How to survive a Startup Weekend

You’ve arrived at your first ever Startup Weekend. The room is buzzing, the chatter is constant and you are pretty sure you just spied an untouched platter of pizza. Unlike the fast talking groups that have arrived together, you have decided to brave the unfamiliar and rock up completely alone. Now, you are faced with a sea of new faces…and choices.

Where do you start? How do you pick your team? Should you sit closest to the banquet or the bathroom?

Here are some important tips on how you can make the most of a Startup Weekend!

1. Diversify your team

One of the best parts about Startup Weekend (other than the food) is the opportunity to meet some awesome new people. Though you might be quick to team up with the first person who looks your way, it’s important to first consider the variety of skills needed to build on an idea. Get busy networking and suss out what potential team mates can offer. If in doubt, relegate yourself to the ‘Hipster, Hacker, and Hustler’ rule — creatives, tech experts, and confident spokespeople.

2. Don’t get stuck on one idea

Got an idea that’s set to blow everyone out of the water? Chances are everyone else does too. When it comes to Startup Weekend, it’s important to remember that your newly formed teammates may not necessarily agree with your concept, or choose it at all. Keeping your mind open to new ideas and playing to each individual’s strengths is the best way to surge ahead. So maybe leave your paranormal energy detector for the next one (or, you know, never).

3. Compromise

If being inflexible with your idea is a big no-no, then refusing to cooperate or compromise should also be straight up prohibited. Much like any group oriented activity, the only way to progress is to push aside ego and pride in favour of achieving an end goal. At some point, a decision will have to be made that is in the best interest of the group as a whole — even if you don’t all agree. What separates a winning team from a losing one is the ability to push aside differences and make decisions to move forward.

4. Come prepared

Most Startup Weekends supply stationery but if you have a favorite notebook and pen that brings out your creative juices, then bring these along. Your charged up computer, phone as well as any accompanying wall chargers/spare batteries should also be part of your survival kit. It’s best not to assume that chargers will be readily available — especially if your product of choice isn’t named after a particular fruit.

5. Keep yourself fuelled

Speaking of fruit…remember to eat!

Foregoing a meal may seem like a foreign concept, but it is an easy thing to do when you are hours into a brainstorming session. Avoid taking a mental nose dive by eating regularly, and storing a stash of sugary treats. That and avoiding a quick caffeine fix every time you hit an energy slump.

Expect things to be a bit chaotic at times during the 54 hours but never fear, as that probably means you are growing and in the right place. Trust the process, and know that even if your team doesn’t win, you’ve accomplished a great feat. At the end of the day (well, weekend) you’ve had an incredible experience building a startup with a group of passionate people!

QUT CEA’s Startup Weekend Creative Tech is on from 2–4 March. Grab your tickets here.

This article was originally published by QUT Creative Enterprise Australia.

The ultimate guide to winning startup weekend

As Startup Weekend season is upon us, I thought it was about time that we put together a guide to winning. Having won and mentored at 10+ startup weekends, we have seen the same mistakes over and over. The aim of this guide is to give every single team the best chance at coming away from the weekend with paying customers, and a solid base for a business.

There is nothing worse than seeing a team pitch on Sunday what they could have pitched on Friday. We hope this guide will stop this happening.

In our opinion there are four key areas to keep in mind if you want to give your self the best chance at winning Startup Weekend.

1. How will you be judged on Sunday

2. How to manage your time over the weekend

3. Rapid sales and marketing channels

4. Building your prototype

If you like this post, please clap so other people can see it.

Visit and enter in your email address and you will get access to:

1. Slide template from Lisa Engine, and Car Values Co

2. One page timeline for startup weekend

3. Customer Persona map

4. Ad template to write your ads

5. UTM Code generator to track your leads

6. Metrics Calculator for your final pitch

If you prefer to consume this as a video I have put a two part video together on our YouTube Channel Code Without Code. Please Subscribe as our plan is to build examples of the most common startup weekend problems for you to follow a long with.

The Second video focuses on rapid sales and marketing and building a prototype without code.

The three judging criteria to win.

To win at startup weekend, you need to have a fantastic pitch. All the hard work over the weekend is worthless if you don’t present it well. According to the official startup weekend page during your final pitch on Sunday you are judged on three criteria:

1. Business model

2. Customer validation

3. Execution and design

The organisers of your event will often give you a guide on how to set up your pitching template to help you.

