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Summary Of Q&A Session With Michael Kyriacou

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// Last Friday, we were very fortunate to have Mike Kyriacou (direct from Silicon Valley) at a special event held at Sync Labs.

Last Friday, we were very fortunate to have Mike Kyriacou (direct from Silicon Valley) at a special event held at Sync Labs.

Originally from Perth, Mike is an energetic serial entrepreneur and investor now based in Silicon Valley.  Mike generously gave his time to answer questions and give insights into the startup scene in Silicon Valley from both the entrepreneur and investor’s perspective.

Around fifty founders and others interested in startups came to Sync Labs to hear the latest startup news from Silicon Valley and participate in a question and answer session, as well as to hear tips & hints from a successful entrepreneur and investor. This was a not to be missed event and as measured by the buzz after the event, Mike didn’t disappoint anyone.

This special event was a collaboration between Lean Startup Perth, Morning Startup Perth, and Silicon Beach Perth. It was held during the regular Silicon Beach time-slot on Friday evening at Sync Labs.  Morning Startup Perth sponsored drinks and snacks.

Who is Michael Kyriacou?

Michael has participated in and initiated many ventures, buyout bids and transactions, and developed innovative products and systems now used across the planet.

He won the John Renner Medal for Engineering Leadership, was named in Australia’s 30 Most Inspiring Young Engineers, was one of the 28 Silicon Valley entrepreneurs selected for SV Startup Bus 2012 and one of the 15 International Entrepreneurs selected for SCU Silicon Valley Immersion Program 2008.

Mike’s current responsibilities include: Executive Director & Founder, Strattica Group; CEO, Great Big Enterprises Inc; Chief Mentor, European Innovation Academy; Advisory Board Member, CIE Leavy School of Business – Santa Clara University; Co-owner, ELA Security.

So how did it go?

The Q&A session was introduced and moderated by Ashley Aitken, a local entrepreneur and the organiser of Lean Startup Perth.

Michael firstly described what he had done previously in Perth and why he moved to Silicon Valley, followed by an overview of what he has been up to over the last six years in Silicon Valley.  The Q&A was then broken up into three main topics:

1. Hot Areas and Ideas.  What is seeing types of businesses are currently seeing increased interest from VCs and what types of businesses that were previously hot are now seeing less interest.

Michael indicated that recent hot areas of tech startup for VCs (and thus talent, who always tend to migrate to what the VCs are interested in) are:

  • data analytics, machine intelligence, big data and all overlaps thereof – being applied to all verticals
  • [related to above] algorithmic automation – including Internet of Things, signal processing, machine vision etc
  • hardware, IoT/wearables, robotics & drones (caveat:  watch for what will be commoditized and what aspects have global barriers to entry)
  • all aspects of security
  • generally shifting from consumer to enterprise – if consumer, then crowdfunding sites are now a strong alternative to seed funding
  • Sharing Economy marketplaces: ‘Uberfication’ of everything (eg:  “AirBnB for storage”)
  • powerful network effects in place so first teams to effectively execute can lock in advantages before less effective entrants can catch up.

2. Founders in Silicon Valley.  What are the founders like in Silicon Valley? (and do they call come from Stanford?) How does the ecosystem in Silicon Valley compare with those in Australia?

Michael informed us that only 3% of founders in Silicon Valley are actually from Silicon Valley, the rest come from around the US and, of course, from other countries.  The amount of startup activity is off-the-scale, with (almost) literally a startup weekend or hackathon every weekend and meetups every night.  Everyone is talking startups pretty much all the time.

And most importantly, that the Lean Startup and Customer Development / Validation mindset is becoming the expected mode of operation across Silicon Valley for most technology startups  It’s great that Perth community appear to already be embracing this approach that minimises wasted time and capital.

3. Investors and Investments.  How come there are so many large early stage investments in Silicon Valley?  Is there really another bubble?  What about crowdfunding for product/services and equity?

Michael indicated that Perth might be pitched as “The Silicon Valley of the Resources Sector”.  Huge risk capital appetite for resource deals and increasing recognition that technology is the way forward.  Probably still easier to get resource deals done in Perth than any other city in the world.  Might be source of comparative advantage on global stage for startups:  Decision makers (for collaboration discussions) are based here, as opposed to dreaded, ‘regional sales offices’ that only sell and can’t collaborate.

The event was a great collaboration between Lean Startup Perth, Morning Startup Perth, Silicon Beach Perth, and Sync Labs and demonstrates how we all work together to support the local startup community.

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Startup News has been the home of West Australian startup news and events since 2013. We publish several news stories, interviews, tips and events relating to WA startups every week, with over 1,900 articles in our archives. We also produce the 'Startup West' podcast, and host the 'Hubs (Ecosystem)' database of WA startup programs, places and events.
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