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Bondies make the most of their Pitch@Palace royal experience

He had Olympic athlete Michelle Jenneke on hand but Joseph Marcus couldn’t clear the final hurdle at the Duke of York’s Pitch@Palace competition for entrepreneurs tonight (30 November).

Bond University alumnus Mr Marcus was one of three entrepreneurs with Bond links who made the national final at the State Library of Queensland in Brisbane.

Mr Marcus’s AirBands training device restricts blood flow to build muscle strength and he called on Jenneke to demonstrate the device on-stage in front of the Duke and a crowd including potential investors.

“I worked with a mentor yesterday and really feel that I have fine-tuned my pitch and framed it in a way the general audience can understand what I’m trying to get across.” Mr Marcus said earlier.

“I’ve got quite a good model to come across, Michelle Jenneke, she has been very generous with her time and she was more than happy to model the AirBands product.

“She was training up on the Gold Coast and through the same running circles we got in touch with each other.

“Quite a generous favour, I was quite taken aback when she said yes.”

Despite not progressing to the global final, Mr Marcus said participating in Pitch@Palace had been a huge boost to his business.

The winners of the Australian final were Nick Kamols and Brad Clair (Powerwells) – who started their journey to the final at Bond University earlier this week as a successful finalist at the Gold Coast On Tour final - and Dr Katharine Giles (OncoRes). Both national winners will now get to pitch their businesses at the global final of Pitch@Palace at St James’s Palace in London later this month.

But the Bondies were making the most of the experience.

Bond University Assistant Professor of Aboriginal Health Clinton Schultz said there had been a surge of interest in his company, Sobah, which brews non-alcoholic craft beer using Indigenous ingredients.

“I can only go up there on stage and control my part of it and hopefully there are a few people in the crowd who are interested in what we are doing,” Mr Schultz said.

Master of Architecture student Emma Sommerville pitched her ethical, sustainable clothing label, Folktribe.

Ms Sommerville said the Pitch@Palace experience had given her more confidence in business environments.

“It’s really allowed me to go out there and meet people and instead of just talking to them and being a bit reserved, I can go out there and really try and get those connections,” she said.

His Royal Highness the Duke of York has been in Australia to attend state finals of Pitch@Palace and was at the national final to offer support and advice to pitchers.

“This year I couldn’t be more impressed with what’s happening,” the Duke said. “The number of start-ups and problem solving going on here is extraordinary and it’s really encouraging.

“I would like people to have a cultural experience of enterprise and entrepreneurship during their education. They should be enjoying playing in an enterprising fashion.

“We are giving experiences to de-risk people’s minds towards the concept of starting a business.

“It doesn’t matter when you start a business. You can start one because you want to solve a problem early on or you can do it later in life.”

The Duke said his role in Pitch@Palace was to act as “an accelerant to business”.

“Australia is not quite big enough to sustain itself so these startups have to think globally. We’re in the global market. We seek connections globally for business in Australia. It’s a marriage made in heaven.”

In the four and half years that Pitch@Palace has been running, nearly 50,000 entrepreneurs have applied to take part.

“We have done over 100 events in the last three years and by the time we finish Pitch@Palace Global this December we will have done 44 events around the world this year,” the Duke said.

“In the total alumni clan there are about 729 businesses and they have created in themselves some £850m worth of investment which is a huge achievement.

“We have also created about 3250 jobs and finally the one statistic that has baffled us is that we are running at a 96.5% survival rate.”

Bond University hosted the Queensland final of Pitch@Palace and Vice Chancellor and President Tim Brailsford was the MC of the national final last night.

Last year’s global winner was Gold Coast surf industry legend Nev Hyman whose company Nevhouse turns recycled plastic into affordable, cyclone-proof housing.

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