ANU team sets sights on $1m prize in Chicago

15 April 2016

Our aim is to increase their productivity, expand their customer base and allow them to make more money using the platform.

A team of ANU students competing in the Hult Prize is hoping they can win $1 million in prize funding so their mobile phone-based trading app can be made available to people in low socio-economic areas around the world.

The team, known as LinkUp, is led by PhD Candidate Arjuna Mohottala from the Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy.

The team is hoping to raise funds to go towards the creation of a new app and to help them reach the finals for the Hult Prize in Chicago in September.

The Hult Prize is the world's largest competition and start-up platform for students to show off the systems they develop that improve the lives of those who would benefit from the technology.

The 2016 Hult Prize asks entrepreneurs to create sustainable businesses that can double the income of 10 million people living in crowded urban spaces within 5 years.

LinkUp, aims to connect individual service providers, such as a laundrymen, tailors or shoe smiths living in urban slums, with potential customers who are currently beyond their reach.

LinkUp will enable these vendors to list their services on its platform.

"Our aim is to increase their productivity, expand their customer base and allow them to make more money using the platform," Arjuna said.

The team has already presented its idea in the Hult Prize regional round in Shanghai. They are competing for a wildcard entry so they can make it to the finals in Chicago. The wildcard entry requires the team to raise money via crowdfunding.

If they're successful with the crowdfunding campaign, they would compete against five other teams who have already made it to the final.

Money raised from the crowdfunding will help the team develop a prototype and pilot-test it on the ground in Mumbai, India.

"By helping individuals and small businesses in crowded urban spaces have better access to markets, you not only increase income for disadvantaged communities, but there are also positive flow-on effects from education to healthcare to sanitation and access to finance," Arjuna said.

The team are hoping to raise $25,000 to fund the prototype.

To donate to the crowdfunding initiative, go to https://igg.me/at/L2Zaji3bDF8.