Success in Sydney for WSU Paddl Games

July 15, 2019
By Aaron O'Farrell

Day 1 of our WSU Paddl Games series gets off to a winning start

The sun was out in Western Sydney as our first WSU Paddl Games Challenge kicked off at Western Sydney University’s beautiful Parramatta South campus. Energy levels were high and conversation buzzed around the foyer of the Ian and Nancy Turbott Auditorium as Challengers, Business Participants and representatives from our Challenge Partner EnergyAustralia arrived. Given the early start, everyone helped themselves to some coffee, and in no time the teams were ready to tackle the day’s Challenge Focus and create innovative solutions. Everyone made their way into the spacious auditorium and took their seats at their designated tables. 

From the stage, Paddl. Co. CEO, Dominique Fisher, welcomed all participants with her opening address and provided guidance and instructions for how to get the most out of the day. Duncan Bryce, Head of Business for EnergyAustralia, then spoke enthusiastically of how excited EnergyAustralia was to be a part of this event following the recent success of Paddl Co. and EnergyAustralia’s partnership at the COSBOA Games in Melbourne. Duncan Bryce informed the room that “Although we sell energy, our aim at EnergyAustralia is for everyone to reduce their unnecessary energy consumption, and today is all about generating implementable and feasible solutions for the businesses participating.” COSBOA (Council of Small Business of Australia) CEO, Peter Strong, reiterated the importance Paddl Games Challenges have for small-to-medium businesses in generating innovative solutions to issues they face at zero cost or risk to their business, whilst also helping emerging student talent experience what it’s like to be in the workplace. Finally, Angelo Kourtis, Vice President of People and Advancement at Western Sydney University commended the participating WSU students for seeking out the opportunity Paddl Games Challenges provide for gaining real workplace experience.

Sprint 1 - “Problem Framing and Ideation”

Sprint 1 - “Problem Framing and Ideation”

Problem Framing and Ideation

Once the opening addresses had finished, and everyone was aware of the task at hand, it was time to get down to business, so Dominique Fisher declared Sprint 1 - “Problem Framing and Ideation” - officially underway.

The Challenge Focus for the day was: "How can EnergyAustralia assist your business to achieve greater control over your energy usage both now and in the future?”

Sprint 1 is all about understanding your assigned business and brainstorming. The teams consult the representatives from their assigned business and work to gain a solid understanding about how the business works, how they use energy and where there might be a gap in energy usage the team can innovate a solution for. Sprint 1 at the WSU Paddl Games, like all Paddl Games, was full of excitement and conversation as Challengers bounced ideas around. 

“Challenge Labs should be your solution’s life blood!”

During Sprint 1 at the WSU Paddl Games, Challengers consulted the EnergyAustralia representatives on their team about feasible and practical services EnergyAustralia provide that could support the ideas being surfaced. To validate the ideas generated, Challengers were encouraged to visit the Challenge Labs, where EnergyAustralia industry experts were also on hand to offer advice, data and numbers crucial in helping the teams validate their solutions. Paddl Co. CEO Dominique Fisher, during her opening address, had implored Challengers to make the most of Challenge Labs, informing them that “Challenge Labs should be your solution’s life blood!”

Concept Design and Development

After two hours of work, Sprint 1 transitioned over to Sprint 2, “Concept Design and Development” and the professional Paddl Facilitators helped the teams to nail down their final solution and begin to develop what that would mean for their business. For many teams - or at least the ones heeding Dominique’s advice - this meant going back to the Challenge Labs to consult the EnergyAustralia experts. Business Participants also play a key role in Sprint 2, because now that the Challengers have agreed on a solution, they need to ensure it’s practical for the business, which means more conversations and more micro-solutions. 


Throughout every Paddl Games Challenge, Challengers are invited to visit the Employer Booths to speak with industry experts and HR managers, usually manned by the Challenge Partner. However, the WSU student Challengers were in for a treat on Day 1 of the WSU Paddl Games because representatives from CRODA Chemical Solutions and the New South Wales Public Service Commission were also hosting Employer Booths and actively seeking to hire, should they find the right candidates.

Storytelling and Tuning

Sprint 3: “Storytelling and Tuning” is when all teams bring together their solutions into a polished story, ready for pitching. During Sprint 3 you can feel the tension and pressure throughout the room as teams scramble to condense an entire day’s worth of design thinking and problem solving into a five minute presentation - no mean feat. Facilitators visit their teams and help them create unique concepts for pitching the ideas. This can include anything from powerpoint, live role-playing or encorporating makeshift props into their presentation. Business participants and EnergyAustralia mentors take a back seat during Sprint 3, allowing the Challengers to take the lead and shine.

Sprint 3 at the WSU Paddl Games saw many teams decide to inject new energy into their teams by taking their work outdoors in the crisp air of the warm afternoon. This decision was clearly well-informed, because when the announcement was made that presentations were about to begin, a renewed energy could be felt in the Ian and Nancy Turbott Auditorium.

The Judges took their seats in front of the stage and began to call teams at random to present. All teams used the projector at their disposal to present their solutions, whilst some took things a step further by acting out roles; one team found themselves mock cycling as they pitched the idea of energy reproducing gym equipment. Alternative approaches such as these always please the judges and bring a fresh quality to presentations. 

Team Z.Dot. presents their “Powering Dreams” solution

Team Z.Dot. presents their “Powering Dreams” solution

As the last team left the stage to applause, the judges retired to a quiet room to deliberate over a winner. For everyone else, it was out into the foyer and the bar. Challengers, Facilitators and EnergyAustralia Mentors could now relax, exhale and reflect over a drink and some canapés, their hard work completed. Many people could be seen smiling, replaying frantic moments from earlier in the day and laughing together as glasses clinked.

Deciding a winner was clearly difficult for the judges, who took their time but eventually emerged to announce a decision. Everyone made their way back into the auditorium, though this time far more relaxed.

And the winner is…

Kicking off the award ceremony, Dominique Fisher announced the winners of the three Challenger Awards. The coveted ‘Challenger of the Day’ Award went to Leonora Beifuss for her initiative and leadership throughout the day. Sarah Cupitt received the “Best Paddl Profile” Award and Pallavi Verma won “Best Presentation”!

And then the team winners were announced by Mehul Dave, Head of Marketing for EnergyAustralia in reverse order to build suspense...

Team ‘Lord Voltemort’, representing Western Unlimited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Western Sydney University, managing food and beverage outlets as well as fitness centres on campus, received an honorable mention.

Team ‘Maybe They’re Born with It’ representing DeLorenzo Hair Products took third place. 

Team Koalafication in Design Thinking, representing Kindifarm Mobile Farms took second place

And ultimately, Team ‘Z.Dot.’ representing Thrive Refugee Enterprise - a registered charity that helps microfinance refugee entrepreneurs - took first place for their “Powering Dreams” proposal that would see EnergyAustralia partner with Thrive Refugee Enterprise to educate and help refugee entrepreneurs about the best energy solutions and practices for their new business.

Everyone exited the auditorium, elated from the day even if they did not walk away with a prize and the bar stayed open for another hour with canapes to allow the Challengers, EnergyAustralia mentors and businesses to network and say their goodbyes. The first Challenge in the WSU Paddl Games Series was a success! We look forward to the second WSU Paddl Games with Westpac coming in September! 

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 today! If you are a small business interested in participating, please reach out to for further information.