As a successful serial entrepreneur who truly understands the challenges associated with establishing a business and developing new products, Matt Bullock has a passion for supporting the next generation of start-up founders and sharing his hard-won knowledge.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Computer Science from the University of Wollongong (UOW) in 1994, Matt worked in a number of programming and multimedia roles for Westpac, Smith’s Crisps and Optus before moving to Canberra to become the webmaster at ATSIC.
Matt worked at ATSIC for six years before realising that his side job, eWay, was becoming too big to ignore.
Matt went on to sell his online transaction company eWay to American payment technology services giant Global Payments. With these funds, he embarked on a number of new ventures leading him to his current business, Spinify. Here he combines his keen interests in gamification with optimising business processes to engage staff, increase productivity and eliminate self-administration.
Remembering how much his own education inspired him, Matt decided it was time to give back.
“I established the Spinify Foundation and approached a few universities to set up a program to encourage entrepreneurship in students which would provide a fail fast, learn quickly environment.”
In 2019, Matt approached UOW to develop a partnership where he could not only give students a flying start in their careers but also give back as an alumnus of this institution. UOW shared his vision and personal commitment to develop entrepreneurship in students and welcomed him back with open arms.
Over the next six months, Matt worked closely with staff from UOW’s Advancement Division and the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences to create the bespoke 10K Club entrepreneurs competition for second and third-year computer science and engineering students. In early 2020, the Club came to life.
“Students will need energy, ideas and the ability to listen. I want to see how you formulate your global vision, develop an IT related product idea or application, and make it into a tangible product to take to market,” he told students who were keen to participate.
Three teams comprising a total of 14 students were invited to pitch their product idea to secure $10,000 in seed funding, along with mentoring support for their business idea under the guidance of Matt in tandem with their studies.
The inaugural winner of the 10K Club was a team of five students called älyTech led by Andrea Burazor. What impressed Matt the most was this team’s rapid response to develop an app that would address the problems facing students studying remotely due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We developed a CoLAB group study app that uses a unique algorithm to place students in peer-supported study groups that are the right fit for them,” she says.
“Remote work is a fairly inherent part of development work, so to get that experience now has been pretty eye-opening and quite useful. We’ve learned to take advantage of the great online tools available to us, and are making good headway as a result,” Andrea explains.
Andrea is also the winner of this year’s Most Promising Computing Professional Industry Prize. This is a prize donated by the Industry Advisory Committee of the School of Computing and Information Technology and includes a year of mentorship and a further funding grant.
The Advisory Committee has a number of Chief Information Officers who ensure UOW’s computer science and IT degrees are relevant to industry and graduates can work across all areas and fields of technology.
Many of the Committee members are judges at the University’s annual Trade Show and Innovation Fair where students showcase their tech team projects to industry representatives and the general public. Students are also able to gain further exposure to start-up culture through UOW’s business incubator, iAccelerate located on its Innovation Campus.
You can check out the älyTech Team and their winning project at the Trade Show later this year on Thursday, 12 November, when all final year students present their team tech projects.