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Sapihack Sydney Results!

Category selection at Sapihack Sydney

Most people have a million dollar idea rattling away in the back of their mind somewhere. A slightly crazy scheme, fragments of a business plan, product ideas they’ve been mulling over in the shower, and usually a promise to themselves that one day, eventually, they’ll get around to making it happen.

Most people never follow through. This is what makes entrepreneurs so special… entrepreneurs aren’t like most people.

Here at Sensis we love Australian entrepreneurs. We see them as an integral part of our business moving forward, and we’re fully committed to empowering innovation and inspiring creativity through programs such as SAPI. So we decided to partner with venture capital firm Pollenizer to run our most recent Hackathon, targeting entrepreneurs. We wanted to help someone take a raw idea and turn it into a viable, funded business in just one week. Sensis offered cash prizes, and there was an opportunity for one lucky team to benefit from a $10,000 investment in their business and a 4 month enrolment in the prestigious Pollenizer business incubator program. We were excited to know that some entrepreneurs would be walking away with a brand new business venture, and the end of the Hackathon would only be the beginning of their story.

The Sensis/Pollenizer Hackathon was held in Sydney across two days - March 24 and March 31. Fifteen teams came together to build products and services in a competition for cash prizes and seed funding. The broad range of business ideas was staggering, we saw products and services aimed at families with kids, young urban socialites, party planners, occasional gardeners, brides to be, hungry late night cubicle slaves, rogue cyclists, and many more.

Team Post, Pick & Party planning their attack

By the time it was all over, it became clear to us that the quality of entrepreneurial vision and innovation in Australia is as healthy as ever. Between Sensis and Pollenizer 3 teams had been awarded prizes.

The $5,000 Best Commercial Concept award went to: DateNyt an app for anyone who wants to impress on a first date but has no idea where to go or what to do.

The $5,000 Best Product Execution award was declared a tie and split between: Yellow Fridge a local business directory pitched as 'magnets on your fridge door meets Pinterest', and BarHop! a platform for bars to publish immediate offers and a mobile app for local patrons to find deals

The $10,000 Pollenizer investment went to: Locationally a business intelligence tool for businesses to help them launch and grow.

Pollenizer was also so impressed by the Yellow Fridge team that they were also offered a spot in their Incubator Program.

We’d like to congratulate everyone who took part, with special mention going out to Post, Pick & Party, Open Late, and GiftScoutr who finished very close as runners up. Our hope is that none of the product ideas that we helped spark this week get left behind, we truly believe that every single one of them have enough potential to be turned into something special.

We’d also like to thank our friends at Pollenizer, who brought so much experience and valuable insight to the process. We can’t wait to see what Locationally and Yellow Fridge grows into under your guidance!

For a more detailed overview of what happened, photos from the event, and a rundown of all the final product concepts, please see below.

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On the first day participants arrived as sunny, bright, and optimistic as the gorgeous Sydney weather. Pollenizer graciously opened their doors to over 50 people, while their industrial themed workplace provided people with the perfect range of interesting and inspiring spaces for teams to breakout and work up their ideas. We saw people hanging out on the balcony, in the lounge, in boardrooms, in the garage, and even outside soaking up the fresh air and sunshine. Most importantly however, we watched teams hard at work coming up with some truly brilliant ideas.

Hackers gather to begin Sapihack

Pollenizer co-founder Mick Liubinskas arrived to give an exhilarating talk to everyone about the importance of focus when creating a new business. Mick shared stories taken directly from his extensive experience building over 100 businesses, and teams returned to their groups more enthusiastic than ever. Mick and a few other Pollenizer experts spent time with each and every team, helping them focus and refine their ideas, challenging their assumptions, and even pushing teams to go out and talk to potential customers right away. Those who followed the advice were rewarded with immediate feedback and new insights that would be fed back into their planning.

Sensis staff were on hand to guide teams through the process of using SAPI and to offer advice around the most appropriate features and content, answering questions about location based searching, opening hours, purely mobile businesses, and more.

Mick from Pollenizer inspires the teams to focus

The highlight of the day was when all the teams took turns pitching their business ideas to the group. Everyone received a tremendous amount of helpful feedback from both a panel of Pollenizer judges and other teams. We listened to pitches that resonated with us (“Who here has had a bad date, and it was all your fault?”) pitches that made us laugh (“When you are cycling and you really have to pee, it’s no joke!”) and pitches that made us just a bit queasy (“It’s 3am and your toilet is overflowing!”)

Sensis announced a surprise $250 prize for the best pitch, which was won by developer Eric Bae who worked independently on a product called Locationally. Eric’s pitch was a case study in effective simplicity, he bravely said nothing and instead took the panel on a silent walkthrough showing how Locationally can help businesses find the best places to set up shop and open their doors. As Eric explained later, “Why explain something if you can show it?”

At the close of that first day, teams may have been emotionally drained after pitching but you’d never know it from the laughter, smiles and excited chatter throughout the room. Yet even while everyone was relaxing, it was clear they were already looking ahead to the next week, and mentally preparing for the fact they had to demo their product in front of judges in just 7 days.

