Day 2 of Western Paddl Games series in Sydney with Westpac

October 10, 2019
By Aaron O'Farrell

Challenge Day Recap

On Thursday, September 26th 2019, Day 2 of our Western Paddl Games series kicked off on Western Sydney University’s Parramatta South Campus at The Pavillion with Challenge Partner, Westpac, helping businesses to overcome growth inhibitors.

70+ Western students and 11 local businesses came together to innovate solutions for business growth alongside mentors from Westpac and Western Sydney U.

Challenge Labs were facilitated by business growth and financial experts from Westpac business growth and financial experts, and a small business advisor from COSBOA (Council of Small Business Australia).

The challenge focus for the day addressed a key issue for the country: 

“How might Westpac assist your business to overcome inhibitors to growth?”

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Early Start

It was a beautiful and bright morning in Western Sydney as everyone began to arrive for registration. Teams met out in the air on the grass beside The Pavillion and enjoyed morning tea and coffee in the sun before getting down to business. Once everyone had arrived, the day began inside The Pavillion, a light filled building, perfectly set up for a day of innovation and teamwork.

Paddl CEO Dominique Fisher, COSBOA Chairman Mark McKenize, Chris Youness of Western Sydney U and Chris Brell from Westpac addressed participants, highlighting the importance of each person’s contribution to the day. The opening speeches emphasised the great spirit of collaboration between each organisation - all coming together with the common goal of helping students and graduates experience real business scenarios, and helping local businesses utilise the abilities of their dedicated innovation teams to develop solutions to problems or create unseen opportunities for their business. 

Once the opening speeches had finished, Dominique Fisher handed the mic over to lead facilitator, Chizzy Nolan, who declared Sprint 1 underway.

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Sprint 1: Problem Framing and Ideation

Sprint 1 always begins with a burst of energy as everyone is eager to sink their teeth into the Challenge Day. Each team must use Sprint 1  to learn as much as they can about their business participant through discussion. Then they try identify problems the business faces. By the end of Sprint 1, teams must focus on a single problem worth solving. This becomes their Problem Statement.

With 11  businesses, 70+ students and numerous Western Sydney U and Westpac mentors and 5 Paddl facilitators filling The Pavillion, energy levels (and noise) were high. At every table, Challengers turned to their Business Representatives and asked every question they could think of. Soon, whiteboards and the walls of The Pavilion began to be covered in post-it notes as teams identified the key problems faced by their businesses. 

But time flies when you’re having fun and working hard. Before long, two hours had passed by in a flash and Sprint 2 was announced to have begun. By this point each team, with the guidance of their facilitators and mentors, should have identified and isolated a single issue or problem they will focus their problem solving skills on. This is their “Problem Statement”

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Sprint 2: Concept Design and Development

Dominique Fisher announced Sprint 2 underway, and energy levels in The Pavilion raised once more as some teams scrambled to have their Problem Statement clearly defined.

Sprint 2: Concept Design and Development is perhaps the sprint most Challengers look forward to the most. This is when the ideas for solutions and innovation begin to flow. With a Problem Statement now identified, Challengers being brainstorming.

Paddl Games Challenges use Design Thinking techniques to solve problems. Design Thinking involves understanding the full customer journey, both from a functional point of view and an emotional point of view. This helps to both effectively solve a problem and improve a customer’s experience. Design Thinking also involves thinking differently.

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Sprint 2 is a very important time for Challengers to utilise Challenge Labs. The Challenge Labs are manned by industry experts with extensive experience in fields relevant to the day’s Challenge Focus. Whilst thrashing out solutions and possibilities for innovation, Challengers can visit the Challenge Labs to validate ideas and develop them further. 

Challenge Labs on the day were being facilitated by Westpac financial and small business experts, and a small business expert from COSBOA.
During Sprint 2, teams need to be in constant dialogue with the business representative as they journey between Challenge Labs and back to their tables. There is no point in developing an idea that is not practical or possible for the business, so clear communication and validation is key.

Due to the fun involved in conceptualising new ideas, teams run the risk of wasting time during Sprint 2. Focus is needed to ensure the process of solution development doesn’t drag out. With the help of Paddl Facilitators and Westpac Mentors, teams began to again identify a single solution and flesh it out. There was also a lot of activity at the Challenge Labs, which is always a good sign.