The first is your business model, and will this idea be able to be formed into a business that is self-sustaining. In other words:

1. Have you identify and tested traction channels to get new customers?

2. Are customers willing to put their hand in their pocket and pay?

3. Does it cost you less to get a new customer than you make from them?

You shouldn’t just talk about it like you would on the Friday night. But how the proof. The line I want to hear is “Here are ads we used on these three channels we tested, X1, X2, and X3. X3 cost us $3 per customer, and X1 cost us $5 per customer”

Tip: Calculate your real channel costs with the intention to show a scalable traction channel beyond just walking around to people and asking them to buy your product. Take screenshots the entire weekend to help with your final presentation.

The second part is about demonstrating what you learnt over the weekend by talking with your potential customers. an excellent way to show this is to talk through your pipeline. The number of surveys and results, customer interviews, sign-ups. You want to talk about how much of a pain the current way they solve this problem is, and the lengths they will go to solve it.

You need to show the proof that it is a real problem, as the judges will assume that it isn’t unless they have experienced it personally. That is your job. Show the judges that you have spoken to enough people to confirm that it is a problem, and it is a big enough problem that they would pay for it. Dollars talk. If they pay, it is a real problem. Your ultimate goal is to get cash from these potential customers. Not just a name or email. Proving that there is a problem, that it is big enough to pay for, and the value is apparent.

Tip: During the pitch, we try to talk about one specific customer interview that highlights the pain that potential customers are experiencing, and what they do to solve the problem. It is best shown with a photo of them holding a $50 note the ‘proof’ that they paid.

The final part of judging based on having a working prototype. We find that this is the part that people struggle with the most. It is important to go out and speak with customers before starting your prototype, but at some point, over the weekend you need to sit down and create something.

This is what you will use to sell to and sign up those customers you have been interviewing. The section below will go into a bit more detail about how to do this quickly and show you what we used to generate about $100 by 11:30pm on Friday night, and all we used was typeform and stripe.

Don’t be put off if you don’t have a tech person on your team. You can create something pretty compelling without a developer. For example, was built without code in four hours. A non-tech can create a prototype.

Tip: Sign up for Typeform, Stripe, Zapier before the weekend. Become familiar with them as you can use them to string together a prototype.

The week prior to Startup Weekend

One of the rules of startup weekend is that it must be an idea that you haven’t started previously. However, do some market research beforehand. Understand the competition and how other people are solving the problem and maybe go and casually talk to some potential customers about the problem. You just want to make sure that you are solving a real problem.

It also gives you the confidence that you need in your 60 second pitch on Friday night.

You should also sign up with some of the tools that you might use over the weekend, so you can become familiar with them. We go into much more detail later.

– Typeform (collect results)

– Zapier (link typeform to anything else)

– Stripe (take payments)

Tip: If you have more than one idea, do some quick and dirty customer interviews to find out if people care about the problem you want to solve.

The 60 Second Pitch

This 60 second pitch is the hook to get people to vote for your idea, and want to join your team. You must practise your pitch before the weekend and come up with a catchy name. There might be 70+ ideas pitched, and you need to stand out.

The usual layout for the pitches are:

1. Who are you

2. The problem you are solving

3. How you might solve it (don’t spend too much time here)

4. What do you need

The problem you want to solve might be huge, and it could tick all the boxes but if you can’t get up and pitch it, it will be hard for you to get the best talent on your team.

Tip: Practice your 60 second pitch at least 20 times. Come up with a memorable name so people remember you and your pitch!

Time management at startup weekends

The biggest mistake that teams make is spending time on things that don’t matter. For example the logo, the brand colours, a very specific phrase. One key take away is just make a fast decision, you can change it later if it is a problem.

If you are spending more time discussing it than it would take just to do, make a choice and move on. In an attempt to help keep you on track I have put together a list

You can download this guide, and a few other tips at our website below.

Friday Night

You want to clarify with your team the problem you are solving, and show the evidence you have that it is a real problem. DO NOT TALK ABOUT THE SOLUTION. Focus on the problem and how you will validate that it is a problem.

1. Find out about your team. Why are they there, what is their skill set and what do they want to learn over the weekend. Your job as the leader is to make sure everyone has a good time and gets what they want out of the Weekend.

2. Create a Google survey (Spend 10 minutes or less)

3. Create a Typeform survey form (15 minutes) and ask for phone numbers and email addresses

4. Create a Typeform payment form (20 minutes)

5. Set up first paid advertising and direct to payment form (30 minutes)

6. Post Typeform survey in facebook groups, and other communities asking for help (30 minutes). Try to focus on groups based on the other side of the world. So while you are sleeping, your forms are being filled in.

