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Sydney Startup Weekend Recap — March 10, 2017

Sydney Startup Weekend Recap

Last weekend we ran our second H2 Ventures Startup Weekend. It was a fantastic weekend where 80 startup enthusiasts came together at the brand new WeWork co-working space in Pyrmont, Sydney, to learn-by-doing the key principles of starting a successful startup. If you ask anyone who attended they will tell you the number one principle is to validate, validate, validate and then validate some more. This involved the contestants getting out of the building to speak to their potential customers about their problems, the proposed solution and the proposed business model to ensure they are developing a business that someone (ideally a large number of people) will pay for.

It all started at 5pm on Friday evening. When I entered the room I was excited to see that we had a good gender balance among the participants (41% female, we want to get to parity next time) and as we asked questions of the crowd it also became apparent that we had people from all over the world and many who had flown in from across Australia just to attend the event!

As the evening progressed and 12 teams of about 4-6 people formed organically we started to get a feel for what the weekend would be like. This was particularly exciting for me as our last startup weekend had been focused on fintech but this one was open to all types of startups which meant there was a lot more variety in the business concepts, and gee whiz was there variety, ranging from an app for managing the health of your guinea pig to a service for providing customised healthy lunches to school kids.

As the weekend progressed the teams worked with a brilliant team of mentors (including Al Bentley, Adam Hejl, Simon Lenoir, Jemma Enright, Sid Sahgal, Kevin Convington, Manish Manish, Shaun Eislers, Stacey Scott and Rod Elliott) to refine their ideas and, of course, validate them with real customers. As we approached 5pm Sunday the teams were urgently finalising their presentations for the esteemed panel of judges (Ian Gardiner, Holly Cardew, Cathy Kovacs, Angela Kwan and Balder Tol). From 5-7pm the pitches took place and the early favourites started to appear. In the end there was a tie for 3rd place between Team Goldie (Chhitesh Shrestha, Leigh Hskson, Liang Zoe and Rebecca Zhang) and Team FeedmyKid (Jasmin Nielsen, Mitch Ball, Paul Addy, Varshaa Pallaath and Phillip Thai). The runner up was Team Pay it Forward (Alana Yick, Ruth Saw, Feng Guo, Trev Doddrell and Caly Yang) and the winning team was MyNurse (Amelia Kennedy, Niklas Fink, JK Menon, William Merdy and David Quan). While all the teams were fantastic and the judges had faced a difficult job to have to pick the winners, I was particularly impressed with the MyNurse team and was happy to see them take first place.

This whole event is run to support the community and involved a lot of people volunteering their time to make it happen. Huge thanks to everyone involved, the participants for their enthusiastic effort throughout the weekend, the organisers, mentors and helpers for giving up their valuable time to support the community, and the judges for listening to 12 pitches and maintaining their concentration on 12 very different concepts over a 2 hour period (trust me, this is not easy).

This event could not happen without the generous support of our corporate partners lead by our Principal Partner Westpac (particularly Cathy Kovacs) as well as our sponsors Accru Felsers (particularly Will Merdy) and Amazon Web Services (Particularly Ian Gardiner), and our venue partner WeWork (Particularly Balder Tol, Emily Isla and Lauren Keith). Thank you again to all of you for getting behind this!

Finally a special thanks to Al Bentley and the Simply Wall St team (especially Adam Hejl and Jabin Bastian) who are so instrumental to and supportive of this event and of course Melissa Hurwitz who makes it all happen. Without Mel there is no way this event would be able to take place! Finally a special thanks to Navjot Brar who flew in from California to facilitate this event. It was great to meet you and to have your global perspective in running this event.

You can find more photos of the event on our H2 Facebook page and my Instagram.

We will be running another event later in the year. Register for the H2 newsletter today so that we can keep you posted as soon as it is announced.

Happy International Women’s Day! — March 8, 2017

Happy International Women’s Day!

On this International Women’s Day we have been happily reflecting on our H2 Ventures Sydney Startup Weekend (last weekend) which had an almost even number of female and male participants (41% female). We have set ourselves a goal to reach gender parity for the next one later in the year.

Do you want to come to Startup Weekend? — February 21, 2017

Do you want to come to Startup Weekend?

Are you interested in startups? Would you like to launch your own startup one day? Do you want to meet people who share your passion for technology startups? If so, you should attend the H2 Startup Weekend next week.

