NSW startups claim top honours at Regional Pitchfest

Jane Cay in shop

Jobs for NSW director Jane Cay predicts a bright future for regional startups in NSW after 14-year-old Wagga Wagga Entrepreneur Michael Nixon won the national final at this year’s Regional Pitchfest with the Amazing Annoyatron.

Cay, who was a judge at the Jobs for NSW supported 2017 Regional Pitchfest in Wagga Wagga, said the level of competition was outstanding and diverse.

“The national events showcased many wonderful and awe inspiring ideas - from hosiery to telecommunications,” Ms Cay said.

“All the finalists did a fantastic job delivering their pitch and the judges had a difficult decision awarding the winner.”

Nixon first entered the competition as a 13-year-old in 2016 and returned in 2017 to take out the major award.

This year he presented the Amazing Annoyatron which is an educational kit that is a fun way to introduce kids and teens to electronics and coding.

Cay said coding was an important skill for the State’s future workforce.

“As a mother of an 11-year-old daughter interested in learning to code I could see the practical benefits of a product designed by kids for kids,” she said.

“And as a retailer, he certainly had his commercial strategy well thought through and front of mind.

“It was obvious Michael had a passion for his idea, a brain for business and this would just be his first entrepreneurial adventure.”

Cay said the competition was a great way to uncover, celebrate, support and promote great ideas coming out of regional Australia.

“These great ideas go onto create innovative businesses in the regions that in turn create exciting career opportunities for the community,” she said.

“With a dedicated focus on regional jobs growth, it is important for Jobs for NSW to get behind events like regional pitchfest that support opportunities for people to live in the slow lane and work in the fast lane.

“These new ideas generated by the entrepreneurial spirit in the bush will form the basis of future employment growth in regional communities.”

Cay said living in a remote location does not need to be a barrier and can be a benefit.

“It is a matter of leveraging the natural advantages that your region provides.”

“The great thing about being in a smaller community is the natural camaraderie that forms within the team and beyond.

“There is a gratitude that you are investing in the region and everyone seems to generously get behind helping you make it work.

“There are also government organisations like Jobs for NSW that are keen to support you investing in the regions and in jobs growth.

“Tapping into those networks and understanding what opportunities they can assist with is smart research to do starting out, or even down the track as you are wanting to expand.”

Jobs for NSW director Jane Cay’s top tips for startups

  • Look to examples of successful businesses anywhere in the world for inspiration
  • Understand and be passionate about problems you are solving for customers.
  • Surround yourself with the right people who share the dream and complement your skills (it is even better if they are smarter than you!)
  • Think big together but work with the resources you have, so act small.
  • Always give yourself time outside the daily running of the business to think outside the box.
  • Be flexible. Embrace all things new and adapt if circumstances change.
  • Have a realistic cash flow budget and monitor it, if you are going to win the game, you’ve got to keep the score (a lesson learnt from her accountant father).