During the following week participants settled down and continued to work. One team split into two, a few teams asked questions, but most stayed silent. As a result we weren’t quite sure what to expect when we reconvened on the final day.

Day eight was another gorgeous Sydney Saturday, and it meant a lot to us that people were willing to give up two weekends in a row to take part. Happily almost everyone who was there on day one returned, and somehow we even picked up a few extra bodies along the way as teams recruited extra talent to help them get across the finish line.

The bulk of the day was spent with teams franticly hacking code and mashing graphics together in an attempt to get a viable demo up and running. With some tech support on site, and access to our Melbourne development via Skype, everyone managed to get something built in time.

Team Brideplanner presenting their demo

By the time 3:30 rolled around you could see the exhaustion on peoples faces. The demos went well, with only a few inevitable technical glitches, and it seemed like the bar for quality was being raised over and over again after each entry. Once all 14 demos were completed, the Sensis and Pollenizer judges sat down and tried to tackle the unenviable task of picking the winners. It wasn’t easy with so many quality submissions, not to mention the fact we had 3 times as many entries to judge as we had in our last Hackathon. It took almost an hour, with nervous attendees left to socialise in the meantime while desperately trying to avoid thinking about their chances.

A summary of all the entries:

GiftScoutr
Discover interesting gift ideas through photos that are tagged to retailers, join the GiftScoutr community and add your own.

 

Brideplanner
An end to end planning tool covering engagements, weddings, receptions, and honeymoons.

 

KweekFix
When you need an urgent home repair Kweekfix will contact all your local service providers instantly with a single click. Suppliers respond with quotes and you choose the cheapest or fastest.

 

Yellow Fridge
A Pinterest inspired virtual fridge door with local businesses rated, ranked, and sorted according to multiple review sources such as Facebook, Eatibility, Foursquare, etc.

 

Post, Pick & Party
Helping you to plan any party event by compiling your needs and soliciting quotes from local businesses,.

 

Open Late
Helping you find food options when most places are closed, and helping businesses find customers late at night.

 

bicycli.st
A cycling guide and services directory.

 

Yellow Circles
A private social network to connect businesses with shared interests.

 

DateNyt
A tool to help you quickly discover, rate, and review romantic itineraries that can be tailored to the interests of your prospective date.

 

Playlocal
Helping families with children find local events and services, and tools to organise your child's busy social calendar full of drop offs, pick-ups, and play dates.

 

Beauty Book
Tools to help hair and salon businesses manage bookings, plus a customer app that makes it easier than ever to book an appointment.

 

Locationally
A service for any business looking to expand or grow, Locationally provides business intelligence to determine optimal locations and markets for your business. 

 

BarHop!
A platform for bars to create and manage time limited offers, and an app that enables local customers to discover them.

 

Gardens
A Facebook app that showcases your garden, helps you identify what's growing, and provides tips and business listings in order to help you get better results.

Once the scores had been debated, re-scored, debated again, re-scored again, and finally tabulated, we had ourselves 4 winners.

In the end both Yellow Fridge and BarHop! dazzled us with their demo, the products looked almost market ready. The user experience was well thought out, the interfaces were nicely designed, and everything just ran smoothly and looked extremely professional and polished. As a result they were jointly awarded the $5,000 Best Product Execution award.

Team BarHop! and team Yellow Fridge tie for best execution

It was obvious that team DateNyt had taken all the Pollenizer feedback on board, they had done their research, clearly identified their target market, and most impressively they had identified a number of ways to generate revenue. The end result was a promising commercial concept that genuinely meets a customer need and shows tremendous potential. All of which led to them winning the $5,000 Best Commercial Concept award.

Pollenizer then announced the winner of the $10,000 investment award. Despite everyone in the room expecting that team DateNyt would follow up their best Commercial Concept win with an investment commitment from Pollenizer, team Locationally (who was actually one-man-band Eric Bae) was shocked to hear his name announced.

Eric Bae wins $10K for Locationally

As Pollenizer explained, while there were a number of ideas they would have been proud to invest in it was the combination of team Eric’s product idea and the enthusiasm, energy, and ability to pitch it that really sold Pollenizer. It’s not just an investment in the idea; it’s an investment in the people behind the idea. Which is exactly why Pollenizer surprised everyone by announcing they would also be offering the Yellow Fridge team of Nathan and Tristan a place in their prestigious Incubator Program. Phil Morle of Pollenizer explained that he saw a lot of potential in the young pair and wanted to see what they could do with the resources and connections of Pollenizer behind them.

Looking back at the past 8 days, we can’t imagine any greater outcome. From our point of view at Sensis, we’re excited to think we’ve inspired teams of people to go away and keep working on new business ideas that utilise SAPI. For Pollenizer, they’ve got a brand new business to start shaping and growing. And for the participants, whether they’re walking away with an oversized novelty cheque or not, they all get to leave with a sense of excitement for having created something from scratch, immense pride for having taken part and surviving the week, and a true product launch experience that most entrepreneurs would consider priceless.