Lauren Trlin, our sometimes correspondent and founder of Buzzy, went to Sydstart to get the insider’s viewpoint on the event. Naturally she took a friend along: Monica Wulff, co-founder of Startup Muster.
It’s Thursday morning in sunny Sydney. Lauren and I are meeting on the steps at Town Hall, the unofficial meeting spot for anyone who’s in the city. Town Hall will be our hangout for the next 2 days for SydStart.
SydStart is Australia’s biggest startup conference. From humble beginnings in 2012, this year’s conference aimed to impress with Freelancer taking over the reigns and sending the conference into overdrive.
Lauren and I go through to the side entrance to join the horde of attendees grabbing their swag bags and lanyards. I hear that Xero are doing free barista coffee, music to our ears. The bottom floor is the trade floor filled with stalls by startups, accounting firms, law firms, software companies and finance companies all pronouncing their allegiance to the tech startup ecosystem.
I’m thrilled to be at SydStart on behalf of Startup News (Perth, represent!). I’m a recent addition to the Sydney startup scene having only arrived one month ago with my laptop, a few possessions and my startup, Buzzy. I’ve packed my handbag full of business cards and I’m ready to meet as many new like-minded individuals are possible.
We warm up with Cyan Ta’eed taking us through her Envato journey. We grab our free coffees (double shot skim latte please!) and head downstairs to mingle amongst the stalls. We chat tech and knitting with Kris Howard @web_goddess from Canva (as you do) and I steal a few smarties from the fishbowl at the Fishburners stall.
Upstairs on the main stage the speakers have been at it for a while, we sit in on Rory Cunningham’s talk on IPO’s. It’s laden with high quality insight and direction; a must for anyone planning to take their company public. Lunch time rolls around and as there’s no catered lunch (sad face) we’re off in search of food.
In a post lunch coma we sit down for Mark Bouris’s talk. Before Mark takes us down his yellow bricked memory lane to the early days of Wizard Home Loans, we get chatting to Kylie Frazer, co-founder of frankly.work. Kylie was fortunate enough to have snagged an UBERPitch cab and pitched her startup to Roxy Jacenko. Needless to say she’s had a good morning.
We’re back to enjoy Jane Lu’s (CEO of Showpo) presentation. She tells us that if she can make it anyone can make it but I’m kinda sceptical that photos of my dog will get me the 138k Instagram followers that Jane (@TheLazyCEO) has amassed. Jane fills her slot with candid pictures, funny anecdotes and a refreshing carpe diem vibe. Such a #bossylady.
Our energy is starting to wane as we reach the tail end of Day 1 at SydStart. Lauren and I start chatting with Chris Mulcahy from Enablr. He’s pitched his idea for UBERPitch and is nervously waiting for the his phone to ring.
The day ends with a presentation by Kim Dot Com about the future of the internet in the form of Meganet. With that finished, it’s time for happy hour!
My day ends with a glass of red, cheap thai food and chats with Mon and Kylie Leavitt, founder of My Nutrition Adventure. I hope some of Chris, Mon and Kylie’s knowledge has rubbed off on me. I catch the bus home and ponder all the wonderful things I have learned in one day.
Friday’s SydStart vibe is more relaxed. Maybe because it’s #TGIF or maybe it’s because all the pent up energy and startup buzz has dissipated slightly over night. I hang with Thai Huynh from Kapcher. Lauren has a sleep-in in preparation for the afterparty.
As a member of HackFood’s organising team I take my place in front of the FoodTechAus HackFood event banner and start telling everyone about Australia’s first ever food technology hackathon happening on the 6th-8th of November at Fishburners. After our HackFood Youth Ambassador Henry Johnson (he’s only 17 and likes to tell people that) finishes an awesome pitch (he got picked up by BI) he mans the booth with me and we had out information and promo codes (LAST50).
A number of attendees are fan crushing on the Warrior Forum speakers, especially Sean Ellis from GrowthHackers and Ray Chan from 9GAG. The topic of Tim Benbow’s (EY) presentation wasn’t as sexy as Sean’s or Ray’s but, it was a concise and informative account of readily available grants and incentives in Australia.
I finally rock up and Mon and I get inside the ASX photo booth for some silly pics. We have eaten our bodyweight in Carmen’s muesli bars, drunk enough free Xero coffee and RedBull to stimulate a dead horse and heard the words ‘My startup is the UBER of….’ just one too many times.
I feel terrible for Mon as she has heard my elevator pitch approximately 500 times over the past two days. I’m glad to see she still wants to be friends with me.
TechWreck, SydStart’s afterparty is kicking off at The Ivy but my phone has 6% battery, my pockets are filled with business cards and I have a list of startup related tasks as long as my leg. Hugs, kisses and a selfie in front of the SydStart wall and I’m off home eagerly awaiting the afterparty goss from Lauren on Saturday morning.
I head to the SydStart afterparty sans Mon. Her ticket doesn’t go to waste as I drag a friend along to dance the night away with Steve Jobs and a few mythical unicorns. I am complimented on my daggy dance moves by a guy wearing double denim. With this confidence boost, I grace the stage at the SydStart afterparty. This is my moment to shine!
I inevitably end up having some magical conversations with people that are on the same wavelength as me. We discuss the potential of what we can create in the New Age of the Entrepreneur. I hobble home in my pretty Louboutins feeling pretty darn excited about what the future holds.
Monica & Lauren
SydStart was a ball and being able to share the experience with a fellow entrepreneur was the icing on the cake. For more SydStart highlights check out #SydStart, @monwulff & @laurentrlin.