Lunch is always provided during Sprint 2, as are snacks and drinks throughout the entire day, but the clock doesn’t stop so teams need to be smart about taking a quick break to refuel. When Challengers break to eat during Sprint 2, there is another risk of precious time being lost. Given the warm weather hitting Western’s Parramatta South campus, some teams enjoyed their food outside whilst continuing to work, because Sprint 3 was quickly upon them.

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Sprint 3: Storytelling and Tuning

Sprint 3 is about refinement. By now the work of identifying a key issue and creating the solution should be finished. Teams must use Sprint 3 to design a smart “pitch” they will give to the judging team.

Many teams, on the suggestions of their Paddl Facilitators, left The Pavilion to practice their pitches out in the fresh air. Some teams could be seen building props - oh ho we love a prop - or rehearsing role-play scenarios. Approaches like this make for entertaining itches, which is always welcomed by the judging panel. These challenges can be draining experiences, so injecting energy and fun into a pitch often grabs the attention of the audience.

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Business representative take a back seat during Sprint 3. Many leave their team and network with other business reps, corporate sponsor reps and government reps. Meanwhile, Challengers continue to work hard on creating a concise presentation that will clearly inform the judging panel of how their business will benefit from the solution they have innovated.

Energy, clarity and a passionate display of intent to improve the business is always important for every team’s pitch. Teams spend the entire day up to this point identifying a problem and creating a solution, so Sprint 3 is so important because this is the only time the judges will get to hear the solution. With only five minutes allocated to each team for their presentation, the pressure is on.

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Decision Time

When every team has pitched their solution on stage and faced the judge’s questions, the hardest part of the day is over. The judges exit the room to deliberate and choose a winning team. Everyone else heads for a well-deserved refreshment. 

Choosing a winner is never easy for the judges. Decisions are often made by the finest of margins, such is the quality on display at these challenges. For this particular challenge, judges took a little longer than usual because the standard of solutions proposed by Western’s students was particularly high. 

Eventually, everyone was called back into The Pavillion and Paddl CEO Dominique Fisher announced the winners...

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The Winners

“The Green Shippers” representing Swane’s Nurseries were awarded first place for their solution that would help Swanes move their business online and deliver plants and flowers without damage to the product. In order to achieve this for the business, the team designed a makeshift packaging prototype using cardboard boxes and other materials! Liz from Swane’s received a large check for $10,000 in marketing consultation for Google SEM and AdWords while the Challengers each received a $100 Red Balloon voucher.

“Lionpac” took second place for their business Mobius Distilling Co. Lionpac, a team with lots of engineering experience, designed a sustainable distilling process that in the long run would greatly reduce Mobius’ energy cost by way of solar energy, whilst simultaneously ensuring the distillery’s commitment to sustainable practices were being fulfilled. Philip and Alex from Mobius received 2 Mini MBA programs to help them prepare for running their growing start-up, their team each received $50 Red Balloon vouchers.

Third place went to “Making Boulder Moves” and Climbfit. The team had proposed greater brand recognition for the climbing wall company by utilising public spaces such a bare walls in shopping centres to attract more customers to their larger location around Sydney. Robbie and Sarah, owners of Climb Fit received financial literacy training for upto 20 of their employees with the Davidson Institute, the ‘Making Boulder Moves’ team each walked away with a $30 Red Balloon voucher.

“Dunking with Wolves” received an honourable mention. Their solution for the Western Sydney Wolves Basketball Association proposed greater engagement with the community through various programs that would increase public interest in the sport and membership of the organisation.

Winners of our individual prizes were Eslam Mahmoud (Challenger of the Day), Sook Chen Chiam “Coreen” (Best Paddl Profile), and Corina Yang (Best Presentation).

Congratulations again to The Green Shippers and Swanes Nurseries for their achievement, and  Eslam Mahmoud for his brilliant effort as well as everyone else who gave their best on the day! Until next time, Western Sydney!

Get Involved

Paddl Co. takes pride in the positive experiences everyone walks away with from Paddl Games. If you’re looking to build your Experience Profile and expand your professional network through Paddl Games and many other great volunteer, internship, casual or full time opportunities, get started with your profile on paddl.com today! If you are a small business interested in participating, please reach out to caitlin@paddl.co for further information.