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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.

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

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