The Fail Convention

- May 29, 2012 8 MIN READ


FailCon is a one-day conference for technology entrepreneurs, investors, developers and designers to study their own and others’ failures and prepare for success.

We all have founded, worked for or invested in startups that have failed. We’re smart, we keep up with the latest in technology trends, but sometimes just don’t go as planned. How can you predict what will work and what won’t? Well, you can’t.

But that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. It just means you should start exchanging stories of what didn’t work and how you pivoted, why you couldn’t raise money, what the wrong hires were like, and when you decided it was time to let go. Entrepreneurs need to hear that from each other: that it’s okay to fail, it doesn’t mean you’re worthless. You’re just like the rest of us, learning from our making mistakes and building something bigger next time.

FailCon was started in 2009 by Cass Phillipps, an event planner for startup events and Diane Loviglio, a founder of a cleantech startup.

The Speakers for the Sydney Fail Con Are:
Clover Moore

Lord Mayor of Sydney

www.clovermoore.com.au – @clovermoore

Clover Moore has been the Independent MP for Sydney since 1988 and the Lord Mayor since 2004. She was the first woman popularly elected to the role and leads the City’s ambitious long term Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan. In the last eight years Clover has entered and won elections every two years. A recent newspaper article said “In her 20 years as MP, with more successful private member’s bills than anyone in a century, Moore has done more to keep the bastards honest than Don Chipp ever did.” (SMH 22/3/12)
Tim Ross


www.timross.com.au – @rossoworld

Tim Ross is one of Australia’s best known comedians. He built up an enormous fan base as the Rosso half of Merrick and Rosso through their ratings-topping show on Triple J and also their sell out live shows. In 2001 he helped launch the Nova network. The Merrick and Rosso breakfast show fast became Sydney’s most popular radio program and then went national for six of its nine years. On TV Rosso featured on three seasons of the Logie nominated ’Unplanned’ (Nine Network). He also featured in ’The B-Team’ (Network Ten) and ’The Merrick and Rosso Show’ (Foxtel) and has made guest appearances on shows such as ‘All Saints’, ‘Spicks and Specks’ and ’Rove Live.’ He has hosted ‘Uncharted’ and ‘Facing the Hangover’ for MTV, guest programmed ’Rage’ and is a regular on Weekend Sunrise. Along the way he’s picked up numerous ACRA radio awards, an Astra, GQ Man of the year award and an ARIA. In 2010 he released his first book, Mum had a Kingswood. He is currently a contributor to Men’s Style Australia, Rolling Stone and writes a monthly column Rosso’s Sydney for The (Sydney) Magazine in the Sydney Morning Herald.


Tania de Jong

Social Entrepreneur and Accomplished Operatic Singer

www.taniadejong.com – @TaniadeJong

Tania de Jong AM is a leading Australian soprano and social entrepreneur. She founded Creativity Australia and Creative Universe to improve wellbeing, engagement and innovation in organisations and communities. Tania consults to multinational organizations on creative leadership and innovation, works with a range of migrants and disadvantaged communities to build social capital and performs nationally and internationally with her group Pot-Pourri and event production company Music Theatre Australia.


Matt Perry

Co-founder and Partner of Republic of Everyone

www.republicofeveryone.com – @MattPerry

Matt is co-founder and partner of Republic of Everyone.This innovative sustainability strategy and communications company is in the business of building Hero Brands. These are the brands that can do the things that normal people cannot do on their own to make the world a better place. The agency is famous for its work on The Green Party ad for the Gruen Nation TV show and the Say Yes Australia campaign featuring Cate Blanchett. Republic of Everyone works exclusively on sustainability related projects with clients including Lend Lease, Australian Ethical, NAB, Woolworths, Cancer Council, McGrath Foundation, WSPA and MSF amongst many others.Before this he worked for the world’s most famous advertising agency brand M&C Saatchi London where he looked after clients selling everything from toothpaste to Rolls Royce cars and British Airways. He set up M&C Saatchi’s digital division in 1999 and moved to NYC in 2001 to build the business in the US market. A plan which was only to be cut short by the devastating events of 9/11.This became the catalyst for Matt to start looking at the world a bit differently. He and his wife went travelling around the world and moved to Australia in 2003 where he continued to work in advertising. At the same time he began studying sustainability more seriously culminating in completing the Fellowship Course at the Centre for Sustainability Leadership. He writes regularly for industry media on the topics of sustainability and green marketing and has spoken at, or chaired, dozens of conferences. Matt is now on the board of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership, on the advisory board for the Australian Sustainability Conference & Exhibition and is a judge for the G Magazine GreenAwards. In his spare time Matt and his family are growing 10,000 mixed species Eucalypt trees on 36 acres of disused sugar cane farmland on the Sunshine Coast QLD.


