Peta Ellis appointed as CEO of River City Labs: How she wants to drive the startup ecosystem forward

Communications expert Peta Ellis is the new CEO of River City Labs and will guide Queensland’s biggest startup hub through a major growth phase and into the state’s new startup precinct.

Ellis had served as general manager of River City Labs for four years and is also the founder of the Brisbane Sponsored Entrepreneur Program for startups.

With startups now firmly on the nation agenda, Ellis says her main goal in the new role is to capitalise on this and drive the state’s innovation sector forward.

“My top priority is to maintain and continue driving River City Labs forward – we are like a startup ourselves,” Ellis tells StartupSmart.

“We’ve done enough startup weekends to create interest and now we’re starting to see some serious entrepreneurs coming through with very viable ventures.

“We’re doing less of the basic explanation of what’s involved in running a startup because we’re getting more people on their second or third go.”

As the co-working space’s inhabitants mature, Ellis wants to continue to deliver on their different needs and ensure they continue to grow.

“We need to up our ante and supply them with the support networks that are going to help them grow and expand globally,” she says.

River City Labs will also be looking to expand its reach and connect with more influential industry leaders and draw more corporates into the conversation.

“Corporates and organisations, they’re all looking to innovate,” Ellis says.

But the standard internal hackathon prompting employees to think like startups won’t create magical pathways to success.

For real, long-term outcomes in this disruptive age, Ellis says they need to have an ongoing relationship with the startup sector, and facilitating these connections will be one of her key priorities as CEO.

“The conversations we’re having today compared to two or three years ago are entirely different,” Ellis says.

“Startups are definitely on their agenda.”

Over the next six months River City Labs will be expanding its team, looking to hire operational, administration and program staff.

“I want people who are keen to work on the ecosystem,” Ellis says.

The startup hub also on the hunt for a new entrepreneur-in-residence to set up shop in River City Labs, and Ellis wants someone who knows what startups need and can offer critical support in their first 12 months of existence.

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