SVB Capital founder Aaron Gershenberg, who raised $10 billion in VC funds, headlines West Tech Fest

- November 25, 2023 3 MIN READ
Aaron Gershenberg
SVB Capital founder Aaron Gershenberg
West Tech Fest (WTF) in Perth will be headlined by SVB Capital cofounder Aaron Gershenberg, SafetyCulture’s Luke Anear, and US-Australian VC Maxine Minter from CoVentures, next month.

Bill Tai and Rohan McDougall’s annual startup and innovation festival, now in its 12th year, runs over five days, December 4-8, in Perth and Fremantle, with a “founder first” focus to connect them with investors.

The West Tech Fest program is expected to be bigger than ever with the annual conference, West Tech Main, taking  place across two stages for the first time this year. Nexus will explore connections between global  industries, experts, and ecosystem whilst Horizon will look at the next wave of tech.  

Headlining this year’s festival is US VC veteran Aaron Gershenberg, who’s spent more than two decades building global fund of funds for SVB Capital, owned by Silicon Valley Bank’s SVB Financial Group. During that time, he has raised more than $10 billion.

Gershenberg said he’s excited to return to Perth after a decade.

I was at West Tech Fest 10 years ago when I met Canva co-founders Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht,” he said.

I loved the energy, entrepreneurial spirit, and potential, all while being surrounded by the unparalleled beauty of Perth. I’ve seen it, I’ve watched it, and I’m so excited to be coming back.

Other keynote speakers this year include Bill Tai, the WA kite surfing and Canva fan, whose impressive VC has seen his early-stage funding of startups lead to more than 20 exits via public floats, primarily on the NASDAQ. Keeping with the VC theme  is Maxine Minter. founder of Co Ventures, the first venture fund in Australia led by a solo female GP and the country’s first dedicated pre-seed fund, with the founder side represented by SafetyCulture CEO Luke Anear and food waste startup Goterra’s Olympia Yarger.

West Tech Fest cofounder Rohan McDougall, Curtin University’s executive director of commercialisation, said WTF 2023 is a celebration of the spirit of innovation. 

“Together with our partners, West Tech Fest delivers something for anyone who has ever dreamed of  entrepreneurship while nurturing an ecosystem of like-minded people and a culture of collaboration” he said.  

“We are all driven by the same goal – a diversified, vibrant WA economy that celebrates innovation,  investment and entrepreneurship.”

While several event favourites return, including West Tech Women, West Tech Main and Freo Startup Fest there are new focuses, such as:

West Tech Coast an immersive beachside conference at Port Beach showcasing how corporates and startups can leverage technology to achieve sustainable development goals; and

West Tech Youth a free dedicated Youth program featuring the Young Entrepreneurs Showcase to be held during the now sold out WTF Innovation Showcase to inspire the next generation of startup founders. 

McDougall said WTF will keep growing thanks to an expanded three-year partnership with the City of Perth, which has backed the event since 2017.

West Tech Fest is also supported by the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation’s New Industries Fund, and Think and Act Differently (TAD) powered by BHP, among others. 

The full list of 2023 speakers is here.

Other West Tech Fest 2023 program highlights include:

What Lies Ahead: 2024 Trends for Australia’s Investment Scene 

Nexus Stage at West Tech Main, Weds, Dec 6, feat. James Cameron (AirTree), Aprill Enright-Allen (Tractor Ventures), Silk Kadala (BlackBird), Brady Flockart (Startmate) & Liddy McCall (Yuuwa)  

Westward Bound: Scaling Startup Companies from Western Australia 

Nexus Stage at West Tech Main, Weds, Dec 6, feat. Cheryl Mack (Aussie Angels) , Jon Gregory (Vitruvian), Ben Cole (WOA) & Kate Lewkowski (Neurotologix)  

Tech for Good  

Horizon Stage at West Tech Main, Weds, Dec 6, feat. Steve King (Atlassian Foundation)  

Fireside Chat with Bill Tai and special guest 

West Tech Coast, Tues, Dec 6,

Unleashing Your Entrepreneur Potential Panel 

West Tech Women, Mon, Dec 4, feat. Jess Walker (Airtree), Jaynaya Winmar (BlakAngels), Jenna Palumbo (Minderoo Foundation) & Tracie Clark (VentureX). 

Clean Tech Panel 

Freo Startup Fest, Thurs, Dec 7, feat. Julia Reisser (ULUU), Amy Carter-James (Raaise) & Josh Portlock (Electro Ventures) 

Tickets to West Tech Fest 2023 are now on sale at westtechfest.com.au