A new Startup Victoria initiative is giving budding founders and entrepreneurs the chance to meet one-on-one with some of the biggest names in the Australian startup community.
More than 40 high-profile founders, investors and industry experts are taking part in the open office hours program, where anyone can book in a 30 minute face-to-face meeting.
Startup Victoria business operations head Thomas Anbeek says after a successful trial last year that saw 240 meetings, it was time to make it more formal.
“We’ve been working on a way to scale the initiative to offer it on a regular and consistent basis and we finally got there in the end,” Anbeek tells StartupSmart.
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“You can schedule a time and you can go and book a meeting with whoever you want.”
Through the platform you can discuss funding and customer acquisition with Attendly co-founder Scott Handsaker, Bellabox founder Sarah Hamilton can take you through scaling and ecommerce or AngelCube founder Adrian Stone can tell you about VC funding.
It’s not just a chance to learn from some of Australia’s best and brightest – there’s also the possibility for some very real consequences.
YourGrocer co-founder Morgan Ranieri took advantage of the Startup Victoria open office hours last year to meet with Envato co-founder Collis Ta’eed, and both the Envato founders eventually became advisors and investors in his startup.
“Office hours are a great way to start a relationship with someone who may even go on to invest in your company,” Ranieri tells StartupSmart.
“I’ve taken advantage of office hours a few times now and every time it has been invaluable.
“Building your personal network of investors and advisors doesn’t just happen organically – it takes a fair amount of effort.”
Paying it forward
It’s all about fostering the Australian startup ecosystem and helping it grow, Anbeek says.
“One of the contributing factors of Silicon Valley’s success is the pay-it-forward culture which is inherent to the community,” he says.
“We believe that creating an equivalent culture of giving here in Victoria is an important part of building a sophisticated and successful ecosystem.
“We want to lower the barrier to entry for new founders looking to break into the community and accelerate the learning of the experienced founders already competing in the marketplace.”
Ranieri himself is embodying this pay-it-forward ethos, now opening up his own office to meet with budding entrepreneurs.