Entrepreneurship weekend to inspire Brisbane start-ups

Entrepreneur Chris Saad says a lesson for wannabe entrepreneurs is to seek out those who have started, tried, succeeded or failed but learnt from their experiences.

“Entrepreneurship is an essential skill as businesses and workers face disruption,” Mr Saad said.

“Entrepreneurs can captialise on the tools, technologies and attitudes that are disrupting organisations and industries.”

The former head of product at Uber’s Developer Platform will be a judge at Start-up Weekend NextGen, Australia’s largest student-focussed start up and entrepreneurship event being held at QUT’s Gardens Point campus from March 13-15.

Over 54 hours, budding entrepreneurs will be challenged to come up with the foundations of a start-up.

Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur and QUT Adjunct Professor at the Institute of Future Environment Leanne Kemp (picured below) is also judging at the event.

Professor Kemp founded Everledger, a tech company that tracks the provenance of high value assets from diamonds to art and wine, from a start-up hack-a-thon in London 2014.

“Having an innovation mindset is my top skill for the future. We are now in the fourth industrial revolution where the systems we have built are all open to disruption and are being disrupted daily,” she said.

“Change is the only constant we can rely on. Hack-a-thons are busy, exciting and challenging – great fun for anyone with an idea about how to change the world and who wants a push to make it happen.

“I would especially love to encourage those who can support the translation from ideation to creation to watch this hackathon closely.

“I’m looking forward to being a judge at this event and seeing how the next generation of innovators will solve for the challenges we face.”

QUT will have many participants and mentors working at the Start-Up Next Gen event, including founders of successful start-ups such as Pizza Roulette, Tanda, RedEye, Arkose Labs, Movus and CodeBots. Other key Brisbane organisations will also support the weekend including the Office of the Qld Chief Entrepreneur, Business Depot, CUA and Impact Innovation Group.

Participants form teams and work on new ideas to create value. These ideas could span social, educational, financial, environmental or other innovations.

While there are three awards for teams to take home, the key focus of the weekend is on learning and networking.

Mr Saad (pictured below) says capabilities student entrepreneurs need include curiosity, grit, hustle and a willingness to learn and communicate clear plans aligned to stakeholder needs.

He is relishing his role as an advisor to entrepreneurs, saying it’s the best job he’s ever had.

“Nothing beats seeing the eyes of an entrepreneur light up when you help them avoid a mistake or expand their thinking,” he said.

“My advice coming out of Silicon Valley and Uber is: Go faster, ship more, and get more users. The validation that matters is user growth and revenue growth. Too many get distracted and forget customers make a business.”

Executive Director QUT Entrepreneurship Professor Rowena Barrett said pursuing entrepreneurship involved courage.

“Our students are defining a future that doesn’t yet exist. They care about social inclusion and equality, and are keen to create value for others, not just themselves. At QUT we are building a myriad of opportunities to develop skills and show students what is possible and how they can build the future of their choice.”

Professor Barrett said 10 per cent of QUT’s alumni have founded organisations, like Lex Greensill who was declared 2019 EY Entrepreneur of the Year, while many more operate as ‘intrapreneurs’ creating value within large established businesses.

Winning teams at Start-up Weekend will be supported by QUT Entrepreneurs-in-Residence as well as key sponsors.

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