Startup Community Leadership Mission – Day 5 “Startup Weekend, Landing Pad & RocketSpace”


Day 5

9am – Coffee with Startup Weekend –

Having now run 6 Startup Weekends it was great to chat with John Beadle – head of Startup Weekend globally around his vision for where Startup Weekend is headed.

Startup Weekend stats to date:

  • 23,000+ teams have been formed
  • 193,000+ Startup Weekend Alumni
  • 150 countries
  • 2,900+ events

Of the teams that participate in Startup Weekend – approximately 12% keep going

We talked around volunteer burnout, the acquisition of Up Global (Startup Weekend) by Techstars and its transition, running a not for profit (Startup Weekend) underneath a for profit entity) (Techstars).

We also discussed ways to streamline the process of withdrawing funds from the community chest. Each region has a community chest and any profits that are made for the events 50% is put into a community chest for volunteers to draw on to help fund future startup events, education, anything pretty much related to startup. The other 50% is retained by techstars to help cover admin/operational costs. Most events run around cost neutral, so Techstars had to invest around $700,000 into Startup Weekend in the last year to keep it going.
10am – 11am LandingPad –

As part of the federal governments NISA program, Landing Pads have been established in 5 locations around the world (San Francisco, Berlin, Telavi , Singapore and Shanghai).

Landing Pads help market-ready startups take their business global. Participants in the program are immersed in an environment that will help them accelerate the design and development of their product / service business model.

The intention is to enable startups to rapidly fine-tune their pitch, commercialise their offering, identify partners, customers and investors, and access global markets.

You can find more information on who should apply here –

Part of what the Landing Pad in San Francisco does is network integration with other Aussie founders:

Aussie Founders Network –
Aussies in tech meetup –


Amongst other networks
Was great to catch up with Bonny from Tilsta (whom I met at the AQIIS conference in 2016) they are a Sunshine Coast startup participating in the Landing Pad program. Tilsta simplifies the shopping experience by integrating shopping cart technology into video. For example, say you’re watching a video ad and you see something that you like, you simply tilt your mobile device forward and it adds the item to your cart. Very cool!
RocketSpace –

RocketSpace was founded by tech entrepreneurs, for tech entrepreneurs. The founder and CEO, Duncan Logan, was a technology executive who was frustrated with the options for his new startup in San Francisco… Either spend an outrageous amount of money on a private office in an isolated building, join a coworking facility where his team would be surrounded by non-technology freelancers or give up equity as part of an accelerator program. So he got together a group of tech startups and formed RocketSpace.

Since its inception in 2011, 17 unicorns (billion dollar startups) have spent time at RocketSpace including Uber and Spotify. It’s currently home to 170 tech startups

They are focused on going global… With offices in London, Beijing, San Francisco and plans to open in Australia in 2017.

RocketSpace has a strong focus on corporate innovation services, matching corporate needs with startup potential.

Presently they offer accelerator programs with a focus on 2 key verticals and offer a virtual & physical accelerator, so as to attract participants from all over the world. Virtual participants are required to be in San Francisco at the commencement of the program and the conclusion, but can work virtually in between.

Present virtual focuses are based around where they have corporate partnerships:

  1. Logistics
  2. Food & agriculture

11am – 4:30pm – Personal time for meetings and/or GSD

4:30pm – Happy Hour @ Covo –

Covo is a coworking space which also acts as a New Zealand landing pad.

I was speaking with one founder who was working on a solution to cure cancer (amongst other diseases). Apparently, his technology enables him to momentarily rupture individual cells (without destroying them), inject healthy DNA into the ruptured cell and have it heal. He’s just been accepted into the Y-Combinator accelerator program.

It was in explaining what I did and his total lack of enthusiasm that I had the awareness. In Silicon Valley people are encouraged to work on their BIGGEST ideas, because there’s the talent (people to hire), resources and culture to help support the development of those BIG ideas. In regional Australia, we often lack those key elements. Can technology and regular travel help bridge that gap? I think we have to!

Talking with Alex Retzlaff from Fewzion, he’s a Landing Pad participate and has offices in Brisbane and New Castle NSW. Alex suggested that they are closing down their New Castle office and moving to Brisbane, because there is more happening in the startup space in Brisbane.

A key insight that Troy Kelly of Aicial shared was pertaining to how Australian’s view ideas. We are often over protective of ideas for fear someone will steal it, which is completely the wrong way to go about it. We want to share our ideas with everyone, it’s what people do in Silicon Valley.

I also met Steven Pack of Koala Safe, who we randomly met at Covo. Small world! Adam Mills, Steven’s business partner is presently in Cairns working from theSPACE as part of the HotDesQ program.

Insights from day 5:

  1. Share what we’ve learned in running Startup Weekends with others in the Cairns region, so that they can take over running the events. Time to pass the baton on.
  2. GSD = Get Shit Done
  3. Slicing Pie is a great book that outlines a simple process to get your business started even if you don’t have a lot of cash. In the early days you can use equity to get the things you need to start your company including help, equipment, supplies, rent and even credit –
  4. Silicon Valley is where industry leadership happens, because people are encouraged to work on their BIGGEST ideas. There’s the talent (people to hire), resources and culture to help support the development of those BIG ideas. In regional Australia, we often lack those key elements. What idea would you be working on if it was culturally expected that you be working on your biggest idea? And that there were the resources and talent pool to help you execute on that idea!
  5. Australian’s as a generalisation tend to be fearful about talking about their idea because someone may steal it. We need to get over that! New startup ideas require so much energy to get off the ground that we need to talk to anyone and everyone. Talk to your business colleagues, your friends, your garbage man. Talk about it to everyone!
  6. Failure is success

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