Startup Catalyst Future Founders: Challenge and hope

This trip changed me. I have been going around in circles in my life. This trip grounded me.

The participants of the Startup Catalyst Future Founders trip shared their lessons on a panel last night. Their feedback gives hope and challenge for Australian entrepreneurship.

Startup Catalyst is a program that takes groups of young future founders, investors, community leaders, and industry-specific entrepreneurs overseas to experience other startup environments. My own Startup Catalyst trip early 2017 was instrumental in setting my current direction.

The participants all shared similar experiences.  Some of their responses when asked about what surprised them about the trip include:

  • The tech was not as advanced as I thought it would have been. I was expecting to be blown away, but we have some amazing people in Australia. What we are missing is culture and a give first mentality.
  • I had skills I was not aware of.
  • Ideas coming out of Silicon Valley are similar to those coming out of Brisbane.
  • Amount of Australians in Silicon Valley.
  • Comparing $100k rounds in Australia to $1m rounds in Silicon Valley. The exit strategy of IPO in Australia versus getting acquired by a corporate in Silicon Valley.
  • How nice everyone was, and how much time they gave up to hang out and give back.

There is a thought that Silicon Valley is so much further ahead of Australia in terms of technology.  The high caliber of existing Australian technical capability came through in the panel responses.  This was also a factor of the selection process for the trip that picked out some of the brightest minds in Australia from an increasingly large pool of high-caliber applicants.

My favorite part of the evening was when the panel and audience which included previous alumni briefly segued into a discussion about the impact of artificial intelligence on the mental health industry. With the capability in the room, I expect we could have locked the door and had a good crack at some practical solutions in a short period of time.

Missions such as Startup Catalyst expose people to opportunities and new perspectives, show them what they are capable of, and build strong networks within the cohort, past alumni, and the global entrepreneur community. It also sets the expectation that they will be able to apply themselves and make a difference in their local area.

I have seen this first hand as I bump into Startup Catalyst alumni in my Australian travels exploring what is happening in different innovation regions. These young leaders will have an exponential effect as they influence other leaders and build incredible businesses.


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