The Flying Kiwis team, made up mostly of Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) students, were the winners of the Start Up Queenstown Lakes Startup Weekend, held over the weekend in Queenstown.
The team based its business idea around the problem of unconscious bias in employment and hiring. The solution that the Flying Kiwis proposed, a software platform that assesses job applications without details that may bias an employer; including gender, nationality, and age.
“Being part of a startup weekend means to spark our entrepreneurial spirit, especially when taking first place, encourages us to take a step further” Geraldo Miranda, one of the Flying Kiwi team members said.
Louise Evans, Chief Activator of COIN South and mentor at the weekend said COIN South was proud to be part of a much wider startup ecosystem supporting Southlanders, students and anyone looking to test the entrepreneurial waters.
“The weekend was a whirlwind of emotions for the participants, hard work and late nights. All the teams hustled to achieve an extraordinary amount of work in just 48 hours.
I’m proud of the mahi the Flying Kiwis put in this weekend and share their excitement for the road ahead. The prizes the team won, including support in branding, accounting and legal fees will set the team up for success”.
Startup Queenstown Lakes organised the weekend. CEO Olivia Wensley was delighted with how it went, “The weekend was a smashing success because of the energy involved – everyone was buzzing with enthusiasm, it was the people involved that made it such a special event.
I was really impressed with the quality of the ideas and pitches; each team took their tasks really seriously and gave it 150%. We have a fantastic community of passionate people who are keenly involved in the startup scene and I look forward to next year’s event”.
The weekend was made up of over 13 nationalities and 60 people were involved including participants, mentors, facilitators, organisers and judges. The judges were Cr Alexa Forbes, councillor on the Otago Regional Council, Jim Boult Mayor of Queenstown and David Lawn, an investor and previously CEO of Lululemon Au/NZ.
“Participants were very lucky to be supported by mentors with phenomenal experience. The wealth of expertise in the room over the weekend was staggering” Evans said.
Other place winners included Southlanders, with the second-place winners including Nikki Dermody, Marketing Manager of COIN South. The team, Camp Akapuka, pitched an idea of Queenstown adventure camps for kiwi teens. Dermody commented “the idea brings together the idea of getting teens back into nature through adventure activities and supporting low capacity tourism operators that are struggling with diminished visitor numbers”.
The third-place team, Mā Air included SIT student Thiago Ribeiro da Silva, and their idea was to introduce electric airplanes to Queenstown.
Startup weekends are 48 hour weekend events held globally. They provide the community with the skills, tools and experience to encourage a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem. Participants gain, develop and test skills, and are mentored by experienced mentors with a diverse range of backgrounds and industry knowledge. Startup Queenstown Lakes Startup Weekend was one of 15 taking place in the weekend, but the only one that was run in person. The other startup weekend events were all virtual due to COVID-19 restrictions.