As Mick Liubinskas heads off to Silicon Valley, making the return trip and taking his place as entrepreneur in residence at Telstra’s muru-D accelerator program will be Ben Sand.
Cofounder and former co-CEO of augmented reality headset startup Meta, which has raised US$73 million in funding, Sand said he was excited to come back to Australia at a time when tech startups are on the national agenda.
“We still have a long way to go, but at least we are now heading in the right direction,” he said, adding that he chose to work with muru-D as it is a “special kind” of accelerator – high praise, given Sand went through Y Combinator himself.
“I have never seen a program that sustains such a high level of hands-on support for a six month period.”
Annie Parker, cofounder of muru-D, said Sand’s extensive experience in the startup scenes in both Australia and the US makes him the “perfect fit” for the role.
“As someone who spent years building a company in Sydney and went on to graduate from one of the world’s leading accelerator program, he can completely empathise with the muru-D recruits and help them reach the highest levels,” she said.
“Plus, with Mick heading over to the US, I’m really pleased we are bringing an Aussie home. Ben will be able to share invaluable insights and knowledge following his extensive experience from the Valley.”
Having met Israeli cofounder Meron Gribetz while studying at the University of Sydney, Sand and Gribetz soon moved to the US to work on Meta, taking part in Y Combinator’s summer 2013 program. He left the company last December to work on new projects and consult for other startups, making muru-D a perfect fit.
As Sand returns with fresh experience of the Valley, Liubinskas is heading over to give muru-D a crucial presence on the ground as it pushes its participants and portfolio companies to think globally from day one.
After over 30 trips back and forth between Australia and the US over the last 18 years, Liubinskas said that it was about time a solid base was established for not only muru-D, but the Australian startup landscape in general.
“With all the technology in the world, consistently being there is one of the foundations of strong networks. I can’t do what I need to do from Australia with the occasional visit,” he said.
Sand will be speaking at muru-D’s open house event in Sydney tomorrow.
Image: Ben Sand. Source: StartupQLD.