At H2 Ventures we are super excited to be holding another Startup Weekend in Sydney with the support of our Principal Partner Westpac. We held our first Startup Weekend last September and it was a blast so we decided to do it again.

I often meet people who say they are interested in startups but don’t know where to start or how to find a co-founder. This is the best way I know.

Whether you are looking for: feedback on an idea, a co-founder, new skills, or a team to help you execute, the H2 Startup Weekend is the perfect environment in which to take the first steps towards launching your own startup.

What is the H2 Startup Weekend?

From my discussions with friends and family it has become apparent that most people have no idea what a Startup Weekend is or who it’s for. So I decided to try and answer these questions and give you a bit more flavour of what to expect at the H2 Startup Weekend.

Simply put, the weekend will be 54-hours of high intensity fun and learning-by-doing!

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to work in a startup then this is your opportunity to see what it’s really like. You will experience the highs, lows, fun, and pressure of creating a startup whilst being supported by some of the best mentors in the industry.

The weekend will begin on Friday evening with a team forming exercise. Anyone who has an idea (and you certainly don’t have to have an idea) gets up and briefly describes their idea to the room. Once all of the ideas have been described and the most popular ideas selected, you form teams around the ideas that most appeal to you. The rest of the weekend then involves developing, validating and refining that idea before concluding on Sunday evening with demos and presentations to a panel of esteemed judges who will determine the winning teams. All food (breakfasts, lunches and dinners) and drinks will be supplied across the weekend.


At the end of the weekend the winning teams will take home prize packs with everything a founder needs to create the next world beating startup, along with credits for AWS cloud hosting and Academy Xi bootcamps.

While everyone likes to win, the main aim of the weekend is to build a stronger startup ecosystem by creating more connections between potential founders, to learn about the importance of validation and most importantly to have a really great social weekend with like-minded startup enthusiasts.

I’m not saying you’ll meet the perfect co-founder, launch a startup that goes on to be a unicon before retiring to your private island in the Caribbean, but I’m not not saying it either.

Who should come?

Everyone is welcome. We like people who have been to Startup Weekends before but we love people who haven’t. The H2 Startup Weekend is all about introducing you to what it’s like to be in a startup so please, if you’re thinking about joining us but are nervous about taking the plunge, just do it.

We are always keen to get more designers and developers along to these weekends, they add great value to the teams they join… so if this is you PLEASE COME!

Do I need to have an idea for a new startup to attend?

No, you do not need an idea. Each idea will need a team, so even if you do come with an idea you may not get to work on it, it will be up to the wisdom of the crowd to determine which ideas are worked on over the weekend. So don’t worry if you don’t have an idea.

I thought H2 was all about fintech, do I have to work on a fintech idea?

No, at H2 we invest in fintech as we think this is a really great space to invest, however, we are running this Startup Weekend to support the next generation of startup founders and the local startup ecosystem as a whole. Of course, if you are working on a fintech idea we’d love to see you.

What do I need to bring?

Just bring yourself and an open mind (oh and your laptop/tablet/mobile). We will provide food and drinks, and everything else you need for the weekend.

When and where?

The H2 Startup Weekend will kick off at 5pm on Friday the 3rd of March and will continue through to 7:30pm on Sunday the 5th of March 2017, it will be held at the newly opened WeWork co-working space in Pyrmont (100 Harris St, Sydney).

A massive heartfelt thanks to our amazing supporters

This event could not happen without the generous support of our Principle Partner Westpac and our sponsors: WeWork, Accru Felsers, Amazon Web Services and Simply Wall St.


This is a community run event to support the startup ecosystem, the ticket price goes towards meals, drinks, t-shirts and other event costs. Tickets are available at

Please help us spread the word!!

Please Like and/or Share this post with your social networks and to anyone you think could be interested.

Who says you can’t build a global fintech business from Australia? — February 16, 2017

Who says you can’t build a global fintech business from Australia?

I feel so privileged to be able to work every day with founders like Alistair Bentley, who quit his job as a naval engineer working on offshore oil rigs off the coast of Western Australia, and drove his car 2,044 miles (3,290 km) across the continent to join our startup accelerator so that he could follow his dream of helping normal people invest more sensibly in the stock market.

Once he arrived in Sydney he slept in his car for 4 months while he got his business off the ground…

Once he arrived in Sydney he slept in his car for 4 months while he got his business off the ground because he wanted to put every cent of the capital we had invested into growing his business, Simply Wall St. He now has 7 awesome employees, over 85,000 users in 170 countries and last year acquired his biggest US competitor.

