Launching a successful technology business is not just about perfecting your product – you also need to be able to sell the idea to investors and customers. For University of Melbourne students, Kailun Zhang, Kuan (Jack) Qian and Matilda Stevenson, their team’s business pitch was so effective that they represented Australia in the international finals of the Microsoft Imagine Cup competition in Seattle earlier this year.
The competition gives university students around the world the opportunity to test their pitching skills in front of company executives. Kailun and Jack, who are both studying the Master of Information Technology, worked with Matilda, a Bachelor of Science (Computing and Software Systems) student, to design and build their entry.
The trio came up with the idea to connect food producers directly with consumers using mixed reality technology during a hackathon hosted by the university. Shoppers could scan items in the supermarket with their phones or virtual reality (VR) headwear, then an app, called SourceLink, would provide interactive information not included on the label, such as the story of how the product was made or additional health details. Users could also send feedback straight to the producer.
Kailun says the Master of Information Technology course helped her prepare for the Microsoft Imagine Cup by honing her project management and teamwork skills. “There is a lot of group work in the course, which helps with things like communication skills and breaking a big task into smaller parts,” she says. “I had to learn a new platform very quickly for the hackathon, so it helped to learn from other students.”
There are two parts to the international finals. The first is a technology showcase, where each team has a booth to demonstrate how their project works. The second part is the pitch, where they have a few minutes to convince the judges that their product could be the next big thing.
“It was a great experience to learn about the other side – it’s not only about the technology,” says Jack.
– Chloe Walker
Interested in events like this? Check out the Millennial 20/20 summit.
Liked this article? Read about the app ‘Fixer’.
“It was a great experience to learn about the other side – it’s not only about the technology,”
– Jack Qian
Author: Heather Catchpole
Heather co-founded Careers with STEM publisher Refraction Media. She loves storytelling, Asian food & dogs and has reported on science stories from live volcanoes and fossil digs