Rebekah Campbell

Music Industry Entrepreneur

www.rebekahcampbell.com – @rebekahposse

Rebekah Campbell is a music industry entrepreneur. She started out by organizing a music festival to raise awareness of New Zealand’s youth suicide epidemic at the age of 19. At age 21 Rebekah moved to Sydney to work for Grant Thomas Management.Rebekah then opened her own management company ‘Scorpio Music’ in 2002 and grew to become one of Australia’s largest and most successful management companies. She successfully launchedposse.com, the world’s first platform for brands to empower and reward their fans for spreading the word online. Posse launched as a tool for the Australian music industry in August 2010 with the support of Ticketmaster, Moshtix, MTV and MySpace.


Mick Liubinskas

Co-founder of Pollenizer

www.pollenizer.com – @liubinskas

According to Mick, lack of focus is the number one cause of failed businesses; key to success is keeping it lean, focused and nailing that first target segment of customers. Mick believes it is best way to evolve fast enough to beat the big guys. It’s also crucial to think about business model right from Day One, to be sure you’re creating outstanding value that will bring profits. Mick has been building web and mobile products for the past 15 years with more than fifty companies like IBM, Virgin, Kazaa and his own startups. He has worked with development teams, designers, CEOs, sales people and investors from Europe, Asia and the USA, and get a kick out of seeing a product being used by real customers. With Pollenizer, Mick has worked with a number of outstanding management teams from around the globe including 3eepLingopalGetPriceXumiiPhoto Art,PerklerBlurbLive In AustraliaSpreetsand helped start MoGeneration.

Stephanie Lorenzo

Founder and CEO of Project Futures


Stephanie Lorenzo is the Founder and CEO of Project Futures Ltd, an organisation run by passionate campaigners with the aim to empower and engage our generation in raising awareness and funding to combat sex trafficking globally. Stephanie began Project Futures two years ago after reading the heart-wrenching auto-biography by Somaly Mam, a Cambodian woman sold into prostitution as a child. She believed Project Futures could become an outlet for young people to give back in time, skills and talents by leveraging their social calendar and profession in order to raise awareness for this cause and have fun while doing it, ensuring that charity is an active, fun and collaborative part of everyday social interaction. Stephanie has a Bachelor of International Communication from Macquarie University and believe it or not, never had a desire to work in the charity sector. She is an eternal optimist, believing that the good in people and a simple attitude or outlook shift might one day allow a society as lucky as Australia to live simply so that others can simply live.


Ben Rennie

CEO of 6.2 Innovation Hub

www.unclutteredwhitespaces.com – @benrennie

Ben Rennie is as passionate about understanding failure, as he is about success. He believes in failing fast, failing often and failing inexpensively. Ben is the ceo of 6.2, an innovation lab based in Melbourne & Sydney with clients in Australia, New York, Hong Kong and Brazil. As the Managing Partner and head of strategy and innovation, Ben has worked with some of the worlds most successful companies. These include Chanel, Dolce & Gabanna, NSW Water, The NSW Government, Ray-Ban, Sass & Bide, Arnette, StreetSmart, National Australia Bank, Blackberry, Luxottica, and Coca-Cola on strategy, innovation and solving complex problems. He sits on the advisory board for 3 privately owned companies. Ben speaks regularly on innovation, making ideas happen and the critical importance of failure. He is the founder of the popular online magazine, uncluttered white spaces, with over 450,000 readers and the Black Report (an iPad Magazine). In 2009, Ben created the IF Talks, a series of forums across Australia and a conduit for innovation, good ideas and solving complex problems. IF Talks have featured more than 40 speakers across 8 events in it’s short history. He has failed a lot more than he has succeeded, and he is ok with that. Outside of work, Ben is an active ski patroller, surf patroller, casual surfer and recently rode 600km off-road through the Victorian Alpine to raise awareness and funds for homeless youth. He is married with 3 beautiful kids and lives on the NSW South Coast and has an office in Sydney and Melbourne.


