Other tech

The Future Founders Festival is free, online, and kicks off tomorrow

- July 14, 2021 3 MIN READ
Future founders
Budding entrepreneurs at the 2020 Future Founders Festival. Photo: Linh
The Future Founders Festival – Australia’s first festival for international student startups, innovators and founders – will now take place entirely online from this Thursday, July 15, running over two days to July 16.

As Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak spread south to Victoria, the Melbourne-based event decided to move to online to ensure the safety of all involved.

Hosted by State Library Victoria’s StartSpace and Study Melbourne, a Victorian Government Initiative, the free festival aims to immerse students in the startup ecosystem, providing the knowledge, inspiration, skills and networks they need to overcome the major barriers to starting a business in Australia.

The two-day program comprises a series of online events and a pitch competition. A 48-hour Hackathon will follow in August, giving students the opportunity to gain some practical experience.

Speakers at the Festival include some of Australia’s most inspiring entrepreneurs and mentors from a migrant background – many of whom were international students themselves.

They include:

Richard Li, founder of July, a direct-to-consumer luggage start up backed by major bags retailer, Strandbags. Richard was able to grow July $5million in revenue in just one year. He is also the Co-Founder of Brosa, one of Australia’s fastest-growing eCommerce businesses, now worth over $50million and backed by some of Australia’s most prominent VC funds including Airtree Ventures and Bailador Technology Investments.

Alex Power, founder of Delivr, a Ballarat-based food delivery service and Federation University graduate. Alex founded Delivr with just $200 in 2017, it is now the only profitable business of its kind in Australia, if not globally, with a turnover in the millions.

Eliza Li, co-founder of Halad to Health, a not-for-profit providing free health education and services to some of the most disadvantaged communities in rural Philippines. Since launching in 2019, Halad to Health’s innovative social business model has raised over $200K and provided free health education to over 6000 students.

Jill Tang, co-founder, Ladies Who Tech, a social enterprise that aims to narrow the gender gap and promote inclusion in STEM through recruitment, education and networking. It connects more than 30,000 members across all social media in greater China and now has presence in 11 cities including Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Winitha Bonney OAM, Founder of Amina of Zaria, a digital platform and private membership empowering women of colour and #ColourFULL, Australia’s first leadership and entrepreneurship conference and awards night by women of colour for women of colour and
allies. Winitha is one of Australia’s strongest Thought Leaders in the advancement of Women and People of Colour into leadership and entrepreneurship.

Aamir Qutub, CEO and founder of Enterprise Monkey, a Geelong-based multinational web and app development company that helps to automate businesses; achieved a turnover of $2 million in five years. Aamir has since founded Mentor Monkey and co-founded Angel Next

StartSpace community lead Aun Ngo said the festival is a unique opportunity for international students to gain real-world business skills that might not be available elsewhere.

“Starting a business can be a huge challenge for most people but international student entrepreneurs face particular challenges. Cultural and language barriers, smaller networks, navigating work rights and visas as well as access to funding are just some of the obstacles they face,” he said.

“We can’t wait to unearth potential new businesses from within our vibrant international student community. It really speaks to the core of StartSpace, which was founded to help early-stage business founders from all backgrounds get their ideas off the ground through building confidence, connections and skills.”

Global Victoria CEO Gönül Serbest said the festival will build on the success of recent community roadshows and workshops focused on employability and entrepreneurship for Victoria’s international student population.

“The Future Founders Festival is helping students to build networks and explore opportunities with Victorian businesses and the start-up community, as well as connect with students offshore through our Study Melbourne Hubs initiative,” he said.

“The Victorian Government’s investment in the program is part of our plan to support the recovery of our international education sector – these initiatives will empower and support Victoria’s international students as a globally connected talent pool.”

This year’s festival follows the success of the inaugural Future Founders Festival in 2020. It is the hallmark event of the new yearlong Future Founders Program, which is designed to take international students and budding entrepreneurs on the journey from forming a business idea to getting it off the ground. It has been made possible thanks to a $500,000 investment from the Victorian Government, through
Study Melbourne.

The festival is free, but participants must register. More information including the full speaker list and schedule, is available at startspacehq.com/futurefounders/festival