Collaborative solutions created in a collaborative environment

Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast concluded on Sunday night with a wave of energy and an overwhelming number of connections made between budding entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

The marathon weekend commenced on the Friday night with over 200 in the audience listening to 43 raw concepts pitched in under 60 seconds each. Participants then formed in to thirteen teams who worked furiously all weekend to prove their concepts and ready themselves for the grand finale on Sunday night.

Collaboration was clearly a theme with many teams creating tools and ideas that connect, share and improve productivity in many different shapes and sizes.

The Startup Weekend winners are a team called Hitched In, led by 27 year old Jessie Lee a final year Journalism student at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC).

“Hitched In is an online platform that connects brides with wedding planners, and in turn connects wedding planners with industry professionals, resulting in better communication and most importantly, happy brides,” said Jessie.

Hitched In_2

The three member team including from left to right Racheal Rose-Rehardt, Simon Doonican and Jessie Lee were crowned as winners on the Sunday night and narrowly beat a strong field of contenders.

“Winning certainly wasn’t the primary objective of most people attending Startup Weekend,” said Retha Scheepers, USC lecturer in Entrepreneurship and lead organiser for the event.

“Nobody fails here, everyone wants to see everyone else succeed and learn along the way.  The future belongs to the ones who show up,” said Retha.

The judging criteria included topics such as customer validation, execution and design as well as business model viability.

Many of the teams reached out to communities that they were trying to target resulting in thousands of customer survey respondents and interviews over the course of the weekend.

The journey may have started at Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast however continues and builds on the connections made creating an even stronger entrepreneurial Sunshine Coast community.

To stay connected join the Silicon Coast Facebook page.


The next chapter: What happens after Startup Weekend?

With over 300 people collaborating, creating and coordinating over the last 54 hours at Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast, many are wondering what’s next and some are craving for more.

A similar scenario presented itself last year, therefore a group of enthusiastic participants formed an entrepreneurial community called Silicon Coast with the hope to continue the legacy.

Andrea Martins, a local entrepreneur and participant at last year’s Startup Weekend event, has become an advocate for the Silicon Coast group and shares her perspective.

“Silicon Coast is the first group here on the Sunshine Coast that I’ve truly felt at home with,” said Andrea.

“Carrying on the positive energy from Startup Weekend, Silicon Coast brings together a group of local ‘dreamers, doers and done thats’, in a friendly and integrated way.”

“No business idea pitched ever feels or sounds stupid. No level of experience ever feels not enough or too much. I never miss a meet-up and I thank everyone in the group for the energy they give me,” expressed Andrea.

Andrea Martins was the co-founder of the global resource site Expat Women, and is now the co-founder of Australia’s first online marketplace for lawnmowing called Greensocks.

“I started working on Greensocks after being inspired by Startup Weekend last year, and will launch in a week or so,” said Andrea.

Andrea believes that Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast as well as the Silicon Coast Group have contributed to the ongoing growth and development of the Sunshine Coast’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

She is very passionate about the Silicon Coast group’s future and wants to encourage more locals to get involved.

“Each event usually involves about 30 mins of networking, 30 mins of updates and pitches, and then either a small group brainstorming event, or some short guest speaker spots, or just more open networking,” said Andrea

“Whatever the format, the idea is always to make everyone feel as welcome as possible, so I hope more Sunshine Coast locals come out of the woodwork at Startup Weekend and come along to Silicon Coast meet-ups in the future.”

It has almost been one year since the formation of the Silicon Coast, however the group has evolved and adapted quite significantly over this period of time.

“Some people have left town to pursue their startup dreams, but others have happily filled their place,” said Andrea.

“Old faces and new faces come along to each meet-up. Everyone that shows up just gives their time, experience and advice so generously.”

“I can’t wait to see who joins after Startup Weekend 2015. I’m sure more awesome startup folk.”

Silicon Coast FB group

About the Silicon Coast Group

We’re creating the most vibrant, relevant and value adding entrepreneurial community on the Sunshine Coast.

