Perfect pitch to Paris

Published:21 February 2018

CQUniversity Cairns Social Innovation student Jodie Mlikota is heading to Paris, thanks to her perfect pitch at the Global Startup Weekend Women in Brisbane in February, 2018.

Her passion for innovation is paying off.

CQUniversity Cairns Social Innovation student Jodie Mlikota is heading to Paris, thanks to her perfect pitch at the Global Startup Weekend Women event in Brisbane recently.

Competing against 71 other empowering women, 35 ideas were pitched and 10 progressed through to the team development phase over the weekend.

"Our team spent the weekend working on the idea, talking with potential customers on the streets and putting out surveys online to test and validate the concept," Ms Mlikota explained.

“Bronwyn Voyce and I pitched for the Gathar team on the Sunday night which was the overall winning pitch and the prize included one person going to pitch in the International Finals in Paris in two weeks' time,” Ms Mlikota said.

She said the winning pitch idea was a replication of one of her entrepreneurship assignment pieces.

“The concept is a peer-to-peer platform connecting people who love to cook with people who love to entertain but hate the hard work,” she explained.

“Tapping into the sharing economy popularity, Gathar is all about making eating at home with loved ones more enjoyable, whilst giving people who love to cook an outlet to share their favourite dishes with the world.

"We also worked on the business model and marketing strategy, with the help of some excellent mentoring sessions. We then had five minutes to pitch our developed concept back to the judges, including Steve Baxter from SharkTank, and to an audience of around 100 people at Advance Queensland’s Precinct."

A total of 22 startup weekends were held around the world, with one person from each location now set to compete in the global finals in France.

As well as being a student, Ms Mlikota is also Senior Development Coordinator for the Development and Alumni Relations Directorate at CQUniversity and her passion for Social Innovation runs deep.

Not only is she one unit shy of completing her Graduate Certificate in Social Innovation, she also works closely with the Young Entrepreneurs Project (YEP).

“Through my volunteer work and study in the Social Innovation space with CQUni Cairns and the Young Entrepreneurs Project (YEP), I was successful in obtaining a grant through Advance Queensland’s Young Starters Fund to run an innovation weekend in April called ‘Big Fish Cairns’ which is for students aged 15 – 24 who want to learn about entrepreneurship and innovation,” Ms Mlikota explained.

“As a result, I decided to participate in the startup weekend in Brisbane to be a part of a startup weekend in action and so I could bring back learnings and best practice for the Big Fish Cairns event,” she explained.

“Not only did I not realise there was a prize for the winning pitch, let alone a trip to Paris, but I certainly did not expect that we would win it.”

Ms Mlikota will head to Paris where she will pitch at the Grande Finale against 21 other women at Accor HQ on 7 March.

Part of the trip itinerary in Paris is a tour of the world’s largest startup incubator, Station F – a 34,000 square metre former rail freight depot-turned-innovation hub that opened in 2017 and houses some of the world’s biggest startups, including Facebook and Amazon.

"I'll be pitching to an audience of hundreds including France’s Digital Minister, Mounir Mahjoubi! I’ve been chatting with the Sydney and Longreach winners and we are all so excited to be representing Australia in the finals. It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be part of a global group of women, all there to support each other and drive female participation in innovation and entrepreneurship. I can’t wait to hear all the other pitches and build some solid global networks with the participants and organisers.”