Concept to make shopping easier for men wins Innovation Bootcamp 2019
An idea to take the pain out of clothes shopping for men impressed the judges at this year's Innovation Bootcamp – including Spotify executive Kerri Rusnak.
Ms Rusnak, Spotify's Director for Operations, Technology Platform, was a guest judge at the event where MBA students develop new business ideas and pitch them to a panel of industry experts.
The team of Rowena White, Masha Astaptsova, Claudio Lee, Brian Lu and Colton Rose won the day with their plan for a new shopping system for men called the Cave.
"The judges assessed the teams on the quality of their pitch and soundness of their business case, and the Cave team nailed it," said Ms Rusnak.
Knowing that men get bored within 30 minutes of shopping in stores and have trouble finding clothes that fit online, the Cave team developed a concept for a space for men to try clothes by appointment and then have them shipped to their door.
"We didn't have our idea finalised until yesterday morning, but it all came together at the last minute. We're surprised but very pleased to win," Colton said.
Innovation Bootcamp is an annual event for our MBA students. The full-time class had just five days to prepare, test and refine their ideas and five minutes to pitch them to the judging panel, which also included Georgia Beattie, CEO of Corporate Venturing Australia, and Simon Wilkins, Director of Translating Research Melbourne Program.
Ms Rusnak told the students that innovation is essential for the survival of all businesses, not just start-ups, even though it's rarely acknowledged in day-to-day work.
"We spend 99 per cent of our time at work on things that don’t matter and forget about what will make a difference in the market," she said.
"You need to learn to be brave and ruthlessly prioritise the one-per-cent thing that's going to make a difference."
Ms Rusnak said the need for constant innovation and improvement in the modern workplace was demanding, so making personal wellbeing a priority was vital.
"You're corporate athletes. You need to know how to deliver 100 per cent at work, but you also need to know how to relax and switch off completely in your downtime. That's the only way you can come back to work refreshed," she said.
Other concepts at this year's Innovation Bootcamp included gamifying energy saving at home to reduce power usage, helping upcoming stylists become famous and helping women maintain a healthy posture during pregnancy.
Associate Professor Kwanghui Lim said the event equipped MBA students with the skills they needed to make a difference in the business world.
"Companies increasingly want people who know how to innovate and bring fresh thinking to problems. Being able to reframe what companies are doing, think outside the box and know how to validate ideas are some of the skills our students gain from this event," he said.
Cave team member Rowena said it was a daunting experience to have such a short time to prepare and pitch to a panel of judges with deep experience in turning start-ups into successful companies.
"We were excited to present our idea in front of such an impressive panel and honoured to be the winning team. It was an intense lead up to the pitch and we persisted in perfecting our idea until the final moment, with Kwang encouraging us through the entire journey," she said.
Fellow team member Brian said the Innovation Bootcamp win had made the team think about turning their idea into reality after class.
"I was treating it as an interesting exercise, but we're now seriously thinking about pursuing it," he said.
"It's very doable, and there's a market for it in a fashion-conscious city like Melbourne. But we might have to move fast, now that everyone knows about it."