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Lactamo and Xceptional have won $40,000 each in St George’s Kick Start pitch competition

- November 9, 2020 2 MIN READ
Lactamo founder Etta Watts-Russell (right) with her family celebrating winning the Kick Start pitch. Photo: supplied
Femtech startup Lactamo, which helps breastfeeding mothers, and Xceptional, a recruitment firm helping autistic people find jobs, have won the St George Kick Start competition, receiving $40,000 each.

The competition, in partnership with TEDxSydney, saw 12 small business founders and entrepreneurs for a share of the program’s $100,000 grant pool prize across two categories – New Business Idea and New Idea for an Existing Business.

Businesses were judged on their ability to respond to a customer or societal problem in a unique or innovative way and create a positive impact. In keeping with 2020’s move online, Kick Start held its first ever digital ‘fast pitch’ competition to select the winners.

The judging panel included St.George and Westpac Chief Digital & Marketing Officer Martine Jager, Sunrise host David Koch and TEDxSydney founder Remo Guiffre.

Diffuse Energy, a small wind turbine energy solution, and the Australian School of Entrepreneurship (ASE), an organisation helping to tackle youth unemployment, were also recognised by the judges as runners-up, with both ventures  receiving $10,000 each.

Lactamo won the New Business Idea category. The startup was founded by Etta Watts-Russell, who created a lactation aid tool that combines temperature, movement, and compression in breast massage to address the issues  many mothers experience when breastfeeding.

Watts-Russell said that the highs and lows of starting your own business were even more keenly felt in 2020 due to Covid-19.

“I am extremely grateful to be announced as the winner of this year’s Kick Start competition and the funding will go a long way in helping with Lactamo’s manufacturing and expansion strategy,” she said.

“I’m excited to embark on a journey with the aim of giving mothers and babies the best possible experience together with the best possible success in breastfeeding.”

Michael Tozer is founder and CEO of Xceptional, which won the New Idea for an Existing Business Category at Kick Start 2020.

Michael Tozer, founder and CEO of Xceptional. Photo: Supplied

“We’re so excited to be chosen as this year’s Kick Start winner. Scaling a for-purpose business in any year is tough work; this is especially true in the wake of COVID-19,” he said.

“We have focused on rejuvenating our team to help us think long term and adapting to our customer needs with the extraordinary growth in online talent assessment. The funding will help us to scale into two new industries, cyber and administration, so that we can continue to connect people with disabilities to meaningful careers.”

Since 2014, the St.George Kick Start program has provided $700,000 in grants to help small business owners and entrepreneurs take their business ideas to the next level.

Martine Jager said it was fantastic to see the level of entrepreneurialism in the entries to the St. George Kick Start 2020 program.

“Small businesses play a critical role in our economy and local communities,” he said.

“Now more than ever, it is so important to help small businesses get started, by supporting new ideas and existing businesses to develop and grow.”

More details about the annual competition and the 2020 finalists is available here.