Amazon Launchpad awards grants to four SMBs worth more than $360K to help drive Aussie innovation

Amit Mahto, Country Manager of Marketplace at Australia Amazon
Amit Mahto, Country Manager of Marketplace at Australia Amazon

Amazon Australia has announced the winners of its Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grants initiative for 2023, awarding grants worth more than $90,000 each to four innovative entrepreneurs and startups from across Australia following a competitive pitch process.

Who were the 2023 winners of Amazon Australia’s grant?

Amazon Launchpad is designed to celebrate and support the growth of Australian startups and SMBs. Amazon’s Launchpad Innovation Grants program aims to accelerate the four winners’ business with a cash grant, a ‘Selling on Amazon’ bootcamp experience, and more.

An overview of the 2023 Amazon Launchpad Innovation winners:

  • BSKT Wholefoods (Gold Coast, Qld) – Founded by former Gold Coast Titans players, Ryan James, Greg Bird and Selasi Berdie, BSKT’s vision is to be the leading Indigenous owned and operated health food business in Australia, and expand with a new social impact division, BSKT Native.
  • AntiBeauty (Perth, WA) – AntiBeauty celebrates a world that challenges the ideals of “traditional” beauty standards through its quality skincare range. All products are Australian made, vegan and designed to change the beauty industry.
  • Zena Sport (Melbourne, Vic) – Zena Sport aims to empower a new generation of female sport participation through pioneering female protection garments. The Zena impact vest helps reduce the risk of breast and rib injury while being lightweight and nonrestrictive. Suitable for all sports, it is now worn by thousands of female sports participants worldwide.
  • GiveWrap (Sydney, NSW) – Givewrap offers a range of high quality, 100% recyclable, Australian designed gift wrap. What’s more, with every Givewrap product sold, $1 is donated to one of their four charity partners. With Givewrap, customers get to Give Twice – the gift goes to someone they know, and the donation goes to someone in need.

What was the grant winner selection criteria?

This year, in a first for the Australian program, ten finalists travelled to Amazon Australia’s Sydney headquarters to pitch their entries in-person to a panel of global expert judges including Kate Glazebrook, Head of Impact at Blackbird; Maxine Sherrin, Program Director at Spark Festival; Amit Mahto, Country Manager, Marketplace at Amazon Australia and Singapore; and Lauren Capelin, Startup Ecosystem Manager at Amazon Web Services.

Program entrants were given five minutes to make their pitch to the judges, sharing what makes their product innovative and how they plan to scale their business this year and beyond. Finalists were judged on how well they answered those questions and pitched their product, as well as whether their business understands their customers’ needs.

Each Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grant includes a $20,000 cash grant, the opportunity to apply for up to $10,000 in AWS Activate Credits, out-of home support thanks to JCDecaux, support provided by third-party experts Export Accelerator, Podean and Airwallex.

It includes a ‘Selling on Amazon’ bootcamp experience over two days including flights and accommodation for those based outside Sydney, featured seller placement on the homepage during key deal events and marketing, PR and merchandising opportunities throughout 2023.

Each of the Amazon Australia 2023 Launchpad Innovation Grant winners will be available on the Amazon Launchpad storefront in the next month. Budding Australian entrepreneurs, startups and SMBs can now submit interest for Amazon Launchpad program here.

What are the grant winners’ thoughts on the initiative?

Benjamyn Gardner from AntiBeauty said: “I am over the moon to have won an Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grant, especially considering that, just six years ago, I was homeless and struggling to get by. As a solopreneur bootstrapping my business from the ground up with no external financial support, this will be a game-changer for my future growth plans.”

Benjamyn Gardner, Founder of AntiBeauty
Benjamyn Gardner, Founder of AntiBeauty

“The cash prize and access to expert support and resources will allow me to invest in my business, scale my operations, and find more clients to help. I am grateful to Amazon for recognising my unique and disruptive vision and providing this incredible opportunity.”

Donna Johnson from Zena Sport said: “Winning the grant is really exciting for our team at Zena Sport. Amazon has been amazing in supporting Australian startups through this program.  This grant will not only help Zena Sport scale but it will also give us the opportunity to develop more female specific products as well as creating more brand awareness.”

Ryan James from BSKT Wholefoods said: “Winning an Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grant is an incredible honour, and I am grateful for the opportunity it provides BSKT Wholefoods.”

“With Amazon Australia’s support, I am confident that we can continue to grow and innovate, bringing our unique products and services to even more customers, and hopefully show the world how great native Australian ingredients are. I am excited to see what the future holds and am deeply grateful for Amazon’s support,” Ryan James further added.

Michelle Tirtabudi from Givewrap said: “We are excited, and to be honest, quite emotional, to have won an Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grant. We’ve always believed in the idea, but to have someone with the credibility and capability of Amazon believe in it too, still has us pinching ourselves. Being a startup in the e-commerce space comes with many challenges.”

“Having the expertise of Amazon Australia behind us will be priceless in helping scale the firm to the heights we believe it can reach. We’re so excited at the chance to grow our clientele. Because the more we grow, the more we give to charities. We believe that Givewrap is a game changer in gift wrapping. And winning this Grant is a game changer for Givewrap.”

What does the initiative mean for Amazon Australia?

Amit Mahto, Country Manager Marketplace, Amazon Australia and Singapore said, “Listening to the innovation, creativity and energy from all of our finalists at Pitch Night, it was clear that SMBs are the powerhouse of Australian retail. These brands have identified products or trends that are not only exciting and ahead of the curve, but will hopefully go on to support the changing way of life in Australia – one that is inclusive, sustainable and purpose-driven.”

“We know that some of the best ideas start small, and I have no doubt that each winner will go onto achieve great things in Amazon’s stores and beyond. We’re excited to help them reach their full potential. We’re also thrilled to launch the winning brands on and put them in the spotlight for some of our of biggest shopping events of the year.”