Home Articles A social start-up that is lighting India up won the first ever...

A social start-up that is lighting India up won the first ever Australian final of Chivas Regal’s ‘The Venture’


Following the inaugural Australian final of The Venture, Pollinate Energy has been named as the Australian winner and will join the top 28 start-ups from across the world as part of Chivas Regal’s global search to find and support the most promising social entrepreneurs who aim to succeed in business, whilst having a positive impact on the lives of others.

The culmination of the Australian leg of the initiative saw the five finalists present their enterprises to a panel of expert judges at Sydney’s Ambush Gallery in early December 2015.

With more than 50 entries submitted from across the country, and so many unique and diverse start-ups to assess, the judges had a difficult task on their hands.

In the end, Pollinate Energy was chosen and will now represent Australia at the global final in New York in June 2016, one step closer to claiming a share of the $1 million worth of funding on offer.

During the event, the global top 28 will have the chance to pitch in front of an expert panel of judges who are looking for businesses that can offer scalable and sustainable solutions to real world issues.

Beyond the chance to claim some of the cash up for grabs Pollinate Energy also earned the chance to take part in a week-long, entrepreneur’s training-camp in Silicon Valley – the start-up Mecca.

At the Venture’s Accelerator Week hosted at University of Oxford by The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship they will be taken through an awesome programme featuring opportunities to develop leadership skills, take part in practical workshops, meet business leaders of tech companies, be mentored by experts and be inspired by global experts on critical topics that affect social enterprises.

Why did Pollinate Energy win this final?

With a team of six founders from varying backgrounds including energy economics, government, law, international development, engineering and construction, NSW-based Pollinate Energy has been in operation for three years.

The Australian and Indian based company is working to improve the lives of India’s urban poor by providing solar lighting to over 54,000 of India’s most deprived urban slum dwellers through a network of local entrepreneurs and will now have the opportunity to expand into more cities globally.

Pollinate EnergyEmma Colenbrander, co-founder of Pollinate Energy said, “We’re excited about what this funding would allow us to do and the number of people we would be able to help. We’d like to thank Chivas Regal for their support and for giving Pollinate Energy this opportunity.”

Emma Colenbrander - Chivas The Venture winner
Emma Colenbrander

Michael Klim, CEO and co-Founder of Milk & Co and one of the judges for the evening remarked, “All five of the judges were inspired by Emma and Pollinate Energy’s potential.”

“The scalability, health, economic and environmental benefits of Pollinate Energy really hit home and the business embodies what The Venture is about, bringing a strong socially minded business solution to a real world issue,” he explained.

The other judges were Jean-Christophe Coutures (Chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard Winemakers), Michelle Goldman (CEO of School for Social Entrepreneurs), Chris Janz (CEO of Huffington Post Australia) and Jarryd Burns (co-founder and Finance & Operations Director of Thankyou Group).

The judges at The Venture final
The judges at The Venture final

Who were the other finalists?

The 5 finalists at the inaugural 'The Venture' in Australia
The 5 finalists at the inaugural ‘The Venture’ in Australia

The other four start-ups that earned the chance to pitch at Sydney’s Ambush Gallery were:

  1. Websters Group (QLD)

Utilising his international experience in finance, infrastructure and sustainability, Ryan Dillon established Websters Group three years ago.

The enterprise specialises in identifying, financing and project managing energy, water and resource efficiency opportunities within large industrial and commercial sites.

  1. Clickability (VIC)

Business partners Aviva Beecher Kelk and Jenna Moffat’s strong background as carers, case managers and experience with the National Disability Insurance Scheme led them to founding Clickability two years ago. The Australian disability service directory features ratings and reviews from users, giving people with disabilities a voice.

  1. OurSay (VIC)

The three founders Matthew Gordon, Eyal Halamish and Nic Frances list risk communications, stakeholder engagement for Fortune 500 companies, Victorian public servant and priest as some of their former roles on their way to forming OurSay in 2011.

The communications and community engagement company enables government leaders to actively engage the public in the decision making process to inform and satisfy citizens.

  1. Substation33 (QLD)

Founded by former landscaper turned youth worker, Tony Sharp’s electronic waste recycling centre, provides a workplace where marginalised people can gain confidence and skills for the transition to sustainable employment whilst helping the environment.