3 panel sessions to vote for at SXSW Sydney

- April 18, 2024 3 MIN READ
Brighte founder Katherine McConnell
One way South by Southwest (SXSW) Sydney is different to most tech and startup festivals is how it chooses its panels in a Survivor-meets-Eurovision way, with people asked to vote on the 1,100-odd submissions received to choose their favourite.

The fortnight of voting in Session Select leads to LinkedIn being flooded with “please like me”posts from those with ideas they hope will make the cut when SXSW returns in October.

This year Startup Daily’s editor Simon Thomsen is among them – although with just four days to go before voting closes, he’s resisted LinkedIn posts in favour of having a whole publication he can plug them on in the hope you’ll give them a vote. (Editor’s note: OK, I just did the LinkedIn post. Soz.)

Maybe they’ll all happen – last year’s inaugural event featured 1,178 sessions.

You have until this Monday, April 22 to vote for your favourite sessions. To do it you have to register or log in with SXSW here.

Panel One: Chicken or egg: Customers or brands?

First up though, we want to spruik Chello cofounder and MD Lindsay Rogers, who asked Thomsen to host a panel titled “Chicken or egg: Customers or brand?”

Here’s how Rogers explains it:

“Most businesses start life as great ideas – and most founders focus on finding customers and building value, not on building their brands. But is this the right approach?

“At what point does a business need a brand that means something more than function?

“Some may argue that “brand” should be embedded from a company’s inception, while others suggest it’s better to retrofit the brand once the business has traction. Both perspectives have weight – but which is right?”

To tackle the issue Thomsen is talking to Dee W. Head of Marketing at My Muscle Chef and Mikayla Hopkins Head of Marketing at Tracksuit. She’s also talking about bringing along chocolate eggs.

To vote for it search for “egg” in the Advertising & Marketing section.

Panel Two: The lessons sport brings to startup founders

Thomsen himself has looked outside the box for his proposed sessions.

The first builds on a hugely popular lunch discussion he had with Port Adelaide AFL Club’s head of football, Chris Davies, at _SOUTHSTART, discussing lessons for founders about building teams, persevering and tackling setbacks.

This time it’s with an AFL star who nowadays runs a venture capital firm in a session titled: The lessons sport brings to startup founders

We talk about kicking goals in startups all the time, so let’s about it with someone who’s literally done it.

Matt de Boer

Athletic Ventures cofounder Matt de Boer in his GWS days. Image: AFL Photos

Matt de Boer played 223 games, first for Fremantle, where he was twice named best clubman, before going on to make a big big sound in the west of the town at Greater Western Sydney Giants.

He was the first AFL player in 115 years to be a member of the first Grand Final teams for two separate clubs – Freo in 2013 and six years later, GWS.

And while at the Giants he cofounded Athletic Ventures, which has seen a number of sports stars invest in Canva, Eucalyptus, Heaps Normal, Pet Circle, Who Gives a Crap and Zero Co. among many more.

They’ll be joined by some other sports champions to talk about discipline, focus, belief, building a team, trust and resilience, and dealing with adversity – skills .

Thomsen explains the session thus: “Founders and sports stars have much in common. Every day is different, you dream big and believe, and need peak performance every time to lead your team to victory against all odds. So what sport can teach founders about setting goals, values, leadership, building a team, making the mission clear and dealing with adversity? Plenty.”

To vote for it search for “sport” in the Startups section.

Panel Three: Parenting as a founder

The other session is about juggling life and two important parts of your life: Parenting as a founder.

Mick Liubinskas

Climate Salad CEO Mick Liubinskas

Two well-known and successful parents, Brighte founder Katherine McConnell and Climate Salad’s Mick Liubinskas will talk about what it takes to win on the other side of startup life and getting the strategy right with your long-term financial and emotional investors in teenagers.

Liubinskas took things a step further when he wrote, She’s Building a Robot a kid’s novel about a young girl in a robot building competition, to inspire his own daughter and other kids to tackle careers in STEM.

Thomsen, who’s coparented two teens while building media brands (but after exiting his own startup) describes the session thus: “Suddenly you have two children. One, a startup, the other, a real live human. Can you do both and how do they both thrive? What tradeoffs and sacrifices need to be made, what life hacks make it easier. Where are the sweet spots and quicksand? Can you skip parent-teacher night to ship your MVP?

To vote for it search for “Parenting as a founder” in the Startups section.

Of course there are plenty of other great sessions to vote for too. Find out more here.

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