The 2016 Laureate Australia Entrepreneur: The pitches and Finalists’ Dinner

alumni grant 2016

It’s been a busy few weeks as the Laureate Australia Alumni Grant finalists readied themselves for our Dragons-Den style pitches to our panel of executive judges.
Keep reading to find out how the pitches went, which finalist received a further $10,000 to be named the 2016 Laureate Australia Alumni Entrepreneur, and lastly, what surprise announcement was made at the Finalists’ Dinner.

Just to recap…

The Laureate Australia Alumni Grant is a program that awards seed funding to recent graduates wishing to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. This year, the application criteria required the proposals to demonstrate some form of social benefit.
Graduates who completed their courses within the past 24 months were eligible to apply for one of four grants worth $2000 each. Our selection committees selected four finalists:

  • Tristan Klein, a graduate of Digital Media Design, hoped to fund his feature animation project, ‘The Wall’ which would raise awareness of the plight of refugees.
  • Trent Wrightson and team, are graduates of the Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy). They proposed a community health clinic in collaboration with the local indigenous population.
  • Peter Olds, a graduate of the MBA at Torrens University Australia sought funding to grow his community engagement project that aims to revegetate neglected verge spaces.
  • Amber Boyers, graduated with a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) from APM College of Business and Communication and has since developed her own sustainable fashion label which utilises recycled plastics from the ocean.

They were each given the opportunity to pitch their ideas to our executive judging panel for the chance to receive an additional $8,000 and be named the 2016 Laureate Australia Alumni Entrepreneur.

Pitch perfect

It’s no small feat standing up in front of a panel to present an idea that means the world to you. Not to mention the added pressure of having current students in the audience and knowing that your pitch is being broadcast on Facebook Live.

We wanted to give our finalists the best possible chance so each of them were offered a series of remote coaching sessions to help them prepare their presentations.

Jack Iveson is our Head of Academic Studies and, as a certified Gallups Strengths coach, was able to teach the finalists how to leverage their strengths. Lastly, they each undertook a communication and pitch coaching session with Jes Egan, a designer and lecturer at Billy Blue College of Design.

The pitches

On Thursday 24 November, the finalists were invited to Sydney to pitch to the executive panel, which consisted of:

  • Sam Jacob, Chief Customer Officer, Laureate Australia
  • Justin Beilby, Vice-Chancellor, Torrens University Australia
  • Narelle Stefanac, Director, Careers and Employability, Laureate Australia
  • Alex Rahme, Director, Alexela Fitness, 2015 Alumni Grant Winner

All four of the finalists made fantastic cases for their proposals. They each had 15 minutes to explain their ideas and how they could use the $10,000. The judges also had the opportunity to pose a number of questions to the finalists.

It was a brilliant display of sophisticated thinking combined with eloquent delivery, backed up with savvy presentations to really get their ideas across.

The judges, as well as the crowd in attendance, were all thoroughly impressed!

Watch the live pitches on the Torrens Facebook page.

The Finalists’ Dinner

alumni grant dinner

The following evening, the finalists, their guests and a selection of academic and executive staff from around Laureate Australia, were invited to William Blue Dining, our award-winning student-training restaurant in Sydney, for the official presentations – in between some wonderful catering provided by our current students!

And the runner-up is…

In an unprecedented move, the judging panel, being so impressed with the proposals, decided to name a 2016 Laureate Australia Entrepreneur runner-up. Tristan Klein!
Tristan now has the support of the 3D Animation and Effects department at Media Design School at Torrens University to ensure that his work sees its absolute potential.
Next stop, Sundance Film Festival Tristan?

And the 2016 Laureate Australia Entrepreneur is…

alumni grant entrepreneur

The Vice-Chancellor of Torrens University Australia, Professor Justin Beilby, had the privilege of announcing the overall 2016 Laureate Australia Alumni Entrepreneur… Trent Wrightson!

The judging panel felt that his proposal fully embraced the social good component and that indigenous health was an area that could truly benefit from the support that Trent and his team can offer. Well done Trent!

Surprise, surprise…

alumni grant 2016

In many competitions, you might hear judges exclaiming how impressed they were will all the entries; that the quality of entries was outstanding…etc. But our judges went one step further.

They identified so much potential in our four finalists, that they offered each of them a scholarship to undertake our new Graduate Certificate in Collective Entrepreneurship, worth $15,000!

Watch the official announcements on the Torrens Facebook page

Next steps…

With such a vast network of Laureate Australia academic staff and industry personal, all of the finalists will have the full support of the organisation behind them.

We will be closely following the various stages of Trent’s naturopathy clinic and sharing his progress with you. And of course, checking in with Tristan to see how his animation project is tracking.

Both Peter and Amber, the remaining two finalists, had many different offers of support from guests on the night and we are confident will both be incredibly successful in their pursuits.