Navigating #Startupland (Pausefest 2018)

Navigating #Startupland (Pausefest 2018)

by Sarah
28 February 2018

Girl Geek Academy is at PauseFest 2018 – Australasia’s premier creative, tech and business event. We’ll be sharing our insights & takeaways here, but you can also follow along on Twitter!

Navigating #Startupland


The startup ecosystem is dynamic, exciting, passionate and creative – but for those who are new to the industy it can be a steep learning curve. This fantastic panel brings together a wealth of experience across startups, government, investment and legal to have a frank discussion designed to help lessen that curve and help avoid potential pitfalls in the future.

Here’s the highlights from this discussion:

Do you see any drawbacks within the startup ecosystem?

Kate: We look at the ecosystem like a funnel, with a lot of people coming in at the top going down to those few unicorns that are wildly successful. The one issue I see is people coming into the top level of the funnel thinking they have knowledge already and wanting to mentor, which leads to inexperienced people leading inexperienced people. So if you are looking for mentors make sure they have the experience and credentials that will benefit your startup.

You’ve got a new team and could possibly be pre-MVP – what are the top things to consider?

Jonathan: Focus on getting your incorporation and company structure right, consider IP registration if it is relevant to your startup, and be across employment law – check your contracts, understand your obligations and check how you should treat interns.

Rachael: If you’re a startup growing fast, that speed is at the risk of not being thorough in other areas. But don’t let one of those things be employment law as it’s expensive to clean up later on.

Kate: Vesting schedules can help to set out clear expectations between cofounders and plan how you will address any issues in the future, and make sure to engage with the community – Victoria has one of the strongest grassroots community in Australia so come to events, learn from the journeys of others, listen to Scale Up and other podcasts and stay connected.

Rachael: Number one thing when stuff hits the fan is cofounder relationships. She has been professionally ‘dating’ her next cofounders for the last six months to make sure it’s the right fit for everyone. A cap table will also outline the ownership structure and also what happens if things go wrong – it’s hard to take shares off people if they aren’t pulling their weight without it.

Let’s talk about cofounder dating – what are you actually doing?

Rachael: The easy stuff is how you will structure the startup & do the deals, but what we are taking time to figure out is if we like, respect, trust each other, how you function in times of stress & joy.  So it’s good to spend time regularly with each other, testing how we would approach something tactically and philosophically, value sets, what motivates each other, even thoughts on families and parenting – really getting to know each other.

For those wanting to jump from corporate into Startupland – what advice would you give?

Rachael: Ask yourself two questions – am I willing to work harder and get paid less? And there’s a chance the company may evaporate – are you comfortable with that risk?   When she hires she looks for attitudinal indicators over technical skills – like are they comfort with ambiguity, do they have a willingness and desire to do different things at different times (because in startups job descriptions are probably outdated by the time they are printed), and willingness to work in a team.

The unicorn startups that are seen as an ‘overnight success’ actually have on average a 10 year process to get there – @kate_cornick #Pause2018 @PauseFest #pausefest

— Girl Geek Academy (@GirlGeekAcademy) February 8, 2018

And my favourite quote of the session:

Rachael: Never start with an idea – start with a customer pain point.

“When you identify your pain point in an industry, find the accelerators in that industry and attend demo days to meet the right people” – @kate_cornick #Pause2018 #pausefest @PauseFest

— Girl Geek Academy (@GirlGeekAcademy) February 8, 2018

Thanks to all the panelists for a great discussion!

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