Winning Creative3 Pitch helped Darren Tonkin’s photo sharing app ‘cut through all the noise’


Darren Tonkin (left) from Storyboard Social, winning the Creative3 Pitch in 2016

Start-ups selected to participate in Creative3 Pitch, QUT Creative Enterprise Australia’s annual creative-tech pitching competition, will compete for a place in StepUp, Virgin Startup’s mini-accelerator program in London. The winner will also secure the right to represent Australia at the international Creative Business Cup (CBC) in Copenhagen, Denmark, where there will be opportunities to connect with investors and other entrepreneurs.

Up to eight applications will be chosen to participate in the Creative3 Pitch semi-finals in July, with four businesses progressing to the finals, which will be held at the annual Creative3 conference in Brisbane on 22 September. Applications for the Creative3 Pitch are now open and will close on June 26.

According to CEA’s acting CEO, Mark Gusowski, the prizes available to the winner of Creative3 represent opportunities ‘money can’t buy’.

“One of the most expensive and risky endeavours for a startup is building trusted international channels to market,” he told Dynamic Business. “By being a part of the Creative Business Cup and a part of StepUp – opportunities only available through the CEA network – the winner of Creative 3 Pitch will have exposure to hundreds of European angel investors, venture capitalists, strategic partners and supporters all in the one place, at the one time. The Virgin Startup program also introduces the winner to the whole of the Virgin Groups infrastructure and empire providing customer channels, experience and networks.

“To build and develop these trusted networks and connections can often take months, if not years, and also tens of thousands of dollars to develop. So, these two prizes will significantly accelerate the pace at which the winner can enter these international markets through trusted networks and intermediaries.”

Gusowski said initiatives such as Creative3 Pitch help “shine a spot light” on the importance of creative industries, both in Australia and internationally. He said he also hopes inspire budding entrepreneurs to “follow their passion towards launching the next Canva, Atlassian, Shoes of Prey or Trademark Vision”.

He added, “Whether you are purchasing fashion or wearables online, using graphics-based software, developing digital content or launching a fashion label, the creative industries collectively represent over $3.2 billion annually to the Australian export market, and contribute $45.9 billion in GDP.

The 2016 Creative3 Pitch winner, Darren Tonkin told Dynamic Business that winning the prestigious event enabled his photo sharing app, Storyboard Social, to cut through the “massive amount of noise” in Australia’s start-up ecosystem.

He explained, “The C3 Pitch provided Storyboard with a build-up of awareness through media coverage, as well as validation of the company. This has assisted us with connecting into business both across Australia- and internationally. At the end of the day, those business connections and that brand awareness is priceless.

“C3 Pitch also helped me take my pitching ability from that of public speaking or presenting at a university level, to a level where I can professional present and sell Storyboard Social. There is no better way to hone your pitching abilities to investors and other business leaders, than by entering and participating in a competition that is judged by the same audience you are already targeting.”

Tonkin said the opportunity to participate in StepUp and attend the International Creative Business Cup, where his startup placed 13 out of 65 participants, meant exposure to investors, business leaders and potential mentors.

“Since participating in CBC, I’ve retuned to Denmark to attend business events, including lunches with the Australian Ambassador and other business leaders in our field,” he said. “Just last week I had a new start-up out of Denmark get in touch because they had heard about me at CBC and wanted to know how we can work together”.

“I was lucky enough to be the first Australian startup selected by CEA to attend StepUp. For me, the program opened the door to the Virgin Brand globally. With little bit of hustle inside and outside of the camp I was able to meet with some amazing people and we are working on some big things on the horizon. So keep an eye on the Storyboard platform in the coming months!”