovation Challenge finalists by talking to Conweigh. With a revolutionary container weighing system poised to capture part of the container shipping market, Conweigh is poised for significant growth in a highly competitive global industry.

What is Conweigh?

Conweigh is an Australian company offering a shipping container weighing service through the use of a portable and instant NMI Trade approved Class 3 weighbridge, accessed and delivered to consumers on demand, via app, phone and web.

Who are the people behind it?

The Conweigh management team consists of a number of highly experienced industry professionals with backgrounds in shipping, freight and logistics, specialised engineering and manufacturing, business development and sales as well as finance and human resource management.

The team is led by Founder and CEO James Oliver who has over 15 years’ experience in specialised mobile equipment design and manufacture and has built a manufacturing company with foundations in systems and technology. Supporting James are his parents Deb and Steve Oliver who are Directors of Finance / HR and Manufacturing / Production respectively, National Sales Manager, Johann Psaila, National Technical Sales Bjorn Viljoen and International Business Development manager Simon Pritchard.

What is your connection with QUT?

Conweigh CEO James Oliver completed a Bachelor of Engineering at QUT between 2001 and 2004. His studies included Advanced Manufacturing, Finite Element Analysis, Process Systems Designs and Advanced Mechanical Design. He graduated from QUT with first class honours and was listed on the Dean’s List for Academic Achievement for six of eight semesters of study.

How long have you been operating as a business?

Conweigh was registered as a business in Queensland on 4 November 2015. The Company was officially launched in February 2016, with formal trade commencing in late June 2016.

How did you come up with the idea for Conweigh?

When the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) announced that changes to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention would include a mandatory weight verification of all export freight containers, James Oliver recognised the potential for a new business venture. Having extensive experience in the freight and logistics sector, James had developed an acute awareness of the logistics supply chain and the inevitable delays which would result from this new requirement. James was also aware of the lack of available public weighing infrastructure, particularly in developing countries to cater to the growing export market. For most shippers, such public infrastructure would be their only option, being unable to afford to install permanent weighing equipment on site.

James’s solution was to design a portable weighbridge which could be brought to each shipper’s point of packing and weigh a container. In order to ensure that shippers experienced minimal delays, James focused on extending this solution to be an on-demand style service, with an integrated service and delivery platform to provide a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) Certificate instantly. This idea would revolutionise the container weighing industry.

Do you have any experiences in startups or business?

James grew up in the cane fields of Mackay, and began his first entrepreneurial venture at the age of 15. Now, some twenty years on, he is still finding new and exciting ways in which to challenge himself and disrupt the marketplace. After completing his degree at QUT, James resurrected his parents’ engineering company; Olitek began as a small manufacturing company and grew to incorporate a design unit servicing some of the biggest industries including mining and logistics.

What has been your biggest challenge with Conweigh do date?

One of the biggest challenges has been ensuring that the Conweigh equipment satisfies the requirements of the IMO SOLAS legislation. During the initial design phases, there was widespread misunderstanding of what standards weighing equipment should be required to meet. With exact specifications or requirements unknown, Conweigh’s equipment was designed to meet the metrological standards set for trade use by the National Measurement Institute (NMI), and also meets the standards set by the International Organisation of Legal Metrology (OIML). The design of the weighing equipment to meet such standards required extensive product testing and redevelopment and remains the only portable certified solution globally to date.

What has been your greatest success with Conweigh to date?

With the IMO standards now published, Conweigh is the only mobile container weighing company operating certified equipment which meets the standards as required by the legislation, being approved by both the NMI and OIML. This has been one of the company’s greatest successes, providing a point of difference and a key competitive advantage.

Where do you find inspiration and what entrepreneurs are you influenced by?

Given that Conweigh has a tech component, James has been interested and inspired by the number of Brisbane based start-ups which are built on on-demand business and service models. This structure has revolutionised access and convenience both for the customer and the service provider.

What would it mean to you and your startup to win the Innovation Challenge?