We say: Let’s be awesome! Let’s create the future. Let’s talk about big ideas and startups. Let’s establish Silicon Coast! Bottom-up, for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs! Less talk, more action! ‪#‎siliconcoast‬

Silicon Coast Group aims to promote business creation, connect entrepreneurs and facilitate entrepreneurial events on the Sunshine Coast.

The founders of the Silicon Coast intended for the group to create monthly events, whereby the events are largely based on the nature of the Startup Weekend.

The Silicon Coast group actively collaborate ideas through the Facebook group as well as holding real life group meetings quarterly.

Have your say, join today.

Blog post written by Rachel Thomson, Public Relations Student at University of the Sunshine Coast.


Tips from last year’s Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast winners

Wilfrid Watson and Danum Harris-Lusk did not start their careers the conventional way. Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2014 gave them an opportunity of a lifetime and enabled them to launch a new company and attract investment funding within 12 months of commencement.

Together Wilfrid and Danum were the winners of last year’s event with their VRSmartView prototype for a virtual reality headset, now the main product being developed by their business called Phenomec.

Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 4 May 2014

When asked about their experience they said that the seed to their business started in a classroom at University, whilst both studying their bachelor degrees at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

“However we truly did not have a clear vision of what we were getting ourselves into at the beginning of Startup Weekend”, said Wilfrid.

“Which is exactly the point, you need to just go with the flow and understand that no idea is a bad idea”, added Danum.

Both Wilfrid and Danum are currently juggling their studies with the demands of starting up a business with 26-year-old Wilfrid doing a double degree of Business and Arts, and 22-year-old Danum finishing up a Business degree, where he will graduate November 2015.

With Wilfrid’s experience in sales and interactive multimedia and Danum’s familiarity with the entrepreneurial community, together the dynamic duo created something special.

“Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast gave us a multitude of opportunities, however it takes hard work and commitment to make it work,” said Danum.

Since the inaugural event in May 2014, Phenomec has had their product featured at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) and the Dublin Web Summit and they have had positive business interactions with Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Oculus.

The boys were asked to give future participants some tips for the upcoming Startup Weekend on the 8-10 May, 2015.

“Prepare to not sleep that much”, said Wilfrid.

“Also, the extreme rush of adrenaline will fill you up with energy, and the last thing you want to do is to go to bed,” added Danum.

In the end, both of them agreed that future contestants should not have any set expectations for the weekend.

“It is a type of event that cannot be compared to anything else,” said Wilfrid.

Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 4 May 2014

Confidence is an important aspect of Startup Weekend. The two young entrepreneurs discussed that having confidence in yourself is extremely important, adding that in the beginning, people had doubts about their idea of Smartphone integrated virtual reality headset, as at that time, virtual reality was not nearly as popular and a lucrative business as it is today. Today, there are hundreds of applications for smartphone integrated virtual reality headsets.

When asked to sum up their experience at Startup Weekend, Wilfrid and Danum chose the words self-actualising and life-changing.

“The mentorship we received throughout the weekend and after the weekend has played an important role in our business and our growth,” said Danum.

In terms of the future of Phenomec, the duo are expanding the company’s focus into consulting and developing immersive software.

“Virtual reality is a powerful communications medium, engaging us at the deepest levels. We are creating compelling and interactive worlds that can be used to enhance the way we learn, work and play,” said Wilfrid.

For more information about Phenomec go to their website:

For more information about Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast go to

Blog post written by Thy Lam, University of the Sunshine Coast Public Relations Student.

Pre Event to help demystify Startup Weekend

The Startup Weekend organisers are inviting energetic, entrepreneurially-minded hackers, hustlers and designers to join them for the pre-event at The Post Office, Ocean Street, Maroochydore on Wednesday 22 April at 5.30 – 9pm.

This free event, with a cash bar will give participants the opportunity to learn more about the Startup Weekend, scheduled for 8-10 May.

The friendly team of organisers will be on hand to answer questions such as; What is Startup Weekend? How does it work? What can I expect?

Dr Retha Scheepers, lead organiser and entrepreneurship lecturer in the Business School at USC, believes that attending the pre-event is extremely valuable for all participants.

