ZazzleBizSparkStickerOn the 4-6th of February, in tumultuous flooding rains, Melbourne was host to their first Azure BizSpark camp. This was the most successful BizSpark camp we have run to date. Not only did we have 11 teams present their solutions at the end of the event, but the noise & excitement generated by the event was amazing. One of the largest global gaming websites (ign.com), did a blog post on what Bizspark and the Bizspark camp were http://www.ign.com/blogs/kiera2/2011/02/05/whats-a-bizspark/, teams used social networking tools to generate almost 700 tweets with the #WABizSpark hashtag, over 100 photos have been uploaded to flickr, the facebook group started the conversation between previous Azure BizSpark contenders and the current ones, as well as one team setting up a Fan page with over 60 likes and interaction with people around the globe. Rome 2 Rio’s blog post on the event has had over 1000 hits (http://blog.rome2rio.com/42235022)  and David Burela’s summary is already getting much interest: http://davidburela.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/community-report-melbourne-azure-bizspark-camp-2011/

IMG_2850The inclusion of business sessions by experts outside the normal Microsoft community such as Ross Hill (co-founded one of the most successful entrepreneurial networking events The Hive which runs in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane) Jack Delosa (Executive Director, The Entourage,  Australian Anthill’s 30Under30 publication as well as Dynamic Business Magazine’s Australia’s Top 10 Entrepreneurs Under 30) and having the judging panel include Jordan Green (President, Melbourne Angels Inc. Co-founder and Deputy Chairman of the Australian Association of Angel Investors and also the founder and lead Angel investor of Melbourne Angels Inc.) really added to the value of the event for all attendees. Having 3 Microsoft staff members on the judging panel including Director of Server & Tools, Phil Goldie involved exemplified Microsoft’s strong commitment for the Startup community.

Attendees spent Friday being educated by Graham Elliott & Mitch Denny as to how to get up & running on Azure. The content included Windows Azure Compute, Management, Diagnostics, Storage, SQL Azure, App Fabric. Most having not worked with Azure previously. The event wrapped up at 5 on Friday and many teams took the opportunity & fresh ideas to come up with some great business ideas to build over the weekend.

9am Monday morning we kicked off – with just under 30 avid BizSpark members nutting out their business ideas in teams. Between then and the 4pm Sunday cut off, not much sleep was had!

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We had 3 fantastic guest speakers throughout the weekend giving attendees additional Business value to take on board while thinking in terms of building a business:

What's happening in the Melbourne Entrepreneur Community by Ross Hill, founder of The HiveIMG_2823

Jack Delosa of The Entourage who will outline how to become investor ready and raise capital for an early stage venture.

David Sajfar from Microsoft will cover some of the Government funding options available for Technology innovation

All sessions were great – but the feedback in regards to Jack Delosa’s presentation has been phenomenal and I have received many requests to have the recorded session made available. Luckily Dave Burela did record the sessions & it is available online here: http://vimeo.com/19892066.

Throughout the weekend, David Burela, Steve Nagy & Mitch Denny (when he wasn’t flooded in) were on hand to help the teams with questions around Azure, Silverlight, TFS, Phone 7 and the multitude of other questions they had. A big thanks to these guys for giving up their weekends to help out! Also Thanks to David Burela for the photos included in this post.

The integral part of our weekend Start up camps is the opportunity for each of the participating teams to present their solution to our Panel of Judges. The panel includes technical experts, business experts and investors. Each judge has different backgrounds & experiences and the feedback they provide to participants is always invaluable.  They each receive 10 minutes to pitch to the Judging panel – 2 mins setup time, 5 mins demo/slides & then 2-3 minutes for questions from the panel.

Each presentation will be judged on:

    • Presentation Quality,
    • Solution Quality,
    • Business Viability,
    • Azure Integration,
    • Technical Innovation and
    • Breakthrough Potential

The judging panel was made up of a select group of elite business experts, technical experts & Investors:

Jack Delosa Executive Director, The Entourage,  Australian Anthill’s 30Under30 publication as well as Dynamic Business Magazine’s Australia’s Top 10 Entrepreneurs Under 30

Graham Elliott Azure Platform Strategy Advisor, Microsoft Australia

Phil Goldie Director, Server & Tools Business Group, Microsoft Australia

Jordan Green President, Melbourne Angels Inc. Co-founder and Deputy Chairman of the Australian Association of Angel Investors and also the founder and lead Angel investor of Melbourne Angels Inc.

Steve Nagy Azure MVP and Senior Consultant, Readify

Nigel Watson Platform Strategy Advisor, Microsoft Australia

In the end, 11 teams presented their solutions – the competition was tough, and the overall winners of the event are:WABizCamp - PrizeWinners

1. http://Rome2Rio.com

2. http://blog.mapdojo.com/ & http://www.TrendFrendz.com

Congratulations to the Winning teams!

Some follow up posts of Interest you may like to read:

· http://blog.rome2rio.com/42235022

· http://blog.mapdojo.com/2011/02/melbourne-azure-bizspark-startup-camp.html

· http://www.ign.com/blogs/kiera2/2011/02/05/whats-a-bizspark/

Again, these events run on a shoestring budget (much like a startup!) so a big thanks to everyone that donated their time and was involved in making it such a huge success!