I’m a recently awakened entrepreneur. My journey started with a prod from my friend Nicole Williamson (a goddess and mentor of tech and startup) in 2014 to check in to tech and start up events, it changed my life. I found my people and I have never looked back.
The spirit of start up is intoxicating, it liberates people to be wildly imaginative, it connects people, who have never met, its collaborative, diverse, inclusive and it leverages a growing community of co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators, corporate’s and entrepreneurs. The other feature is diversity – gender, cultural and religious – that is all encompassing and flies in the face of other paradigms that struggle to be more inclusive.
The spirit of start up is intoxitating…it liberates, connects and amplifies a can-do attitude and the community provides the scaffolding to make dreams come true.
Nothing encapsulates the spirit of startup more than TheStartUpBus – an adrenaline packed 72 hour startup hackathon on a bus. Founded in 2010 by Australian born Elias Bizannes the three day competition has iterated across continents including North America, Africa and Asia. The most amazing part is that the 30 odd people on the bus are strangers and they somehow make stuff happen to build a minimum viable product (MVP) in 3 days. This year I had the privilege of meeting the crew in Australia. Led by Elias, Mitch Kneff and Deborah Alvarez Neff from the USA and Imteaz Ahmed orchestrating it from down under, I couldn’t go on the bus due to other commitments but its definitely on my list for 2016.
I met Imteaz through the startup and hack community recently when he reached out for some help to promote Start Up Bus, and the community delivered – networks and connections, sponsors and spaces – Canva, Fishburners, Stone and Chalk, SydStart, StartUpWeekSydney and Swaab Attorney’s to name a few. The community galvanized support for the buspreneurs and what they represented – the people crazy enough to imagine a new product or business idea and who are brave enough to believe they can make it happen.
Not only did I have the privilege to help along the way, Imteaz asked me to be a judge at the finals competition. I was in the company of greatness with Steve Cooper Braintree and PayPal Developer Advocate and Joanne Jacobs goddess of tech and Disruptors Handbook. Every pitch was amazing – despite the sleep deprivation, despite the confinement on a bus with strangers, despite the grueling schedule, these entrepreneurs smashed it! Ideas ranging from Give Garden making it easier to donate to charities, to Committ an app that makes meetings more meaningful and accountable, to Polish to Publish connecting writers with editors. The winner of the competition was Unstuck an app that connects startups with advisers and mentors. The concept is timely given the need for start ups to get early access to advice as they develop and iterate an idea to launch.
Government has started to pay attention but it takes time to recalibrate efforts and resources to face the brave new world of startup.
As a former ministerial staffer and bureaucrat I have good lens of the governments pain points and a sense of how tech and start up can help government and NGOs. The last two years have been simply immersing myself in all things start up and tech, I’ve been documenting and re-purposing and testing methods (rapid prototyping, hacks and cross discipline and sector collaboration) for government and NGOs. I want them to see what I’ve seen and know that we can do things faster, better and with greater returns by collaborating with innovators and entrepreneurs.
The world is indeed a lot brighter as I see the worlds coming together in the spirit of innovation and social change because I see a great deal of desire to improve the world we live in through start up and entrepreneurs – they are increasingly the answer to solving social problems and its time government and NGOs joined the startup revolution!
Three tips to join the startup family…
1. Get along to the myriad of start up meet ups and events happening near you. BlueChilli has a start up events calendar that will get you started.
3. Plan now to connect to StartUp Bus in 2016 and join me and other bravehearts that dream of a different world.
Anne-Marie Elias is a speaker and consultant in innovation and disruption for social change. She is an honorary Associate of the Centre for Local Government at UTS.
Anne-Marie has recently joined the Board of the Australian Open Knowledge Foundation.