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Just Start It – Has Just Started

Patrick Green
Patrick Green

Just Start IT is an 18 week program created by Lainey Weiser and Matt Pontel (brilliant developer, start-up junkie and Curtin School of Information Systems Alumni), that has been taken into high schools to teach students how to create a Start Up or an App. The program is based on the Lean Canvas Method that most Start Ups use as a business plan.

The following information was provided by Lainey Weiser from Curtin Business School, and I thought it best to let her tell it in her own words, so read on!

“The program kicked off on the 11th February 2014 with a gathering of teachers from 12 participating schools and 18 mentors. The program has been sponsored very generously by Bankwest, Microsoft, Informed Technologies & John Ross of “Old Masters, Young Guns fame”.

The mentors are all industry based business people, who have personally experienced the Start Up game. They bring with them many stories, and a lot of good experience which they have been only too happy to share with the school that they have been designated.

I have been visiting all the schools at their designated meet ups with their mentor and I have been blown away by the level of creativity, enthusiasm and ability that the students partaking have shown. Many of the ideas presented by the various school teams have serious legs. The meet ups are fun, hands on, real and full of chocolate if I’m there! Hidden talents keep creeping to the forefront, with students making use of their musical abilities or fusion of art and stop motions. One stop motion that one student showed me brought me to tears!

Each team is made up of 2 hackers, 2 hawkers and 2 hipsters. The hackers are the students who will create the app or website, the hawkers will undertake the market research and create a marketing plan. The hipsters will create the business model and the business fundamentals. The reason for the split in roles is to show these students that they all bring real talent to their group, and that no one person can do it all alone! John Ross taught me a very good lesson, when he told me that if I ever wanted to get something done all I needed was to surround myself by the right people. John prides himself on being a Master Networker and he is certainly that.

John introduced me to Elicia Petite who owns and runs Pirate FM. She is dynamite. Her energy and enthusiasm precedes her. She runs a music school on top of everything else and yet still has the time to visit Hamilton High every Friday. Elicia introduced me to Paul Kent, who she described as her IT guru. Paul runs his own IT company, looks after the Curtin Guild and makes the time to visit Hamilton every Monday. They keep thanking me for the opportunity. Seriously, it’s me who needs to thank them!!

My hubby – Steve who is about to launch his own Start UP and has a background in Risk Management and Disaster Recover with years in the big 4 accounting firms was obviously roped in. He looks after 2 schools – St. Brigids and Irene McCormack. He is absolutely loving the experience. As if he had a choice.

Steve introduced me to Martin Purcell who is an absolute marketing and branding guru. He is looking after Como. The creativity coming out of there is astounding.

Matt my partner in crime is looking after Canning Vale – I hear they are a bit brilliant! Just as well we have all signed non-disclosure agreements. Matt introduced me to Marcus Holmes of Rail Girls fame. Rail Girls is a workshop that teaches girls how to code. Apparently coding is easy? Mmmm, Marcus I’ll let you know once I’ve attended your next session. Marcus visits La Salle every week – must say, I heard an idea there that just might win! Marcus has also just launched his own brilliant start up.

Claude De Luca, Danielle Mathews and Michael Coles all look after Duncraig. Why 3 mentors? Basically because they gave us 2 big classes. Many of the schools are using the competition as part of their curriculum, as it has fitted very neatly into their current agenda. Claude runs a company called Diversus, and is also a School of Information Systems Alumni. He is smart and engaging and my tongue fell out my mouth when I saw what his teams were up to. The beauty is that these students have not yet been tainted by the do’s and don’ts of real world politics, and they are going forth with massive creative power.

Danielle works at Microsoft. She travels, she creates solutions for clients and Just Starts IT in turns with Michael who is busy creating solutions at MCM too.

Gry Stene looks after Shenton. Gry is a powerhouse. She has just completed her MBA, just launched a Start UP and is the most organised person I know. She has a huge class of big tekkie boys and only a few girls. And I can’t wait to get out to see them tomorrow.

Lesley Hardy has a background in HR and runs her own business called The Job Zone. She is also currently launching an online start up that will help women over 50 find their meaning, or as she put it – their bliss! I love it!! She bubbles, and shines. Her enthusiasm is so catchy and she has taken all of that to Sacred Heart. Eric Torres one of our Alumni, and owner of Perth ICT doesn’t sit still. He has created a managed services business that looks after so many schools and other clients, and they just love him. He too has been visiting Sacred Heart, as they gave us 2 classes.

Eric introduced me to both Scott Wakefield who heads up Nurse Practitioners Australia. Scott is a creative by heart and has dabbled in film for years, but is also a businessman. He came up with the clever idea of placing nurse practitioners into pharmacies to address symptoms, write prescriptions and give flu shots. He is so busy, yet has been looking after Perth Modern. Eric also introduced me to Theo Hasslacher who is a web site designer and is working on something hush hush! He is so full of energy, and is a real giver. He loves brainstorming with the students, and help Gry out at Shenton.

Bankwest and Microsoft are not only sponsors, they have partnered us in every way that they can and have even allowed their own staff to mentor. Wai Ling Ko , and Marjan Khodadadian are the super team that look after Santa Maria. Their current ambition is to grow the number of women in IT. Looking after Santa Maria which is an All-Girl School fitted well into their goal. Wai Ling is a natural manager who derives satisfaction from getting her team members to work to their strengths. Marjan is one of our alumni and young, and motivated and creative. Priscilla Geldenhuys from Microsoft is an honorary mentor. She offered at the launch to visit the schools and take pictures and video to document the journey, but when she is there her enthusiasm for brainstorming and finding solutions just over flows. She’s a natural.

One of the greatest things we are facing in IT today is the declining number of females. This has been a pretty passionate subject for Michelle Sandford from Microsoft who will be on the judging panel at our gala event. Michelle is currently calling on all who can light fires and create passion within our female youth for the one industry where there will surely never be a shortage. Michelle talks passionately about her own career and highlights the benefits for woman, of opportunity to travel, work flexible hours, be creative, deal with clients, find solutions, and kick goals. Not to mention access to cool software and gadgets.

This whole 18 week program will culminate in a gala event on the 30th June 2014 at Bankwest, where one team from each competing school will get to pitch their idea to a panel of judges, and an audience of industry and investors. The winning idea will win $5000 for their team, and a trophy for their school. The greatest prize is however twofold. Firstly the experience of this program will have created a thirst in each of these competing hearts forever to succeed. Secondly good ideas will potentially be taken on by an investor.” Lainey Weiser

This is one of the most inspirational stories you will ever hear, Lainey has put a ton of work into this, and so have all the hard working clever people helping her.

For more information, visit


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Patrick Green

Patrick Green

Patrick is the co-founder and co-editor of Startup News. With a history in software and startups, he gets a kick out of seeing other peoples ideas come to life.
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