“You will learn far more about the event, as well as meeting and networking with other passionate, enthusiastic and talented individuals like yourself. Meeting people at the pre-event takes a lot of anxiety out of Startup Weekend, since you run into the same people again,” Dr Scheepers said.

The event will aim to break down the barriers and allow for participants to engage with coaches, experienced entrepreneurs and past participants.

“We’ll play a pitching game and exchange creative ideas over some drinks. You’ll be in a room with 80-100 high-energy entrepreneurial people, so you might be talking to your future co-founders, developers and idea generators,” Dr Scheepers said.

RSVP for the Pre Event here:

Find out more about Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast here:

Pre event poster for 22April

Tickets selling fast

Tickets are now on sale for Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2015, and they are selling fast.

Building on the success of the inaugural 2014 event, Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2015 will be held at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) on May 8-10. The intensive, inspiring 54-hour event will connect budding local entrepreneurs, developers, designers and startup enthusiasts eager to immerse themselves in hands-on entrepreneurship.

Over the course of the weekend participants will form teams, collaborate on ideas and connect with professional mentors, with the intent of building their own startup. Dr Retha Scheepers, lead organiser and entrepreneurship lecturer in the Business School at USC, said Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast is designed to foster innovation and create a vibrant, supportive and inclusive startup community on the Sunshine Coast.


“Startup Weekend is a great action learning opportunity, bringing together a range diverse skillsets and harnessing entrepreneurial energy,” Dr Scheepers said. “Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast believes entrepreneurship is a driving force whereby we can create jobs across the Coast, uniting and growing our community. During the weekend participants learn by doing, surrounded by abundant resources.”

The Australian Startup Weekend community labelled the 2014 Sunshine Coast event as one of the most successful Startup Weekend events in regional Australia to date. The event sold out two weeks prior and directly engaged with more than 240 participants, creating significant impact in the local community.

The 2015 event will be bigger and better, thanks to the quality of local talent of experienced entrepreneurs and the support of event partners such as USC, the Queensland State Government, Sunshine Coast Council, Regional Development Australia and the Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast.

Innovation Centre CEO Mark Paddenburg said events like Startup Weekend are crucial to diversifying the local economy.

“The Sunshine Coast already has a vibrant, growing startup community, and Startup Weekend offers a great opportunity for local organisations to support action-driven entrepreneurship and innovation,” Paddenburg said.

“Startup Weekend is a community-driven event – it’s about building the local ecosystem by equipping entrepreneurs with the skills, connections and hands-on experience they need to create and launch their own ventures.”

Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast is on May 8-10 at the University of the Sunshine Coast.   To purchase tickets go to

Looking for a new experience?

USC Student Georgie Murray found it hard to narrow in on only one favourite experience from last year’s inaugural Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast event.

“As a participator, one of my many favourite moments was meeting everyone and being in such an energising environment where everyone wants to be there and is working as a team, because you’re not there unless you want to be there. That is what made my experience most enjoyable,” said Georgie.

Georgie is currently studying Journalism at the University of the Sunshine Coast and she enjoys setting herself apart from the crowd. That is why she enrolled in entrepreneurship.

Studying entrepreneurship was a new experience for Georgie and it was through this class that she received a unique opportunity via an email from her course coordinators Dr Retha Scheepers and Dr Renee Barnes asking her if she would like to participate in the Startup Weekend event.

“Although I didn’t know what to expect, I’m glad I went ahead with it because it was still a really cool thing to be a part of,” said Georgie.

“There are so many people out there with big ideas. It is a shame because no one knows what to do with them.  I think startup Weekend is a great place to start. It is an amazing opportunity to voice your thoughts and actually receive productive feedback. The main thing is to just talk to people to get your idea out there, and then things will slowly start happening and progressing.”

For those who are nervous to come along or eager to participate but not sure how, Georgie’s advice is to have a go anyway.

“It’s a really supportive environment and a great learning experience. There’s no wrong question, there’s no incorrect answers. If you’re shy or have an idea you don’t think is going to be great, give it a go anyway because there is definitely someone on the same track of thought and would love to support you.”

