The latest CACC event, Starting Up Down Under: Canadian Entrepreneurs’ Success Stories was held in April at the BlueChilli offices in Sydney’s CBD. The event showcased the journeys of four Canadian Entrepreneurs, Sarah Mak (Managing Director, The Story Boxes and Co-founder, FolkTale), Ronald Tucker (CEO, BitTrade Australia), Luther Poier (CFO, BlueChilli) and Jeff Downs (CEO, Redback Conferencing).
The evening started with a warm welcome from Ms. Angela J. Bogdan, Consul General of Canada in Sydney, who spoke of the robust nature of the Canadian-Australian relationship on several fronts and the important work of the CACC.
With 100 registered attendees, the panelists started the discussion by recapping their stories of how they arrived in Australia. On being a Canadian living in Australia, Jeff said, “Part of the fabric of your life is loving the place you are from, from a distance and the opportunity to experience a different kind of life”. The Navy, travel, working holiday visas and post-graduate study, all played a part in getting our entrepreneurs to Australia. However, not all of them had a history of starting their own businesses, with Sarah describing herself as an “accidental entrepreneur”.
Many valuable lessons about startups were shared including Ronald’s analogy of “staying on the bicycle”. He cites that we can be our own worst enemy and that we need to keep moving forward. “We want to see our dreams come to life immediately”, he said. He explains that, like Uber and the Internet, we all need to have patience to allow the environment to evolve and mature in order to find success.
A common theme was around continuous learning. Whether it was Sarah encouraging people to challenge their assumptions or Luther highlighting that everyone follows their own journey - “[taking] learning and doing something with it is one of the most important things.”
Networking and building relationships were other important lessons of the evening – both here and in Canada. Ronald worked with Chambers in Australia and Canada to grow his BitTrade business and Sarah has leveraged the support and community offered by Luther’s BlueChilli and her association with the CACC to ramp up her newest venture, FolkTales.
The audience contributed with their own questions, including how to get ideas for a start up. Luther encouraged people to look at the industries that they work in and to find problems that need solving. Jeff urged attendees to be honest with themselves about whether an idea is commercially viable. “You don’t have to be the first, you just have to be the best”, said Jeff.
To wrap up, moderator Chris Warwick (Principal, Beachhead Management), took the opportunity to give away tickets to the upcoming Hungry Jack’s Ice Hockey Classic game in Sydney. The tour, with one game in Sydney and one in Melbourne, will support the StopConcussions Foundation and Brain Injury Australia. A 4-on-4 Fantasy Day is also available for those wishing to take to the ice with Darryl Sittler for a once-in-a-life-time ice hockey game. For more details, please contact Toni Miil at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the first time, the CACC used their twitter handle, @CACCLive, to capture live tweets from the event – check out the thoughts of some of our attendees.