Four years ago, the Imagine Cup provided Edward Hooper with the opportunity to test his mettle against other young innovators around the world. By leading his team to victory at the world’s premier student technology competition in 2008, Ed gained invaluable experience in the use of technology to address some of the most pressing global challenges — experience that he would put to good use in his entrepreneurial pursuits.
At the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals 2008, Ed and his three teammates developed the Smart Operational Agriculture Toolkit (SOAK), a solution that enabled sustainable agricultural water usage to alleviate water scarcity during drought. After coming up trumps in the 2008 competition, Ed continues to be closely involved with Imagine Cup even today, helping to promote the event to Australian students, assist in the execution of the local and worldwide finals, and was one of the judges for the Imagine Cup 2012 Worldwide Finals in Sydney, Australia.
“When I was a student, Microsoft opened my eyes to how technology can fuel developments, enabling aspiring technology entrepreneurs like myself to make valuable contacts and gain access to free software. I was closely involved in helping Microsoft coordinate events at my campus that let other students make similar connections and increase their own knowledge,” said Ed, who was also named as the 2008 Microsoft Student Partner of the Year in Australia.
Ed co-founded 121cast in 2012, a technology start-up that developed an online platform that delivers personalised information and entertainment for mobile consumption. Based in Melbourne, 121cast’s vision is to be the “radio station” of choice for smartphone owners while complementing modern lifestyles and consumption habits.
Aside from his work at 121cast — which includes the development of SoundGecko, an audio transcription service that allows people to listen to articles from websites — Ed is currently involved with the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) as an Entrepreneurial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. MAP seeks to create an on-campus community of entrepreneurship by empowering students, staff and alumni to actively provide support for translating good ideas and research outcomes into practical innovations.
“While entrepreneurship is not widely spoken about or even suggested as a career path in schools, it is important to encourage young professionals to view failure positively in the pursuit of ideas. There is still a lack of entrepreneurial culture and awareness among many young professionals, and I would like to see schools doing more to encourage entrepreneurship, especially at a post-graduate level,” Ed added.