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Startup bringing STEM workshops to more schools with Mercedes win

24 Aug 2017

For the second year running, Mercedes-Benz Vans invited Australian and New Zealand-based small businesses, startups, product developers, industrial designers, creative technologists, hustlers and hackers to put together a team of like-minded entrepreneurial thinkers and pitch an innovative business idea using the Vito van as the canvas.

Six finalists were selected to participate in Hack My Van 2017.

From a silent disco for children to a mobile VR showroom, a commercial wellness van, and an all-abilities childcare service, the judges saw a range of diverse and creative business ideas.

Judges Dr Kate Cornick (CEO, LaunchVic), Nick Crocker (partner, Blackbird Ventures), Shane Delia (award winning chef and restaurateur), Megan Morton (Australia’s leading stylist), and Diane Tarr (managing director, Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia & New Zealand) assessed the ideas and selected MindKits Education Van as the winner, who were presented with a brand new Mercedes-Benz Vito.

The first runner up, HME Limited’s ThunderPods, received a $5,000 cash grant, and the second runner up, Ruby & Ollie’s Big Days Out, received a $2,500 cash grant provided by RedZed Lending Solutions.

Diane Tarr, Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia and New Zealand managing director says, “We created this event because we know that when used creatively, the Vito can be transformative for a small business.

“Once again this year the entries were extremely diverse, and we were so pleased to extend into New Zealand, with three of the six finalists - including our winner - travelling across the ditch to be part of the event.”

“Congratulations to Tim and Fay from MindKits who are already providing such a valuable service to school children in New Zealand by delivering hands-on STEM learning experiences. We cannot wait to see them achieve their dreams of taking their workshops on the road to more kids and more schools.”

MindKits was established in December 2008 after seeing a lack of support for New Zealanders in learning robotics and physical computing.

After working away Sundays tinkering, Carr decided it was time there was a site that not only sold robotics kit, sensors and Arduinos but was a place for a community around robotics to grow and have somewhere to share ideas and learning.

Co-founders Tim Carr and Fay Cobbett say, “Winning the Vito enables us to take our proven engaging STEM workshops and bring them to schools with fewer resources, independent of their wealth and status. For the business, this opens a new chapter and an expanding market, with thanks to Mercedes-Benz Vans."

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