Hackathon winners to take their ideas to Silicon Valley!

Four Mildura locals will take their innovate ideas to Silicon Valley later this year after they were announced the winners of a La Trobe University Hackathon held last weekend.

Mother daughter duo, Julia Payne and Louise Ackland, hope to gain some technical knowledge for their idea – a platform their naming Farm Mate. Farm Mate is a one stop shop for all resources and programs to help farmers prioritise and save money.

We would love to explore this idea further when we visit Silicon Valley, because it is something that could help thousands of farmers across the world,” Julia said.

The Hackathon was an initiative out of La Trobe University’s Accelerator Program.  This 12-week free program is open to anyone in the community and is dedicated to supporting, mentoring and offering seed funding to regional start-ups and entrepreneurs.  The program was awarded a Higher Education Award for Community Engagement at the Australian Financial Review Higher Education Awards on Tuesday night.

Julia, an Agribusiness student studying at La Trobe, says she hopes to gain some great insight into what it’s like to be an entrepreneur when she embarks on a Hacker Exchange trip to Silicon Valley, San Francisco.

“I am so excited, I can't even explain to anyone what this trip means to me! I can't wait to get over there, meet people, learn, explore and bring all of that back to my home town,” she says.

The second winning team comprised of Abraham Cronje and Richard Rydberg, who met during the Hackathon.  Abraham is also an Agribusiness student studying at La Trobe.

“It was my first hackathon and it was exciting and enjoyable.  I would encourage others to take part in the future, it’s a chance to expand your borders to reach your goals and dreams.

“Our idea is a better livestock transport booking and delivery system and I would like to explore this idea further when we visit Silicon Valley,” Abraham says.

Both teams will join other fledging Aussie entrepreneurs when they get to experience The Hacker Exchange Silicon Valley trip.  The Hacker Exchange’s mission is to connect the next generation of Aussie entrepreneurs to innovation capitals of the world.  They run immersive boot camps and university programs in Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv and Singapore.

Jeanette Cheah, Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder of The Hacker Exchange was in Mildura to mentor hackathon participants.

“I think the magic of the program is that we don't fly there and just sit in a classroom. We have amazing access to learn directly from experienced founders, venture capitalists, angel investors, engineers and innovators. We'll get amongst it, go to meetups, visit tech giants like Google, and have the chance to test our ideas with people who live and breathe start-ups every day. That kind of feedback is priceless and can help set early-stage entrepreneurs on the right path and get them thinking big,” Jeanette says.

Dr Cerasela Tanasecu says the La Trobe Accelerator Program is a unique University incubator program as it has a regional focus.

“La Trobe is in a great position to support regional start-ups as we have campuses located in Mildura, Shepparton, Bendigo and Albury-Wodonga. We’ve awarded $157,000 seed funding to start ups and are just about to head into our third iteration of the program. We had over 80 applications to the latest program, and over half of those were from our regional catchment areas. We’re committed to running more Hackathons, Ideation and Market Validation workshops in the future to foster innovation and creativity in the regions.  We’d love to send more regional entrepreneurs to innovation capitals of the world so they can bring back their knowledge, new networks and ideas to their home towns,” Dr Tanasescu says.

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