Winning the Innovation Challenge will give Conweigh an instrumental boost to access the international market. While there are a number of international customers who have expressed an interest in receiving the Conweigh service, the Innovation Challenge will provide Conweigh with an opportunity to establish the service in least developed countries with recognised infrastructure limitations. Conweigh will be able to assist these nations with complying with the IMO SOLAS legislation, allowing them to compete in the international marketplace.

For more information on Conweigh, you can visit them at https://www.conweigh.net/.

qutbluebox Innovation Challenge Finalist: Field Orthopaedics – Q&A

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We round out this week of discussions with the bluebox Innovation Challenge Finalists by talking to the team from Field Orthopaedics.  Interested in the future of joint replace? Then read on to find out how our Innovation Challenge Finalist is looking to revolutionize the space.

What is Field Orthopaedics?

Field Orthopaedics is a group of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Doctors and Engineers who develop orthopaedic devices for the trauma, extremities and biologics market.

Who are the people behind it?

Dr Gregory Couzens, Dr Libby Anderson, Dr Christopher Jeffery and Dr James Fielding.

What is your connection with QUT?

Both Dr Couzens and Dr Jeffery are completing their PhD at QUT currently and Dr Jeffery completed his undergraduate engineering degree at QUT.

How long have you been operating as a business?

18 Months.

How did you come up with the idea for Field Orthopaedics?

Chris was in the audience at an orthopaedic conference when Greg was presenting his research on the failings of current wrist replacements. During an intermission Chris approached Greg with a solution to design a new wrist replacement device from the ground up to specifically address the failings of the current offerings.

Do you have any experiences in startups or business?

Greg has been running a successful private practice for twenty years. Libby has a commerce undergraduate degree and has been involved in surgical leadership and education for 6 years. James studied business and worked in finance and PR in New York before returning home to study medicine. During medicine, James and Chris met after being awarded scholarships to complete a graduate certificate of executive leadership in addition to their medical degrees. They went on to build a portfolio of medical products.

What has been your biggest challenge with Field Orthopaedics to date?

The steep learning curve around the intricacies of medical device development, regulatory approval and commercialisation.

What has been your greatest success with Field Orthopaedics to date?

The successful presentation and demonstration of our prototype magnetic total wrist replacement at the 2016 combined annual conference for the Australian Hand Surgery Society and American Society for Surgery of the Hand.

Where do you find inspiration and what entrepreneurs are you influenced by?

We’re inspired daily by the opportunities for improvement that we see when interacting with patients. Entrepreneurs we’re influenced by are Elon Musk and Tony Stark.

What would it mean to you and your startup to win the Innovation Challenge?

It would be a great validation for our project and be recognition of what we’ve achieved so far.

qutbluebox Innovation Challenge Finalist: LookBooker – Q&A

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Today for our Innovation Challenge we got our virtual interview shoes on and spoke to LookBooker Co-Founder Renee Robbie out of New York.  Read on to find out what LookBooker is all about.

What is LookBooker?

LookBooker is an online appointment aggregator for the hair and beauty industry. We make the process of discovering, browsing, and booking appointments at salons, spas, and barbershops seamless and digital through the LookBooker app. We’re based in New York City and currently work with over 350 of the city’s best salons and spas to make scheduling your next grooming appointment as easy as booking a hotel, restaurant, or taxi. In the US, there are 1.3 million hair and beauty businesses, and personal grooming is a $53B industry, but currently less than 1% of appointments are made online. We want to change that and be the business that moves one of the oldest industries in the world into the digital age.

Who are the people behind it?

LookBooker was founded by me, Renee Robbie and Giorgia Rossi.

What is your connection with QUT?

Renee is a QUT alumni (Bachelor of Business (Honors), Economics & Marketing). She and LookBooker were recently featured in the latest QUT Real World campaign!

How long have you been operating as a business?

The LookBooker app launched in October of 2015.

 How did you come up with the idea for LookBooker?

