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SWT1_May2 (15)

Tablelands, Australia held its first ever Startup Weekend over the first weekend of Editions Month! The theme of the event was Rural Innovation – the only of its type during the month of May. This is a unique Edition that matches the needs of their region and community. We caught up with the organizing team afterwards to see how everything went. For more background on their event and why they chose this it, check out their awesome story. You can also follow along with updates on their Facebook page.

The Tablelands Organizing team:
Bronwyn Voyce
George Corea
Christine Doan
Nicole Van Beunigen
Scott Fittler
Karlie Milne

What were the highlights of your event?

tablelands1We had a number of firsts at our event! It was the first ever Startup Weekend in the Tablelands (the size of Tasmania but with a population of just 45,000, of which 67% are working age). We started the weekend by hearing from Steve Baxter from Shark Tank Australia, who is from rural Queensland and has a passion for turning small ideas into big business. “Owning a bunch of small businesses can be like having a bunch of stubbed toes,” Steve said, acknowledging the hard work it takes to run small businesses and encouraging participants to aim high and dream big.

Some other interesting facts about our attendees:

  • We had a participant who travelled about 1000km to attend (from Mackay).
  • Our demographic age was well above the average for an event like this: our average age was 43, youngest 17 and oldest 75, with 14 participants born before 1970.

The pitches on Friday ranged from apps for meeting like-minded people, to hardware for reducing farm injuries. The final winner of the weekend, Fresh2U, designed an online marketplace for distributing the vast amount of fresh produce that goes to waste on farms all over Australia. Their pitch hit all the key elements that our Rural Innovation Edition hoped to: emerging tech, agriculture, reducing waste, reducing transport, and helping to improve efficiencies.


What makes this Edition unique?

Rural areas like Tablelands have small populations yet a large geographic location – causing challenges not seen in many other regions and bigger cities. This is a key issue that makes us very different from the average Startup Weekend community.

Also, our audience doesn’t have many technical people or those that are tech savvy. One team that was trying to create opportunities in the art community needed a lot of help just sending survey emails and creating a basic presentation.

The impact of the event can be summed up in this quote from an attendee: “I learned more over the weekend about starting up a company than I have in 12 months of study. Absolutely wonderful, rich and empowering weekend.”


Kacey Wherley Kacey Wherley
(@kaceyraewherley) is Marketing Production Lead at Techstars. Before joining the Techstars team, Kacey was part of the UP Global team and previously with a cybersecurity startup in Pittsburgh. She enjoys all things social media and connecting with entrepreneurs online.