In his ‘spare time’ he mentors many of our other founders and co-organises the Sydney Startup Weekend. Oh, and did I forget to say, he is also a semi-pro windsurfer and managed to retain his title as the Australian Windsurf freestyle champion for three consecutive years while he was building his business.

Let me know (or Like this post) if you’d like to hear more stories about inspiring Australian entrepreneurs and if you have your own stories please share them in the comments. We need to be better at celebrating the dreamers, the risk takers, the believers and change makers.

H2 Request for Startups — January 18, 2017

H2 Request for Startups

We spend a lot of time thinking about the future and we see huge potential for technology (particularly data science and artificial intelligence) to dramatically improve productivity and customer experience in many sectors. Here are some areas that we see as ripe for change. If you happen to be working on an idea in any of these areas please let us know, we’d love to help you to bring your ideas to life.

Of course, we won’t pick you for the H2 Startup Accelerator just because you are working on one of these, in fact we never back an idea alone, we back entrepreneurs. You need to be passionate about your business, you need to have energy and you need to be a doer, if you are going to make it through the rollercoaster ride that is the startup journey. If you have these characteristics and happen to be working on a great product or service in one of these areas (or any other area you think we might be interested in) then please let us know!

This request for startups will update regularly as technology continues its forward march, creating new opportunities.

Data Science

The exponential growth of data being produced every day provides huge opportunities and equally large problems. We are interested in technologies that enable a faster transfer of information or processing of transactions. We also like startups that are looking at dealing with large volumes of data more efficiently.

We like predictive analytics, marketing intelligence and customer/audience intelligence. We also like people doing clever things with spiders/robots and chatbots (e.g. risk analysis, sentiment analysis and automated research).

Computer mind interfaces – also of interest are startups using technology for faster and better human understanding of data whether that be augmented reality, virtual reality, holographics, direct computer mind interfaces or human augmentation (i.e. combining the best of computers and people for better decision making).

Artificial intelligence

We love A.I. and are always on the lookout for founders using genuine deep learning approaches to solve large problems. A.I. will touch every aspect of our lives so if you are as passionate about A.I. as we are and are pushing the boundaries of connectionist learning then let us know.


P2P marketplaces such as Uber, AirBnB and Freelancer have fundamentally shaken entire industries to their cores by shifting the power dynamic from intermediaries to consumers. We consider that the defining feature of these marketplace businesses is that they allow an efficient and convenient transaction between peers, without requiring a traditional trusted intermediary. Two sided marketplaces also have the distinct advantage that they have built in network effects providing potential durable competitive advantages. We especially like marketplaces that leverage consumer collective bargaining as part of their approach.

Blockchain & decentralisation

We see blockchain based technologies as an exciting enabler of decentralisation and democratisation of financial services. We think that the power of the crowd will continue to be leveraged (and enhanced with A.I.) thus empowering more activity in the crowd sourcing and crowd funding spaces. We also see a continuing growth in the peer to peer economy, particularly when it is a crowd of peers on each side of the transaction (i.e. Pn2Pn).

Virtual markets

We like the potential of prediction markets or futures markets that are applied to non-traditional industries such as digital advertising inventory. We especially like these when they are delivered in a decentralised way.

Re-imagining traditional financial services

Traditionally, most financial services have acted as trusted intermediators. This makes most of the industry ripe for technological disintermediation. Over the next decade anything that can be disintermediated will be.

Simplicity / minimalism – we particularly like businesses that are aiming to take one discrete piece of the traditional financial services pie and make use of advances in technology to provide a customer experience that is a step change improvement on existing offerings.

Regulatory arbitrage – regulation is by its nature very narrowly defined which provides potential opportunities for new ventures. We like tech that changes the nature of business and therefore the role and authority of regulators (e.g. Uber). We like startups that are aiming to decentralise or automate “authority” out of existence.

Meta platforms – with $20b p.a. in VC funding for fintech, we can expect to see a continued decoupling of financial services with a swarm of more than 10,000 startups, each doing one thing really well, attacking tiny pieces of formerly protected banking turf. This period of mass fragmentation will require ‘meta platforms’ that aggregate the offerings of new providers (like has happened in the travel space).

Increasing financial inclusion and financial education – there are a number of very large developing markets that are experiencing a rapid increase in unbanked or underbanked people that have the potential to become banked by leveraging advances in technology, often by skipping technology generations. For these developing markets, and for developed markets, we are interested in technologies that are enabling better financial inclusion and education.


