Surf app 'Pulse' Makes Waves at Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast


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A technology platform designed to help surfers get the most out of every session was the fitting winner of Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2016.

On Sunday night night 13 teams delivered final pitches to a crowd of around 100 at Spark Bureau in Maroochydore, bringing the Sunshine Coast’s third annual Startup Weekend event to a close.

The winning idea was the brainchild of University of the Sunshine Coast entrepreneurship student and keen surfer Zak Smareglia, who first pitched the idea for an intuitive surf watch called Pulse – which would allow surfers to track swells and find the best conditions – in front of a large audience on Friday night.

Zak was joined by fellow students Renee Coman and Isabelle Paul, developer Jason Sheedy and Mackay-based entrepreneur Bret Lynch to refine the Pulse business model to an app that would also allow surfers to rate popular surf spots and monitor crowding over the course of the three-day event.

Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast aims to provide locals with the skills and tools needed to launch their own startup ventures.

Ideas ranged from El Cupone, an origami-inspired reusable coffee cup that could be stored on the back of a smartphone, to Foodie, an integrated health and wellness platform that would scan and monitor ingredients to allow users to easily manage food allergies.

More than 70 participants spent the weekend speaking to potential customers, rendering prototypes, developing their business models and identifying revenue streams before delivering a final five-minute pitch to the judging panel, which included Stephanie Moroz of Nano-Nouvelle, Zach Johnson of Spark Bureau, Natasha Kelso of CUA and Sander Kroes of FiveYs. Second place went to Ratted, a social platform that would allow users to find the cheapest drinks by crowdsourcing price info, while third place went to charity donation platform iGive.

The judges also awarded an honourable mention to Fheels, who pitched the concept of stylish shoes with an easily removable heel.

Event organiser and USC Entrepreneurship Lecturer Dr Retha Scheepers said last night’s final pitches demonstrated the learnings and commitment of each team over the weekend.

“Each year that I’m involved I’m amazed at the transformational force of Startup Weekend,” she said. “People pitch ideas with varying degrees of excitement and trepidation, but those who persevere and form teams have such a belief in their ideas and through the weekend they learn to move from dreaming to starting.

“The energy and supportive atmosphere of the event unites the Sunshine Coast community.’

This year Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast participants will have the opportunity to further develop and refine their startup skills through a series of workshops and meetups, supported by the Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland initiative.

Additional event supporters include Sunshine Coast Council, Spark Bureau, CUA, the University of the Sunshine Coast’s School of Business, Regional Development Australia Sunshine Coast, Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast, Five Ys and Big Top Market Fresh. 

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