These creative high school students are on track to make their business ideas a reality.
Mount Clear Secondary College year 10 students Aiden Russell, Paige Iskra, Kirk Salamida, Miles Simshaw and Umi Gourlay participated in the Upstart Challenge last year.
They pitched ideas that provided solutions to problems they were passionate about and worked with Ballarat business people to develop them.
The Mount Clear students were the first group to participate in the program that educates about entrepreneurship in Ballarat secondary schools.
This year's program will begin in semester two, with students from Bacchus Marsh College, Mount Clear Secondary College and Loreto College pitching their ideas.
For Ballarat program coordinator Nicole Ashby, Upstart is about providing alternative learning pathways, developing innovative thinking, engaging students in education and opening students up to an alternative pathway other than university or TAFE after school.
"Work skills are changing. We need soft skills like critical and innovative thinking as a way for the future, so we want to start to expose kids to that now," she said.
"It is not just about offering this to the kids that are high achievers, the program is across the board. For many students who may usually be disengaged or uninterested, once they can identify a problem and a solution that affects them they can get really quite invigorated and into it."
Schools deliver a lesson on entrepreneurship to a selected year level to begin the program which encourages students to develop ideas.
Students have different ways of learning and we need to give them opportunities to be able to do that.Stephen Hamm, Mount Clear Secondary College
Students pitch ideas and at least one group from each school is selected to participate in the Upstart Accelerator program which runs for two hours once a week at the Runway Ballarat building.
Ballarat business owners mentor students throughout the program and share their personal journeys.The program finishes with a pitching showcase and expo that exposes their ideas to community, industry and their families.
Ms Ashby said the program prepared students for the changing nature of work.
"It opens up their minds to opportunities and possibilities of what they can do here in Ballarat," she said.
"I have had conversations with people who say wouldn't it be great to showcase to our younger generations that you don't have to leave Ballarat. Now there is this beautiful hub of food and hospitality and innovation and tech and we have Start Up Ballarat. You don't have to move away.
"Being in a space like Runway next to the Tech School students put the pieces all together like a jigsaw and realise they don't have to go to uni and they don't have to take up a trade, there is this whole other idea around the business world they can get into. And their ideas are taken seriously."
An engaging educational app, a silent fidget gadget and an anonymous clothing delivery service - these are some of the ideas that were pitched as part of the Upstart Challenge last year.
Although the program is completed for the students behind these ideas, they are continuing to work on developing them into a potential business.
Kirk Salamida and Miles Simshaw noticed a problem in their classroom - students were not engaged in class - and developed an idea and design for an educational app to improve student engagement. T
hey explained the app applies to an individual student's skill level, rather than the year level they are in, and identifies areas to work on and learning types at the beginning of the school year.
"We got to the design stage. We had the whole thing planned out so we would just need a company to fund it and people to create it," Miles said.
"Our teachers thought it would be helpful. We talked to teachers and students about it and they thought it was a good idea."
Aiden Russell and Paige Iskra noticed a similar problem in the classroom - students were struggling to concentrate during classes.
The pair designed a device called a fidget-o that would allow students to fidget during class to improve concentration without distracting their classmates.
It definitely made us all aware of what we potentially could do and how we could make something a reality.Paige Iskra, Upstart participant
The device is a bracelet with gadgets made out of rubbery material that does not make distracting noises like a fidget spinner.
Aiden and Paige are continuing to work on their idea and hope to develop a prototype. Both said they have had interest from teachers and students at their school.
Umi Gourlay pitched the idea of an anonymous clothing delivery service marketed at people who are transsexual in rural areas where it is harder to access clothing safely and in positive environments.
Umi has now chosen to study business as a subject at school and is aiming to secure investors to develop a clothing business.
Paige said the Upstart program was a rewarding experience.
"It was rewarding having other people to support you and your ideas," she said.
"It definitely made us all aware of what we potentially could do and how we could make something a reality."
Mount Clear Secondary College leading teacher student engagement Stephen Hamm said the program encouraged students to step out of their comfort zones.
"It gave a perspective on what else is available, and how they can mould the things they are thinking about into a successful business idea and lead to something later on," he said.
"Students have different ways of learning and we need to give them opportunities to be able to do that."
Ballarat Innovation series
The Courier'sseries Ballarat Innovation features stories each week that showcase and celebrate industry, business, innovation and entrepreneurship in Ballarat.
The new series comes as part two of the More than Gold series that told the stories of Ballarat's diverse community members last year.
This new branch continues the aim of More than Gold to create a sense of pride in Ballarat's achievements and celebrate the fantastic people that make this city great.
In partnership with Committee for Ballarat, we hope these stories help create a sense of aspiration, a sense of excitement at the possibilities of what can be achieved in Ballarat, and a sense of confidence to take a risk.
READ MORE: More Than Gold | The people that make Ballarat shine
We want to move past the buzz word idea of innovation and instead celebrate the diversity the word offers by telling the stories of new startups, long established businesses that are innovatively responding to change and challenges, and experimentation with technology.
As we tell the stories of Ballarat's innovators, we will also be asking the harder questions: what is needed to support and promote growth in industry in Ballarat?; how does Ballarat address the skills shortages that are holding so many business back?; how do we create the estimated 15,000 new jobs that are needed in the region by 2030 to support the projected population increase?; how do we ensure our education offerings are prepared for the changing nature of jobs; and how do we create more high level career pathways for Ballarat's youth?.
We hope you enjoy the journey, as we explore and celebrate innovation in Ballarat each Saturday.
READ MORE STORIES IN THE BALLARAT INNOVATION SERIES:
- Creating a regional technology, innovation hub | Ballarat Innovation
- Staley Automation to create efficient industry, a smart city
- This Ballarat business is disrupting real estate as we know it
- Enter the new world of video gaming
- Bartlett's success story is bucking the trend of manufacturing decline
- Welcome to Homestead Studio
- Bespoke shoe-makers Wootten move to Ballarat to find the right fit
- Gordon Hat and Boot Shoppe a shopping experience like no other