“I definitely recommend that people get involved and sign up for the 2015 May event. I think it’s a very inspiring experience whether you’re in a team or not.”

The inspirational environment obviously worked, as Georgie and her team were awarded as runner-ups, for creating an App that helps travellers find other travellers experiencing a layover in a similar city at a similar time, to help stave off the boredom and explore opportunities together.


Since her success at Startup Weekend in 2014, Georgie has had some exciting things occur, including speaking with the Honorable Mal Brough (Federal Member for Fisher), who was very supportive of her idea.

“Mal set up a short pitch opportunity for me with Daniel Petre AO, leading Australian investor, Fund Manager and ex vice president of Microsoft. Mal also mentioned the app in parliament, so that was a pretty cool moment, I never thought that would happen.”

“Startup Weekend is for anyone. The connections people make with others from the experience are amazing and can become potentially life-long friendships.”

“The mentors were amazing. I still do talk to a lot of them, and they’re willing to help you afterwards as well. I definitely made some friends as well and it brought all the students in our class a lot closer which was really nice. We still catch up; we had a reunion in mid March this year, which was cool.”

Are you looking for a new experience?  Read more about what is involved here.

BLOG POST written by Philippa Mynott, USC Public Relations Student


Participants at last years’ Sunshine Coast Startup Weekend will remember Marcus Eikeland as the enthusiastic co-facilitator in a green T-shirt, working on stage and behind the scenes, helping coordinate the successful inaugural event.

Many wouldn’t have known that at the time Marcus was only a recent arrival to the region, particularly given how well he immersed himself in the local community and developed a natural yet casual leadership style.

Now, you will often find Marcus in business airline lounges from Norway to Dubai to Silicon Valley USA, leading his own international business consultancy VONA.

Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast was an important step on this whirlwind journey.


Two years ago, to complement an already impressive career as a project manager for leading companies in Norway, the then 31-year-old Norwegian decided to do his MBA at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

After graduating in 2014 and returning to Norway, Marcus now has his plane ticket already booked for a special trip back to the Sunshine Coast for the 2015 Startup Weekend event, scheduled in May.

“There’s no place like the Sunshine Coast and there is no place or event like Sunshine Coast Startup weekend, anywhere else in the world,” said Marcus.

“My experience at Startup Weekends in Norway can not be compared to Sunshine Coast Startup Weekend. Last year’s Sunshine Coast event exceeded everyone’s expectations. It generated incredible impact both locally and across Queensland, as well as created #SiliconCoast, the largest independent entrepreneurial movement on the Sunshine Coast.”

“The people who attend Startup Weekends are one of a kind, they are enthusiastic, open minded and most importantly, entrepreneurial minded. This hub of energy uniquely attracts an extraordinary breed of people that think outside of the box.”

The weekend event is a 54-hour long workshop, which leaves little time to talk and more time to make things happening. The contestants will start working from the first night, where they will form groups and pitch their idea in front of a panel of judges by the end of the night. They will also be introduced to a new way of doing business, leaving them with a completely different perspective on things.

“The people at the Sunshine Coast are something special, they are much more dedicated and passionate than any group of people I have met before. Compared to other Startup Weekends that I have attended before, it seems that Australians take on more initiatives and take greater steps towards building communities that foster and support entrepreneurial activities.”

“Maybe it’s the Australian culture, maybe it’s the beautiful weather, whatever it is, the Sunshine Coast should be proud of its entrepreneurial culture.”

When asked to describe Startup weekend Sunshine Coast with one word, Marcus responded with AMAZEBALLS.

“Startup weekend is an opportunity of a lifetime, it was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life.”

Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2 May 2014


Marcus’ tips for future Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast participants is to leave your pride at the door.

“Startup Weekend is more than just entrepreneurship, it is about getting people together in to teams to create something fantastic.  This if one of those types of events where people do not care about your title.  In other words, you can be a student, a general manager or have no title at all; the only thing that matters is what you bring to the table.”


“More action, less talk.  And the future belongs to the ones who show up”.

More information about Marcus and his business Vona:

BLOG POST written by Thy Lam, USC Public Relations Student.