Startup News & Analysis

Silicon Valley pitching competition TechCrunch Startup Battlefield heads to Sydney

Angela Castles /

Hoist innovation hub

The Locomotive Workshops at Australian Technology Park will house the upcoming Hoist hub. Source: Supplied

A prominent Silicon Valley pitching contest is heading Down Under, with US publisher TechCrunch partnering with Australian female founder program ELEVACAO foundation, as well as headline event partners Founders for Founders and Hoist, to run a Sydney version of its famous Startup Battlefield event.

The US- contest has been running since 2007 as part of TechCrunch‘s Disrupt conferences, and aims to launch local startups onto the international stage. High-profile former contestants include Dropbox and Yammer, with TechCrunch figures showing the past 700 contestants have gone on to raise nearly $US7 billion ($8.8 billion) in funding and amass nearly 100 exits.

ELEVACAO founder and chief executive Marisa Warren will work alongside TechCrunch Battlefield editor Samantha Stein to help train the selected startup teams to pitch at the event, with startup mentor group Founders for Founders and the Hoist innovation precinct also involved as headline event partners.

The contest will be live streamed online to TechCrunch‘s global audience and held at Hoist, which will be based out of the heritage-listed Locomotive Workshops at the Australian Technology Park. It will be the first international event hosted in the space, which is being established through a collaboration between Melbourne co-working space York Butter Factory and property firm Mirvac.

Stuart Richardson, co-founder of York Butter Factory, believes the competition will “provide a pathway and a platform for Australia’s best and brightest to gain access to the world stage”.

Richardson says a “strong bi-directional flow of successful talent” between Silicon Valley and Australia is essential to build “respect for Australian entrepreneurs for having the same tenacity and grit as entrepreneurs in other ecosystems around the world”. 

We have a funny bias towards appreciating something that wasn’t made in Australia,” Richardson tells StartupSmart

“There’s no denying that we can create global companies from Australia — we need to make sure that these companies have that global view and global opportunity.”

Richardson is “hopeful” TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield will become a yearly event hosted at Hoist, maintaining at its heart a “passion and a purpose to advance the Australian entrepreneurial ecosystem” through attracting international attention to the Sydney hub.  

“Historically, place-making was always about the physical space,” Richardson says.

“The [Hoist] innovation precinct is not a physical space: its the richness and denseness of activities that occur within the space that makes the difference.”

What startups need to know

Applications are now open for the competition, which kicks off on November 16, with applications due by September 4, 2017.

The competition will see the top 15 startups competing for a $25,000 equity-free cash prize and an all-expense paid trip for two people to exhibit at TechCrunch’s flagship global competition, Disrupt Battlefield SF 2018, and compete in the Startup Battlefield US competition, if eligible.

Each startup will have five minutes to pitch to a panel of investors and startup founders, after which five will be selected to proceed to a final pitch round with new judges.

To be eligible for the competition, companies must be pre-Series A funding, must have a finished and working product, and have founders who are Australian or New Zealand residents.

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Angela Castles

Angela Castles is a Journalist at StartupSmart with a keen interest in the legal issues startups face. In her free time she can be found eating sushi and seeing live music.

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