A collective of Queensland's most innovative business minds have pitched their start-up ideas to an audience of movers and shakers at Gold Coast Demo Day, reaffirming the City's reputation for entrepreneurship.
An official event of Global Entrepreneurship Week, Gold Coast Demo Day (Tuesday, November 17) was a showcase of programs teaching the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, from primary school through to community and corporate programs.
Celebrated on the night were entrepreneurs from Club Kidpreneur, Startup Apprentice, City of Gold Coast’s Mayor’s Telstra Technology Awards, Startup Creative, Bond Business Accelerator and River City Labs, as well as Gold Coast Young Entrepreneur of the Year and founder of Smartprint, Jason Ganis.
Bond Business Accelerator (BBA) alumnus Navdeep Pasricha who is just 18 years of age, pitched his burgeoning business, iYouth, after taking out first prize for his social enterprise at the BBA Demo Day in August.
"I went into BBA with passion and an idea, but no clue how to pull it off. The program directed that energy by giving guidance and teaching skills to turn my idea into a successful business," he said.
"Pitching at Demo Day accelerated my skills in a way that couldn't be taught in a classroom, it was such an amazing experience and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to do it.
"The start-up community at Bond and across the Gold Coast is so friendly, relaxed and supportive.
"BBA linked me with industry leaders who provided invaluable one-on-one mentoring, introducing me to the business community and teaching me the skills I needed to convert my ideas and dreams into reality.
"The Gold Coast is a hidden gem with an amazing start-up culture. Just this weekend I volunteered at Start-Up Weekend, where there were so many highly successful and influential people giving their time to help, just because they're great people who want to see the up-and-coming generation succeed."
Mr Pasricha said he believed entrepreneurship was a combination of living your passion to make a positive impact, which is why he pursued a career in social enterprise.
"iYouth is a three-part wellbeing program designed to improve the mental health of Australian school children and youth," he said.
"I developed the idea after working with numerous troubled kids struggling with various issues such as anxiety and depression, something that affected me growing up.
"Like so many teenagers, I felt depressed and isolated and believed I had nobody to talk to. I was bullied, doing badly in school in Malaysia and I didn't have a very good track record.
"Later, my rugby coach reached out to mentor and guide me, which helped put me back on the right path. It was really the catalyst for change for me.
"I was so lucky to have had someone to help me when I was going through a tough time that I felt a responsibility to become that person to other kids experiencing similar issues.
"I started working in youth mental health, helping deliver workshops and working one-on-one with teenagers who were experiencing a range of issues like self-image, self-harm, depression or anxiety.
"After working in the field for two years, I realised there is a limit to what I can do as one person, so I set out to create a more sustainable solution.
"iYouth was developed to complement workshops in order to make them more sustainable and create a greater impact, delivering a three-step solution including a specifically designed app to assist with youth mental health.
"There are already amazing workshop providers out there, so instead of trying to reinvent the wheel we decided to use technology to support them to make the positive impact more sustainable.
"We are currently working with Somerset College and are looking to talk to as many teachers as possible to better understand the issues and challenges they face concerning student wellbeing."
Bond University's Head of Entrepreneurship, Dr Baden U'Ren, said the level of talent on display at Gold Coast Demo Day was a testament to the region's entrepreneurial spirit.
"This year's Demo Day was the first time we have united entrepreneurs of all stages and ages, from primary school kids just cutting their teeth on their first start-up ideas through to founders of some of Queensland's most successful new businesses," said Dr U'Ren.
"The event was a unique opportunity for everyone involved to hear from a wide ranging group of young entrepreneurs, and each learn from one another in the process.
"The Gold Coast is a growing entrepreneurial hub where businesses can now be Gold Coast based but globally facing, so the potential for innovation and collaboration is immense."