Hatchery+ students on the radar of investors at demo day

Michael Griffin of Tekuma demonstrates the team's drone controller. Picture by Kate Disher-Quill

Michael Griffin of Tekuma demonstrates the team's drone controller. Picture by Kate Disher-Quill

In summary: 
  • Tekuma, a startup that's set to revolutionise drone control won best pitch at the recent Hatchery+ Demo Day along with a cash prize of $2000
  • Also in the top three pitches were Fixit, an app for reporting problems that need maintenance attention and Sprout Kitchens, which rents out unused restaurant and café spaces

When UTS Business student, and co-founder of Fixit, Mathew Waugh's apartment window was damaged by hail, the problem could have been fixed for $200. Instead, he was lumped with a $5000 fee because the only way to contact his strata was by phone. The inevitable delays led to his floor being damaged as well.

"Had Fixit been implemented," said Waugh, to an audience of potential investors and members of the Sydney startup ecosystem at the recent Hatchery+ Demo Day, "the problem would have been fixed at the window replacement stage and it would have been a far more positive result for everyone."

Mathew Waugh (left) and Sebastian Jacobs answer questions about Fixit. Picture by Kate Disher-Quill Mathew Waugh (left) and Sebastian Jacobs answer questions about Fixit. Picture by Kate Disher-Quill

FixIt, an app that anyone, anywhere across world can use to report a problem, from a pothole to a broken window, is the brainchild and second startup of Waugh's co-founder and self-professed "nutty inventor" Sebastian Jacobs.

The duo, who are also firefighters, are piloting the app with the UTS Facilities Management Unit.

Director of the unit Glen Rabbitt says it makes sense for the university to be supporting student startups like this. "Fixit will assist us assess, prioritise and program maintenance requests across the University."

It's the second student startup from Hatchery+ to sign on with UTS. The other is Hayden Bleasel's career management tool Presumi which partnered with the UTS Careers Service.

Speaking at the Hatchery+ Demo Day, Vice-Chancellor Attila Brungs said the university is supporting students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. These skills, he said, are not just for startups, they are transportable skills that can be harnessed when working within organisations.

"Many of today's students will be creating their own jobs. We need to help them, through programs like Hatchery+, to get the skills they need," he said.

Annette McLelland and Michael Griffin make their pitch for Tekuma. Picture by Kate Disher-Quill Annette McClelland and Michael Griffin make their pitch for Tekuma. Picture by Kate Disher-Quill

This Demo Day a $2000 prize was on offer to the team with the best pitch. The other team in the top three was Sprout Kitchens, which recently won the prestigious Rabobank Foodbytes! Sydney Judges' Choice Award and has signed an agreement with take-away delivery company Deliveroo.

Winner of the $2000 prize was Tekuma, a team that is set to revolutionise drones. They demonstrated a drone controller they've developed which can be operated with one hand. The judges commended founders Annette McClelland (a Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences graduate) and Michael Griffin (a Macquarie University engineering graduate) for their technological innovation.

Professor Brungs said he was greatly impressed with the successes of teams in the Hatchery+ program since it started earlier this year. Just some of the achievements of the last cohort include:

  • Get Foodi, an online dessert platform securing over $700k in investment
  • MyInterview (an online video platform for the recruitment industry) being the first Australian startup to be selected to take up residency in Austrade's Landing pad in Tel Aviv – an initiative of the National Innovation and Science Agenda
  • FEIT PhD graduate Mahya Knox, co-founder of Learned Hub (an online tutoring platform), having just returned from Silicon Valley after being selected as one of 20 (from more than 300 applicants) to take part in Start-Up Catalyst's Youth mission. The business has now employed new staff and attracted keen interest from potential investors.

The other teams to have just completed the Hatchery+ program include:

  • Metal Chain, providing steel-buyers the highest value for money
  • Pep'd, a system to measure a company's mental health climate
  • Sephene, connecting Australian fashion designers with the Chinese market
  • Washable, an online booking system for car washing

Hatchery+ Manager Rosary Coloma says, "Since pitching at Demo Day many of the teams have been approached by interested investors. Stay tuned for more success stories."