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We’re here today with Cheryl Mack CEO of Startcon. Are you able to give some background to Startcon?


Audio Transcription


Cheryl Mack: [00:00:11] Yeah of course so Startcon kind of I started actually seven years ago and at the time you know startups weren’t super cool no one was really talking about it the government wasn’t really in the space at all. And so someone named Pete Cooper tarted this event and he was like hey let’s just get together and it was maybe 100 people that first one. In that time from 2009 to 2014 it grew from a hundred to fifteen hundred. And that’s when I came on board. Since then you know we’ve grown it from 1500 to 3000 last year and we’re expecting about 4000 people this year. So it’s really become the cornerstone event for the community. You know anyone involved in the startup community, technology, growth you know it’s a full two day event that really brings everyone together.

David Tasker: [00:00:57] And what are some of the key elements of the event?

Cheryl Mack: [00:01:00] Yes so I’m We have four stages which is just create crazy amount of content. On the main stage we feature almost exclusively high profile international names so we have you know like the CEO of Crunchbase and the V.P. of growth from Pinterest. And then the other stages feature in-depth workshops from local experts. And then we also have a huge pitch competition. An Expo. About 150 exhibitors including 75 startups who exhibit in Startup Alley. There’s also a Hackathon, corporate innovation track, a fintec stage so there’s just everything comes together and the fun parts are the networking events that happen after hours.

David Tasker: [00:01:39] And how important is it for the ecosystem to get together in an event such as this?

Cheryl Mack: [00:01:44] Yes so one of the kind of key points that I that I mention is that I hear it all the time startups tell me that they made the connections over the course of the two days that would have taken them six months otherwise. So if you can imagine how much work it takes to say reach out to people can we go for coffee can we do this. Here’s what I want to do. Let’s work on this partnership. If you could condense all of those meetings into two days. Like think how much quicker your business can grow. So I mean I think that’s really the main point around how valuable it is for a startup just to attend. That’s not even getting into if you’re exhibiting a startup alley. I think one startup last year told me they got like 100 business cards from investors. That’s a hundred potential investments like that’s awesome. And then pitch competition like you’re pitching in front of a live audience of 400 people. Can you imagine what that would do for your business? So I mean just for the startups alone in terms of growing their business it’s really, really valuable. And then for everyone else I mean we have a wide audience is not just for startups we also have quite a few SMBs. 50 percent of our audience is actually corporate attendees so they come to learn you know what are the new things happening in the technology space and innovation. They also come to connect with startups, potential partnerships. And then for investors if you can think like these are the top startups that we are showcasing in the APAC region so investors come to see who is the best of the best. So it really is an opportunity for everyone to come together over the course of two days, make those connections and really builds towards whatever journey or goal they’re trying to achieve.

David Tasker: [00:03:16] You touched on international speakers. How easy is it to attract them to Australia to be part of an event such as this. And why do they come?

Cheryl Mack: [00:03:25] So they come for various reasons. Most of them really understand what it was like back in the day of having to start from scratch and they want to give back, some of them want to you know get some exposure to the Australian audience and others just want to have a vacation in this beautiful country. But it is kind of difficult sometimes to ask them to come out to this crazy country called Australia and speak in front of a couple of thousand people audience. You know sometimes they don’t always say yes or get back to me. But one you know I put a lot of effort into going after the biggest names possible because I really believe that in order for Australian startups to become global sustainable businesses they need to be exposed to these global ideas and global minds. And so it’s really important for us to bring as many heavy hitters in the technology industry from other countries to Australia as possible.

David Tasker: [00:04:12] What are some of the success stories to come out of the event?

Cheryl Mack: [00:04:15] Yes. So last year a startup I won’t say which one unfortunately but it’s had a Term Sheet put down at the conference which is just incredible. They had enough interest that an investor was willing to put down a Term Sheet. Another one launched the day of start climb and acquired their first 10 like Enterprise clients that day. Another one and really went from they had like a prototype and acquired like two or three people to help take it from a prototype to a full product. And you know now they have that and are actually you know they’re soaring. Look I can name so many. They’ve just it’s I’m very proud to see how many have gone from have an idea or I wasn’t really sure what I was doing to Now I’m in multiple cities and I’m just thriving and we’re really lucky to be part of that.

David Tasker: [00:05:06] So for an investor, A corporate or a startup thinking of attending Startcon what would you say?

Cheryl Mack: [00:05:12] Absolutely you have to come at least experience at once. You’ll want to come back again and again because it’s the type of event that we’re you know we’re not your grandfather’s conference. It’s not boring you’re not just sitting there. You’re learning, you’re having fun, you’re meeting the people that you really want to meet. And in an amazing setting that is just it brings that entrepreneurial spirit out in everybody.

David Tasker: [00:05:35] Cheryl thanks for talking.

Cheryl Mack: [00:05:36] No problem.

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