Startup Catalyst Participants Blog

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The visit to Twitter

Today we met Michael Montano who leads the engineering team for the core parts of twitter. He was always building websites in high school to pay for college. He went to a TechCrunch and that was the first time he was in the valley. After school he and his co-founder applied for Ycombibator and that was their ticket to the US. They were doing a startup very similar to Twitter: BackType. Then they pivoted and Built a very compelling technology working on data analytics and ads business. They built an API and started partnering with companies like Twitter. Then they...

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Pre-Trip Jitters

It’s the day before we get on a plane bound for San Francisco; typing that sentence gave me goosebumps. I am beyond excited for the trip – one of our Youth leaders, Colin, recently sent through the Program Schedule and all the places marked out that we will be visiting. It’s gearing up to be an intense two weeks. I’m most excited for Startup Weekend, which is on the 5th day of the trip. For this event we’ll be travelling to Santa Cruz, but as Peter, our other Youth Leader, has advised, we will not be spending it at their...

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Youth Mission 2016 cohort announced

After a rigorous selection process, today we officially announce the 20 participants chosen for the 2016 Youth Mission to Silicon Valley. The applicant pool This year was the first time the program expanded nationally, and with an extended age limit from 18 to 29 (up from 25 years of age last year). As a result, we had 201 applications from across the country, of which 50 were interviewed, before we selected the final 20. Applicants this year had an incredible mix of skill-sets and experience, from software engineering, to mechatronics, computer vision, data science, AI, machine learning, electronics, graphic design, UI, UX,...

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Startup Weekend

On the weekend of the 5th of October we participated in the San Francisco Startup Weekend at Hack Reactor, a programming Bootcamp based in San Francisco. For those who have not attended a Startup Weekend before, the general idea is to pitch something (or pick from others’ pitches), find a team to work with, and attempt to validate and build a product over the course of 48 hours. As Startup Catalyst participants, we were all required to pitch something. I generally find public speaking quite daunting, and am not used to pitching ideas, so this was a nerve racking experience...

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IBM

Hadoop. Spark. The Cloud. At Cloudera I had broken out in a cold sweat at memories of extreme computing at uni (or maybe that was the kidney infection). But there was no escaping big data as next we headed off to IBM to talk with startup veteran James Barry, now City Leader for the IBM Silicon Valley Cloud Ecosystem Team. He was there to let us know about some of the programs IBM runs to help startups. Of most interest to us was the Global Entrepreneur Program , an alternative to an accelerator offering mentoring, networking, access to IBM connections,...

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Cloudera

Following the intense experience of the startup weekend, we had a day of cloud education starting with a visit to the headquarters of Cloudera in Palo Alto. Cloudera primarily provides services and support for Apache Hadoop solutions but also contributes to the on going development of the Hadoop open source project. Hadoop is an open source Apache project that is used for the processing and storage of very large data sets. It was created by Doug Cutting, the current Chief Architect at Cloudera and Mike Cafarella. The project was named Hadoop by Doug Cutting, who named it after a toy...

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Accel Partners

Accel Partners is a venture capital and growth equity firm that manages over $8 billion. Accel has a 30 year history in investing in Silicon Valley. They back some of the most prominent global firms such as Facebook, DropBox, Slack, Etsy, Spotify, Atlassian, Squarespace, Braintree, Cloudera, Kayak, 99 Designs and many more. The offices of Accel in Palo Alto are minimalist and quite beautiful. We had discussions around a large boardroom table. Before starting, they asked each of us our most used phone application. It was small signals such as this that demonstrated their continual effort to stay current in...

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Keepsafe

On tuesday, we visited a small company called keepsafe. They had built a Mobile Application which allowed you to protect your private files with a pin number. They talked about how it all started out, and how they grew the application from a very small user base to over 45 million downloads. The speaker; Phillip Berner, provided us with some information on what the team comprises of. Initially, the team consisted of only programmers. After the first round of investment; $750,000, they hired someone to take care of the business end of the company. Part of the investment also went...

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Day 4: Facebook

A clear highlight of the 2015 Startup Catalyst Mission was a trip to Facebook in Palo Alto.   The team arrived at the airy Facebook campus’s lobby, lining up to sign in with none other than their own Facebook account. The team was greeted by Joel Pobar, an ex-Brisbanite now Engineering Director of Performance, who hosted us for the tour. During the extended visit, the team rubbed shoulders with some of the great minds of Facebook, all of whom spoke candidly of Facebook’s culture, challenges and way or work, always leaving the team in shock and awe.   The cohort first...

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Day 4: Computer Science History Museum & Stanford

Day 4 started at the Computer Science History museum. It was also our first trip down to Palto Alto, a town filled with low rise buildings and pictureseque sreets. It was a welcome change to the clutter and bustle of San Francisco. We followed a tour guide through the Computer History museum tour, and followed through the inception of computers from a huge mechanical machine used to tally census votes, the inception of the “computer” term (which originally referred to a room full of women doing manual calculations) all the way to a display full of robots and the potential...