Friday, October 15, 2010

Meet the Entrepreneur - CleanTech - AFTERWORD

Dr Marc Newson, Ernst & Young

Expertly moderated by Ernst & Young's Dr Marc Newson, the CIE's spring Meet the Entrepreneur event explored three innovative businesses in the rapidly-growing field of clean technology.

The panellists:

Guy Pross - Director, Business Development and Commercial Partnerships, Better Place Australia

Stone Wang - Managing Director, Artemis Building Systems

Matthew Warnken - Managing Director, Crucible Carbon

Guided by the themes of Economics, Scalability, and Convenience, the panel related some insights gained from their experiences in starting and building three very different businesses:

Better Place Australia is a global company dedicated to zero emissions driving through the delivery of services to enable confident adoption and use of electric vehicles (EVs). Better Place Australia will build and operate the infrastructure and systems to optimise energy access and use. By providing the infrastructure and services that make it easy, affordable and attractive for motorists to adopt and drive electric vehicles, Better Place will enable the mass adoption of EVs in Australia. (

Guy Pross, Better Place Australia

Artemis Building Systems pty ltd (ABS) is a Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) specialist with design, supply and engineering capabilities in Australia and China. ABS provides innovative and responsible supply solutions for building-envelope sustainability such as integrated curtain wall and overhead glazing systems with conventional and high performance glass and claddings or can provide Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BPV) systems to suit particular design requirements. (
Crucible Carbon's pyrolysis process is designed to produce biochar, biocrude oils and pyrolysis gas from a variety of biomass sources at low capital cost and high energy efficiency - the goal being to have technology that is scalable, replicable and financially viable in today's economic conditions. Pyrolysis has significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a global 'wedge' level of carbon abatement through the production and land application of biochar, in addition to generating renewable energy. (

Matthew Warnken, Crucible Carbon
Stone Wang, Artemis Building Systems
 So, what did the panellists have to say about Economics, Scalability, and convenience? 

  1. Australia is an excellent test market. It's our backyard and a convenient place to demonstrate proof of concept if you're looking to scale up for the US.
  2. While it is generally inconvenient to be the first to try unproven technology, no one wants to be the last person with obsolete technology (i.e. a petrol-powered vehicle in an EV world).
  3. Sure the early adopters will pay to be green, but ultimately the rest of the market wants and needs to know how their lives will be impacted - will they retain, or regain, more time and money for food, housing, medicine, education, family?
  4. Where is the value? What's the IRR to the investor? What are the government money factors (corporate taxes and employment income that offset subsidies, tax breaks and grants)? These have to be clearly defined - and credible!
  5. If you're depending on subsidies, this can get tricky as companies scale up by expanding to other regions. These days it's not enough to think less than globally.

And what's keeping the panellists up at night?

Given the rapid development of new technologies and regulations in clean technology, our panellists cited the following issues:

• The question of balance - do you hold out for perfection or make a prototype that's "good enough"?

• The problem of standardization - many emerging proto-standards can stretch resources too thin.

Join us for our next Meet The Entrepreneur, to take place in the early part of next year. The theme will be Open Innovation.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

StartMate Applications now open (closing at the end of November)

The twitter-sphere has been lit up with announcements from StartMate that they are now open for applications. But, what is StartMate?

Startmate is a group of startup executives offering mentorship and seed financing to founders of Internet and Software businesses based in Australia. Our first program is in the first quarter of 2011 in Sydney and applications will open later this year.
We want to help the most exceptional technically-focused founders create world class companies that solve customer problems.
The three month program offers a $25,000 investment, mentorship from more than 20 successful founders, sage legal counsel and a two week trip to Silicon Valley. At the conclusion of the program there are two demo days, one in Sydney and one in Silicon Valley, where you present in front of early stage investors.
We strongly believe in lean startup principles. The biggest risk in a startup is not whether someone will steal your idea or if you can build a product but rather that no one will care. Startmate is designed to help you win your first customers and work through the initial stages of customer discovery.
I have met a number of the mentors, and indeed, their names should be familiar with you, too. They have an exceptional depth and breadth of experiences related to high-tech web start-ups. Like me, some still occasionally get mistaken for uni students. They may not have grey hair, but that doesn't seem to matter in the GenY business world. They also have a huge heart for the younger entrepreneurs who may not even realize the global social impact their innovations may have.
Over the last couple weeks, the Sydney new ventures community has been on fire with events, including Tech23, the Young Entrepreneurs' Unconvention, SydStart, and Startup Camp Sydney (See also SMH article or ASB media release). Tonight is Seed Accelerator's Startup Networking Party, and CIE's Peter Farrell Cup is still coming up, too! A common element between these events were that there was always someone from StartMate there. The next wave of innovators are revving up, and the angels/mentors are now ready for business (from an email from Niki):
We've opened up the applications for the inaugural wave of Startmate. Folks can find out more here: and apply here:
Applications will close at the end of November and the final round interviews will be held in early December. 
Startmate is premised on helping small teams of technical founders get started on building great companies. More details on the program here: The first wave of StartMate will begin in January of 2011 in Sydney.

Ready ... Set ... Go!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

StartupCamp Sydney going strong (Oct 8-10)

From time to time I have been popping in to check on StartupCamp Sydney IV. Sometimes in person at ATP Innovations, sometimes just checking Bart's twitter feed or the #sucs hashtag.

There are dozens of 30-second idea pitches online, and teams have gelled around 10 ideas listed on the StartupCamp website:

My favorite one has probably got to be the mash-up between ChatRoulette and Foursquare:

The whole collection of videos is available at:

What's next??
The whole schedule of events is available at:

The next sections that are open to the public are:
Saturday 9 Oct at 9pm: Launches and Demos to Press, Party!
Each team has maximum 5min (and you will be cut off and this includes fumbling with laptops, etc) to pitch and give a live demo of their product. After this there will be 2-3mins in which the press can ask questions. This pitch is NOT for investors. This is where you get the world excited about your invention
Sunday 10 Oct:
2:00PM - Investor and business leaders arrive for Grand Final Pitches
4:00PM - Networking, Clean-up, Final Touches!
5:00PM - Close off StartupCamp IV

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Business Plan Workshop for the PF Cup Competition

Dr Martin Bliemel will be running a Business Plan Workshop tonight.

WHEN: 5-6:30 PM

WHERE: ASB Lounge - 6th floor, West Wing, ASB building (E12)

BRING: Paper, pen, and questions

Please make sure you’ve reviewed the Simple Business Outline and Simple Business Model from the CIE’s Library & Tools page (first two items): → Resources menu → Library & Tools


If you’ve registered to join a team (and haven’t yet found one), this is the event to find that team!

See you this evening!