We were both working in Sydney as management consultants at McKinsey & Company pulling long hours and travelling constantly, when we realized that hair and beauty was the one area of our life that wasn’t organized online. It became a running joke between us that we hadn’t had our hair cut in over six months because the process of doing so was so painful: having to call around and wait on hold during business hours, in open plan offices in front of our colleagues and clients, just to book an appointment. We were actually working on projects out of town on coal mines and would say to each other “how am I supposed to book a bikini wax on the phone in front of all of these miners?!”. We came to the US to do some market research and see what businesses were doing online hair and beauty booking well here… and realized that no one was. The size of the market here was too big for us to ignore, so we packed up bags and moved to New York to start LookBooker.

Do you have any experiences in startups or business?

LookBooker is our first business, but we both come from families full of entrepreneurs. We grew up talking business around the dinner table, so taking the plunge into our own venture felt very natural.

What has been your biggest challenge with LookBooker do date?

LookBooker is a double-sided marketplace so we have two customers that we are serving: our users on one side, and our salons and spas on the other. We are constantly juggling between focusing on one side of the market versus the other, and trying to make the right decisions for both. For example, while our users are incredibly technologically savvy, salons and spas are at the other end of the technology scale, and we need to make sure that we have a product and business that can grow and cater to both of these customers’ very different needs.

What has been your greatest success with LookBooker to date?

Being interviewed by Vogue for the launch of the LookBooker app was a real pinch-us moment!

Where do you find inspiration and what entrepreneurs are you influenced by?

We are both passionate about supporting and growing the number of female entrepreneurs, which are very much a minority and face many challenges their male peers don’t. We have such admiration and respect for women who go out and give it a go, and are excited and inspired by a growing number of female leaders who are out there charging through brick walls and taking no prisoners. Some of our favorite leaders and entrepreneurs include Diane Von Furstenberg, Sara Blakely (Spanx), Julia Hartz (Eventbrite), Marla Malcom Beck (Blue Mercury), Susan Koger (Modcloth), and of course we are big Sheryl Sandberg fans.

What would it mean to you and your startup to win the Innovation Challenge?

Winning the Innovation Challenge would mean a huge deal to our business and to us personally. We would be excited to use the prize money to help grow LookBooker and make investments in product features to improve the booking experience. Personally, as a QUT alumni, it would be wonderful and humbling to have LookBooker recognized by QUT in this way, and to have the university on the LookBooker journey with us.

You can find out more about LookBooker at https://www.lookbooker.co/.

qutbluebox Innovation Challenge Finalist: MedAugment – Q&A

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MedAugment is the second of our Finalists for this year’s bluebox Innovation Challenge. We spoke to MedAugmnet’s Dr Alireza Ahmadvand to find out all about MedAugmnet and what they hope to achieve with their augmented reality innovation. Read on to find out about the second of our Challenge Finalists!

What is MedAugment?

MedAugment is a smartphone-based augmented reality solution. It enhances consumers’ engagement with their medicines and medical devices. It helps in visualising interactive, digital, and dynamic consumer medicine information and it is available throughout the medicine or device use cycle.

MedAugment links health literacy improvement with the medical condition and it helps in increasing the safety of using medicines and medical devices.

Who are the people behind it?

The multidisciplinary team behind MedAugment is comprised of healthcare practitioners (pharmacists, physicians, and nurses), augmented reality developers, digital media experts and researchers, pharmacy business development managers, patient engagement experts and researchers, health policy analysts, and health educators.

What is your connection with QUT?

MedAugment’s team leader, Professor Lisa Nissen, is Head, School of Clinical Sciences at QUT. Dr Alireza Ahmadvand is a Research Scholar at School of Clinical Sciences, working on augmented reality under the supervision of Lisa. Professor Jean Burgess is Professor, Digital Media Studies at QUT’s Creative Industries Faculty. She is also the Director of QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre. Tyronne Curtis, Director of Activate Entertainment, is a business partner to QUT’s School of Clinical Sciences.

How long have you been operating as a business?

Members of the team started working on various digital health projects since August 2015, with the formal MedAugment coming together in late 2015.

How did you come up with the idea for MedAugment?