7. Before you leave plan where your potential customers will be on Saturday. So you know where to find them for your customer interviews (20 minutes)

If you split into groups to complete this it will only take an hour or so. Make sure you use UTM codes in all of your links so you know which channel is giving you traffic and completed survey.

TIP: If the conversion is getting off track, bring it back to trying to validate the problem. It is hard to avoid getting distracted by the solution but you are too early to think about it.

Saturday Morning

The goal for Saturday morning (or by 2pm) is to;

1. Confirm its a real problem

2. Understand how customers are currently solving the problem

3. Confirm that they would pay for a solution. Saturday morning you have to talk to your customers.

To assist you in achieving this.

1. Call the people who filled in your typeform overnight. That is why you asked for a phone number!

2. Split the team into groups of 2 or 3 and go out and do your first set of customer interviews for 1.0–1.5 hours. Come back share stories, improve and learn from each other. Go out with a different group.

3. Make sure you capture peoples phone number or email addresses to speak with later

You want to use this information later to create a landing page (Instapage, Squarespace) using messaging you heard from your customer interviews.

TIP: You should aim to always have at least two people from your team doing customer validation

Saturday Afternoon/Evening

This is the hardest period of the weekend. People are tired, hungry and if you haven’t made the progress you were expecting you also might be stressed. This is when teams split up, so now is the time to go and help another team.

The goal by you leave Saturday night is to:

1. Prototype with people using it (As early as possible, but by 4pm Saturday)

2. Sign up more customers with face to face interviews, and then showing them the prototype

3. Draft of your pitch for Sunday

4. At least an iteration of your landing page

5. Ramp up your sales and marketing. See the next section for some hints about how to do that.

6. Help at least one person who isn’t on your team learn something new

TIP: Starting your pitch early helps you identify gaps that you need to fill on Sunday morning.

Sunday Morning

The goal is to finalise your pitch with just gaps for the latest numbers, and get more sales.

Focus your time on:

1. Running through the pitch, and improving it

2. Fill the gaps and pull together the screenshots and photos from the weekend

3. Speak with everyone who you contact over the weekend and push them to sign up.

4. Go out and do more face to face sale for the final push

5. Put your price up if you have had sale to increase revenue

6. Refine the MVP

7. Help other teams.

TIP: Final push so get everyone out to do sales. Calls, Face to face. Prepare for pitching.

Sunday Afternoon

The goal for sunday afternoon is to have your pitch polished and locked in. Now you just need to go through it, practise and practise. Go to the pitching mentors get their feedback, and write down the questions they ask you.

I would guess that 80% of the questions they ask during the pitching mentor session will be asked by the judges. So prepare an answer in your backup slides.

In the final hours:

1. Tally up the pipeline numbers, surveys, customers spoken to, email addresses, phone numbers, sales, and dollars

2. Calculate your marketing metrics

3. Refine the wording of your problem/solution to make it clear and concis

4. Understand how you are different to other solutions (common question is “how are you different to XXXX”

5. Run through the 5 minute pitch 20+ times before the pitching mentors arrive.

Depending on the startup weekend you go to, pitches might start earlier than you expect.

TIP: Everyone will be stressed at the last minute. If you follow this guide you will be totally relaxed. So go and help out a few people.

Rapid marketing & sales

If you have a week before the event I would suggest reading through Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers. Best way to read it is with a notepad next to you and every chapter brain storm as many ideas as you can related to your problem.

Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

This book will help you come up with some ideas for you to execute on the weekend. If you are on a tight budget I would recommend that you do a search for vouchers, as often you can spend $25 and get $100 of credit.

Canva for design

Sign up to Canva, as you will use it to design all of your ads. Just use a template they suggest for whatever you are looking at (Facebook Ads, Twitter, etc) change the text and image. Then use it. You can improve it later, remember that this is rapid marketing.

Customer personas

You need to understand who your ideal customer is. The point of doing this is to help you with ad targeting, where to go to see them and talk to them in person. Without this, we have always found that we are constantly asking how to target. This should evolve over the weekend as you talk to more and more people.

If you go the link below, and enter in your email address we will send our what we use for customer personas.

UTM + Short URL’s

Before running any ads or sharing links make sure you learn what UTM codes are, and how to use them. In short. They are tracking codes that you append to a URL so you can see where the traffic is coming from. All you need to do is install google analytics in your Typeform or website.

Some providers will automatically insert them for you, such as Google AdWords. Then if you want to run the long URL through, then use that URL to share in communities you will be able to track not just visits to your page but also how many views, and people filled in your forms.

FB Ads

Simple to set up and have running, you just need a Facebook page and a few images. Use targeting based upon the customer personas. Set up 2 or 3 ads per campaign.

