Startup Catalyst Participants Blog

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Spark Boulder and “Hey man” funding

Our visit to Spark Boulder was an interesting comparison to the well-funded Boomtown Accelerator, and a stark contrast to Galvanize, most noticeably for its boot-strapping, “get shit done” startup culture. Spark is a “finishing school for students to prepare for entrepreneurship”.  Or in other words, it is addressing the skills gap between University graduates and industry jobs. It was founded after the merger of 3 student-led startup groups on campus.  After pitching the concept for the space to University faculty – and getting no positive responses – they went out on their own, secured a lease for the premises, and...

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Boomtown Accelerator

On day 1 of the Startup Community Leaders Mission we visited the Boomtown Accelerator in Boulder Colorado, after an introduction from Baden U’ren (Bond University, Gold Coast). Boomtown is an accelerator that runs 2 programs per year (3 months long), and now has an alumni network of 60 companies from the past 3 years, 90% of which are still going, and 78% are generating profits (impressive stats).  Approximately 50% of the portfolio are health-tech related.  Roughly 50% of the teams in each cohort are typically local, and the rest come from around the world. Most of the startups are very early...

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Day 1: Lessons from Boulder Colorado

After arriving in the USA and meeting at our hotel in Denver for a mission briefing ahead of a group dinner to bond and connect with the cohort, our first official day of the inaugural Startup Community Leaders Mission was spent in Boulder Colorado. About Boulder Boulder is a small city of 103,166 (2013), making it smaller than Cairns (147,993), Townsville (180,333), Ipswich (190,000), and Toowoomba (114,622), but bigger than Mackay (84,455), Bundaberg (70,588), and Longreach (3,173), which are all locations represented by the community leaders on the trip. It lies at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, some 40km northwest of Denver in...

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Galvanize Boulder

At first glance, Galvanise Boulder appears to be a 30,000 square feet co-working space with 23 meeting rooms and the “obligatory free beer” (their words). And it is – they have 220 individuals from 75 companies working in the space.  But what was very obvious during our time with their General Manager, Emilie Kintner, was that she never once used the word “co-working” during our hour long visit.  She pitched Galvanize as “a learning community for technology startups”.  When questioned on this, she articulated it was a very deliberate avoidance of using the term “co-working”, in order to differentiate themselves from...

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We’re heading to Colorado and California!

The first Startup Community Leaders Mission is scheduled to the USA for 29 January – 5 February 2017, with 18 participants taking part, including 13 from regional Queensland, 2 from Brisbane, 1 from Byron Bay, and 2 from Perth. The objective of this mission is to explore different models and programs used overseas for providing support to startups, while building global awareness, discovering international best practices, learning about the latest trends, and building strong global connections, all to better support the startups in our local Australian startup communities. What are we doing? During the mission participants will meet with fellow startup community...

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Equinix Data Centre

Driving into the parking lot, you would be forgiven for thinking you were entering a high security government facility like the Pentagon. Gigantic walls, security cameras and biometric scanners. As it turns out, you wouldn’t be far off. The cohort entered the security room and presented passports, before being introduced to Equinix and the data centres. It was incredibly insightful to hear about how the data centres are maintained, run and managed. Each of the data centres are built near train lines as this is where the dark fibre runs. Due to them being carrier agnostic, the data centres are...

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My “WTF” Moment

Mark Johnson, the previous CEO of SkyPilot Networks (later acquired), blew my mind on the second day of our trip and introduced our group to the startup ‘”WTF” moment’. His belief was that every truly successful startup had a moment in which a user would experience a WTF moment – when they were struck with what the tech or company offered and how it was going to change their life. Similarly, a WTF moment could be an extreme juxtaposition to what you would expect in any given situation or experience. My moment occurred a few days later. I had tried to organise a meeting...

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Catalyst Crew takes Google Mountain View!

Today we visited the Googleplex in Mountain View! This was something that many of us had been looking forward to and there was definitely excitement seeing Google self-driving cars whizzing by as we approached the area. We started the visit with two interesting tech talks from Googlers Ian and Wayne. Ian is a manager in the privacy and security area, and gave us great insights into the value of data and the fact that no company is immune from data breaches. He also touched on the fact that even Google has made mistakes with collecting more data than was actually...

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Lessons from Startup Weekend Santa Cruz

So we finished up at Santa Cruz’s first ever Startup Weekend. The focus was on sustainability and social impact and boy, did we nail it. Startup Catalyst led teams took out First Place, Third Place and Honorable Mention while Second Place had some excellent guidance from another Startup Catalyst veteran of Startup weekends. The other teams pitched some amazing ideas too so overall a huge success and a lot of people commented that the energy and outcome of the Startup Weekend would have been totally different without our ragtaggle band of Aussies. After the fervor of the awards ceremony and...