UTS Launchpad puts student startups into high orbit

Picture by Jocelyn Floro, courtesy of UTS

Picture by Jocelyn Floro, courtesy of UTS

Over the past 12 weeks of the inaugural semester of Launchpad, nine startups have laid the ground to survive and thrive into the future, according to a news release by UTS.

Launchpad is an elective being offered to both undergraduate and postgraduate students across the university through UTS’s new Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation in collaboration with the Faculty of Engineering and IT.

It’s been developed in partnership with the directors of executive education at the Institute of Design (d.school) at Stanford, a university with a long history of spawning technology success stories.

“The d.school approach has had great results, with 50 per cent of the student founders who’ve participated in its equivalent program still in business,” said Launchpad subject coordinator Ben Johnston.

“Launchpad is entirely hands-on entrepreneuring – there’s a minimum of theory involved. We focus on what it takes to build a successful business.

“A condition of entry is to come with a proven business idea. We want to ensure student founders have already taken steps to validate their concept and are able to attract investors. For those that need support in the process we offer free drop-in consultations.

“It’s about selling from the first moment. Other student programs focus on a developing a business plan and pitch, but Launchpad takes student startups to market and connects them with investors,” Johnston said.

To that end another partnership with law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth is providing Launchpad statups with the support and advice necessary to manage their legal needs via the firm’s CorrsEdge initiative.

During the semester the students have been provided with tools to ensure their startups are legally compliant and ready to receive investment. UTS Launchpad students will have access to CorrsEdge support for six months following the end of classes.

Already the first cohort is racking up achievements.  Location-based job finder Work Detector has secured an agreement with a major employer; SportsIndex, a fitness assessment tool based on sports cards, is in discussion with a tier 2 sporting club; baby equipment rental facilitator Kindershare was runner up in the recent ShareSA sharing economy pitch competition, and; “marketplace in space” Arlula won a pitching competition at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide in September with Elon Musk in the audience.

“Confidence is the main thing you need launching a startup,” said Tom Gatward, who with his brother Harry has developed calendar app myLife that has had 500 downloads in two weeks. “In Launchpad we’ve moved away from the theory into the practical things that make a difference to your business.”

The participants have also valued the collaborative support of the group and the insights of everyone’s journey in starting their business.

“It’s a different mindset,” said Work Detector founder Asher Lee. “We focus on what makes the business grow and what works for customers, drawing on our own experience and the stories of others in the group.”