Each year, the DAN Innovation Council hosts Brainbox, an incubator-style competition where employees from across the group pitch their start-up ideas for the chance to win a cool $100k in funding towards making it a reality.

For Brainbox 2018, Damien, Isobel, Tom and Divya from iProspect’s Melbourne office put their best foot forward as Team “Old Mates”. Here’s their account of their three-month journey to the finish line, from initial idea to winning the People’s Choice award and two tickets to SXSW for their efforts.

What was your idea?

Our idea was “Old Mates”: a community platform solution that connects two generations – old and young – to create meaningful connections and relationships in everyday situations.

When did the idea come to you?

The four of us are not from here. When thinking about all the things missing from our daily stories, one theme became common: a link to family life, or a lack thereof. We noticed we didn’t have anything similar to our families at home to spend time with, learn everyday skills from, or even just to reap the benefits of a home cooked meal.

We then started to discuss how in some Asian countries, grandparents and young people continue to live together up to a certain age. That got us thinking about inter-generational housing and how that is missing from the Australian way of life. Old Mates stemmed from this line of thinking.

What made your idea different from the rest?

Our community idea was aimed at helping the Australian Government and the community at large. The unique part of it was that we predicted cost savings at a higher level than existing initiatives, which could then be cascaded back into other community projects.

What’s your ultimate vision for your idea?

Changing the mindset of the average Australian into thinking that inter-generational housing is a viable option.

How did you form your team?

Our common interest in this topic and real-life examples from our experiences across the world inspired us to come together and put this forward. Rather than one of us enter this by ourselves, we believed that a team would bring different skill sets to the table and ensure success.

Describe your journey to pitch night.

Being a part of Brainbox unlocks a whole new level of skills that we might not usually flex in our day-to-day roles. We went in as performance marketers but came out on the other side as performance marketers with skills to start their own business.

Weekend boot camps with inspiring minds from Isobar and York Butter Factory gave us the tools to conduct decisive market research, run engaging and productive workshops, create business plans with financial projections, and finally deliver a sound pitch plan. We had access to mentors and start-up savants who helped us shape the idea from a mere platform to a fully functional inter-generational housing ecosystem.

What was pitch night like?

Exhilarating. Eye opening. Nerve-racking. A big blur. Hours of pitch rehearsals, and constant Q&A run throughs culminated in a night of sharing, collaboration and gratification. It was interesting to see the pitching styles and pitch theatre that was on show that night. And it was nice to see that personal circumstances inspired most of the ideas that night.

Presenting in front of 250 people and fielding questions by Dentsu’s C-Suite was a whole different ball game. Having our peers from iProspect cheering for us definitely gave us the much-needed morale booster to knock the pitch out of the park. Overall it was an enjoyable experience and we were thrilled with how well everything came together.

Final thoughts from the team?

All in all, this was a great three months. Putting your hand up for new experiences outside your day-to-day work always pays off. We would highly recommend that people from DAN participate next year as it’s a unique learning experience not to be missed! Thanks again to everyone who helped shape our pitch and who voted for us on the night!

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The iProspect winning 2018 team consisted of: Damian, Isobel, Tom & Divya. Damien Tang is a Digital Strategist at iProspect Melbourne and has a successful history of helping clients achieve positive business outcomes through omni-channel digital strategies. Isobel Taylor is a Senior Digital Strategist at iProspect Melbourne. With 7 years SEM experience, Isobel enjoys forming detailed paid media strategies across her current Education and Energy clients. Her favourite activities include search account audits, bid strategies and talking about data-driven attribution. Tom Curtain is a Digital Planner at iProspect Melbourne and the highest ranked table tennis player in the office. He currently works with clients in the Education & Energy industries, developing and executing Search & Social campaigns. Divya Voleti is the Senior Experience Strategist at iProspect Melbourne. In her current role, she has helped iProspect AU develop the consumer-led data driven "Experience" approach with her expertise in consumer insights and mining data for cross channel planning.