Tuesday, 10 September 2019 10:25

StartCon 2019: The Future of Work, a video interview with Lana Vickridge-Smith and Matt Barrie

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StartCon is Australia's largest Start Up conference, with Uber, eBay, Airbnb just some of the international speakers, with 4000+ expected to arrive and around 100 international and local speakers - it's a can't miss event!

StartCon. It's Australia’s largest startup and growth conference, and will return to Sydney for its 10th year to inspire and unite the entire ecosystem of thousands of potential new rich listers, entrepreneurs, investors, media and corporate innovation teams in Australia.

This year's theme is "The Future of Work", and will feature around 100 international and local keynote speakers at the two day annual event at Sydney’s Royal Randwick racecourse on Friday and Saturday November 22 and 23 2019.

The first international speakers to be announced are UBER’s Product Operations Manager Joe Fahed from the US and Dan Lok, the Chineses-Canadian business magnate, global educator, founder of Closers.com and best-selling author of FU Money and his new book Unlock It.

Local speakers signed up include Canaria founder, CEO and Head Designer, Alex Moss whose unobtrusive continuous biometric monitoring systems are being used by NASA and are a hit across Australia and worldwide, and Daniel Wearne, Head of Design at Up Banking the digital bank that’s giving you super powered banking, sorry, super powered living!

James Spenceley, VC Investor & Founder of Vocus Communications will also speak, he is a two time EY Entrepreneur Of The Year winner, having completed 15 merger-and-acquisition deals worth $2.3 billion and directly raised more than $750 million in equity across multiple businesses as either CEO or investor. He has a unique perspective on growing a business, creating a high-performing culture, and what it takes to be a successful CEO.

Also speaking is Taryn Williams, CEO and Founder of theright.fit. Taryn is one of Australia’s most popular female entrepreneurs and digital influencers. Founder of theright.fit, a two-sided marketplace connecting brands with creative talent and influencers. She has successfully negotiated investment (over $1million) with Airtree Ventures, along with other strategic partners and funds.

Lana Vickridge-Smith, Startcon CEO said: “We are really excited to explore the theme The Future Of Work for StartCon. We live in an increasingly digital, automated, and data-driven world which is displacing and disrupting almost every industry around the globe. Work does more than just provide a means to live; it provides a source of identity, security, community, and meaning.

"I truly believe this is the most important challenge of our lifetimes. We can let technology determine the future for us — or we can reimagine it ourselves. With over 75 speakers, 4,000 attendees, 160 exhibitors and 750 startups in attendance this year’s Startcon will comprehensively answer that question for a lot of people.

“StartCon 2019 will also feature expert workshops, a tech expo, hackathon, masterclasses, a FinTech stage, a Disruption stage, VIP lounge and an artificial intelligence (AI) stage. Guests can also attend networking events, experience live gaming and visit a startup alley that includes some of the most innovative businesses in the local market and across Asia,” Lana concluded.

So, as I have done in StartCons past, I have interviewed the head of StartCon, this year being Lana Vickridge-Smith, and Matt Barrie, CEO and Founder of Freelancer.com, to talk about the event and give us a sneak peek on what to expect!

The full video is below, followed by a full transcript - please read on!



Alex:
Hello and thank you for joining me for another Alex On Tech and iTWire video. I'm joined today on my left with Lana Vickridge-Smith, the new CEO of StartCon in 2019. And Matt Barrie on my right, the Founder and CEO of Freelancer, welcome to the program.

Lana and Matt:
Thank you. Thanks for having us.

Alex:
So, Lana StartCon is now in its 10th year in 2019, which is an incredible milestone, and a decade of nurturing startup successes. As the new CEO of StartCon, can you please tell us a little bit about your history, your journey in the world of tech leading you up to StartCon 2019?

Lana:
Yeah, I guess I've had a bit of a startup career, it's been all sorts of varied, I'd say I have taken more detours than a direct linear route. I've been a product manager in finance, I jumped across into marketing, I have started my own business.

Alex:
So, you have been in a startup?

Lana:
Yes

Alex:
Very important.