Twitter Ads

Just need a Twitter account, use a big image to grab peoples attention. Once again target on hashtags and customer personas.

Instagram Ads

Same as Facebook can be set up in their ad platform. You will need an instagram account for this to work.


Look for communities around what you are doing. Share your survey use the words looking for experts to help us. Don’t ask for he sale

Ask for insights and help. A good phrase I have seen used is people just posting “I have had a bad day, what annoys you about running a business that does XXX” you are essentially asking for pain points and for people to tell their problems. This makes it hard to convert people to a survey though.

Reddit Ads

Becoming more popular, but you can get clicks very very cheaply. Just target a subreddit. Make your ad look like a post as they get more clicks than a straight ad.

Google Adwords

Always do this one first, do some research about keywords that match your problem. Check for cost as some keywords can be very very expensive. If it’s expensive for this method wait until you have nailed the problem and have a solution. Don’t forget remarketing on this one so you don’t burn the cost.

Linkedin Search + Hunter

If you are trying to sell to businesses, start with LinkedIn and get a free trial to use sales navigator. You can do in depth search for people that match who you are looking for. Then you can use a tool called that will help you find their email address.

You can craft an email to them, but to be honest you might as well send them a Linkedin message asking for help.


Use the hashtags for startup weekend’s that are happening all over the world at the same time as yours. Find influencers in the industry and tag them (we get the most traction with people who have between 10,000–60,000 followers. At that level, they are still managing their own account and seem to get back to you quicker. More than that, and they might have filters set up and they might not see you at all.

Face to face sale

This one is the scariest methods, but it really does work. Walk into stores, stand on the street as people walk past and ask them. Be targeted and think about who is most likely to respond based on your assumed customer persona.


This one will require you to put the google analytics code on your typeform or website. What it allows you to do is to follow anyone who visited your page or from around the internet. With the intention to try to get them to engage with you and your content. Do a quick google search for videos about how to set this up.

Product Hunt is a community of early adopters, willing to try any product. If you have a prototype ready by Saturday afternoon or evening posting it to can get you a large number of visitors. was launch on product hunt and we got over 5,000 visitors in 24 hours.

You will need to find someone who is a hunter, so sign up using your Twitter or Facebook account and see who in your community has the little H. They will be able to post, so convince them that they should post it for you. If you can’t the judges aren’t going to believe you. I can hunt so contact me if you want.

Building your prototype

I can’t stress this enough, start with a simple form. Then expand it over the weekend. Do not build what you think is your product without first talking to customer.

Saying that every team should at the minimum have:

1. Typeform

2. Stripe account (sign up and refund people later)

3. Zapier

4. Instapage, SquareSpace or another landing page builder

If you want some help about how to use these tools will eventually have a large list of example builds for you but now the list is fairly small. However, a good example is the how to build a quoting engine for a cleaning business. But this could be adapted to a number of different areas.

What are you trying to build?

This is a real example of a team at last years startup weekend, who were trying to solve the turnstile problem at train stations.

They didn’t spend anything on the mechanics of the turnstile , they just sat there and did this.

The best example of a minimum viable product

Your aim is to be as lazy as possible by building just enough to learn from. You can still pull the strings behind the curtain. You are still providing value to the people who signed up and that is more important than how it actually works.

Lisa Engine MVP

I was a part of a team at Startup Weekend Gold Coast, and the problem we were trying to solve was that people wanted to share content but didn’t have the time to look for good content.

We built an MVP using Typeform within a few hours were making sales. What we used is below in the screenshots.

Over the 54 hours we:

  • Signed up 9x clients at $50, and 21 clients at between $10–$30.
  • Posted 56 articles over 54 hours

Had one person tell us that the ‘on boarding’ of Lisa Engine was really good (it was just Typeform)

MVP for Lisa Engine (built with typeform)

What it looked like in typeform note the credit card payments


We signed up Steve Baxter (Shark Tank Australia, Queensland Chief Entrepreneur) and posted content that he approved, and you can see it even got retweets, replies, and likes.



Tools to use from the Prototype stack

We have built so many tools without code, we noticed that we started to use the same tools over and over. So we put together The Prototype Stack. There will be another video/medium article that will go into a bit more depth about this.

In short pick one from each column. Lisa Engine was Typeform, Zapier, Google Sheets, Mandrill.

Kanye Text is Stripe, Zapier, Google Sheet and Twilio.


25ish of the best tools that we use over and over

The best tools for a startup weekend are:


Is the fastest way to build a nice customer experience and get some details from your clients. It also will let you attach your stripe account and charge customers.


