A startup with a bold vision to create strong and resilient families worldwide through fun shared experiences has been selected as a Queensland finalist in the Australia Post Regional Pitchfest. Wantu founder and Fire Station 101 member Anne-Marie Walton will pitch for an opportunity for prize money and, more importantly, national exposure and mentoring.
We sat down with Anne-Marie and had a chat about her startup journey and what the Pitchfest meant for her.
Where did you get the idea for Wantu?
The idea for Wantu came from my personal experience as a busy Mum managing a career while raising two boys. A recent study highlighted that over 82% of parents crave more family time and 80% of parents want to spend more time playing with their kids. Yet at the end of a long day, figuring out new ways to connect with our kids can be a real challenge. So I created Wantu to support busy Mums, Dads, and anyone who wants to engage meaningfully with young people.
What has the journey been like being an entrepreneur over the past year?
Exciting, frustrating, fun, difficult, rewarding, and all together amazing! I have gone from just an idea with mock-up designs to real customers using my app in the market and now looking at a global scale. I have been in business before, but app development was new territory for me. Every day I learn something new, but looking back I am often surprised at how much I now know and can give back to others.
You have been successful in getting support, including acceptance into a recent social impact accelerator. What do programs like the Regional Pitchfest mean for startups like yours?
The exposure is amazing. To be able to pitch and get feedback from the likes of Steve Baxter of Shark Tank, Lisa Jenkinson from KPMG and Rebecca Burrows from Australia Post is incredible. The most important feedback for startup is from the customer, but after that, getting in front of successful entrepreneurs with practical experience is gold.
The Australia Post Regional Pitchfest is designed to highlight regional entrepreneurial talent. What has it meant to be a part of a regional hub such as Fire Station 101 in Ipswich?
There are a lot of things to consider when building a startup. Innovation Hubs like Fire Station 101 provide the mentoring, networks, and community to support startups to grow. I’ve been able to get support with customer focus groups, introductions to mentors, and learn to develop my business in the fastest, most cost-effective way.
Where do you see Wantu going in the future?
We’re want as many families as possible to download the free Wantu app from https://kidswantu.com/, have some fun together and give us feedback on improvements as we develop stage two. The pace of work and other commitments is continually increasing, and the need for families to connect is more important than ever. Wantu is on track to being a global product to help families enjoy shared experiences worldwide and that we’re doing it from a regional area in Australia makes it all the more special.