Lana:
And now I'm the CEO of StartCon and I'm so excited by this opportunity, I'm really keen to take StartCon strength to strength, in its 10th year this year.

Alex:
Now, both of you have been obviously planning this for some time. And you've got some amazing speakers we'll get to, but what will be new and different for StartCon in 2019. And what's changed most over the last decade since the very first StartCon was held?

Matt:
Well, I mean, this year is going to be bigger and better than ever. We started StartCon - well actually it was started 10 years ago by a guy by the name of Peter Cooper.

It was originally called SydStart, And it was just 30 people hanging out a room wanting to talk about technology in Australia. And that went on for so long that the security guards tried kicking them out after eight hours, and that this steam rolled into 30 people, hundred people, 500 people.

We took it over about five years ago, about 1500 people and last year was at 4000 people.

Now it's like the Lollapalooza of startups - it's the biggest technology and startup conference in the country. We've got hackathons, we've got a pitch for a million where startups from all around the world now battle it out to win a million dollars of investment. We have, on stage, almost 100 speakers from around the world. We bring out dozens from Silicon Valley to talk on all sorts of topics, we have coding camps for kids, we've got an expo, we've got all sorts of things this year, and it will be bigger and better than ever, and we are pretty excited about it.

Alex:
And look, I've been there for the past two or three years, and I've seen it grow. And you've got a huge amount of exhibitors and speakers. And it's an exciting event. So when is it this year, and where is it going to be?

Lana:
Well StartCon, as you've heard, immense, and so we need a huge venue. So we're at the Royal Randwick Racecourse this year on the 22nd and 23rd of November.

Alex:
And the website?

Lana:
That is very easy: www.StartCon.com.

Alex:
So we've got the future of work as the theme. And you know, tell us a bit about that. And how you're seeing the future of work play out for people inside Freelancer, inside StartCon, and the wider Freelancer ecosystem just because that's one of the things that you're really involved in.

Matt:
Well, every industry around the world is being disrupted. I mean, just look at what Uber has done to the transportation industry, they've used cloud labour where they've found two million drivers, and look at the strategic edge they've had on their industry by taking taking, by adopting basically freelance labour and disrupting other industries.

And this is happening all around the world where we speak. We are helping this actually at Freelancer. In fact, we have a big billboard right now on the 101 Freeway in California and Silicon Valley saying, "Be the Uber of your industry".

And we are helping everyone from telecommunications companies, through the aerospace companies, professional services, electrical engineering, you name it, to help do what Uber did to their industry by taking advantage of cloud labour. And so we will talk about all different trends that are happening in the future of work, how people are working differently, how people are building personal area networks, where they can tap into resources on demand at will and how whole large companies are changing and disrupting themselves to take advantage of the modern world.

Alex:
Were there any amazing startups in 2018 that you thought, wow, they're going to really succeed this year? And have they done so over the past 12 months since the last StartCon?

Matt:
I personally don't like to pick favourites. At pitch for a million, we had over 600 startups battling it out on stage in 15 cities from Seoul, Korea, Jakarta, Singapore, all throughout Australia to fight for a million dollars in investment. The winner was Datum, which is actually from Adelaide, actually your hometown Lana, where they do this Decision Analytics for making better decisions in business. And they want a million dollars of investment last year. But this year, we've got an even bigger field. We're even more excited. I don't like to preempt, I don't like to pick favourites. We love all our startups in StartCon.

Alex:
Absolutely. Lana, did you want to mention a couple of the speakers you've already announced that are going to be keynoting this year?

Lana:
Oh, yes. Look, I'm so excited as so many incredibly intelligent people that we've invited to StartCon this year. Just a couple of favourites would be Toby Pearce. And he's coming on. He's the CEO of Sweat. He and his co-founder and fiancee Kayla Itsines, who started the Sweat brand and they're an utter juggernaut now. Most people know about Sweat if you're a female, maybe not Matt.

Alex:
I've heard of it!

Lana:
Excellent!

Alex:
Sweat with Kayla.