My favourite tool of all time, the team at Zapier are constantly updating the tools that they integrate with. Zapier lets you move that entry from Typeform to Google Sheets, send out an email and do everything in between.

Google Sheets

Don’t use a CRM, just use google sheets for the weekend. It is easy to use and multiple people can view it at once.


Stripe is the quickest way to accept payments using a credit card, you can use something like paypal, braintree etc. But Stripe will integrate with a lot of other providers and often to implement it is drag and drop.


My go to webpage builder with hundreds of templates that you just need to change the wording. You can have a website up and running in 30 minutes.

Twilio (text)

Makes sending and receiving text messages easy. A non developer can do it (link to zapier, to make it even better)


You can do wireframes really fast, they have templates. It is really good to show a quick mockup to customers, to see their feedback.

Shopify Online Logo Maker

Spend 5 minutes making your logo, it doesn’t matter. Use this tool.

Prototyping on Paper

This app will let you draw on a sheet of paper, take a photo of it and then build an app for people to use. Really good for use on the Saturday morning if your solution might involve an app, rather than a process.

Free mobile & web prototyping (iOS, Android) for designers – Marvel
Turn sketches and designs into interactive web, iPhone, iPad, Android and Apple Watch prototypes and mockups…

Thank you for reading this mega post. Comment below and let me know if there is a specific area you want me to break down further in another post or video. If there is something missing, shout out via Twitter. It would be great for this to actually be the definitive guide for startup weekend and just weekend hustle.

I want to see every single startup weekend team making dollars by Saturday from customers they have never met.

You are Liz Lemon.

If you want to see how we build other prototypes and string them all together we are starting a YouTube Channel Code Without Code. So please subscribe.

Our plan is to build out MVP’s for a number of ideas that we see at a startup weekend. That way nearly every team will have a barebones template to follow to create their prototype.

We currently have two videos for startup weekend up that cover the content above, but in much more detail with a few tips that we haven’t written here.

If you want more information about this go to give us your email address and we will send you the following.

1. Slide template from Lisa Engine, and Car Values Co (Right now )

2. One page timeline for startup weekend (Right now)

3. Customer Persona map (Soon)

4. Ad template to write your ads (Soon)

5. UTM Code generator and tracker (Soon)

6. Metrics Calculator (Soon)

10 Nov 2017 — Once this opt in gets to 30 we will pull together the rest of the content (12 Nov 2017 — at 21)

Please clap if you found this useful, as it will help others discover this content.

Valuably written by Startup Mentor; Chris Drake. Follow him on Twitter.

Ten Reasons to Start a Business as a Student

We all know the countless perks to being a student (eg. DISCOUNTS!). Anyone partially interested in business would also know the vast advantages to starting and owning your own business. Throw these factors together, and you’ve got the perfect combination and reasons why as a student you should start your own business! Let us share with you the top 10.


Let’s face it. It is undeniable that university students can (and most often always do) have additional time on their hands. Although we all desire to start our assignment the day they are given out, the reality is we do it in the last minute, and do it well. That’s why founding a startup during uni is perfect timing because unlike the real world (with real jobs and real working hours) you can manipulate your schedule to fit in around your business and still get done what you need to!


Universities have an incredible amount of resources available to students. These are not only limited to professors, academics, library subscriptions and successful alumni. But also, programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office suite, Solidworks and Github that are freely available for student use. After all, who doesn’t love freebies?


One of the best ways to learn is from others that have followed a similar path to you. Founding a Startup during university allows you to access a plethora of mentors willing to help. Don’t underestimate the power of the ‘student card’! Businesses are often a lot more willing to provide insights and valuable information to a student rather than a current or future competitor (Little do they know this is exactly what your going to become).


When you begin a startup, you need to test and redefine your idea and product over and over again. At universities, there are so many students around that can easily assist you with this!


In fact it’s probably actually a good thing to fail during university! Statistics say 92% of people’s first start-ups fail. Of course, we all dream to be in that 8% and become the next Facebook, Twitter etc but really failing in uni is probably the best place to do it! You learn fast, you don’t have to worry about mortgages, kids and other responsibilities and most importantly you are studying to create a feasible back up plan so not everything depends on the success of your startup!


Universities are massive places and so it’s often difficult to meet and find friends that have similar interests to you! Startup communities are a lot smaller (especially in Australia currently!) and are very collaborative and welcoming. The best way into a Startup community is to either be a founder of a startup, join a startup or attend startup weekends and workshops! The people you will meet will inspire you in what they are working on and the free food and drinks isn’t bad at events either!


