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At the start of August, three St Peters Year 12 students (Andre W, Nifemi O and Jack W) made it through to the final rounds of ‘gen[in]’—an 8-month student innovation challenge. To get to the finals, the students were required to pitch and develop innovative business ideas that could solve real-world problems in their local community.

Over three rounds, the students faced off against over 150 internationally and globally-minded students from all over Queensland. They made it through the pitching of Round 1, were part of just 86 students selected for Round 2 and, finally, were became part of the 21 students chosen to participate in the finals.

The finals saw students showcasing their business ideas, either in teams or individually. They were given access to industry mentors to guide them along the way and it all culminated in a final pitch at the University of Queensland. The pitch took place before an audience of 100 and a judging panel made up of the CEO of Sarina Russo Group, the Founder of Little Tokyo Two and the Director of the UQ Idea Hub. Andre, Nifemi and Jack did extremely well, with Jack taking home the Unicorn Entrepreneur prize of $4,000.

Jack’s business idea was awarded for its ability to reshape the international homestay industry. Named after the Australian national code, +61, his business, 61 Homestay, is a platform similar to Airbnb. Like its inspiration, the aim of 61 Homestay is to provide detailed information about homestay hosts, including their location, the surrounding environment and pictures of the rooms. It’s an idea that will undoubtedly deliver an enhanced student experience, moving away from the traditional model of students just being blindly paired up with their homestay families by local schools.

When thinking of business ideas, Jack noticed that, currently, international students were all paying the same amount of money to live with hosts in Brisbane, but that their experiences were vastly different in terms of the services and types of accommodation they ended up in. 61 Homestay addresses this difference, allowing international students to physically choose their homestay hosts and living standards. It will also introduce a price difference between different host families, based on what they can offer.

Jack says that, with the ‘gen[in]’ prize money, he will be building the 61 Homestay website. He already has the support from the government manager of international students, as well as the manager of individual school homestays (who actually wrote the Queensland Homestay Regulation guidelines!). Once he has built the platform with his prize money, these parties will be assisting him to complete all the required legal documents so that he can get his business off the ground.

By networking and pitching at the ‘gen[in]’ finals, Jack was able to make a range of key contacts and, possibly, even his first customer. The Deputy Principal of Indooroopilly State High School showed keen interest in 61 Homestay and told Jack that ISHS was very interested in working with him in the future. Jack is looking forward to making this happen and we’re excited to see where his endeavours lead. Well done Jack! 

To find out more about Andre, Nifemi and Jack, read 'Enter the Boardroom' (pg. 50-51) in July's Plus Ultra

St Peters Lutheran College is a Co-educational Prep to Year 12 Lutheran School. Click here to contact the St Peters Reception.