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Sprout makes tracks to Silicon Valley

Twelve of the Gold Coast's greatest new business minds will showcase their ideas at Bond University as part of Global Entrepreneur Week (GEW) celebrations.

On Wednesday 19 November, students from the Bond Business Accelerator and the StartUp Really Fast (SURF) Accelerator Programs will present their innovative business concepts in a series of five-minute pitches, in front of an audience of more than 300 of the Gold Coast's top business executives at Gold Coast Demo Day, supported by Gold Coast City Council.

One of the entrepreneurs featured will be Bond University student Mitch Pierias, who is getting ready to take on Facebook, Twitter and other social media giants when he tours Silicon Valley later this month to develop his startup software, Sprout.

Mr Pierias was part of the Bond University Business Accelerator program, which offered six teams of budding entrepreneurs the opportunity to receive expert mentoring and win $5,000 towards their new business. The winner of the $5,000 prize will be announced at Demo Day.

The program, which was open to Bond University students and graduates, was run in collaboration with the Start Up Really Fast (S.U.R.F.) accelerator run by local not-for-profit Silicon Lakes. The Bond Business Accelerator is funded by Bond’s Bond Business School.

Mr Pierias said his start up company Sprout - which he has been developing for just over a year -  was a new branch of social media, which forms connections and networks based on location and interaction.

He said Sprout differed to other social media platforms in that it was able to independently evolve and grow new social networks tailored to each individual user.

"I came up with the idea for Sprout because it was becoming an onerous task to keep on top of my social networking accounts. I realised that a lot of the people I had listed as friends I hadn't spoken to since school and no longer interacted with - my social circle had changed and I wanted a social network that would automatically change with me," he said.

"Sprout notifies you when you and another Sprout user are regularly in the same place, so it helps form new friendships, but it also encourages people to actively maintain existing friendships by regularly sharing photos and messages. If you don't talk to someone on a regular basis, that contact will dissolve, so Sprout also works to keeps your friends list up to date and current.

"In a nutshell, Sprout is the only social network that truly reflects who you are at each stage of your life, by helping you form and maintain relationships with the people who are closest to you."

Mr Pierias said the Bond Business Accelerator program had given him a huge boost in confidence ahead of his trip to Silicon Valley.

"Sprout is still being tested at the moment, but my mentors, Tres West and Baden U'Ren, have been incredible in terms of helping me to develop the idea further and really expand the potential reach of the program," he said.

"I'm really looking forward to my trip to Silicon Valley, during which I will visit the offices of Facebook, Google and other tech giants to see how they operate on a daily basis.

"From that experience I hope to gain a better understanding of my target market and how I can build a business around the software I have created."

Mr West said he was impressed with the calibre of all of the Bond Business Accelerator teams, but was particularly inspired by the concept of Sprout as a new social media enterprise.

"Social media is such a competitive field, with new ideas, apps and programs coming out every day, so you need to be really creative if you want to break into that space in your own right," he said.

"I like the way that Mitch has used his own personal experience to identify a shortcoming in the available networks, and create something that I believe has a lot of potential for growth in the future, as people continue to trend towards more 'intuitive' technology."

Demo Day is a private event but members of the public can watch the presentations via live stream, by visiting to register and using the passcode GCDemoday


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