Let’s not lie, saying that you have founded or co-founded a business does make you stand out from the crowd! Of course this should never be a sole reason to found a startup however. More importantly for potential employers it demonstrates that you have diligence, passion, most likely teamwork and management skills and have a commercial understanding. These are skills that are not easily gained during your average university course!


One of biggest difficulties getting into a startup after university is getting back into the learning mindset. As students you are told (and forced) to be an active learner by absorbing information and applying also to question what’s happening in the world. Think of exploring a startup as a brain exercise… that can make you billions.


Okay yes, contrary to what was said about it is okay to fail… it is always awesome great to get it right! Plus you will never get it right if you don’t give it a go. There have been countless student startups that have managed to successfully make their way into the success list.

10. ITS FUN!

Starting a business most definitely has its highs and lows and its inevitable stressful moments, however the passion that you will towards something and the time you put into it – actually makes it fun! Don’t mock it until you try it!

If this article has got you thinking – join us for Startup Hatch where you can test out being a student entrepreneur for a month and attend a series of awesome workshops!

Startup Weekend: Judging criteria

The Startup Weekend judging criteria is broken up into three sections. Teams are judged according to the following 3 criteria (weighted equally)

  • Business Model
    • How does the team plan on making this a successful business? Have they thought about (either solved or identified problems) competition, how to scale, acquiring customers, their revenue model etc?
  • Customer Validation
    • Are teams building something that people actually want? How well does the team understand their customer and their customer’s needs. Did the team get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers?
  • Execution & Design
    • Have they established a “Minimal Viable Product” for the weekend (software, hardware, etc.)? *Note: an MVP is the minimum set of features to be able to start collecting data. Does it deliver a compelling and captivating user experience? Were they able to demo something functional?

Individual and Economic Empowerment: The Key to Legacy

The importance of economic development as a base from which to build the strength and growth of the Indigenous people is of paramount and supreme importance. As history has shown us, the rise of great states, nations and people is built on the back of several key factors. These include cultural identity, strict code of law and conduct, military prowess and of course, for what will be discussed in this article, ideas and an economic base and prosperity. Economic development is the key for the development, empowerment and rise of the Indigenous people of this nation. With an economic base, we are able to build, create and nurture an environment from which we can forge our own destiny not reliant on the intervention of outside and foreign power, but rather a self sufficient system of internal power.

This is not to say we cannot work with others, trade with others or to say we will shut ourselves away. No, but rather we can sit as equals among others and dictate terms on our level rather than having these terms dictated to us, as is all too prevalent in this day and age. Like any power base, we must look to the economics as the fire from which will fuel our furnace and this economic development can begin with the investment in our youth, education and our ideas.

Ideas and knowledge as a base from which to build our economy is of paramount importance and can come in many forms. At present, the idea has been pushed onto us that the sport is indeed our salvation. We hold up our sporting icons as heroes, as the pinnacle of Aboriginal achievement, and while indeed we should take nothing away from these men and women who have risen above and beyond, they are but the tip of the iceberg in what we can accomplish as a people. While sport is fantastic in its ability to produce greatness, resilience and fortitude (great things can come from athletic pursuits), our communities should not only be producing athletes as our role models and who we see on our TV’s and in our news feeds every day, but holding up science, mathematics, literature and linguistics, art and civics (to name but a few) as our pursuits.

Our role models and cultural identity must be formed around the strength that these men and women exhibit and show as well. We have already conquered the pursuit of sport, we are some of the most naturally gifted athletes in the world – a fact we can truly be proud of – but now it is time to turn our attention to other endeavours as well. In our pursuit of economic power, we must begin to hold up these new pursuits and new heroes in these fields. After all, it is science, mathematics and civics which will truly leave a mark not only on ourselves and nation but on the rest of humanity. These men and women who dedicated themselves to these fields must be given recognition and risen up as role models for our youth. The ideas that they can exhibit will lead us towards the path of economic prosperity, which in turn will lead us to becoming a equal player, with equal respect at the table of domestic and international power.

International powers around the world have built themselves into the positions they are in today because they are willing to stand together unified (a feat we still have not yet truly accomplished) and invest in themselves and ideas. As they have built their economies, prosperity has come to them as they build their own empires and states. We can learn from these examples. We can begin to look at investment in each other’s ideas, each others education and by each of us as individuals taking responsibility for the wellbeing and prosperity of our communities, whether we live in the outback or in the urban sprawl, we all have a responsibility and role to play in the empowerment and rise of our people.

