Two of three Bond University entrepreneurs have secured head-starts for the Australian final of His Royal Highness the Duke of York’s Pitch@Palace competition to be held in Brisbane later this week.
Master of Architecture student Emma Sommerville, Assistant Professor of Aboriginal Health Clinton Schultz and alumni Joseph Marcus were among 42 national finalists who gathered at River City Labs in Brisbane for Pitch@Palace Boot Camp today (Nov 28).
Only 12 of the 42 were selected to give three-minute pitches at the national final at the State Library of Queensland on Friday (Nov 30). The remainder will get just 30 seconds. Mr Schultz and Mr Marcus both secured three-minute sales pitches.
It has been a rollercoaster few days for the Bondies who only yesterday won through to the national final during the Queensland leg of Pitch@Palace, held at Bond University.
Ms Sommerville’s Folktribe is a sustainable and ethical clothing brand; Mr Schultz’s Sobah brews alcohol-free craft beer infused with Indigenous ingredients; and Mr Marcus’s Airbands are training devices that restrict blood flow to build muscle strength.
His Royal Highness the Duke of York oversaw today’s boot camp which provided finalists with coaching and mentoring.
Mr Marcus said he was hoping to find a strategic partner for his business.
“I know what I know in terms of the science surrounding the product and developing the product, but I think someone that can come on board and assist with scaling up the business from an online business to a business which operates globally is something which I’m really looking forward to,” he said.
“Pitch@Palace is the perfect vehicle to assist with that.”
Mr Marcus said the Duke had given him valuable advice.
“He basically said I needed someone on stage who was wearing the device, so that way people can be visualising what’s happening.”
Mr Schultz was the most popular man at the boot camp when he turned up with an ice-cold bucket of his Sobah faux beers.
He revealed he was already in talks with UK supermarket giant Tesco after Sobah was featured in Lonely Planet.
Ms Sommerville said she was already reaping the benefits of Pitch@Palace.
“I’d definitely recommend it. Just the connections, networks and people that have come up that love what we do or want to work with us – it’s been phenomenal,” she said.
“Whether you get through or not, you just meet so many people, you get heaps of media exposure and it’s amazing to get our message out there and raise awareness of what we do.”
Among the business mentors to address the Australian finalists yesterday was last year’s global winner of Pitch@Palace, Nev Hyman.
The Gold Coast surf industry icon is the brains behind Nevhouse, which turns recycled materials into homes, schools and medical clinics.
He said entering the competition had changed his life.
“All of a sudden I'm at Bond, a fantastic university, and I feel like an academic now because I'm involved with Bond and I'm talking there sometimes and I haven't finished Year 12, so it's a privilege,” he said.
Mr Hyman said things went to another level when he was announced the ultimate winner of Pitch@Palace at St James’s Palace in London.
“They (Pitch@Palace organisers) do what they say they'll do which is introduce you to people. I can't even tell you the people they introduced me to, but it's impressive,” he said.
Bond University Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship Baden U’Ren also gave the finalists a pep talk.
Dr U’Ren was a Pitch@Palace Queensland finalist last year for his company AgriChain which offers software solutions to primary producers.