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MERRY CHRISTECH: Startup founders on their Christmas traditions and taking time off over summer

- December 24, 2019 9 MIN READ
Australia’s Christmas traditions are a far cry from the world’s other major tech hubs, where people take a few days off amid the snow of a cool Yule.

With many workers crossing the finish line to a summer, we spoke to founders and others in the startup ecosystem about how they’ll be spending the Christmas break.

Here’s what they said.

 

Dave Stein
Head of Corporate Development, Airwallex 

 

Dave Stein, Head of Corporate Development, Airwallex

Are you taking time off over Christmas and how do you plan to spend it?

To celebrate my new citizenship, I’m taking up a time-honoured Aussie tradition and going to Bali! 

Where’s your favourite place to head to relax?

For me, relaxation is best when I’m climbing hills on my bike. 

What are you most looking forward to at Christmas and what’s your favourite summer holiday tradition. 

It’s been a great year, but I am looking forward to unplugging (a little at least!) and enjoying some time on the beach in Bali. I love spending as much time as possible outdoors in the summer when I’m not behind a screen.

 

Angela Clark
CEO of Beem It

 

Angela Clark, CEO, Beem It

Are you taking time off over Christmas and how do you plan to spend it?

I’ll be using the two weeks to completely wind down. For me, winding down and relaxing is mainly about reconnecting with nature, going off the grid with the kids in our camper trailer, late summer swims in the ocean and rockpool exploring, getting sand between our toes and salt on our skin, and getting dirty in the garden. 

 

What are you most looking forward to for Christmas?

Quality time with family with lots of lazy days in the backyard having barbeques and trying to solve the problems of the world in long evening conversations are what I look forward to the most. Aside from that, I’m not planning on doing much else, except for maybe trying to find a cure for a sunburnt leg covered in mossie bites.

 

Dipra Ray
CEO, mPort

 

Dipra Ray, CEO, mPort

Are you taking time off and how do you plan to spend it?

I’m spending a few days down the South Coast with my wife and in-laws. We have a number of activities planned so it’s sure to be a lot of fun!

 

Where’s your favourite place to head to relax?

Anywhere with some natural beauty.

 

What are you most looking forward to?

Spending time with my family and getting some downtime. This year has been relatively hectic so a bit of switching off will be great.

 

Jason Byrne
Co-founder and CEO, Freighty

 

Jason Byrne, CEO and co-founder of Freighty. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Are you taking time off and how do you plan to spend it?

Definitely. I think it’s really important to take some time to rest and reset for the year ahead as a business owner.  

I’ll be taking one week between Christmas and New Year, and I plan to spend most of it by the beach and enjoying the company of family and friends. 

 

Where’s your favourite place to head to relax?

The Sunshine Coast in Queensland is my all-time favourite place to relax. Nothing beats being by the ocean. 

 

Your favourite summer holiday tradition?

Heading to the beach every day.

 

Lara Solomon
Founder and CEO of Story Antics

 

Lara Solomon, founder and CEO of Story Antics

Are you taking time off  and how long and how do you plan to spend it?

I will be taking two weeks off, but of course running a startup there is not really an off switch!  I plan to spend the time reading, swimming and socialising with friends, all great activities for clearing my mind and letting new ideas come.

 

Where’s your favourite place to head to relax?

The beach, swimming in the ocean is definitely my happy place, no technology just fish to watch.

 

What are you most looking forward to and what’s your favourite summer holidays tradition?

Spending time with friends, all my family are overseas, and I am not going back this year.  I am hoping to explore a few more ocean swimming spots this holidays.

I love baking, it is more of a Christmas tradition making Christmas cake, apricot jam and gingerbread to give as presents to friends.  I also always spend time creating a vision board for the coming year.

 

Ian Yip
Co-founder and CEO of Avertro

 

Ian Yip, co-founder and CEO of Avertro

Are you taking time off  and how do you plan to spend it?

We are taking the Christmas and New Year period off as a team to recharge, spend time with our loved ones, and come back ready to sprint into 2020. I don’t have any holiday trips planned. My focus will be on staying local, and spending time with family. And food. Lots of food.