Alireza started the idea of bringing augmented reality to healthcare products. The first informal discussion happened between Alireza and Kara Burns, one of MedAugment’s collaborators from QUT Business School. Then, Professor Judy Drennan, a QUT Business School senior academic, an expert in mobile marketing and social marketing, and one of MedAugment’s collaborators supported the development of a concept around improving health literacy, patient engagement, and changing behaviour using augmented reality, together with Lisa. Later, Tyronne joined the team as a business partner to bring his expertise in augmented reality development platforms. Then, Jean joined the team to bring her expertise in digital media, especially in regard to customising user experiences around mobile solutions using app walkthrough.

The idea was pretty much around consumer/patient engagement and improving health information exchange, right from the start. The team started building partnership with external collaborators to develop business cases, prove the concept, and create business models.

Do you have any experiences in startups or business?

Lisa, Jean, and Tyronne have experiences in developing start-up businesses. Lisa has experience in building start-ups around health-related products. Jean has been a key mentor and informal consultant in the context of the QUT Social Media Research Group for the Hypometer team (Hypometer is a commercial-grade social media analytics framework developed by a QUT-based start-up). Tyronne runs his own business, Activate Entertainment which focuses on augmented reality, virtual reality, game development, and filmmaking.

What has been your biggest challenge with MedAugment to date?

The biggest challenge with MedAugment has been to choose the best medical condition for the validation of the concept. The team has decided to proceed with diabetes and asthma at this stage. However, MedAugment is useful for any medication, any age, and any condition.

What has been your greatest success with MedAugment to date?

The greatest successes with MedAugment have included:

  • A subsidiary of MedAugment, ARx, has received funding from QUT Engagement Innovation Grant. The project focus is on using augmented reality for patient engagement in type 2 diabetes.
  • Another subsidiary of MedAugment, VIVACITY, has been shortlisted by Asthma Australia to provide full application for possible funding. The project focus is on using augmented reality for children engagement in managing asthma.
  • Another subsidiary of MedAugment, VALID, has been shortlisted by Heart Foundation to provide full application for possible funding. The project focus is on using augmented reality for managing hypertension in diabetes.
  • Last, but not least, being among the finalists at bluebox’s Innovation Challenge!

Where do you find inspiration and what entrepreneurs are you influenced by?

What inspires us the most is the beauty of teamwork to solve real-world problems. Digital technology is the main interest of all the team members. We get excited when it comes to a new usage and application of technology for health purposes. We find ourselves discussing new ideas for long hours and developing concepts for collaboration around that. The ultimate joy would be to see people are effectively using our solution, MedAugment, to improve their health condition.

What would it mean to you and your startup to win the Innovation Challenge?

It would be great recognition for the commitment of our collective, focused, and dedicated team. But, most importantly, it would provide the support, advice, and opportunity to grow MedAugment into an integral part of the healthcare system.

qutbluebox Innovation Challenge Finalist: Velvet – Q&A

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Velvet Wi-Fi is a Finalist in this year’s bluebox Innovation Challenge.  We spoke to Velvet Founder David Poxon to find out what makes Velvet tick, and what motivates him to get out of bed every morning to realise his entrepreneurial dream.  Read on to find out about the first of our Challenge Finalists!

 

What is Velvet?

Velvet is the Wi-Fi sharing economy.

Who are the people behind it?

I’m David Poxon and I created Velvet Wi-Fi.  More recently Florian Kalbe has joined me to help drive sales and marketing.

What is your connection with QUT?

I’m currently PhD student and Florian graduated from a Masters of Business Process Management in July 2016.

How long have you been operating as a business?

Velvet has been in operation since March 2016 and has recently launched presales of the Velvet Hotshot™.

How did you come up with the idea for Velvet?

I was working in France, and needed to get access to the internet for my PhD work.  However, I found it almost impossible to get decent access on the go, while at the same time having unused broadband capacity at my home in Brisbane.  From this frustration was born Velvet, the idea of the Wi-Fi sharing economy which allows people to share their excess Wi-Fi with people who need Wi-Fi on the go.

