Pitching to the sharks

December 21, 2018 by Leanne Shelton
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The third annual 2018 JCA Jumpstart Pitch Event was standing room only at the Intercontinental Sydney, Double Bay in Sydney.

Adam Jacobs, Naomi Simson, Peter Ivany, Madeleine Buchner, David Shein, Andrew Banks

As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

While many of us want to make a change, we often don’t know where to start. Thankfully, there are social entrepreneurs out there with big ideas. They just need the financial support to transform them into a reality.

More than 500 came to hear five inspirational Jewish social entrepreneurs share their ambitions for tikkun olam (repairing the world) and the chance to win a share of $50,000 in prize money to realise their dreams.

The panel adjudicating their pitches featuredPeter Ivany AM (Executive Chairman IIG), Naomi Simson (Shark Tank Host, Founder Red Balloon), Andrew Banks (Shark Tank Host, Successful Entrepreneur), Adam Jacobs (Co-Founder, The Iconic), and David Shein (Venture Capitalist, Entrepreneur).

The presenters shared their vision and personal stories that brought to life innovative initiatives for young carers, the homeless, and finding value in wayward socks.  

The first prize of $30,000 was awarded to Madeleine Buchner from Little Dreamers, a pioneering not-for-profit that supports young people who are in the position of caring for a parent or sibling with a chronic illness, mental illness, disability or drug/alcohol addiction. Already well-established in Melbourne, the Young Dreamers’ win will allow them to expand their presence in NSW.

Second prize of $15,000 went to Gali Blacher and Madelyn Jones from The Good Box, a social enterprise that sells boxes of toiletries, essential supplies, and pampering items that people can purchase and give directly to the homeless in our community. 

The People’s Choice award of $5,000 was presented to Romy Wolman from The Single Sock Solution, a program that aims to help people with disabilities to transform our spare single socks into woven blankets and works of art.

While the judges deliberated, the theme of innovation and social purpose continued in an interview between Brett Kelly from Kelly + Partners Chartered Accountants, and Humanitix co-founder, Adam McCurdie. Humanitix, a previous Jumpstart Pitch Event winner, is the first non-profit ticketing platform which redistributes booking fees to fund domestic violence shelters, meals to the homeless, and education programs

Other pitches on the night included Rabbi Gary Robuck’s dream of developing ‘The Gesher Retreat Centre’ for Jewish youth, learners, and leaders in our community, and Marilyn Swidler’s social skills app for young adults on the autism spectrum.

It wasn’t only the three prizewinners who were rewarded at the JCA Jumpstart event. The exposure and opportunity to be on stage pitching ideas, led to fabulous contacts made on the night, as well as private funders approaching some of the entrepreneurs separately to help support their dreams.  

*Leanne Shelton is a freelance writer

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