The insurance industry is one of the oldest and most important industries on earth but it is ripe for disruption. In many ways insurance has not kept up with consumer expectations and the changes in the way products and services are delivered.

Risk management – we like startups taking a more progressive approach to risk management by taking advantage of advances in data availability, data collection, data analysis, and artificial intelligence. Ultimately someone will completely decentralise insurance with a Pn2Pn solution, using technology to serve as the trusted intermediator.

Micro insurance – in a sharing economy world we need new approaches to insurance. We need micro insurance for small transactions and we need time based or distance based insurance for a whole new range of P2P services.

Wellness – there are huge opportunities for new approaches to health insurance where the insurer is effectively paid to keep you well. We are very interested in people working on new technologies and businesses in the ‘quantified self’ space. We see opportunities around P2P health, whereby a community cross insures each other and is thus incentivised to keep each other healthy.

Cyber defence

As we continue to do more business across digital networks our reliance on cyber security becomes ever greater which creates opportunities for technology startups. We are interested in anyone working on cybersecurity, fraud detection and prevention, password management, encryption, data validation, reversible or deteriorating transactions, biometrics or anything else that makes us and our data safer. Sometimes the best defence is a great offence, so we are also interested in people who are working on technologies around cyber counter defence.

Regulatory and legal technology

We would like to see technologies that improve the efficiency of regulation or make it unnecessary (e.g. technology driven decentralised regulation that works). We also think that a lot of contract law can be delivered more efficiently and with the help of smart contracts even the implementation and enforcement of contracts can be automated.

Physical infrastructure management technology

Australia is a leader in infrastructure asset management. We see massive opportunities for technologies that enable small improvements in the efficiency and productivity of infrastructure assets whether they be transport assets, power grids, water assets, ports, data centres or anything else.

Digital asset management technology

Like physical assets, digital assets have value. Although this value is far smaller on each digital asset, the sheer volume and growth of digital assets makes this a very important and growing space (personal financial data, health data, photos, emails etc. are assets with value just like traditional physical assets). We are looking for any technologies focused on better management and monetisation of digital assets. The value of these seemingly valueless digital assets is increasing because of machine learning which is improving our ability to extract the value in the data contained in them. Artificial intelligence is only as good as the data it can access to be trained on.

Real estate

Real-estate is a huge market with many passionate participants. The industry has seen limited meaningful disruption from technology in recent years, but we expect this to change and would like to hear from startups tackling it with ‘outside-the-box’ solutions. Whether that be better marketplaces, rent pay splitting, automated property research or AI price prediction.


Like in the gold rush, where people made good money selling picks and shovels, we like businesses building the tools to support any of the above, for example, quantum or alternative computing hardware, fog-hosting, IoT or drones, realtime data visualisation, direct physiological feedback (e.g. haptic) or enterprise software.

So if you’re working on something interesting apply to the H2 Accelerator today!

Start something meaningful in 2017 — January 15, 2017

Start something meaningful in 2017

Do you have a dream, a secret passion, something you have been working on in your spare time? Have you always wanted to create something of your own? Is this the year you are going to take the plunge, leave behind your safe career path and start something that is truly meaningful to you?

The H2 Ventures Startup Accelerator Summer 2017 intake kicks off in February and while we have made our selections for this intake we know that the new year can be a big impetus for many people so we will consider selecting 1-2 more teams that are working on something that could change the world. If this is you, then we’d love to help you bring your vision to life.

Find out more and apply asap at

Do you need to find a co-founder? Do you want to learn about how to start a startup? Do you want to be in the running for $4,000 in cash prizes? — September 2, 2016

Do you need to find a co-founder? Do you want to learn about how to start a startup? Do you want to be in the running for $4,000 in cash prizes?

I often meet people who say they are interested in startups but don’t know where to start or how to find a co-founder. This is the best way I know.

One of the best investments that we have made at H2 Ventures is a company called Simply Wall St ( What many people don’t know is that the founders of Simply Wall St first met at a Startup Weekend.

Next weekend (9-11 Sept) we will be holding a Startup Weekend in Sydney to help more people learn what this startup thing is all about. This is open to anyone who is curious about startups, you don’t need to bring a team with you as we will help you form teams on the Friday night.

Whether you are looking for feedback on an idea, a co-founder, specific skill sets, or a team to help you execute, Startup Weekends are the perfect environment in which to test your idea and take the first steps towards launching your own startup.