Do you have any experiences in startups or business?

Florian and I have some business experience, but as the Velvet team we are first time entrepreneurs.

What has been your biggest challenge with Velvet do date?

There have been a range of challenges that we’ve had to overcome.  Some of these have been technical in nature, and others have been related to the business of doing business.  Getting started was a really big challenge for me and creating a robust technical solution was another.  Making the transition from building something to selling it is one challenge currently faced by the business.

What has been your greatest success with Velvet to date?

Translating an idea into a functional product that gives life to the concept of the sharing economy has been one of the biggest successes of the business so far.

Where do you find inspiration and what entrepreneurs are you influenced by?

I find inspiration in the stories of people who have set themselves ambitious goals and followed through on them.  In terms of entrepreneurs, Bill Gates has been an influence, not just for what he has achieved with Microsoft, but for his subsequent work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

What would it mean to you and your startup to win the Innovation Challenge?

Winning the Innovation Challenge would be transformative for Velvet.  The business is on the cusp of growing strongly and the funds and profile created by the win would really help accelerate the growth of the venture.

For more information on Velvet Wi-Fi, visit https://www.velvetwifi.com/#/.

IHBI Inspires

Bluebox recently sponsored and attended the IHBI (Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation) Inspires conference. IHBI Inspires is a two day showcase of the research undertaken by IHBI students. The students organised an exciting conference which featured a range of posters and a series of high level presentations with an emphasis on real world research implications. A broad spectrum of technologies were presented including research into prostate and endometrial cancer, wound repair, the genetics of migraine, heart failure and other health conditions together with scaffolds for tissue engineering, implants and surgery to name just a few technologies. Talks even ventured into some more controversial areas such as fecal transplants which sparked some lively debate. Inspirational talks came from guest speakers Prof. John Fraser (Prince Charles Hospital, BiVacor, ICET Lab) and Jessica Watson – sailor intrepid. The conference was a great success and continued to demonstrate the world class research that QUT, and in particular IHBI, undertakes which continues to grow significantly in both reach and impact.

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qutbluebox Innovation Challenge Finalists: Clipchamp – Q&A

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1. What is Clipchamp?

Clipchamp is a start-up that makes sharing video easy and fast.

2. Who are the people behind Clipchamp?

The team consist of seven people with diverse backgrounds who have been working together for various employers for nearly ten years in the areas of sales, executive and general management, development, research, marketing and operations.

3. What is your connection(s) to QUT?

The two co-founders are staff members of QUT.

4. How long have you been operating as a business? 

The team was incorporated in February 2013 and have had Clipchamp on the market since August 2014.

5. How did you come up with the idea for Clipchamp?

The Clipchamp team set out to build the largest distributed supercomputer in the world. Their first use case was to be around video conversion and they built quite a bit of technology to make it happen. When the original plan turned out to be too ambitious, they pivoted and released the video technology as a free product that received significant user uptake.

6. Do you have any previous experiences in start-ups or business?

Some team members ran companies or parts of companies and some built and evangelised technologies and products for large software companies. However, Clipchamp is their first tech start-up.

7. What has been your biggest challenge with Clipchamp to date?

Their products are technologically challenging and building them in a way to scale hundreds of thousands of existing users and the millions they are potentially expecting takes much patience. Also, obtaining the different legal, financial, operational and other aspects under control at the same time requires a significant bandwidth, which they would instead love to spend on progressing the business.

8. What has been your biggest success with Clipchamp so far?

When the Clipchamp team rolled out the platform, they had no idea that they would attract half a million users within a year with virtually no marketing. The business is growing strongly and many users provide excellent feedback.

Solving a real problem for many users is their biggest success so far.

9. Where do you find inspiration and what entrepreneurs are you influenced by?

The Clipchamp team are influenced by different local and global entrepreneurs but the biggest source of inspiration interestingly comes from a user the team have never been in contact with praising the software. Some significant YouTubers call Clipchamp ‘life-changing’.

