SUSANNAH Taylor and Madeline Snow’s pitch was so awesome, it convinced the audience and panelists to hand over a $1000 cheque for their ethical stationary start-up to bring friendship and happiness to children. Nkandu Mwenge reports.
The Awesome Foundation’s South East Asia chapter has awarded a grant to Happy Pig Ethical Stationery at its first inaugural Awesome Pitchfest, held in Melbourne last week.
Specialising in handmade stationery made from recycled materials, the small business aims to set an example for corporate social responsibility through an ethical business model.
Founders Susannah Taylor and Madeline Snow told the audience they planned on using profits generated from their business to support Friends with Pens, a pen-pal program which was “developed to build literacy skills, connect cultures, help children form their identities offline and also make memories.”
Speaking to Meld, Ms Taylor said Friends with Pens would bring the novelty of connectivity to kids, many of whom have never received a letter in the mail. The program would also “give them (the kids) a chance to make friends with children in other countries”.
Their compelling pitch helped the pair beat other participants to win a cheque for $1000 by the Awesome Foundation to realise their vision.
The Awesome Pitchfest was the first event organised by the South East Asia chapter of the Awesome Foundation, a worldwide network founded to micro-fund ideas that create “more awesomeness”. Most chapters consist of trustees who pool contributions in a crowd-funding model and give the funds to a project and person of their choice.
“The spirit behind the foundation is to provide a grant big enough for them to start doing something but also small enough to keep an idea executable and lean,” says entrepreneur Jay Sonn Tay, one of the nine trustees behind the South East Asia chapter.
This year’s Pitchfest format, which Mr Tay described as a hybrid of The X-factor and The Apprentice, was a unique departure from past selection methods favoured by Awesome Foundation chapters. To pick a grant winner, trustees traditionally chose from a shortlist of ideas.
However, this time the six finalists were given the chance to present their ideas to an audience at Urban Garden. The audience voted for the top two ideas from which the panelists picked the winner.
Venue-flow, an idea by entrepreneur Jason Conway, was the runner-up idea chosen by the audience. The concept is based around a sensory device which measures the number of people entering a store, to gauge the nature and volume of real-life traffic.
“The idea is basically a ‘google analytics’ for bricks-and-mortar businesses – that is, it will measure traffic, sales, and demographic data for any physical, product based store,” Mr Conway said.
The other finalists were:
- Tofu, a production company by filmmaker and Meld videographer Julian Tay;
- The Amazing Photography Race, a race which requires teams to take pictures which are then uploaded on to social media, by Eleanor Brooker.
- Balloon Party, a party concept which involves patrons blowing up balloons by Chris Hempworth, and;
- Adnovous, a web-based advertising platform that matches advertisers with relevant print publications by Elwin Sia.