Wagga student gets big break

Michael Nixon wins Regional Pitchfest


Business
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13-year-old Michael Nixon swept the floor at Wagga's Regional Pitchfest.

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13-YEAR-OLD Michael Nixon emerged victorious from a vast field of innovators at Regional Pitchfest held in Wagga Wagga last Wednesday. 

Five other competitors pitched to a panel of experts for a cash boost for their start-up but their ideas didn’t hold a match to Michael’s whose passion for technology earned him the winning cheque for $5000 as well the people’s choice award worth $2500. 

Michael, a Year Eight student at Kooringal High School, Wagga, was the youngest finalist in the competition. He pitched to launch ‘EduKits’ – a business which will sell affordable 3D printers, electronic kits and online tutorials to young people.

“Kids should be able to get into electronics and 3D printing technology but there aren’t any gateways or opportunities to make that happen right now,” Michael said.

The runners-up were Albury duo Andy Shuttleworth and Will Hood who won $2500 for their pitch to launch a business which provides amateur golfers with a virtual version of destination golf courses. 

Mr Shuttleworth said the visual tool (which relies on drones to help produce computer generated maps) could save golfers five strokes each round. 

Regional Pitchfest winner Michael Nixon, Wagga Wagga, flanked by runners up Will Hood and Andy Shuttleworth, Albury.

Regional Pitchfest winner Michael Nixon, Wagga Wagga, flanked by runners up Will Hood and Andy Shuttleworth, Albury.

Other ideas pitched by Riverina locals on the night included a contraption to prevent toddlers drowning in bathtubs; a subscription service to support local artists; video tutorials to teach heavy vehicle mechanics and a scheme to help farmers subdivide and sell their land. 

Judge and entrepreneur Trent Bagnall said Michael’s idea was highly developed.

“He’s more than just a kid with a bright idea – it’s clear he’s highly entrepreneurial,” Mr Bagnall said.

“He’s tested the model by talking to education providers and people in the home market.”

Mr Bagnall, who founded Slingshot Accelerator to bring corporate businesses and startups together, said the pitches on the night were as good as those on the national stage.

“The contestant’s business ideas went far beyond their region – they were targeting national and international markets,” he said.

Events like Regional Pitchfest were invaluable in encouraging people in the community to pursue their business dreams.

“Taking an idea and growing it into a company is scary stuff but having events like this encourages others to have a go.”

Joining Mr Bagnall on the judges panel was Millenia Group founder Paul Brotherson as well as innovative Riverina businesswomen Sauce Communications director Liane Sayer-Roberts; Marones co-founder Simone Eyles and Enabled Employment founder Jessica May. 

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