10. What would it mean to you and your start-up to win the Innovation Challenge?

It would put Clipchamp into a position to accelerate growth, refine and speed up product/market fit and become cash-flow positive sooner. The Clipchamp team are operating in a vertically growing industry and growing fast is their only currency. Different growth trajectories might be the difference between failing and succeeding.

qutbluebox Innovation Challenge Finalists: eziDialer – Q&A

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1. What is eziDialer?

eziDialer is a patentable internet application that allows the integration of a user’s mobile phone with their latest cloud business applications.

It is a disruptive technology (an innovation that displaces an established technology with a ground-breaking product to create a completely new industry) designed to accelerate the decline of fixed business phone service for small businesses. eziDialer will also create new market opportunities for start-ups to build mobile applications for businesses to enable them to efficiently run their businesses while on the road.

2. Who are the people behind eziDialer?

The team consists of:

  • Simon Horne, an international communications expert and entrepreneur with two communication patents and four international telecommunication standards. He has 15 years hands-on experience building communication businesses in Asia, the US and Australia including founding a Silicon Valley start-up BlueJeans.com in 2010, which raised $100 million for venture capital funding and is currently valued at over $500 million. Simon has represented two countries at the UN on communication matters and is currently a mentor at River City Labs and iLab.
  • Tylor Stewart, who is part of the winning team at River City Labs’ Startup Weekend and is a founding member and current treasurer of QUT Code.

3. What is your connection(s) to QUT?

Simon holds two degrees from QUT, one in Engineering (1993) and an MBA (2000). Tylor is currently undertaking a bachelor of Information Technology at QUT.

4. How long have you been operating as a business?

 The start-up is brand new and has only been operating since July 2015.

5. How did you come up with the idea for eziDialer?

Simon was the coach of Tylor’s team who won River City Labs’ Startup Weekend with the idea to build a more efficient call centre using VoIP technology. After the event and analysing the concept as a potential business opportunity, they discovered it was not unique as there were already a number of well-funded start-ups in the market.

Taking a leaf out of the Uber book that states ‘people dislike call centres’ and ‘people don’t answer calls they think come from call centres’ (no caller ID or a fixed phone number), it was agreed that the business needed to pivot. Simon and Tylor did not want their product to be a superior technology that people disliked using but fortunately Simon woke up one morning with the patentable concept.

6. Do you have any previous experiences in start-ups or business?

Both Simon and Tylor have previous experience in the start-up environment. Simon has 15 years experience running international start-ups in Asia, the US and Australia with the most successful being the conceptualisation, joining and building of the Silicon Valley start-up, BlueJeans.com.

Tylor has previous start-up experience from running a successful mobile phone repair business in Hervey Bay.

7. What has been your biggest challenge with eziDialer to date?

Recruitment and the ability to find more QUT students willing to step out of their programming comfort zone and joining a start-up.

8. What has been your biggest success with eziDialer so far?

Execution and building a proof of concept in 48 hours, only three days after inventing the eziDialer idea.

9. Where do you find inspiration and what entrepreneurs are you influenced by?

Simon has tracked his own course as an entrepreneur as it is more of a personal journey and what has worked for him may not work for someone else. 

He is motivated (to disprove) the writings of his distant cousin and author Donald Horne’s The Lucky Country (written in the 1960s but is still relevant today). The book is a social commentary on Australia and discusses what is right and wrong with the nation and why Australia’s luck is more along the lines of Steven Bradbury luck (to succeed unexpectedly or unusually) rather than hard work creates luck. Simon’s fear is that Australia’s luck is running out unless we take action.

He is influenced by Simon Sinek’s Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2009) and how businesses should focus on their vision and how customers share that vision and Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t (2014) and how great business leaders attract and motivate staff and building loyalty by being the first one on the battlefield and the last one to enjoy the victory.

