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Innovation Bay in Perth

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Marcus Holmes

Innovation Bay has come to Perth, but what does that actually mean? We take a look at what it offers.

Innovation Bay has been running successfully in Sydney for 10 years, according to the press release. The format is actually fairly standard for these things, but it’s not something we’ve seen much of in Perth for some reason. So how does it work?

The core concept is connection and education – connecting entrepreneurs and angels mainly, and educating by providing excellent speakers on subjects that innovators want to hear about. The program operates in two parts:

Speaker Breakfasts and Focus Dinners, where someone who can be interesting and educational about a topic talks to a crowd of people who might be interested in that topic. Innovation Bay is pretty well-connected so these are people who probably won’t be talking at the usual startup community events, because status. So if you want to hear some really successful people talk this is as good an opportunity as it gets. The Focus Dinners double-down on this opportunity and only have 20 people in the audience, which allows for some real dialogue and conversation rather than a one-way speech.

Angel Dinners, where angels get pitched ideas by entrepreneurs. The process is pretty simple: entrepreneurs make a video of their pitch and submit it to Innovation Bay. The angels registered with Innovation Bay choose the three ideas they’d like to see in person. Then Innovation Bay provides some pitch coaches to help the entrepreneurs polish their pitches, and the final pitches are made at an Angel Dinner where interested angels can ask questions and get involved.

The first Speaker Breakfast features Sven Ross, co-founder of Diamond Cyber, the post-iiNet Michael Malone thing, talking about corporate security. That’s on March 24th, so coming soon.

The first Focus Dinner is with Zhenya Tsvetnenko, who made a fortune by building an SMS gateway turned online media empire, and is now betting big on bitcoins and blockchains. Getting a conversation with him is really hard, so this will be interesting.

Applications for video pitches open on April 6th, so if you’re interested in improving your pitch and possibly getting an angel involved in your idea, then you can apply after that date. The actual Angel Dinner is on May 21st, and that’s by invitation only (to the angels registered with Innovation Bay). The video pitches will also be made available nationally, apparently, so there’s a chance of your video being seen by angels over east who might really like it and want you to pitch at their dinner (your cost for flights, etc).

The Innovation Bay program is backed by Deloittes (full disclosure – and AppLabs, my current employer), and speaking to Serg Duchini, director of R&D at Deloittes, they’re very much seeing the startup sector all across Australia as a significant long-term driver of the Aussie economy. Both Deloittes and Innovation Bay are seeing more and more interest in investing in the tech startup sector, but there needs to be an education of investors in how the sector operates, and Innovation Bay believes it can play a part in this education.

All in all, this is an interesting initiative to add to the Perth scene. I think it’s possibly more useful in Sydney than in Perth (bigger and more fragmented scene over there, so networking is a real problem, while everyone knows everyone here), and I think it’ll need to evolve a bit here to find its niche, but I think there’s definitely a niche here for it to find. With all the seed-stage funding suddenly available in Perth this could be one of the things that accelerated startups go to for the next level.

You can find out more information here, and book tickets for the first Speaker Breakfast on March 24th here

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Marcus Holmes

Gentleman Technologist and co-founder of Startup News. His vision has made //SN a sustainable media cheerleader for the startup community. Former CEO of Phnom Penh Post, he can be found somewhere in S.E. Asia coding away...
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