As the world has provided the blue print for our success, it is time to look at our economic base, our ideas and our position within this society and ask ourselves, are we content with the mediocrity that has been handed to us? Our people were never destined for such a fate. With major socio-economic issues facing our people, it is all too apparent that the government does not care for our toils. We need not rely on them (as some of us seem to think we do), we need build ourselves up to the power house I know we have in us to be. However, the road to the top is fraught with hardship and peril and indeed we must be willing to do what is necessary to create our own pathways and legacy.

Economics is the path we must look to. For in this world, power is built on the back of economics, and to truly be respected as equal we must have the gold to make the rules. Today we are given the crumbs from the tables of major developments. Tokenistic gestures as a way of saying we have done our part from you. We do not need nor want this charity. We negotiate as equal. Equal right, equal say, equal opportunity. We do not need the hand out but rather the hand up! The day we can negotiate in our own country as equals over the rights and royalties to land development will be a momentous day indeed.

However, the fight does not stop there, as we must look to ourselves and ensure all people have access to this opportunity. Too many family dynasties in this country have pushed themselves forward while leaving their brothers and sisters in the gutters. As one of us bleeds, so do the rest. However, it is always important to remember that being Aboriginal is as much a mentality as it is a birthright. For those who only take in our culture and give nothing back to the collective, they would be traditionally exiled, or worse, and unfortunately today far too many take and far too few give for the betterment of the collective. If we are to build an economy, we must subscribe to the mentality that we are to build our communities up, not just our families (Corruption is a sickness we must weed out and destroy but this is perhaps another story for another time).

The power we hold culturally is truly significant, however, as we have seen for too long, it is subject to abuse and exploitation by external entities. As we take back what is truly ours, beginning with our identity, we can begin to build our base. Our economic base will supply and fund our projects, our developments, our cultural undertakings, our education and our legacy. Our ideas are the key to unlocking this potential, whether it is through land utilisation, academic knowledge, startups and business or investment (to name but a few again) we must diversify and expand economic influence into a number of differing opportunities which lay in our world today.

The world has become a smaller place with the introduction of new technologies and innovations – we can indeed capitalise on this reality and bring about our local knowledge and ideas into the international arena. The day we begin as a people to once again go back to the strength of our strict laws, our culture which has been disrespected and trampled on, and find the respect within ourselves to say “enough is enough”, we can build our own legacy. Not built upon the back of others but on our own terms and accord. This all begins with the building of our own economy and belief in who we are and what we can do. Change starts with us!

Jesse T Martin

The Streets Movement Organisation
www.thestreetsmovement.orgThe Streets Movement Organisation

Michael McLeod Talks With ABC About Indigenous Entrepreneurship

Listen to Michael McLeod talk about Indigenous entrepreneurship and Australia’s First Indigenous Startup Weekend.

Michael is a Ngarrindjeri Monaro man from Southern NSW, who is a judge and Keynote speaker at Australia’s First Indigenous Startup Weekend.

Michael’s business is called Message Stick, which is a unique business in that it is owned by Aboriginal Australians. The company was started in 2003 to show that Aboriginal Australians can own and manage a services business that engages with large corporations and Government agencies. The business does not seek any sponsorship, donations or social grants whatsoever. They seek only the opportunity to prove themselves and to be treated as worthy business partners.

Michael’s future is aimed at advocating the need for Australian society (particularly the private sector and our Governments) to embrace, and support, the challenge Indigenous people face when his people begin the journey towards economic independence.

His Message Stick business model is aimed at proving that Indigenous and non-indigenous people can work together to achieve generic economic results – yet still fully support, and participate in, community growth.

Why You Can’t Miss FinTech Startup Weekend

FinTech is shaping the way that consumers and financial institutions are interacting and it’s a permanent shift. It’s a move from closed to open, from centralized to distributed, and from ‘in a few days’ to now. What’s more, is that there’s an engaged community of people waiting to share, collaborate and create with you.

When Adrian and I launched NextBank Brisbane (aka Next Money) we weren’t sure how strong the FinTech community would be. After a few months, we had over 200 people in our meet up, and our second event showcased a number of awesome Queensland based FinTechs and had a turnout of around 100 people.

But why get involved?

I’m an interested individual

If you’re passionate about finance and/or technology, then getting involved in a FinTech community is a great way to remain relevant, hear about what’s going on at the forefront of the industry and chat to like-minded people. Don’t limit your potential by working in your own thought bubble. Have you ever been to a great conference where you are challenged with new ideas and are removed enough from your typical working environment to think a little more clearly? It’s like that.

I’m an investor

A community like Next Bank is a sideline seat to the game. You will get closer to people, ideas, discussions and get to follow new businesses from the early stage. Our Queensland community is well represented from angel, PE and VC investors.