 

Where’s your favourite place to head to relax?

I feel like I should say the beach. But honestly, it’s the couch. Being in the right state of mind is ultimately what relaxes me, and I can do that from the comfort of my own home.

 

What are you most looking forward to  and what’s your favourite summer holidays tradition?

Listening to Christmas music playlists with my family and friends. Yes, I actually like holiday season music, including all the Michael Bublé covers. I’ve been warming up through early December by listening to “Last Christmas, by Wham!” on a daily basis.

Watching all the sports on offer. In particular, I’m a huge fan of the NBA and love watching all the great matchups scheduled over the holiday season. Especially the games they have on Christmas day, which for us happens on Boxing Day because of the time difference. It also means I can switch between the NBA games and Boxing Day Test Match.

 

Cortina McCurry
Co-founder and CEO, Caia

Cortina McCurry. co-founder and CEO, Caia

Are you taking time off and how do you plan to spend it?

I plan to stay fairly local, but will take a few days around Christmas to recharge with family down on the beach.

 

Where’s your favourite place to head to relax?

I love heading down to the Mornington Peninsula. It’s a great place to unwind.

 

What are you most looking forward to and what’s our favourite summer holidays tradition?

Christmas morning with my daughter. She is three years old and just getting into Santa Claus and is ecstatic about all of the festivities. She has been incredibly well mannered the last few weeks after someone mentioned that Santa brings lumps of coal to kids who misbehave.

Setting my mother in law’s plum pudding on fire Christmas Day. It is rich, caloric and delicious.

 

Sam Bashiry
Director and founder, Broadband Solutions

Are you taking time off and how do you plan to spend it?

I’ll be taking a few days off, just to recharge and get back into the right headspace. Definitely with my loved ones. I think it’s more important than ever as an entrepreneur that you set aside some time to focus on what really matters in your life, or you do run the risk of burning out.

Where’s your favourite place to head to relax?

This might not sound relaxing but it is for me! I love spending time racing Supercars out on Phillip Island. It’s such a rush, and the adrenaline is incredible, but at the same time it’s really calming for me and it allows me to centre myself and hone my focus.

 

What are you most looking forward to and what’s your favourite summer holidays tradition?

Rediscovering what really matters to me, and finding the joy in my life that makes the hard work and the hustle so worthwhile. Lots of time with my family.

Getting out onto the open road and feeling free. Time with my family just doing simple things. My daughters are young and they constantly keep me entertained.

 

Skye Theodorou
Co-founder and CEO of upcover

 

Skye Theodorou, co-founder and CEO of upcover

Are you taking time off and how do you plan to spend it?

Yes, I’m having a staycation in the sunny mid-north coast with my partner. We both have the two weeks at home, and we’re really excited to spend that time with our friends and family.

 

Where’s your favourite place to head to relax?

Anywhere with grass for a lie down, a hot yoga room, but also my home in Sawtell. I find the huge weeks where a day can feel like a week’s worth of work and milestone hitting. I fly home to Sawtell and get to hit the beach, relax and take 10 on the weekend. It’s my retirement on the weekend!

 

What are you most looking forward to and what’s your favourite summer holidays tradition?

Some down time so I can hit refresh for 2020. I’m very excited for upcover’s plans but I want to make sure I’m putting the best foot forward, so am eager to relax as much as I can. I’ll also be reviewing a tonne of legal work but that is okay too! 

Beach swims, salty hair and prawns fingers – with my mum’s killer aioli sauce.

 

Giorgio Baracchi
Co-founder and CEO, RecycleSmart

 

Giorgio Baracchi, co-founder and CEO, RecycleSmart

Are you taking time off over Christmas and how do you plan to spend it?

Leaving soon for the Italian Alps. I’m from a small town in the mountains, definitely missing the snow.

 

Where’s your favourite place to head to relax?

A small island off the coast in Tuscany. There’s an old hotel in a villa that takes max 30 guests per time (Pardini’s Hermitage) and it’s accessible only by boat – simply magical in summertime.

 

What are you most looking forward to for Christmas and what ‘s your favourite summer holidays tradition??

