Innovative Victorian kids headed for Silicon Valley

Media releases
  • Smart stickers for greener buildings
  • DIY box-set to teach electronics and programming skills
  • And a virtual reality travel guide that lets you shop in Italy from the couch.

On Saturday the schoolkids behind these three projects pitched their ideas to industry.

And the winning team, who are marketing the DIY box sets, will head to Silicon Valley in January with all expenses paid—visiting Google and other high-tech companies.

It’s the first time Australia has run the TiE Young Entrepreneurs competition – a program designed to teach entrepreneurship and business skills to high school students through practical experience and mentoring.

The students behind these projects, aged between 12 and 17, come from: Box Hill High School; Auburn High School; Mount Waverley Secondary College; Aquinas College; Notre Dame College in Shepparton; and Weeroona College Bendigo.

The winning team is marketing a low-cost boxed set of electronic components to students and hobbyists—with an educational guide to teach customers how to program the equipment. What’s unique about the idea is the educational aspect of teaching programming in addition to the low cost of hardware.

“I’ve been impressed by the enthusiasm of the guys,” says mentor Rod Smith. “They’ve done a great job of working together as a team; they’ve tackled the project with enthusiasm; and have been open to new ideas. I’m very heartened by the whole experience.”

The other teams are:

  • Developing and marketing a small, ‘smart’ sticker that is installed in a windowpane. The sticker measures light levels and temperature, and directs lighting and air-conditioning systems to adjust the levels accordingly in that part of the building, saving electricity costs and automatically regulating the internal climate.
  • Revolutionising retail shopping and tourism by creating a crowdsourced virtual reality travel guide. The guide will be available as an app and a webpage, allowing consumers to immerse themselves in their destination from home using VR headsets—and increasing the exposure of local businesses. They hope that one day they can offer the ability to purchase products from the stores via the app as well.

Even before the final, and the trip to Silicon Valley, the students have gotten a lot out of the training.

“I’ve taken away new skills and the ability to think differently to everyone else,” says student Jackson Landry, from Weeroona College Bendigo, who is working on the electronics project.

The facilitators, mentors, and jury include industry leaders Chris Barlow, Adrian Jobson, Dan Mason, Rod Smith, Saurabh Mishra, Alok Kulkarni, Rosemary Fisher, Mouli Ganguly, Geoff Shiff, and Andrew Demura.

Photos and  video available via Google Drive  and and Facebook 

And more information online at

For interview contact:

The Projects

Smart stickers team

Henry Enith-Thomas (13yo); Mitchell Heaton (13yo); Tom Leask (14yo) from Box Hill High School

For my team (Smart Building Systems), the team’s idea is to develop and market a small, “smart” sticker that can be easily installed onto any windowpane. It has sensors that can measure light level and ambient temperature, and microchips to relay this information to the building’s lighting unit and air-conditioning system to adjust the levels of lighting and air-conditioning in that part of the building. The key benefit is to save consumption and cost of electricity and provide a naturally harmonised workspace. The team is targeting owners of multi-storeyed office buildings as prospective customers, with a low cost monthly rental price offering, and has come up with an impressive cost-benefit analysis as well as quite detailed financial projections underpinning this idea.

Mentor Saurabh Mishra: “The best part for me is being able to step back, to not spoon-feed these guys but to see that they can work it out for themselves.”

VR tourism team

Madeleine Galicia (12yo) Aquinas College, Alessio Rigoli (17yo) Notre Dame College, Shepparton and Bobby Le (12yo) Auburn High School

Gravity’s (my team) idea is to revolutionise retail shopping and tourism by creating a crowdsourced virtual reality travel guide. It will available on the web and as an App. Consumers will be able to have an immersive travel experience centred around their travel destination and browse local shops, landmarks etc. in the comfort of their home using cheaply available VR headsets such as Google cardboard.  The concept revolves around bringing together customers and small businesses who wouldn’t normally have the ability to market themselves like the big brand chains. The key benefit for customers is the ability to browse alleys and small shops and make better travel plans. The major benefit for businesses is more exposure, foot traffic and revenue.  The businesses will pay a small subscription fee for listing. Gravity will have different plans for exposure similar to the YellowPages model and monetise analytics.  The content will be created via a crowdsourced approach. Gravity will publish a spec for the work. The go to market plan is to target a specific location, and sign up businesses at no cost to build critical mass. The initial focus is small businesses and shopping strips. Eventually the plan is to potentially offer the ability to purchase products directly from the Gravity App itself.

Mentor: Alok Kulkarni: “How well these guys can think laterally, the passion that they bring, and the commitment that they’ve put in outside of school is phenomenal. I’m just back from the USA and I’m really pleased to see how advanced the project was.”

Educational electronics team

Jackson Landry (15yo) Weeroona College Bendigo, Anirudh Prakash (15yo) Box Hill High School and Devnith De Silva (13yo) Mount Waverley Secondary College

For my team, the project is to market low-cost boxed set electronic components to students and hobbyists. The components would be ordered online either for a specific product or through a monthly subscription service where the subscriber would receive a specific package each month. In addition to the products there would be an educational guide to teach customers how to program the equipment. The uniqueness of this offering is the educational aspect of teaching programming in addition to the low cost of hardware.

Mentor Rod Smith: “I’ve been impressed by the enthusiasm of the guys. They’ve done a great job of working together as a team, which you have to. They’ve tackled this project with enthusiasm, and have been open to new ideas. I’m very heartened by the whole experience.”

About TiE Young Entrepreneurs

TiE Young Entrepreneurs is a Global program aimed at fostering our future generation of entrepreneurs. TYE focuses on teaching entrepreneurship to high school students and helping them discover the rewards and challenges of becoming an entrepreneur. During the program the students form teams, go through classroom session modules focused on different aspects of business and entrepreneurship, then write their own business plans. Teams compete for a chance to win a trip to visit entrepreneurial companies such as Google in Silicon Valley. More at: