A group of entrepreneurial-minded students from Southern Institute of Technology (SIT), have flown away with first prize at Startup Queenstown Lakes Weekend 2020, held last Friday 27th - Sunday 29th November, at the Memorial Hall in Queenstown. Aptly named the Flying Kiwi project, the team pitched their ideas alongside entrepreneurs from around New Zealand. The event was limited to 50 entries, and there was plenty of strong competition for those involved.
Startup Queenstown Lakes Weekend provides an opportunity for new and seasoned entrepreneurs to get a feel for the startup world, and experience the steps of building a business model from scratch, getting it validated over the course of the weekend, and the challenges they’ll face in the process. It also facilitates networking and connecting with some of New Zealand’s top entrepreneurship and investing communities.
The winning team said the project was born out of a desire to create a collaborative network within SIT for students to engage proactively, create an entrepreneurial culture, and develop the curious spirit inside every student. The Invercargill based-team consists of: Adara Valente, Malavika Cassiere, Geraldo Miranda, Alex Ruiz, Jessie Zhan, Sebastian Silva, and Luis Ganontrox Fidalgo.
Their plan is to drive two areas of support:
- The employment desk - With the employment help desk, the aim is to help students in areas of support and engagement with the intention of developing their personal branding and creating internship opportunities.
- The startup hub - With the startup hub, they plan to help students develop their entrepreneurial spirits through mentorship, guidance, etc.
The Flying Kiwis will work to provide one of the key bases required by students progress further, and support them in their journey to thrive in Invercargill and the Southland region.
“SIT helps us by providing the structural support for our meetings. We currently use the business hub at the Downtown Campus as an HQ to generate ideas for the employment help desk and startup hub”.
Those from the team attending Startup Queenstown Lakes were: Adara Valente, Malavika Cassiere, Geraldo Miranda and Alex Ruiz from SIT Invercargill, and also Fernanda Cristina of Southern Lakes English College (SLEC), Invercargill.
They approached Hamish Small, Head of Faculty New Media, Arts, and Business, for assistance to attend the Startup Weekend and were supported with event tickets, transport, and the use of SIT accommodation in Queenstown.
The team were really grateful for SIT’s support, saying it allowed them to experience a Startup weekend, and they would use what they learned at the event, to drive the startup hub at SIT.
“As the winners, we gained a rich experience, knowledge, and a fantastic networking opportunity. At the event, while working through the validation process, we learnt in a short time how to precisely create a business model to validate an MVP (minimum viable product). At an intense experience like the Startup weekend, everyone is a winner”, they said.
Head of Faculty, Hamish Small said, “What the Flying Kiwi team have achieved to date, in such a short time, has been fantastic, and is a credit to their focus, motivation and drive. The project as a whole, closely aligns with some of their personal postgraduate-level study, as well”.
Mr Small said the fact they identified such an opportunity, and turned it into a now-recognised business project is highly commendable, and he’s looking forward to seeing the future outcomes, which should benefit current and future SIT students.
“Now is also a great time to establish the Flying Kiwi project, especially if borders open to international students later in 2021” he said.
Post-win, the Flying Kiwi team want to concentrate on developing the startup hub so SIT students can experience developing their entrepreneurial spirit, and they also want to begin work on the employment hub within SIT, allowing students to gain assistance in upskilling themselves.