Michael Nixon – a 14-year-old entrepreneur from Wagga Wagga, NSW – has out-pitched seven startups to be crowned the first-ever Australia Post Regional Pitchfest national champion.
Impressing the judges with his innovation, The Amazing Annoyatron – an educational kit that introduces kids and teens to electronics and coding – the EduKits founder was awarded $7,500 in prize money, a trip to Silicon Valley care of Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) and an eCommerce business growth pack.
“It was a tough competition, but Michael’s pitch was outstanding,” said Australia Post Innovation Officer, Greg Sutherland. “It was creative, insightful and really looked at the issue from all angles to deliver a practical solution which can be applied commercially. I can’t wait to see how he evolves his business.
“This is the first year that Australia Post Regional Pitchfest has gone national and we are thrilled with how engaged regional entrepreneurs have been in the program. Our aim when we started was to give regional innovators a platform, voice, and education to take their businesses to the next level, and we feel that has been achieved in this inaugural year.”
Nixon spoke to Dynamic Business about his startup EduKits, a supplier of 3D printers and learning kits, as well as his award-winning product, The Amazing Annoyatron, and the doors that have been – or will be – opened by his victory at Australia Post Regional Pitchfest.
DB: What is the elevator pitch for your winning business idea?
Nixon: The Amazing Annoyatron is a fun and affordable electronics kit targeted at kids between the ages of 9 and 15. Kids get all the parts they need to build 20+ fun (and annoying) inventions that will teach them about electronics or coding. The kit is designed to engage kids and get them to develop the core tech skills that they will need to get ‘the jobs of the future’. Basically, kids prank their parents and learn to code. Super cool.
DB: What was your motivation for The Amazing Annoyatron?
Nixon: The idea for my product came out of the frustrations I faced when I was first learning to code. I discovered that a lot of the resources out there were expensive, out of date or completely unengaging – something I thought was driving kids away from exploring new technologies but also keeping them from engaging with STEM both inside and outside of the classroom. I developed the Annoyatron as a way to teach kids and teenagers crucial tech skills while keeping them engaged and showing them how electronics and coding can be used in real-world applications.
DB: What success has your product enjoyed on the market?
Nixon: I’ve been absolutely blown away by the overwhelming support from people all across the country in regards to the Annoyatron. My website actually crashed during the product launch at the state finals of the Australia Post Regional Pitchfest and I’ve since had to order in 1000 more Annoyatrons due to low stock.
DB: How useful has Australia Post Regional Pitchfest been?
Nixon: It has been a fantastic opportunity for me to help grow my knowledge and my business. Earlier this year, the 40 finalists in the competition were flown to Melbourne for a series of business growth immersion workshops run by Australia Post and the Melbourne Accelerator Program. There, we were given the opportunity to learn about ecommerce, marketing, social media, business pitching and investment. Additionally, there were also many opportunities for us to ask questions and to network with various professionals in all different industries.
DB: How will you be using the prizes to grow your business?
Nixon: Winning the national finals of the Australia Post Regional Pitchfest is only going to open up more doors for me and my business. The $7,500 prize money will be put towards scaling my business and moving towards my goal of distributing the Annoyatron worldwide. The trip to Silicon Valley is definitely something that I’m looking forward to and am sure will open up opportunities for me to look at what other businesses are doing and potentially look at launching in the US later this year.
Another prize that came along with first place was an Australia Post eCommerce Growth Pack. This is going to be fantastic for EduKits as we are a business that relies heavily on eCommerce, so the tools, services and equipment that will come with this will be invaluable.
How do you balance school with running a business?
Nixon: In addition to the kits, I do graphic design and web development. So, there’s certainly a lot of time management involved, but I still manage to get by. For me, it’s all about getting assignments and other school work out of the way as best and quickly as possible so that I can get on with running my business.