KickStart-Up team wins in NSW with startup to help startups

Paul Angwin, Marek Pionka, Anthony So and Mark Radic

The team came together as part of a UTS class exercise, known as a “triad”. All have different skills which helped to bring them together. They shared an idea about how to access grants for startups. While most of the team are “humble business people”, Anthony So is a data scientist, and there was a really exciting moment when they realised they could do something with artificial intelligence and startups.

The project is somewhat meta, the vision is that if you have an idea, or if you’re struggling to get capital, you go to this platform and find free money. Grants, government funding – either research or businesses wise, are all classified as “free money”. Government in Australia wants you to start small business and the project aims to help the community in the best way it can.

There is a search engine which cuts through the lack of information by centralising it. It’s not just for startups it’s for small business in general. The app will match needs with resources.

The top reasons startups fail is a lack of money, time or resources. On money – there are a lot of organisations here to help, the challenge is optimising the match.

The project’s services include: a search engine that uses AI to suggest the most relevant grants and automatically pre-fill the application; a recommendation system that reflects back reports; consulting that provides additional recommendations; and a resourcing system that monitors “value add” servicing.

Over the GovHack hackathon weekend the team faced some challenges managing their time. They were ambitious, wanting to build everything. The focus was on a minimum viable product (MVP) but while they got a basic engine working, it was not really smart, but enough to show that there is potential. While a website was built it didn’t make it online due to some technical issues. Technologies used included Javascript, Python and MySQL.

The biggest panic of the weekend was the production of the video which is due at 5pm on Sunday. The team started work on this critical task at 4:37pm! They had to learn quickly, find a quiet space, and it took two attempts to get something that could be submitted. It was a real “fly by the seat of the pants” effort. The slide deck was revised twenty times on Sunday, throughout the day.

As an award winning team, their advice to others is to identify pain points and where you can provide the most value with existing data sets. Play to the strengths of the team and have a clear product in mind for the weekend.

Finally the team was keen to plug the UTS MBAe for anyone interested in expanding their entrepreneurial skills.

View the project video and slide deck here: https://2018.hackerspace.govhack.org/projects/kickstart_up_174

More info about the UTS MBA in Entrepreneurship is here: https://www.uts.edu.au/future-students/business/business-courses/mba-programs/mba-entrepreneurship

Interview by Peter Marks for GovHack.