10. What would it mean to you and your start-up to win the Innovation Challenge?

It would mean the ability to plant a seed that will hopefully grow and create both eziDialer and a general start-up ecosystem from which young motivated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) graduates (especially computer science) can hone their skills, make some money and go off and start their own technology start-ups. In doing so, this will demonstrate to risk-adverse investors that start-ups are very much worth the risk and attract the required investment.

qutbluebox Innovation Challenge Finalists: Fantasy Insider – Q&A

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1. What is Fantasy Insider? 

Fantasy Insider is a sports analytics platform that develops new metrics and tools for analysing sporting data and focuses (in the first instance) on Australian sports and horse racing.

The current launch product, known as Fantasy Insider, provides research tools and lineup optimizers for AFL (Australian Football League) and NRL (National Rugby League) fantasy contests.

2. Who are the people behind Fantasy Insider?

The team consists of:

  • Darryl Woodford, who has led the technical development of Fantasy Insider and has previous experience in data science. As a professional gambler and a current fantasy sports player, Darryl is motivated to develop tools for easier interpretation of sporting data.
  • Michel Lubuya is the co-founder of Euphoric Vision, a strategic marketing and design firm, Shadow Management, a sports management firm and he leads the business development and promotional side of Fantasy Insider. Michel started his journey in marketing at QUT before becoming the marketing manager at a Brisbane nightclub. He then ventured in a new direction and opened up a direct marketing/promotions business called Retrouvailles that has now been rebranded as Euphoric Vision.

3. What is your connection(s) to QUT?

Darryl completed a PhD at QUT in 2013 looking at regulations in the offshore gambling industry. From 2013 to 2015 he was employed as a Research Fellow in the Social Media Research Group, which ultimately led to commercial opportunities with Hypometer, a social media analytics platform.

Michel is a former QUT marketing student.

4. How long have you been operating as a business?

Fantasy Insider has been operating for around three months, although the ideas behind the platform can be traced back to both Darryl’s work on Hypometer and his experience in sports modelling and gambling.

5. How did you come up with the idea for Fantasy Insider?

When daily fantasy sports sites including Moneyball and SportsFantasyPro launched in Australia, Darryl wanted to be involved but realised how far Australia was lagging behind America in sporting analytics.

With approximately two million Australians and 100 million worldwide playing fantasy sports, Darryl realised there were big market opportunities in fantasy sports and fantasy sports data from media partnerships and other uses of the data such as sports/racing betting.

6. Do you have any previous experiences in start-ups or business?

Katie Prowd and Darryl founded Hypometer in 2014 to translate social media information into a data form that is interesting to the public. Their tools were used in Channel 7’s G20 coverage, ABC News 24’s coverage of the Queensland election and a range of factual and entertainment media channels including Big Brother, TV ratings and Triple J’s Hottest 100.

7. What has been your biggest challenge with Fantasy Insider to date?

Timing has been the major challenge. Much of the development work has taken place during the latter stages of the AFL and NRL seasons, which means the Fantasy Insider team will need to wait until early 2016 to monetise those sports.

Darryl and Michel are now looking at horse racing, soccer, tennis and golf as shorter-term monetisation options.

8. What has been your biggest success with Fantasy Insider so far? 

Fantasy Insider quickly formed promotional partnerships with both Moneyball and SportsFantasyPro and continue to work with others in the industry, which are very supportive of new players in the industry, which in turn develop tools to help the market expand.

9. Where do you find inspiration and what entrepreneurs are you influenced by?

American statistician Nate Silver (of Baseball Prospectus, FiveThirtyEight blog and US election prediction fame) and the general American sabermetric scene acts as inspiration for most of the approaches Darryl has taken on both Hypometer and Fantasy Insider.

10. What would it mean to you and your start-up to win the Innovation Challenge?

It would greatly accelerate growth in two key areas. Firstly, it would provide Fantasy Insider access to much more granular data (available upon subscription) which would improve the projections Darryl and Michel make available to the public. It would also make their work much more useful to others in the sports industry such as the media and sporting teams themselves.

Secondly, it would provide a budget for marketing, enabling Fantasy Insider to test marketing approaches on niche sports during the off-season and be prepared to apply them to AFL/NRL when the fantasy draft season begins in early 2016.