Focusing on the problem, nailing the pitch and embracing the community: How Amber Linz won $100,000

The Pitch crowd shot

Early this month, Zipr was chosen from a shortlist of 10 startups, to receive $100,000 in AWS credits, its prize for winning the Pitch. In a recent chat with SmartCompany, founder Amber Linz filled us in on Zipr’s mission, getting the pitch right, and the power of community in the startup sphere.

Amber Linz of Zipr pitching

Amber Linz pitching.

“I’m a gen Z girl, so I’m selfishly creating an app for myself and all my friends,” she laughed. In addition was the significant research that went into informing this project.

Linz interviewed 300 gen Z women to understand their wants, needs and frustrations with online shopping.

The apps and platforms out there for sustainable shopping and reselling, it seemed, were in need of a shake up. Gen Z women aren’t interested in the apps and platforms currently out there “because they don’t help them buy fashion the way they want to”. Existing solutions are full of “un-curated and un-modelled listings of items just thrown on the bed”.

“Our key finding was that retail was really dated for gen Z, they really don’t want to scroll endlessly through pages and pages of e-commerce websites. It’s not how they shop.”

Enter Zipr’s MVP, a TikTok integration that lets creators sell clothing items that feature in their post via a link in their bio.

“So next time you go into TikTok and you see an outfit that you love, you’ll be able to buy it secondhand from your favourite creator.”

Coming next will be the curated fashion app, on track to launch in December. In a video style, or “TikTok-esque”, it will host “entertaining and exciting videos, that users will be able to browse through and can buy from new brands and also the secondhand market”.

Ultimately, it hopes to satisfy three types of people: gen Z shoppers who want a more pleasing way to shop sustainably, creators, who will be able to monetise their content — both by selling their clothes and through brands.

“Let’s say they’re selling their Zara jumper, and they receive 20,000 views on that post in Zipr’s app, Zara will then pay them up to $200 piece of content that’s generated all those views for them.”

And finally, brands leaders, by matching them with influential creators who they pay on performance.

Nailing the pitch

Zipr was chosen as a winner from 10 shortlisted candidates by an expert judging panel made up of  Alex Khor of AfterWork VenturesKylie Frazer of Flying Fox VenturesAdrian Osman of Mr Yum, John Kearney of AWS and Chris Dahl of Pin Payments. So how did Amber Linz do it?

The Pitch judges

The judges deliver their decision

In our chat, she thanked her work in the Blackbird Giants program, which mentors ambitious and curious early stage startup founders. Through the process she has been introduced to a range of experts and VC, which she described as “an incredible process”.

“By speaking with all of these people that have genuine insights and understand a problem base already, they helped me articulate my pitch and focus on the core things that they want to hear. That really helped inform my pitch on the night because I’d already practices with people who helped me tweak it.”

Beyond that was simply being able to communicate in a concise way. By focusing on the demand, or the problem, or the need, you can demonstrate value in a strong way, whereas the solution can come later.

“A bit of feedback I received after the Pitch from a couple of the judges was that there are a million and one ways to tackle this problem, but you’ve got to keep the problem at your core always.

“You’ll find the solution, you’ll iterate on the solution as you go, but the problem is really key.”

The power of community

She attributes her success to her work with Blackbird Giants, and within the tight-knit startup community more broadly. “One amazing thing I love about the startup world is everyone refers to each other by first name!”

Connection to these networks opens doors and facilitates introductions; it provides mentoring,  ambassadors and more.

“Being part of this world just opens up the next introduction, and the next introduction, and everyone knows someone from somewhere.

“To be able to practice your pitch, to get different insights from different people in the industry, for them to become ambassadors of your app, they love it so they tell more people, it’s the most important thing. It’s just how you get out there more quickly.”

The Pitch event crowd shot 2

Linz’ thoughts were echoed at the Pitch event, with guests, attendants judges and hosts pleased to be mixing in their community again with a face-to-face event.

Amber Linz’s final thoughts and inspiration

Linz is all-too-aware of the difficulties facing the startup and VC landscape at the moment.

“Yes, last year you could pitch to a VC with just an idea, with no users, and get funded, and this year is definitely harder than that, you do need a product, you do need early traction.” But reassuringly, she says “there’s still a lot of money out there”.

One good piece of advice she’s received has been to pitch outside of Australia, too. “It’s much harder to get funded in Australia compared to the US for tackling this space,” she said.

And it applies to Zipr and other consumer tech. “Don’t give up, just because Australian VCs prefer B2B” she said.

“There’s a grant and an application and money for everyone, it’s just a matter of putting yourself out there…

“You’re never to0 early-stage to apply to something and it always brings on a new opportunity, so I’d encourage people to apply to as many things as possible — for the experience, and the hope that something will turn out from it.”


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SmartCompany Plus

Sign in

To connect a sign in method the email must match the one on your SmartCompany Plus account.
Or use your email
Forgot your password?

Want some assistance?

Contact us on: or call the hotline: +61 (03) 8623 9900.