Skiing with my high school friends in the Dolomites. Being from the Italian Alps, Xmas means skiing and cozy nights in front of the fireplace.

 

Mark Trowell
Co-founder and CEO, Yabonza

 

Mark Trowell, co-founder and CEO, Yabonza

Are you taking time off over Christmas and how do you plan to spend it?

Although as a startup founder you’re never really taking anytime off, because your mind is always working and you’re so excited by your work and your company that you’re always itching to do more. Yabonza is what I do, and it’s still work, but after my family, it’s the number one passion in my life. I’ll be taking just a couple of days, by the beach with the family.

 

Where’s your favourite place to head to relax?

I’m not too fussy, just put me anywhere by the ocean and that will work just fine for me.

 

 What are you most looking forward to for Christmas and the traditions do you enjoy the most?

Spending time with my family and getting the chance to kick the ball around with the kids and generally just have fun with them and become a part of their summer holiday memories. I want to help them enjoy the summer holidays I remember from when I was young. That’s one of my drivers as an entrepreneur; making sure my kids have the opportunities and the world that I had, and that I dreamed of. Being out at the beach, sharing good food and good company, and being one on one with my kids and my partner.

 

Adrian Przelozny
Founder and CEO, Independent Reserve

 

Adrian Przelozny, founder and CEO, Independent Reserve

Are you taking time off and how do you plan to spend it?

There are two kinds of businesses; those that shut down over Christmas and those that don’t.

As a 24/7 trading platform, Independent Reserve falls into the latter category. While I’ll be taking some time off from work to enjoy the summer, hit the beach, go snorkelling and mountain bike riding, I will still be on standby to ensure everything is operating smoothly over the holiday period.

 

Dr Silvia Pfeiffer
CEO, Coviu

 

Silvia Pfeiffer, Coviu CEO

What’s our favourite summer holiday tradition?

For me, attending and participating in the carol singing in Christmas in Town Hall (Sydney) is always the beginning of the wind down to Christmas. It’s such a fun and interactive experience, and I love to sing. 

I’ll also be taking some time to relax with my family; at the beach, swimming, fishing and reading science fiction books.

 

Nir Gabay 
Founder and CEO, Elsight

 

Elsight managing director Nir Gabay

Are you taking time off  and how do you plan to spend it?

While other Australian tech companies are winding down during Christmas, it’s business as usual over in Israel and Elsight are working hard on building on some of the great traction we’ve gotten over the last few months.

The end of year gives us a great opportunity to reflect and plan for the year ahead as we look to expand into new markets like the US and build out our presence there.

Equally, it’s important for our team to keep being inspired so one of the key things on my wishlist this year will be to encourage everyone to read more and get ready to hit some exciting milestones in 2020. 

 

Mat Colbron, CEO and co-founder of Tell Me Baby

Are you taking time off over Christmas and how do you plan to spend it? 

Yes. After a big year of capital raising, growth at Tell Me Baby and adding to our family, Christmas in 2019 is all about rest and recharging for us.

In a startup the pressure is on and taking the time out over the Christmas break with our young family is so important.

We are planning to get away up and down the coast this Christmas to visit family and friends with lots of time at the beach.

Yanir Yakutiel
CEO and founder of Lumi

 

Yanir Yakutiel, CEO and founder of Lumi

Are you taking time off over Christmas and how do you plan to spend it?

Although I won’t be technically taking a full break (being a founder of a dynamic startup means free time isn’t easy to come by for me), I’ll be making sure I take at least a few days during the Christmas/New Year period where my family and I completely switch off, ‘go off the grid’ and enjoy our time together. 

My son loves the beach, bike rides and going on walks, so we’ll definitely be doing some outdoor activities to refresh and prepare for the year ahead.

 

 Georgina Drury
CEO, Springday

Georgina Drury, CEO of Springday

Are you taking time off over Christmas and how do you plan to spend it?

Christmas for me is about spending quality time with my family, and it just so happens my sister will be in town from France with my new niece and nephew, so we will be spending the break swimming in the pool, sailing on the boat at Pittwater and paddle boarding on Sydney Harbour.

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