Gen Z tech entrepreneur wins Sydney Genesis startup competition

30 November 2022
Jinolo seeks to simplify 3D engineering design sharing
From compostable packaging and AI-powered film dubbing to 'TikTok for fashion', the latest entrepreneurs have impressed in the University of Sydney Business School's flagship startup accelerator Genesis.

Sophia Kurianski

Sophia Kurianski, 24, was crowned winner of the 30th cohort, securing $25,000 for her solo venture Jinolo – a 3D and 2D computer-aided design (CAD) file sharing platform that helps connect engineers, suppliers, clients and other team members.

It was personal experience studying mechatronics and computer science at the University of Sydney that inspired Kurianski to create her own product.

“I was working on a group project creating a robot component, and we were swapping USB drives trying to keep up with the latest version of the design. There are good online tools for keeping track of group work on software and I realised we need the same for hardware,” Kurianski explained.

“I spoke to engineers, industrial designers and other people who have tried to solve the problem, and given my technical background, decided to build the solution myself.”

Sophia's interest in engineering was inspired by superheroes inlcuding Iron Man.

Despite initially planning to enter the workforce for a few years after graduating with honours, Kurianski opted to instead start her own company with the help of a NSW Government MVP grant and the University of Sydney startup launcher INCUBATE. It was alumni of the latter who encouraged her to apply for Genesis.

“The mentors are incredible. They gave a lot of actionable advice, and I was able to see progress immediately, which is crucial. And the other startups were really inspiring,” Kurianski said.

Some of the other startups in her cohort included:

  • Zipr: a TikTok-linked service allowing users to buy and sell wardrobe items featured in their videos 
  • KomplyAi: to enable safe and rapid adoption of AI technologies into government and enterprise organisations
  • Enigma2: AI-powered neural rendering to convert foreign films to English
  • Carapac: compostable packing made from crustacean shells 

Genesis program manager James Crowther (right) with some members of the 30th cohort: Fred and Joyce Yu (OwnerSuper), Sophia Kurianski (Jinolo), Amber Linz (Zipr) and Kristen Migliorini (KomplyAi).

Kurianski is now looking ahead to a venture capital raise in 2023 to grow her company, with a focus on recruiting engineers to add requested product features.

“Our beta partners include small-to-medium design shops, consultancies and hardware producers, and they’ve been really happy with the product while accepting it’s not perfect. Their advice and feedback has been invaluable,” she said.

My advice to other entrepreneurs is to take one small step at a time. Rather than looking at the peak of the mountain, which is intimidating, just focus on making a bit of progress each day.
Sophia Kurianski

Open to University of Sydney staff, students and alumni, Genesis accepts the best startups twice a year to accelerate their commercial and social enterprises.

Manager of the Genesis program, James Crowther, said he felt privileged to play a small part in the journey of the participants.

“The vibe for this cohort was amazing! Our panel of judges routinely said that it was tough deciding on who to award the prize to. The startups were unusually strong this time round,” Crowther said.

“I'm so delighted that Sophia won the prize, she really impressed everyone with her tenacity and spirit. She has an infectious passion for her craft, and she does not let up!”

Genesis members over the years have secured $52 million in funding, created nearly 1,000 jobs, and the current community boasts over 500 startups involving 1,500 individuals.

Applications for the next cohort open in February 2023. See here to learn more about the Genesis program and apply to accelerate your startup’s growth.

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Harrison Vesey

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