Space Cadets Pitch Night Returns for 2022

Students showcased promising startup ideas at Xplor’s Melbourne office.

Xplor, Australia’s leading early learning software solution, resumed its annual Space Cadets Pitch Night on 3 June. Space Cadets is a collaboration between Xplor and St Andrews Lutheran College in Queensland, an extension of St Andrews’ annual ‘Innovate and Create’ (IC) Program. This initiative helps students build entrepreneurial capability and develop creative problem-solving skills through a practical experience.

IC is a nine-week program where students learn by doing: understanding problems, creating prototypes and pitching business models. Xplor then invites the top three teams to its Melbourne office to join as “Space Cadets”.

From left to right: Evie, AJ, Sophia & Chili

This year’s Space Cadets finalists were Evie, AJ, Sophia & Chili. These teams were joined by Xplorers who worked with them on practical tasks such as web domain registration, Minimal Viable Product (MVP) pages and app development. They helped the students develop their business ideas into plans, create prototypes and refine their pitches.

From left to right: David Linke, Derek Bartels and Mark Woodland

The three teams of Space Cadets then got the opportunity to pitch their startup ideas and seek funding from actual leaders in the business community and venture capitalists. This year’s panellists included David Linke (Managing Director of Edugrowth), Derek Bartels (Director of Learning Innovation for Lutheran Queensland), and Mark Woodland (Chief Innovation Officer of Xplor Technologies).

Look, that’s what learning and development’s all about for these young people. They’re our future. They’re going to be engaging and creating a world and solving those big hairy audacious problems that we have in our world, and they need the skills that they’re learning over the last three days.

—Derek Bartels, Director of Innovation and Technology, Lutheran Education Queensland
Students from St Andrews’ annual ‘Innovate and Create’ (IC) Program worked with Xplorer for two days, culminating in a pitch night at the end of the second day.

During the Space Cadets Pitch Night, AJ discussed the growing need for mental health support for young people. He introduced his mental health app and website idea, Mynd. Teens dealing with mental illness and issues can get the support and information they need through the Mynd app. It aims to provide young people with a better understanding of their mental health and of the mental health of those around them.

Chili and Sophia’s team pitched G Free Ease, an easy-to-use app that allows users to easily locate restaurants and cafes that serve gluten-free food. It is rooted in the need of people suffering from gluten sensitivity or coeliac disease to find restaurants that not only provide gluten-free offerings but ensure no cross contamination occurs in their gluten-free meals.

Evie talked about her mission to raise awareness about the importance of human rights through Gaia Project United. Her website aims to educate and inform people about the five primary issues of human rights– gender inequality, child labour, racism, homophobia and ableism. Her vision is for this project to evolve into charity.

Chatting with the Space Cadets, it was obvious that they were inspired and encouraged by all the support they got from our employees over the past two days. But they may not know that we were just as inspired by them and their passion. Knowing we’ve got such bright, creative and passionate young people working on solutions to real problems motivates us to continue to be innovative in our roles. 

—Matt Varley, CEO Childcare & Education, Xplor 

Xplor strives to make a positive impact on the world that we all share. Through the Space Cadets program, Xplor seeks to empower young learners by moving education outside the classroom. Going beyond their comfort zones, these students and young entrepreneurs get a real feel of the startup community that will help them change the world.

“Being a startup focused on education, Xplor is a great platform for introducing young entrepreneurs to the startup community,” said Mark Woodland, Chief Innovation Officer of Xplor Technologies. “Not only is it a great way for these young minds to network with the startup community, but our own teams get to develop while working on new, creative ideas from these young, fresh minds.”

Participants expressed how enriching and immersive the experience was for them as learners and young entrepreneurs. They were ecstatic to connect with professionals and be able to work on teams where they are treated as equals. The program helped them develop rich contemporary skills in terms of collaboration and communication.

“I just had a conversation with a student. It almost brought tears to my eyes”, said Derek Bartels, Director of Innovation and Technology, Lutheran Education Queensland. “How out of the many years of schooling that that 15-year-old boy has had, he talked about that these last couple of days have been the most enriching experience for him as a learner. How he worked in a team. How is he accepted. He was treated as an equal. How he developed skills in terms of collaboration and communication. And most importantly, teamwork. He was ecstatic. And just seeing him connect with some of the people that he’d been with over the last two days, the other professionals who were here, was remarkable.”

In addition to hearing from this year’s Space Cadets, the audience and panel of business leaders were also treated to pitches from participants of Space Cadets 2021. Since last year’s pitch night was cancelled due to COVID restrictions, the 2021 Space Cadets also were invited to make their pitches at this year’s event.

Annie pitched My Voice, a Bluetooth speaker necklace that gives a voice to people like her friend who has Cerebral Palsy. Laila presented her idea, called Pet Connect, designed to connect pet owners with volunteers, affordable pet services and educational resources. And Zoe shared Cybersafe, an app made by kids for kids, to help combat the issue of cyberbullying.