Big Pitch competition awards two startups $5 million

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By Stephanie Zillman

After more than 350 startups vyed for a chance at $5 million in the Inaugural Big Pitch competition, two lucky startups have been chosen to share the prize.

An initiative of Dodo’s co-founder Larry Kestelman, the competition is aimed at giving emerging businesses a chance at the big time.

Following deliberations amongst a panel of eight judges, the judges could not decide on a sole winner, deciding instead to split the prize between eCal, a calendar-based marketing system, and WeTeachMe, an online platform that helps businesses run bookings for courses and events.

Following the sale of Dodo by Kestelman last year for some $200 million, the entrepreneur established Oxygen Ventures – the start-up incubator behind the Big Pitch.

Following the win both eCAL and WeTeachMe will receive the ongoing support Oxygen Ventures to further develop their businesses.

Kestelman commented that he believes Australia is lacking in support networks for startups and technology entrepreneurs.

All five finalists came from the information technology and gaming space, with entrants given five minutes to put their pitch to an audience of about 400 people including the judging panel of industry experts.

While Mr Kestelman laments the lack of support for startup enterprises in Australia, he says the Big Pitch revealed some great potential in burgeoning local startup scene.

“I’m very keen still to work through the other three finalists that were there and see if we can actually fine-tune their models and make them work as well before we move onto the next Big Pitch,” he said. “But there’ll definitely be another one – it was a huge success. The response has been amazing.”

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