Lana:
Yes, exactly, exactly. And I'm also really excited to hear from Jenny Arden, who is the director of design from Airbnb. She's actually built out the incredible host platform. And now there's close to 6 million hosts on the Airbnb platform.

And so she's going to have some fantastic insights for people in design, product, product management, and user experience. But look, there's also some incredible other local talent like ours Alex Moss from Canaria, who's bringing forth some incredible safety technology, which I'm, I think is going to be a real game changer in the marketplace. But there's so many more. There's a really rich and deep speaker lineup that we have.

Alex:
And it's all at StartCon.com

Lana:
Absolutely. Yes. On the website.

Alex:
So are there any special deals for people that are watching this video to get early bird tickets?

Lana:
Yes, well the best deal is right now. So if you head on to our website, you'll get an early bird rate if you check in so head to StartCon.com, head to the tickets page and you'll see the best way you can get to StartCon this year.

Alex:
And when does that run out?

Lana:
It's running out in the next couple of weeks, so please the quick.

Alex:
Now I always like to talk about the future. And you know, we're back to the 2020s when we've seen the incredible developments over the last thirty years with the internet in Australia, and globally, having you know, massively changed everything.

So what are your predictions on how things will be over the next decade? You know, the 2030s, is I mean, I see these robot sci fi series and that's going to be a big disruptor just for human beings. We're not quite there yet. So what are your thoughts on the future looking into the crystal ball?

Lana:
Well, personally, for me, I've seen computer technology that the computational powers of computers advanced so much in the last five years, that we're now with science fiction that we were thinking about doing artificial intelligence, it's now happening.

So gosh, looking 20 years ahead, I'm I'm just blown away looking five years ahead was going to be coming up, you know, we're going to be able to predict the perfect embryo. So for IVF, we're going to be able to solve the right drugs using artificial intelligence. It's incredible stuff, very powerful.

Alex:
And if Ray Kurzweil has his way we'll have the singularity.

Matt:
We will.

Alex:
Any thoughts from you, Matt?

Matt:
Oh, look, I think any job that can be described by an algorithm is going to be replaced by software. You're seeing that already across huge parts of the industry. And I think with robotics as well, that's going to hit blue collar jobs in a big way. I think the days of being average are over, I think it's time for every single person to kind of think about how they can reinvent themselves and and, you know, re-architect the career for the next century.

Alex:
Now, I always like to ask the people I'm interviewing if you could please share some of the best advice you've received to help you get where you are today.

Lana:
Well, for me, it will just be get to work early, work hard and have high enthusism and that goes for.

Alex:
Yeah, the day of average is over. Matt?

Matt:
I wrote an essay on this actually on LinkedIn if you want to read it. It's called "If anyone asks you to can drive a forklift just say yes". I was 15 years old, and my parents bought a business and at a warehouse out the back. There was the old guy who was selling the business, kind of, and I was mucking around. And he said Matt, can you drive the forklift?

I said, I don't know. I don't think so. He said, Matt, if anyone in life I've asked you can drive a forklift, just say yes! Look at the thing. It's got one pedal to go forwards. It's got one pedal to stop, and you can turn left and right. Just take the jobs and opportunities that are presented to you and then ask for forgiveness later later. If you don't know you're probably, let's see.

Alex:
So what is your final messages for viewers for readers and to your future success stories startups and to your customers partners?

Matt:
Make sure you come to StartCon!

Lana:
It's without a doubt, it's the best event on the calendar for people who are looking to get to the next level up in their business or their career. So I think you're mad not to be there.

Alex:
And like watching the keynotes from Apple and Samsung and others it's a glimpse into the future where science fiction becomes science fact.

Matt:
This undoubtedly is the biggest Technology Conference in Australia. It's the best one for startups. It's the best one if you're a corporate trying to figure out how to reinvent your business. You've got to be there. Don't miss out!

Alex:
Lana and Matt,
Thank you very much. Wish you great success. Looking forward to StartCon. And please if you're watching by early bird tickets, thank you very much!

Matt and Lana:
Thank you. Thank you.

StartCon 2019 early bird tickets are on sale now from $295 for the full two days. Tickets can be bought here. 

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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