St.George Kick Start winner announced at TEDxSydney 2020

Private: Michelle Ahern

And the winners are…

If you missed the action of the St George Kick Start finalists pitches at TEDxSydney online this year, then we’re thrilled to announce Lactamo and Xceptional emerged as this year’s St.George Kick Start 2020 winners 

In partnership with TEDxSydney, the competition saw 12 small business owners and entrepreneurs battle it out to win a share of the program’s $100,000 grant pool prize across two categories – New Business Idea and New Idea for an Existing Business. Businesses were judged on their ability to respond to a customer or societal problem in a unique or innovative way, whilst also driving positive impact in the local community.

Winner of the New Business Idea and recipient of $40,000 was awarded to Lactamo, a lactation aid tool that combines temperature, movement, and compression in breast massage to address the issues that many mothers experience when breastfeeding. 

Etta Watts-Russell, Founder of fem-tech start-up Lactamo, said: “The highs and lows of starting your own business cannot be underestimated and this has been even more so this year with the challenges of COVID-19. I am extremely grateful to be announced as the winner of this year’s Kick Start competition and the funding will go a long way in helping with Lactamo’s manufacturing and expansion strategy. I’m excited to embark on a journey with the aim of giving mothers and babies the best possible experience together with the best possible success in breastfeeding.”

The New Idea for an Existing Business winner is Xceptional, a technology recruitment firm that helps autistic people connect with meaningful careers.  

Michael Tozer, Founder and CEO of Xceptional, said: “We’re so excited to be chosen as this year’s Kick Start winner. Scaling a for-purpose business in any year is tough work; this is especially true in the wake of COVID-19. We have focused on rejuvenating our team to help us think long term and adapting to our customer needs with the extraordinary growth in online talent assessment. The funding will help us to scale into two new industries, cyber and administration, so that we can continue to connect people with disabilities to meaningful careers.”  

Since 2014, the St.George Kick Start program has provided $700,000 in grants to help small business owners and entrepreneurs take their business ideas to the next level. Martine Jager, Chief Digital & Marketing Officer for St.George Bank and Westpac, said: “In what has been a challenging year, it’s fantastic to see the level of entrepreneurialism that’s still alive in Australia through our St.George Kick Start 2020 program.  

“Small businesses play a critical role in our economy and local communities. Now more than ever, it is so important to help small businesses get started, by supporting new ideas and existing businesses to develop and grow.”

Notable call outs also go to each of the runners-up, Diffuse Energy – an efficient small wind turbine energy solution which aims to build a sustainable future, and the Australian School of Entrepreneurship (ASE) an organisation helping to tackle youth unemployment in Australia. Both businesses received funding of $10,000 to help bring their ideas to life.

The winners were chosen by a panel of business judges including TEDxSydney Founder & Licensee – Remo Giuffre, St.George and Westpac Chief Digital & Marketing Officer – Martine Jager and Seven Network Presenter – David Koch.

For more information on all of this years’ finalists or to find out more about Kick Start, visit


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