On the 3rd and 4th May we were given the opportunity to attend the 2019 Pivot Summit in Geelong and what an incredible summit it was.

With phenomenal speakers from all over the world, Upstart was given the opportunity to take the stage for an hour on Communication and Pitching Skills, critical life skills for today’s students, and in fact everyone!

We’re very grateful to Leighton Wells, Pivot Summit Founder and CEO for the chance to showcase the winning 2018 Upstart Challenge Geelong team, CGM Buddy, from Lara Secondary College and runner-up, Tydi Pocket from Sacred Heart College.

We were joined by Jason Clarke from MindsatWork, one of our generous sponsors who has been with us for many years (and he is an all-round awesome human!) who MC’d the session.

After the team’s delivered sensation pitches to the Pivot audience Jason was keen to find out more about their Upstart experience and discovered more about:

· the inspiration behind the student’s ideas

· where they’re at since the Upstart Challenge Pitching Showcase

· what was the hardest aspect of starting their own business at such a young age

· what are their business plans for the future?

It was clear that the students were motivated through their own experiences of problems they were encountering, as Jason says “if necessity is the mother of invention, then frustration is the father”. Both Josh from CGM Buddy, and Zara from Tydi Pocket were able to share their passion and enlist the support of classmates to join them in their quest to make their world a better place.

All of the team members reported a much greater awareness and understanding of the process it takes to bring an idea to life, as they shared their concepts with target customers and undertook research, not to mention the increases in confidence and ability to communicate – as was evidenced by their ease on the big stage at Pivot!

Following the students, Scott Vandonkelaar, Co-founder and CTO of global company Zero Latency, the world’s leading free-roam VR experience, spoke about his company’s journey as a start-up to a Global Leader. His breakdown of the highs and lows of turning a start-up into a global company is an eye-opening story, ‘We were late coming into the VR business as when we first started out there was many companies in this space however, we soon discovered that we were ahead of them in most areas except for marketing. This realisation led us to the understanding that it’s not when you start it’s how you start. If you’re the best out there, you’ll beat other well established businesses.

A great take away, not only for the students but all the Pivot audience, Scott also hinted at possible VR prizes Upstart Challenge students might win… keep your eyes peeled for an announcement!

The Tech Versus Humanity theme for Pivot Summit was a stunning success with many great talks. Highlights included NASA Propulsion Scientist from Torquay Dr. Elizabeth Jens discussing her experience as a women in STEM and the benefit of becoming a multi-planetary species, “It’s not just the journey to get to Mars, it’s how we get back. That’s the exciting science how we can create travel between planets”. She was an absolute inspiration! Go Girls in STEM!

Professor Michael Berk’s analysis of why our young people are increasingly suffering from depression and anxiety was illuminating, it’s not tech that’s the culprit but rather the excess use of tech leading to increased social isolation that is the issue. His suggestion to combat this, “Get off your phone and out of the house, go hangout with your friends and just DO things”.

As the world become increasingly complex the simple advice “…just DO things” is deceivingly simple and achievable with the future of the Tech Versus Humanity debate looking bright!

At Upstart we continued to be galvanised by the breadth of problems students identify and the innovative corresponding solutions they create.

Do you know a young person with a passion or problem to solve? Know a young entrepreneur like this? Let them know about the Upstart Challenge! Get them to enter the next Upstart Challenge in either Geelong or Ballarat and encourage them to get involved!