Matt Fayle & Pip Jamieson

Founders of The Loop

www.theloop.com.au – @TheLoopOz

In the thick of the global financial crisis Matt Fayle & Pip Jamieson quit their MTV dream jobs to launch creative community The Loop. In two short years, the creative industry-networking site they founded with their joint savings has exploded. Boasting over 100,000 unique visitors a month and membership of over 28,000 Australia’s top creative industry professionals, the site has quickly become an invaluable resource from which Australian creative practitioners can promote themselves, collaborate, network and find work. This growing pool of talent has enabled The Loop to attract well over 3,000 local and global clients, including ABC, Animal Logic, Droga5, Frost*, Frankie Magazine, Fuel VFX, SBS, Ogilvy, MTV, Google, Saatchi & Saatchi, Pacific Magazines, Sydney Opera House, ACP, Foxtel and more, who have joined the network to raise their profile and headhunt talent. Prior to The Loop Matt & Pip worked for mulltiplatform media companies from across world. Together they have overseen the development of initiatives for companies including MTV Networks in Australia and New Zealand, Disney, Discovery, The BRIT Awards, BSkyB, the BBC and more.


Andrew Fallshaw

Co-founder and Partner at Investling

www.investling.com – @ando_f

Ando is a co-founder and partner at Investling, an investment group that builds businesses in healthcare, technology and fashion areas. Working across several businesses, he’s given the opportunity to fail repeatedly and often. He does this admirably, but with a focus on making them small failures that are part of constant experimentation, and hopefully allow him to avoid the big failures which screw everything up.With a background that covers design, marketing and business, including heading two of Rip Curl’s global divisions, there’s lots of experience to draw on. In fact, you can check out many of these learnings via the Investling Theory Of Everything, a framework and pinboard for how they tackle businesses and projects.


Rhonda Brighton-Hall

2009 NSW Businesswoman of the Year

In 2009, Rhonda was voted NSW Businesswoman of the Year, and also Telstra National Private and Corporate Sector Businesswoman. In the same year, she won the Dave Ulrich HR Leader of the Year, and her team HR Team of the Year. Uniquely, Rhonda’s career spans both senior roles in business and HR, across Australia, Asia, Europe and America. It is this breadth of this experience that has created a passion for a creative people-focused agenda which has proved many times that people can be a real competitive advantage. Currently, Rhonda is the Group Head of Organisation Development at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, incorporating responsibility for Talent, Culture, Diversity, Recruitment and Learning for CBA. Prior to CBA, Rhonda was Luxottica’s Senior Vice President of HR & Communication, AsiaPac and Africa, and before that worked for Sara Lee progressing her career across the globe. Outside of work, Rhonda is married with three children, and is actively involved in working with Autism.


Galvin Scott Davis

Director and Creative Director of Protein One and PitchPerfect™

Protein One – @galvinsd

In 2002, Galvin became founder and director of Protein One, a boutique digital design and development agency with a focus on brand integrity. Within 10 years, Protein has become one of Sydney’s leading digital agencies with clients such as Westpac, Apple, Tourism Ireland, Optus, NRMA, OPSM and many more. The company has won 9 IMA Awards for design and development of online projects. And in 2009 they were named one of Australia’s ‘Cool Companies’ by Anthill magazine, winning the ‘Commercial Creativity’ Award for their ‘Ask The Butcher’ transmedia campaign. As a digital director, he has created the #1 Top Lifestyle App, #1 Business App and #1 Kids Games on iPhone in Australia. In 2006, Galvin wrote and directed the 35mm short film ‘Brother’ which screened at over 30 international film festivals, winning Best Short Film at the Beverly Hills Film Festival and Los Angeles Silver Lake Film Festival. Galvin is the author of the Graphic Novel ‘Stricken’, the soon-to-be-released children’s book ‘Dandelion’ and has been commissioned to write a number of screenplays. He is represented by The Brant Rose Agency in the U.S. as a writer/director for Film and Television.


Paul Breen

Serial Entrepreneur, Board Director and Venture Consultant 6.2

Paul Breen is an experienced entrepreneur, private investor, board director and venture consultant. He has industry experience from retail, oil, banking, and venture capital. Paul specialises in business start-ups, business planning & execution, expansion plays, strategic investments, restructuring, board roles, and exits. Currently he is owner ofCalendar Club; the largest pop-up retail business in Australasia, Director to STREAT; a social enterprise that stops youth homelessness and partner to 6.2.