Author: Aaron Birkby

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Israel Mission: Day 1 recap

After 3 flights, and 32 hours in transit door to door, I finally arrived in Tel Aviv, Israel early Sunday morning as part of a trade mission in partnership between Startup Catalyst, Austrade, and Advance Queensland. Joining me on the trip are 11 founders of Queensland-based agtech companies, and one representative from the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation. On the ground, the mission schedule is being led by Omri Wislizki, the manager of the Australian Landing Pad in Tel Aviv. Why Israel? Israel has a population of 8.5 million and yet has more companies listed on the NASDAQ than...

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We’re heading to Israel with 11 agtech companies

The first Startup Catalyst Mission to Israel is about to take off from Brisbane on 5th August for 7 days on the ground in Tel Aviv. The mission is being funded by Advance Queensland, who have sponsored flights and accommodation for 11 Queensland-based agtech companies, chosen from a competitive online selection process.  The 11 companies spread across Brisbane, Gold Coast, Cairns, and Outback Queensland, and cover a broad range of digital, hardware and bio technology products and services. Startup Catalyst is leading the mission, and a representative from the Queensland Government will also be attending. The mission is being designed and...

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European Mission wrap-up

Startup Catalyst just wrapped up it’s second annual 2 week mission to Berlin and London, with 11 days on the ground in 3 cities across 2 countries, hitting 40 group events and 20+ private meetings, generating well over 100 new connections. The 20 participants comprised of a mix of mostly investors, scale-ups and startups, plus accelerator/co-working leaders, corporates, University faculty, and public servants. We were also joined in London by delegations out of Victoria and New South Wales, making it the largest Australian delegation to ever visit the UK. We were also joined and supported by the incredible Warren Bartlett (TIQ...

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SheEO and 10.10.10

While in Denver, we were fortunate enough to spend time with the awesome Heather MacKenzie, who wears a number of hats, including volunteering as the Denver City Lead for SheEO, and being CEO Team Lead for 10.10.10. In a country where only 2.7% of Vc funding goes to startups with female founders, SheEO is doing its part to try and solve this problem.  They raised $1000 from each of 1000 women in 100 days, equating to a $1 million fund.  They then opened for applications from startups which were female led (female founder or 50% female team), who also had at least $50k...

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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...