Cultivating community: ilab alumni night

9 May 2019

In April 2019, The University of Queensland’s (UQ) Entrepreneur in Residence, Ran Heimann, brought together ilab alumni and startup founders for an evening of networking and community building.

The night featured an in-depth fire side chat with ilab alumnus and current CEO and founder of GO1, Mr Andrew Barnes. GO1 is a corporate training platform for businesses to find, book and deliver training. The high-growth startup employs 200 people, and recently secured $30 million from Microsoft Ventures, M12.

Mr Barnes painted a picture of success coming off the back of an incredible amount of work; success that often didn’t show the work behind the scenes, of coordinating a growing workforce while structuring a business to match your work and life ethics, along with managing personalities and big demands.

Queensland’s first startup accelerator, ilab, has operated for 18 years. Since UQ assumed operations of ilab in 2012, it has supported over 190 companies that have raised over $60 million in investment and grants. In 2018, ilab moved into the fabric of UQ’s entrepreneurship offerings – under the newly branded Ventures.

120 attendees crowded the room, showcasing the appetite of the ilab alumni for such reunions.

View images from the ilab Alumni event below

The event’s sponsor was Mrs Desley Grundy, from EY, who provided EY’s high-rise office space: a magnificent glass-walled room with a 180 degree view of Brisbane city. 

ilab Director, Mr Bernie Woodcroft, told founders of the importance of maintaining relationships.

“As one of Australia’s longest running accelerator programs, we are committed to building a solid structure of founder engagement to keep nurturing lifelong relationships with our ilab alumni,” Mr Woodcroft said.

“I hope they continue contributing to UQ’s entrepreneurial future by advising us on what kind of skill sets and mind-sets are needed in their industries and how we might influence and nurture future founders joining Ventures’ programs.”

ilab stakeholders and VIP founders all spoke of the quality of such alumni reunions to rekindle connections with fellow founders in a professional, friendly and vibrant atmosphere.

According to alumni night MC Mr Heimann, ilab has a powerful alumni community.

“They are vital to the ongoing success of UQ’s founders through the support of their networks, their advice and as potential future investors,” he said.

Mr Heimann brings twenty years of business experience to his mentoring of ilab startups. One of them, Modulr Tech, a big data and software company, graduated from ilab in 2017. Their team attended the night.

“I really enjoyed meeting all the previous cohorts from ilab Accelerator, and learning about where everyone is at now,” Modulr Tech co-founder, Ms Andrea Yee said.

“It was truly inspirational to see how everyone's progressing along their journey. It opened my eyes to all the potential opportunities and pathways that startups can take.” 

UQ Ventures will continue to reach out to its alumni community, and will hold similar networking events to assist each other in the long hard road of building a startup.