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Students submit ideas for Startup Weekend

The exciting online business ideas of University of the Sunshine Coast students Alysse Skilton of Sippy Downs and Simon Doonican of Maleny will be among the contenders at Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast from 8-10 May.

Journalism student Alysse, 20, and Psychology student Simon, 42, will hone their entrepreneurial skills at the second annual event, to be held over 54 hours in Building J at the University.

Alysse, whose YouTube channel under the name Alysse Paris has 11,000 subscribers and one million video hits, said she wanted to start a dedicated social media platform for the millions of people making the videos.

“I love meeting different creative people and I want to collaborate locally, but it can be difficult finding out people’s locations,” said Alysse, who focuses on comedy skits and parodies and hopes to work in the entertainment industry.

“People are making careers out of these videos but they’re hard to track by city. My idea is called TubeTalk. It’s like YouTube and Facebook having a baby. People can sign up, it shows you their location, and you can get in touch to make more videos, discuss all things YouTube, interesting topics, gadgets, viral videos.”

Alysse, a Fraser Coast Anglican College graduate who moved from Hervey Bay to the Sunshine Coast to study, said she was enjoying the third year of her Journalism degree and eager to tap into the innovations of Startup Weekend.

Simon, a chef who opened one of Australia’s first organic restaurants at Byron Bay 15 years ago, said participating in last year’s Startup Weekend prompted him to return in 2015 with a new idea for encouraging consumers to make ethical decisions.

“It was amazing fun, very enlightening,” he said. “Once you get a team together, the vibe of the whole place is so inspiring.”

The second-year Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) student said his website ‘Berdy,’ for Better Earth Deals, would sign up subscribers interested in ethical products and companies, from organics and clothing to fair trade goods.

“I try to make ethical decisions in my life and I think a lot of other people lean towards that, but they’re held back by lack of access or finances, or concern about trustworthiness. My site could assist access and education and help people get deals and discounts.”

Simon said his degree was fascinating and included a Business minor in Entrepreneurship with Lecturer Dr Retha Scheepers.

Dr Scheepers, also the lead organiser for Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast, said 14 of her students were among 35 USC students so far registered for the event that will involve more than 100 people from a range of backgrounds.

It is a 54-hour competitive marathon where budding entrepreneurs, developers, designers and startup enthusiasts connect with mentors and build business plans to present to industry leaders and win thousands of dollars in prizes.

Event partners are USC, the Queensland Government, Sunshine Coast Council, Regional Development Australia Sunshine Coast, and the Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast.

National sponsors are StartupAus, Intuit Quickbooks and Elance Odesk. Global sponsors are Google for Entrepreneurs, .CO and Coca-Cola.

Julie Schomberg

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