I’m an employer

For many employers, geography is important, which is why getting involved in a local FinTech community is key. The proposition is simple, you have a room of people giving up their free time to contribute to the future of finance. Finance professionals are among the most educated groups in Australia and when thinking of technology, they tend to be the ones pushing the envelope.

I represent an incumbent

Incumbent sounds like a bad word, but it’s not. The incumbents in the industry arguably have the most to gain. Sure, they fit into the employer basket too and can use FinTech communities to poach the best and brightest, but getting involves also unlocks new strategic opportunities, challenges group think and (worst case) gives you an inside view of the potential industry disruptions on the horizon.

How do I get involved?

If you’re in Queensland, just head to If you’re in another state, then have a poke around or do a little googling… there won’t be one too far away.

Why Startup Weekend?

For any budding entrepreneurs, Startup Weekends are a great way to hone your rapid fire problem solving skills and learn something new. Teams work cross functionally making it a dynamic, interactive and creative environment, which makes it an experience that structured learning just simply can’t replicate. Participants learn by doing and have the opportunity to push their skills into whichever direction they wish. For me, it was my first startup weekend (quite a few years ago) that forced me to build a social platform, and with the help of other team members and mentors, I came out with not just a knowledge base but real experience that I have been able to deploy in other projects since.

FinTech Startup Weekend Brisbane is running from the 8th -10th of July, so don’t miss out. Details and tickets here.

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After the Show Was Over- Some Facts & Videos From the Weekend

The 2016 Startup Weekend for Health Brisbane was another awesome event.

Videos were produced for the event that celebrated team journeys through the weekend for teams SIDLET (baby sleep pattern diagnostics), Mind your Mob (Assisting in Mental Health for Indigenous Australians), Working Mouse (a corporate team using the Weekend for employee training purposes) as well as interviews with participants, facilitators and mentors.

Check them out at  Youtube Startup Weekend for Health Brisbane Playlist

176 Tickets were sold inclusive of participants, organisers, volunteers, mentors, sponsor ticket and attendees for Friday and Sunday night pitching. 78 people participated as part of the Startup teams.

Participants came from a variety of backgrounds, including clinicians, researchers, students, non-technical and entrepreneurs. Most had NOT been to a startup weekend before and this was a fantastic opportunity to experience first hand the power of collaboration that comes with the Startup Weekend format.


ON the Friday, there were 33 idea pitches resulting in 12 teams being formed.

Pitch List

Most teams remained together throughout the weekend with a few adjustments.

The 12 teams pitched their new businesses on Friday night to an audience of approximately 130 people.

Final Pitches

Congratulations to the winners from the weekend, including:

  • Overall winner – Nom Nom Snap  – An app to derive nutrition information from photos of food.
  • Most innovative business – Sidlet – Infant Sleep Patterns
  • Most validated initiative – Mind Your Mob – indigenous Mental Health


We had some awesome sponsorship support. Many, many thanks to:

Sponsors T Shirt

Thanks to the 20 mentors who provided their free time to assist in the event. We bow down to your wisdom and support!


Many thanks to our judges Dr. Chris Zapalla (President of AMA Queensland), Mr. Steven Dahl (CEO, Smart Clinics), Dr. Judy Halliday (UniQuest) and Dr. Clarence Tan (Singularity University).

Judges judging


We raised some money as well – Four organisers / mentors also raised money for Leukaemia research at the event by participating in the World’s Greatest Shave initiative and shaving their heads on the Sunday, raising $4,500.

A Group Shave

Thanks to all the participants, mentors, organisers and sponsors for your brilliant support of this event!!

Bernie Woodcroft, Lead Organiser

Startup Weekend: Judging criteria

The Startup Weekend judging criteria is broken up into three sections. Teams are judged according to the following 3 criteria (weighted equally)

  • Business Model
    • How does the team plan on making this a successful business? Have they thought about (either solved or identified problems) competition, how to scale, acquiring customers, their revenue model etc?
  • Customer Validation
    • Are teams building something that people actually want? How well does the team understand their customer and their customer’s needs. Did the team get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers?
  • Execution & Design
    • Have they established a “Minimal Viable Product” for the weekend (software, hardware, etc.)? *Note: an MVP is the minimum set of features to be able to start collecting data. Does it deliver a compelling and captivating user experience? Were they able to demo something functional?

CM CRC supporting Startup Weekend Health Brisbane and making big data work for health

CM CRC Callout
Startup Weekend for Health Brisbane

CM CRC supporting the Startup Weekend Health Brisbane and why big data is important in health.  Click here.