Entrepreneurs make waves

From left: Sarah Lux-Lee, Brett Kelly, Nicole Cousens, Lauren Silvers, Peter Ivany, Andrew Banks and Laurence Marshbaum. Photo: Giselle Haber

THE transformative impact of social entrepreneurship was witnessed by more than 450 people at JCA Jumpstart’s second Shark Tank event last week.

After five Jewish social entrepreneurs pitched their ideas, Dr Nicole Cousens from BRCA Genetic Testing – a program that offers BRCA testing online to people of Jewish ancestry – emerged victorious, swimming away with $30,000 funding.

“We will be offering BRCA testing to the entire Jewish community, that’s including people who are not currently eligible for testing in the clinic and this test will be offered free of charge,” said Cousens.

Andrew Banks, a shark on the Network Ten Shark Tank series, who sat on the judging panel, commented, “When we chose the winner, we had to be pretty ruthless in thinking through absolute commitment to the Jewish community, absolute ability to deliver what they say they will deliver and a clear marketing strategy.”

Banks, along with executive chairman of IIG Peter Ivany, chairman of Kelly+Partners Brett Kelly, and Glamazon App co-founder and CEO Lauren Silvers, awarded second prize of $15,000 to 10×10 Philanthropy – a crowdfunding movement that aims to empower the next generation of giving.

At 10×10 events, members of the audience hear pitches from three charities and then choose to allocate their funds based on which pitch most resonates with them.

Receiving the people’s choice prize of $5000 was Mindr, an organisation that runs talks, workshops, classes and events where “crying babies are welcome”, remarked founder Sarah Lux-Lee.

Other pitches on the night – the Australian Jewish Fertility Network, which provides financial and emotional support for those going through IVF and The Remember Me Project, a subscription-based model to commemorate the Holocaust – are currently in discussion with donors looking to support these ventures.

“The real star of tonight is the innovation from all of you who have contested and come up with ideas and put a lot of heart and soul into this,” reflected Banks.

SOPHIE DEUTSCH