Startup News & Analysis

Global innovation conference GMIC to come to Sydney, along with pitch contest judged by Phil Morle

Dominic Powell /

Main Sequence Ventures Phil Morle

Phil Morle. Source: Supplied

One of the largest tech events in Asia will soon touch down in Sydney, bringing with it a pitching contest that has birthed some significant high-value companies

The Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) will run between December 5-6 in Sydney, with a focus on science and innovation in the startup and business space. The speakers will include Stephen Hawking, Right Click Capital’s Ari Klinger, Airtasker’s Tim Fung, among others.

The conference has been running since 2009 in Asia and has attracted a number of high-profile speakers and startups to the event. Previous pitching competitions from GMIC have seen the launch of companies such as Uber-competitor Didi, which has a current valuation of $US50 billion ($65.8 billion).

“With Australian startups on the rise, we’re fascinated by what they can learn from their Chinese counterparts, while solid research-based tech development is where Australian startups excel compared to those from China,” E Hao, chief executive of GMIC parent company Great Wall Club, told The Australian.

“We hope to spark conversations between Australian entrepreneurs and overseas investors, facilitating the possibility of local and global expansion.”

Judging the pitching competition will be a number of high-profile investors and business leaders, including president of Forbes China Melvyn Goh; chief executive at Cicada Innovations Petra Andren; co-founder at Qualgro Venture Capital Peter Huynh; and Main Sequence Ventures partner and Pollenizer co-founder Phil Morle.

Speaking to StartupSmart, Morle says he and the Main Sequence team were keen to support the GMIC conference, calling it a “bridge building event” for Australian and Chinese startups.

“It’s critical. As someone who’s been working in the startup ecosystem for 10 years, it’s still surprising how little traffic flows between Australian and Chinese investors,” Morle says.

“This is a great opportunity for Aussie founders and investors to see what’s coming out of China, which is an important thing for any startup founder to get a feel for.”

In terms of what he’d like to see at the competition, Morle says he’s still on the hunt for “deep tech”. He wants to see founders who can solve hard problems with unique science-based solutions and ones who are ready to grow a global business.

Additionally, the requirements for entry into the competition outline that startups need to have completed a seed or an angel funding round, but not taken any further funding, and with no legal issues.

“We believe technologies like AI and blockchain will soon break out as stand-alone industries, and we’re looking to see if an Australian startup can be a leader in one of these fields,” Hao told The Australian.

Pitching well means standing out from the crowd

As for the pitch itself, Morle’s biggest piece of advice for founders is to try and stand out.

“Startups are getting very good at pitches these days thanks to the abundance of accelerators and incubators there to support them. The problem with that is it can be hard to see the good companies because they’re all masked by good pitches,” he says.

“I’m really looking for something unique that penetrates through and surprises me.”

Hao also said he believes numerous “global giants” will be heading to Australia in the future, attracted by the country’s industries he believes are “primed” for innovation, such as the energy and advanced medical sectors.

“Chinese tech companies like Alibaba, Oppo and bicycle-sharing company Ofo have all set up Australian operations this year and it’s a trend that’s set to continue,” Hao said.

“I think we will see more global giants come to Australia to serve consumer needs.”

Morle reinforces the view that Australian startups need to be delving into what China has to offer, calling the opportunity “vital”.

“A lot of Australian entrepreneurs don’t even look at China when they absolutely should. There’s still this cliche that Chinese entrepreneurs are copycat entrepreneurs when they’re actually leading the field in so many ways,” he says.

“The Chinese have this long-term horizon reach with innovation that would be considered risky by Aussie entrepreneurs, but we need to be equally risky.”

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Dominic Powell

Dominic Powell is a journalist at StartupSmart and a tech and music geek. When he’s not writing, you can find him reading or browsing record shops.

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