Startup founders storm Sydney

1 July 2019

The University of Queensland’s student founders have returned from two days at Launch Festival Sydney 2019 – a celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Held in San Francisco for the past 10 years, the inaugural Sydney event featured fireside chats with leading international technologists and pioneers, as well as cutting-edge future technology.

"Work on something you'd be proud of, even if it failed," said David Rogier, CEO and co-founder of Masterclass, at Launch Festival Sydney 2019.

Angel investor and prominent Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jason Calacanis hosted the event, which UQ Ventures Entrepreneur in Residence Ran Heimann said enabled students to get a taste of the global startup ecosystem.

“Launch Festival gave founders within the University’s ilab Accelerator program to see where the goal post really is, in a highly competitive and global environment,” Ran said.

“Always keen to broaden their reach and networks, some of our even startups hustled their way into the program. ClearSKY Genomics (health technology) and Paraspace (virtual reality industry training technology) showcased their products to hundreds of attendees. ClearSKY Genomics founder Alan Robertson even got to pitch on stage as part of Jason Calacanis’ Office Hours, and received the founder’s famously candid advice.

“This trip was truly inspirational and widened our founders' views on the range of potential opportunities and pathways a startup can now take.”

Chemical engineer behind Beome, Nathaniel Simpson, said the festival helped him to realise that competing among the best of the best – including startups from Silicon Valley – can be a reality.

“I always considered taking my idea to the United States as a fantasy or a pipe dream. But after listening to the stories of other entrepreneurs, I realised that this can become a reality once you have traction,” Nathaniel said.

“UQ might be a long way from Silicon Valley, but with the right kinds of networks and a killer pitch, we can make our mark on the global stage.”

After attending a range of workshops and presentations geared towards early-stage startups – such as how to raise funds and how to fit products with market needs – Nathaniel will now put his knowledge to use on the big stage.

Along with founders from nine additional startups, Nathaniel will present his big ideas at the ilab Accelerator Pitch Night on July 30.