We're very excited to say that our first cohort of students have finished their intensive 11 week course just one week ago. In line with our vision of entrepreneurship, we practiced our final pitches and had a successful event on the 19th April where we invited startups from around Canberra to join Polycademy's students and show case their web applications.
While we were practicing, we kept in mind a few points that I'd like to share. One important thing I learned while being in Sydstart last year, was that you should (almost) always start by sharing a story to define the problem, and then how your solution effectively solves it. It took practice, but the students sometimes forgot that they had to be able to link their solution back to the original problem they mentioned, this brings back the focus and keeps the pitch cohesive.
When they were providing their story, it was important to help the audience visualise not only the problem, so they can identify with it, but also the solution. If it was too detail oriented, people forgot the big picture. This means juggling between big purposeful claims, and down to earth insights. They had to put people into the shoes of the end user, which meant illustrating the context of usage and the differentiating factor, what made people want to use your solution instead of another solution?
Of course depending on the audience, you can then focus on the market opportunity, how you're meant to monetise the service, and what you will be focusing on in the future, such what kind of help you need, financial or otherwise. For our audience, it was general, so at the final event, we decided to show case the actual implementation.
The students focused most of their time on finishing their application and trying to learn as much as possible in their last week. In fact we ended up having a couple of almost all nighters with the stereotypical pizzas and drinks!
On the day, we managed to get a wide variety of audience members and speakers:
- ChessDimensions - Tim Wee talked about his progress at Polycademy and his plans for building ChessDimensions. On the day he was able to show case the preliminary user interface, an actual HTML5 canvas based Chessboard with all the pieces moving. All he needs to do now is connect his server side chess rule checking to the front end, and implement web sockets for multiplayer matches.
- ReasonWell - Ben Williamson talked about his startup and web/mobile app called ReasonWell, a service to facilitate structured online debate.
- SwapSpot - Phuong Lan Trinh talked about her experience at Polycademy, and her plans for building SwapSpot, a service to help car owners swap time limited parking spots. It still needs more work, but she's planning to finish it in a few months.
- Unbox Your Gift - Rita Joyan talked about her business Unbox Your Gift, a step by step system designed to get you to identify your Gift/purpose and to use it to exit the rat race.
- Coseats.com - Torsten Herbst showcased the largest ridesharing service in Australia.
- Buhloon - Matt Maher showcased his web application Buhloon that he built through Polycademy. It is a service to help manage rewards and chores for parents and children. In the long term this will teach the children delayed gratification.
- ManageOut - Ross Mullen one of Polycademy's mentors talked about his a startup he was working called ManageOut in order to help event organisers handle their audience members.
- TripleThink - Joshua Young talked about his latest human machine interaction solution.
The students are still free to come and hangout at the office to finish off their apps and we'll be having regular meetups to go over their progress and discuss opportunities at the meetup group ACT Web Application Development & Entrepreneurship Group. We welcome you to join if you're interested in discussing the latest web technology and enjoy hackathons.
The next cohort is scheduled in 1 week from now, however I'll be spending some time consolidating our goals and progress. The wiki (online textbook) will need some cleaning up due to changes we made in the 11 weeks. Some of our technology stack changed halfway due to the nature of our goals. I'll also be redesigning the Polycademy website and bringing in an alumni page with links to the hosted demos and some video interviews! Stay tuned to check out their web application demos, and for up coming events!