A team of student social entrepreneurs has won the $100,000 RMIT Business Plan Competition with their innovative business idea targeting ethical and fashion-conscious consumers.
The team behind Likeagrrrl was awarded the $25,000 RMIT University First Prize at a gala award ceremony, for their business concept to deliver athleisure garments to help women and girls break out of the poverty cycle and promote awareness of human trafficking.
Team leader and Master of Public Policy student, Christine Teo, said the competition had been a huge learning experience for her and her team members, Foong-Tue Cheah and David Byers.
"We’ve learnt so much along the journey of the Business Plan Competition,” Teo said.
“Likeagrrrl promises to promote the transformation of lives and we will make a difference."
Targeting fashion-conscious ethical Australian consumers, the team behind Likeagrrrl have developed high-end, on-trend active wear that supports a compelling social cause.
In addition to the top prize, Likeagrrrl also picked up the mi-fi Business Ready Award ($10,000), The Litmus Environmental Productivity Award ($15,000) and a share of the Trevor Tappenden Enterprise Development Award ($15,000).
The $10,000 RMIT University Second Prize was awarded to KISA, led by Certificate III Electro-technology Electrician student, Peter Novacco, and his wife Ivy Novacco.
The pair have created an easy-to-use smart phone for the technologically challenged including children, the visually impaired, those with dementia, arthritis and the elderly.
KISA was also awarded the Clarit-e Innovation Award ($5,000), GrantReady Award for Excellence ($7,500), Servcorp Virtual Offices Award ($7,000) and City of Melbourne Lord Mayor's Award for Technology ($5,000).
The City of Melbourne Third Prize ($5,000) was awarded to The C Method, led by Christina Canters, a Certificate IV Small Business Management graduate.
A training business that helps people communicate more effectively, The C Method provides workshops, individual coaching and online content, covering topics including public speaking, confidence and one-on-one communication.
KISA and The C Method also each received the Trevor Tappenden Enterprise Development Award ($15,000).
The City of Melbourne Lord Mayor's Award for Creativity ($5,000) was won by Maxine McQueen, a website that will sell jewellery created by independent Australian designers, bridging the gap between designer output and customer purchase.
The RMIT is one of the biggest programs of its type in Australia and is open to vocational education, undergraduate and postgraduate students across all RMIT locations in Melbourne, Vietnam and Singapore.
More than 5000 people have taken part since 2001, with many past competitors now running successful businesses in Australia and around the world.
Total prize money to all winners in the Business Plan Competition this year was more than $100,000.
RMIT Pro Vice-Chancellor Business and Vice-President, Professor Ian Palmer, began the award ceremony by praising the efforts of the 11 finalists and paying tribute to the 171 teams who entered the 2015 competition – the largest cohort since the competition began in 2001.
"The Business Plan Competition supports students in an entrepreneurship ecological system,” Palmer said.
“All of the teams that have made it through to the finals of the Business Plan Competition have great potential in their start-ups.
"The industry mentors who have generously given their time and assistance have helped our students to develop skills and build networks to support their start-up ideas and develop their entrepreneurial spirit.”
Keynote speaker, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Thank you, Daniel Flynn, had one strong message for the finalists.
“If you win or don’t, know that it doesn’t define you. What you learn from the process and the challenges that you have faced is key,” Flynn said.
Story: Rita Truong