The weekend will be 54-hours of high intensity fun and learning-by-doing!

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to work in a startup then this is your opportunity to see what it’s really like. You will experience the highs, lows, fun, and pressure of creating a startup whilst being supported by the best mentors in the industry.

The weekend will begin with Friday night pitches and continue through brainstorming, business plan development, and basic prototype creation before culminating with Sunday night demos and presentations with prizes for the winners. All food (breakfasts, lunches and dinners) and drinks will be supplied across the weekend.

At the end of the weekend the winning team will take home a cash prize of $2,500, followed by $1,000 for second and $500 for third, alongside AWS cloud hosting credits and an opportunity to pitch to join the next round of the H2 Ventures Fintech Accelerator, which will kick off in February 2017. There will also be amazing prizes for the most outstanding male and female individuals over the weekend.

While this is officially a fintech Startup Weekend I would encourage anyone interested in starting a startup to come along as the learnings will be the same across industries. I would also strongly encourage any women who are interested in startups to come along as this is a welcoming environment in which to learn more about the startup ecosystem in Sydney and we have some great female mentors and judges involved across the weekend.

This event could not happen without the generous support of Westpac, AMP New Ventures, S&P Global Market Intelligence, Amazon Web Services and Stone & Chalk.

We have a handful of spaces left so sign up now if you are interested. This is a community run event to support the startup ecosystem, the ticket price covers all meals, drinks, t-shirts and other event costs.

Tickets are available at

Two Ideas for iPhone & iPad — June 4, 2010

Two Ideas for iPhone & iPad

Here are two idea’s I have been thinking about for a while. They would be great additions for any phone or tablet.

Idea 1 – Dual technology display

e-Ink close-up
e-Ink close-up
Anyone who has used a Kindle (or similar e-ink based device) will understand the importance of the passive display principle. Passive displays do not use any power unless you are changing the page and they do not strain the eyes because they do not have a back light like most other display technologies (of course you can adjust the back light, but who does that regularly). Electronic paper reflects light like ordinary paper and does not have any electronic back light flicker (reflective LCD is another interesting technology that makes use of reflected light). The major disadvantage of e-ink is that it has a slow refresh rate so it does not provide a good user experience for interactive applications (using menus or scrolling) or playing video. I would like to see someone to make a dual technology display that has a transparent LCD overlay on an e-ink display. This would give the screen the low-power passive capabilities of e-ink with the high refresh rate capabilities of LCD.

Idea 2 – Personal interrotron display

Have you ever thought about why communicating over webcam doesn’t feel the same as speaking in person? A big part of the problem is that you are generally looking at the forehead of the personal you are chatting with and they are looking at your forehead. The reason for this is that you are both looking at video’s of each other on screen while your camera’s sit above your screens. Eye contact is critical for effective communication. Television networks understand this, which is why news readers use a teleprompter that projects the news script right in front of the camera lens so that the news reader can read the script and be looking right into the viewers eyes. The interrotron is like a teleprompter but was designed so that the person in front of the camera can see into the eyes of the person they are interviewing.

iPhone Interrotron
iPhone Interrotron

Apple should make an iPhone/iPad screen that has a camera behind the display so that users can remotely communicate with each other with eye contact for the first time. One screen pixel would need to be transparent about 2/3 of the way up the screen with a tiny camera placed behind it. Software would recognize the other persons eyes in the video image of them and would reposition the video image so that their eyes were centered on the camera behind the screen. That way, when you look at their eyes you would also be looking at the camera and they too would be able to look at your eyes. Of course this system would only work if both users were using devices with the interrotron technology so it would encourage viral take up of interrotron enabled devices.

I hope you like my ideas. Let me know what you think. I think the second idea in particular would revolutionize personal communications.

Will Apple release a Television? — December 12, 2008

Will Apple release a Television?

The next major Apple product should be a universal entertainment device for the living room.

Apple already has 30 inch cinema displays that can be used as de facto televisions, but they are not priced for this market. They also have Apple TV with access to iTunes for music and movie downloads.


Apple TV version 2 should transform into a 30 or 40 inch cinema display with built in 160GB hard disk and WiFi for access to iTunes.

This device could include a CD/DVD drive in the side, like on the iMac. Although Apple may prefer to encourage the purchasing of digital music and movies through iTunes.

Apple could also extend the Apps Store to this new device, which would no doubt be very profitable as it has been for the iPhone.

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