Ripe Robotics and Designerex pitch at the Climate Tech Showcase

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Ripe Robotics and Designerex pitch at the Climate Tech Showcase

At Climate Salad’s Melbourne Climate Tech Showcase, 20 founders delivered their one-minute elevator pitch to members of the innovation ecosystem.

The start-ups were from various sectors with a range of focuses, from renewable energy, to waste and recycling with the key commonality being to develop solutions to solve climate change, and create a net positive impact on the environment.

Digital Nation Australia spoke to one of the founders who pitched on the night, Hunter Jay, CEO at Ripe Robotics. His business is working on automation of orchards to improve efficiencies and reduce waste in fruit picking.

According to Jay, 10 to 20 percent of human-picked apples currently go to juice or wastage due to bruising. Ripe Robotics is looking to solve this problem through their mechanism that uses a suction tube and suction cups to cushion the fruit while its being picked.

“We’re hoping that as we continue to improve the machines, we will be able to get lower and lower damage, less and less wastage of the food, and eventually be able to integrate all these other services like pruning and spraying and thinning and make the whole orchard much more efficient than it is now because there wasn't really that data available, or at least not integrated with the work people are doing,” he said.

Another founder who pitched at the Climate Tech Showcase was Kirsten Kore, co-founder and co-CEO at Designerex, the worlds’ largest peer-to-peer designer dress sharing platform.

She told Digital Nation Australia that her custom-built platform enables women to rent out their own dresses and make better and more sustainable fashion purchases.

“I saw a lot of girls on Facebook groups trying to rent out dresses, but there was no secure place, no one-stop-shop for rent to go to. So, at the beginning, I contacted all the girls renting out dresses and got their dresses listed on the platform. And that's how we started with the supply side,” she said.

“Right now, we have 6000 dress owners on the platform that make up the 30,000 listings. And 1000 of those consider themselves to be rental businesses.”

Designerex was selected by Austrade as part of its 2018 Landing Pads program, which fast-tracked the start-up’s entry to expantion. It has since launched in the United States in 2019.

Angels and venture capitalists including Patrick Sieb, co-head of the ClimateTech fund at Investible, Nicole Small, investment director at Rampersand and Rachel Yang partner at Giant Leap were some of the investors in the audience, and spoke in a panel conversation before the pitches.

Yang said that the focus for Giant Leap as a sector agnostic fund is to see its companies scale.

“We do want to be able to see a return on our investments, so being able to see that growth trajectory and potential impact that could be created from that is what we look for,” said Yang.

She also conceded that VCs may need to shift their mindset around investing in capital intensive start-ups.

“I think we’ll just need to shift slightly as a collective in the VC world about what we're prepared to invest upfront. And I think there's probably some other capital as well, that can support. So, I know there are government grants etcetera that can help support, but I think really where the shift is going to happen, is certainly in the VC investment space.”

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