High Impact Innovation: GrowthOps sponsors Day 4 of the COSBOA Innovation Games 2018/19

March 18, 2019
By Kim Fernandes

The Brief


Paddl Co. hosted Day 4 of the COSBOA Innovation Games on March 13th, uniting leaders from The Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA), the Victorian Government, and growth services partner, GrowthOps, in a race to accelerate growth for small businesses in Victoria.

The Innovation Games brought together emerging and mature talent with leaders from government, industry, and business to develop innovation projects that focus on the day’s challenge, “surfacing high-impact growth solutions for businesses.” Held at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatics Centre, overlooking the Grand Prix circuit which was set to start the next day, the energy in the room was almost as electrifying as the impending race. The Paddl Games Challenges are Paddl Co.’s unique assessment experiences, which allow emerging talent to demonstrate their capabilities to industry and businesses leaders in the room, whilst also providing this talent with access to new professional networks and valuable on-the-job experience.

GrowthOps, the host sponsor for the event, is a new kind of service provider – a growth services partner - creating a new category that fuses together marketing, technology, and people disciplines to help large organisations acquire and retain new customers, build and launch transformational products, and scale up operations. GrowthOps is a powerful collective of thinkers and doers – a creative yet strategically minded powerhouse of change agents that does one thing uniquely well: help clients grow. This philosophy attributed directly to the overall challenge of the day to help businesses surface high-impact growth strategies.

The Participants


The competitive, hackathon-inspired day brought together 11 businesses from across Victoria, 9 corporate sponsors, 30 GrowthOps specialists, 12 Paddl Co. Crew members and 78 of the best emerging talent from a range of education institutions, including;

  • Academy Xi

  • Charles Sturt University

  • CQ University

  • Deakin University

  • General Assembly

  • La Trobe University

  • Monash University

  • RMIT University

  • Swinburne University of Technology

  • Torrens University of Australia

  • The University of Melbourne

Each instalment of the COSBOA Innovation Games attracts hundreds of applicants to participate. Candidates from the 13,000+ Paddl Community, as well as those who hear about the opportunities through various marketing channels or directly from their educators, apply online through Paddl’s proprietary site - paddl.com. Participants are competitively selected to form cross-disciplinary teams based on their area of study, level of experience, quality of application and interview. Day 4 of the Innovation Games was the biggest yet with over 130 participants - teams were formed with 6-8 of the best emerging talent, 2-3 small business representatives, 1-2 corporate sponsor representatives, 2 GrowthOps mentors and a Paddl Facilitator.

Each team is professionally facilitated to ensure the teams are kept on the right course and the most innovative solutions can be delivered on behalf of each business by the end of the day. Paddl Games experiences utilise design thinking methodology, and break the challenge day into 3 major sprints - problem framing and ideation, concept design and development, and storytelling and tuning in order to help the teams clearly define and address a business challenge while not getting caught up in any one step. The GrowthOps mentors as well as the business sponsors are crucial to the innovation deliverables during these sprints - encouraging participants to think about the issues their business is facing from a range of perspectives while bringing them back to the challenge at hand and making sure all ideas are realistic and implementable. The cross-disciplinary teams structured in design thinking method encourages diversity in thought when it comes to how the business challenges are approached and developed into solutions over the course of the day.


Each Paddl Games also gives Challengers access to a concept called ‘Employer Booth’. Challengers can book in a 15-minute, one-on-one chat with a GrowthOps industry expert, to discuss their professional journeys and ask for career advice. This booth also encourages any of the business participants, who have active employment opportunities and are interested in the talent in the room, to utilise as an added free recruitment service.

The Outcome

After three exhilarating sprints, teams had the opportunity to present their innovative developments to the room. A judging panel of six industry experts evaluate each solution based on a range of criteria - relevance to overall challenge, effectiveness in market, potential for implementation and scalability.

The outcomes of the day were all high growth and fierce - with the top prize going to Tooradin Pharmacy, sponsored by Pharmacy Guild of Australia, and their team, ‘Prescribed to Win’. This team was a stand out due to the fact that they focussed on understanding the means the pharmacy actually had to operate with, and tailored their solution to expand the uptake of a lucrative service by leveraging their relationships with their greater community. They focussed on building awareness for their in-house ‘Sleep Apnoea Program’, which would be executed through ‘Snore Ezy’ - a three-pronged community engagement and activation approach. It fit the criteria for high growth solution, took into account budget constraints, would prove an effective use of resources and had the potential to be scaled up.


Second place went to the ‘Running with Scissors’ team, who represented Excellent Edges, and sponsored by the Australian Hairdressing Council. Excellent Edges manufacture and sell quality scissors to hairdressing salons, and found their current sales strategy heavily relied on sales reps, with high upfront costs for customers and rarely saw repeat customers due to the high cost and quality of the product. ‘Running with Scissors’ developed a subscription model to help Excellent Edges increase customer engagement and implement steady revenue.

Third place was awarded to ‘Zen Masters’ who represented Karmic Cold Pressed Juice, and was sponsored by Master Grocers Australia. The ‘Zen Masters’ answered Karmic’s issue around the heavy front-end of customer education by automating the onboarding of customers online.

Honourable mention went to ‘Don’t Panic, It’s Organic’ who represented Hagen’s Organic, sponsored by AGL. The team addressed the demand/supply/overbuy issue by introducing a new B2B sales strategy.

First, second and third place Challengers all received enviable prizes from Paddl Co. for their efforts, whilst the three winning businesses received free consultations from GrowthOps specialists on their business. There were also stand out Challengers who were honored with prizes as well; Georgina Johnson took Challenger of the Day for her contributions to her team; Joseph Dang and Anne Nygaard Jedzini received special mentions for their enthusiasm during their team pitches.

All teams who participated delivered on the challenge of surfacing high growth solutions for their business. For the teams didn’t go home with a physical prize, the experience gained and innovation created was priceless. Each businesses gained a different perspective of how to look at business operations and grow their business - some even with plans to implement the solutions developed. The Challengers gained the experience of working on a real business cases with veterans of industry, expanding their professional networks and developing valuable workplace skills like public speaking, critical thinking and collaboration.

The Feedback


“These day-long events unite small business owners with some of the brightest minds in the country to create real-world solutions to their problems with the potential to implement immediately” - Peter Strong, CEO, COSBOA

“We were excited to spend time with small businesses to help them grow. It was striking how the business owners I spoke to all remarked on the value of getting a fresh perspective. How the simple act of stepping back, verbalising their challenges, and reframing their thinking triggered real insights and breakthroughs." - Paul Mansfield, Chief Executive, GrowthOps

“For students and grads, the Games provide invaluable experience and potential employment opportunities. For small businesses, the Games provide new skill sets, new ways of thinking about product and service development, and the ability to work on real-world challenges. And both our sponsors and the businesses gain access to the next wave of Australian business leaders.” - Dominique Fisher, Founder and CEO, Paddl Co.

“The day was high energy, high impact and an amazing amount of fun, providing rewards for both students and small business owners. It is a perfect launching pad for the Pharmacy Guild Framework of Change CP2025, and I know Tooradin Pharmacy benefited greatly from the day.” - Michelle Fortanier, Business Services Support Officer, Pharmacy Guild of Australia

Paddl Co. takes pride in positive experiences everyone from emerging talent to business owner to sponsor participant, walks away with from the Paddl Games. If you are interested in participating in the next Paddl Games as a participant make sure to join paddl.com to know when applications open for our next games! If you are a small business interested in participating, please reach out to caitlin@paddl.co for further information.