Groomed for success: New York salon entrepreneur among QUT innovation finalists
The young Brisbane woman behind New York’s top salon booking service, LookBooker, is coming home in October to take on other hot start-ups in the final of the 2016 qutbluebox $250,000 Innovation Challenge.
QUT business graduate Renee Robbie co-founded LookBooker with fellow Australian Giorgia Rossi after meeting in Sydney while working together on rural Australian mines for a global management consulting firm.
They shared a self-confessed passion for “innovative startups, great design and six-weekly haircuts” and were sick of still having to ring around salons to book appointments, when just about every aspect of their life could be sorted online.
After deciding the USA was the best place to launch their online appointment aggregator, LookBooker has become one of New York’s hottest apps and the city’s most popular hair and beauty booking service.
Ms Robbie’s success has also lead her to be the latest face of QUT in the university’s popular series of “real world graduate” profiles.
Ms Robbie and the entrepreneurial brains behind four other young start-ups will gather in Brisbane in October to battle it out at QUT in the pitch-based final of the 2016 qutbluebox $250,000 Innovation Challenge.
They will be hoping to repeat the success of last year’s winner, clipchamp – a web-based digital video compression service that has had 1.8 million users this year alone.
- LookBooker – online appointment aggregator for the hair and beauty industry, based in New York. Renee Robbie (pictured, co-founder and QUT business graduate) and Giorgia Rossi (co-founder)
- Conweigh – shipping container weighing service that uses a portable and instant NMI Trade approved Class 3 weighbridge, accessed and delivered to consumers on demand, via app, phone and web. James Oliver (QUT engineering graduate)
- Field Orthopaedics – a wrist replacement device utilising the power of magnets to return quality of life to sufferers of wrist pain and dysfunction. Christopher Jeffery (CEO, medical doctor, QUT PhD student and engineering graduate), Gregory Couzens (Clinical Director, hand and wrist surgeon, QUT PhD student), Ross Prior (Engineering Program Manager, QUT engineering graduate), James Fielding (COO, medical doctor)
- MedAugment – a smartphone-based augmented reality solution that enhances consumers’ engagement with their medical devices by visualising interactive, digital, and dynamic consumer information throughout the device use cycle. Professor Lisa Nissen (QUT lecturer/researcher), Professor Jean Burgess (QUT lecturer/researcher, Alireza Ahmadvand (QUT PhD researcher), Tyronne Curtis (film producer and QUT business & creative industries graduate)
- Velvet – Wi-Fi sharing company with technology that enables people to sell their unused internet data to other nearby people via a ‘Velvet Hotshot’ device. David Poxon (pictured below, founder / QUT IT graduate and PhD student)
Brent Watts, bluebox’s director of innovation and engagement, said the Innovation Challenge was open to all QUT graduates as well as students and staff.
He said it had become one of Queensland’s best business pitch events and that he had been impressed by the standard and volume of applicants in 2016.
“We had a very promising response this year, with a doubling of applications and almost tripling of female participants,” he said.
“These five finalists have been selected from 165 applications and represent the most innovative ideas. We think they have energy, drive and passion that could see them really disrupt the market sectors that they are entering.
“Last year’s winner, clipchamp, has been an amazing success story and the $50,000 first prize from the bluebox Innovation Challenge helped grow the company.”
This year’s finalists now have to prepare a 30-second speed pitch video (check out climpchamp’s video from last year) and then deliver a five-minute pitch in person in front of judges on October 13 at QUT’s Gardens Point campus.
Prize money will be awarded to first and second place, to the winner of the online crowd vote, and to the winners of a range of professional service prizes.
QUT is part of a national collaborative group of five major Australian universities that form the ATN (Australian Technology Network of Universities).
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