The third running of the Bond Business Accelerator culminated in an outstanding Demo Day last night, with nine startups pitching to a sold-out crowd of appreciative onlookers at Bond University. 18 year old Navdeep Pasricha delivered a powerful message about teen mental health and what his startup iYouth is doing about it, and in the process took out the $5,000 cash prize offered by the Faculty of Business. Judges Leigh Kelson (CEO of Enverro) and Aaron Birkby (Entrepreneur in Residence at River City Labs) noted the high quality of all the pitches, and commented on the obvious passion supporting Nav’s business. Most satisfying was our collective reflection on the journey each BBA startup has enjoyed/endured through this program.
As I sit at my desk perusing the photos from the night and reviewing the videos of the pitches, I feel an immense sense of pride in each individual who has undertaken the BBA. We had three teams from the previous two offerings of this program in the audience (Azhar Khan from Wotteva, Karin Hanna from FinanciallyFabulous, and Jacob/Dexter/Dan from service.com.au), supporting the latest batch of Bond entrepreneurs. Over 130 people attended the evening and there was vibrant conversation at the drinks and canapes following the pitches. People were meeting, ideas were being exchanged, and the BBA startups were being congratulated on giving their best. Our community was growing.
The BBA is all about empowering the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. We do that by focusing on education: leading edge entrepreneurship education matched with high calibre industry mentors and an unrelenting practical experience. STEM education is needed, however we need more that just technical skills if we are going to develop the workforce of tomorrow. If people are to creatively apply technology to solve problems, they need to be able to translate skills into outcomes: ideas into innovations, innovations into products and services. And this is the role of Entrepreneurship Education. My call is for #STEEM to drive our education system (interestingly, harking back to the advent of the industrial revolution!): Science, Technology, Engineering, Entrepreneurship, and Mathematics. By enabling technical skill developing, and empowering our youth with the ability to apply those skills creatively to solve problems, we will build a future workforce that will drive the future of Australia’s economy.