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Idealog at the Samsung Springboard Finale Pitching event

Thanks to the atrocious Auckland traffic last night, we arrived at the Samsung/Icehouse event – held at the Maritime Room on Quay Street, Auckland – in the nick of time. Icehouse CEO Andy Hamilton had already taken the stage – but only just – and we planted ourselves in our seat.

“Welcome to the Samsung Springboard event,” he says. “I’ll be your guide. In the event of an emergency, please do not jump from the balcony”.

The room is nicely filled, there’s a row of nervous-looking entrepreneurs to one side and something tells me there’s a bunch of well-to-do types in the room with holes burning in their pockets.

Hamilton says that since its launch the eight finalists in the competition has shrunken to six, but for the best possible reason: Both Melodics and FaceMe have already “sprung onto the board” he quips, choosing to focus on leveraging their progress so far rather than focus on the challenge. Fair enough. Tonight will be short and sweet then, with the six remaining contestants making their pitches at five minutes a piece.

That’s the long and the short of it apparently, and with that he introduces Kenny Yeon, managing director of Samsung Electronics NZ, to finish with off the introductions. Yeon keeps it brief too, paying compliments to the finalists, and shamelessly playing the crowd by declaring that we’re coming into “the world’s best summer…in New Zealand!”

With those few words we’re underway.

The pitches begin, and this is they:

Pagia Wilson from mediKOL takes the stage, hawking a clever bit if software designed to enable efficient and effective communication between patients and first their responders. The device in question, a NFC enabled bracelet, contains all one’s relevant medical information – i.e. medical conditions, allergies etc – for a patient in case of emergency/incapacitation.

Chris Riddell from Parrot Analytics (whom we’ve covered before) pitched the company’s clever software that analyses viewership data for broadcasting companies, across platforms. Apparently it’s the industry’s first and only cross-platform, country-specific, real-time demand rating platform for TV and film content.

IMeasureU’s Matt Clarke is next, with a wearable device that enables elite coaches, teams and athletes deeper training and performance insights beyond GPS and heart rate.

This is why I don’t invest. They all sound good.

A quick break was offered (we’ve only been going 20 minutes), giving the crowd an opportunity to inhale a Mac’s Gold, a Speights or two and a prawn with Japanese mayo, then we’re back into it with Martin Weekes from CSx.

CSx has developed a high-tech device that measures the neuro-cognitive data – i.e. hits to the head – of sportspeople. Weekes’s presentation contains an account of the company’s recent work at the Rugby World Cup, as well as a ‘greatest hits’ video of sports head injuries which is equal parts awesome and unnerving.

Next up is Ezel Kokcu from AREA360 (who was the Rising Star Regional category winner at this year’s regional finals of the Deloitte Fast 50), with a “story-telling platform” that provides location-sensitive information to users – think turn-by-turn directions in an art gallery or information about the exhibits at the zoo.  

Finally, Phil Thomson from Auror pitches an electronic crime-reporting system that allows business to share information about suspects electronically and provides tools for the police to ‘connect-the-dots’ on organised crime groups. Cool stuff.  

That concluded, the crowd voted for the People’s Choice category – via a Survey Monkey mobile app – and the winners of the night were announced:

  • IMeasureU took home the second place prize of three months tenancy at Kiwi Landing Pad and flights for two to San Francisco
  • Auror was awarded the choice of $10,000 Samsung development funding or $10,000 Samsung technology
  • The winner of the People’s Choice Award was MediKOL, who took home $1,000 of Samsung technology and a two-day workshop from The Icehouse

And the grand prize winner?

CSx, taking home a cash prize of $30,000, $10k worth of Samsung products, three Icehouse workshops and introductions to Samsung’s global ventures team.

Speeches were made, photos were taken and Idealog grabbed a few words with the winner.

“As a start-up you don’t have a huge amount of opportunities, so you need people to promote your product,” says CSx’s Weekes. “This is great.”

“I’m actually stoked. I feel a bit like Robert de Niro from The Intern. At fifty, I’m the oldest person here working for a start-up; I’m earning less than when I graduated and I’ve been sleeping on a friend’s couch while working on this product during the Rugby World Cup.”

“But if we can save lives, that’s just so much more important than the financial returns for us. We want every person who plays rugby – that’s seven million people – to be using this device and we want to do it at no cost to them.”

So what’s Weekes planning to do with his newly-acquired 30k of well-deserved dough?

“As a tech start-up we’re always impoverished, so this is going to help us develop more tech and bring more development expertise on board.”

“I’d like to think we might be able to give our engineers a pat on the back, but hey, we’re still a start-up and until that corporate backing comes on board or we raise the next round of capital we have to live off every penny we can.”

“It’s exciting times.”

Jonathan has been a writer longer than he cares to remember. Specialising in technology, the arts, and the grand meaning of it all, in his spare time he enjoys reading, playing guitars, and adding to an already wildly overstocked t-shirt collection.

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