Looking Back: A Post Demo Day Review of Startupbootcamp’s First Melbourne Program

Looking Back: A Post Demo Day Review of Startupbootcamp’s First Melbourne Program


April 27th was Startupbootcamp Energy Australia’s debut Demo Day. It was a celebration of the ten startups that we had the honour of hosting and guiding, but more than a celebration, Demo Day was a culmination of incredibly hard work.  Afterwards, Trevor Townsend and Richard Celm, the CEO and Program Director — respectively — of Startupbootcamp Energy Australia, sat down to discuss the journey over these past three months.

SBC: What were the highlights of the program?

Trevor: The highlights of the program have definitely been how the local eco-system has engaged with the startups.  We have had collectively more 1000 meetings between our startups, corporate partners and mentors in 12 weeks. Real business is getting done and real problems are being solved. 

Rich: The other highlight for me has been the quality of speakers that we have had – Catherine Tanna, CEO Energy Australia; Malcom Thornton, Head of Cisco Investments;  Paul Naphtali – Cofounder & Managing Partner at Rampersand; Mike Butcher, Editor of TechCrunch Europe;  Paul Meller, and ex-CTO Dow Jones. We also had a number of startup founders, and amazing mentors come in and help out, after hours on weekends etc. The Melbourne community has really got behind the program.

SBC: Demo Day was effectively 18 months in the making, what were your expectations going into the program & what was reality? Did they match up?

Trevor: The program was far more intense than anticipated – the sheer volume of the activities required, multiplied by ten, was incredible. We set out to achieve international best practice in the execution of our program and the reviews that we have received from both the startups, mentors and those who have observed the program, indicate that we achieved this goal.  That is very satisfying. 

Rich: We tested a number of hypotheses with this first program – and the one that we were most anxious about was our ability to attract overseas startups to Melbourne to join the program.  We achieved 7 of our 10 teams from overseas (Europe, Asia, North Amercia) and all now have plans to set up an Australian operation.  This is great for Melbourne!

SBC: What were your expectations going into Demo Day? And what was the outcome of it?

Trevor: We were nervous but well planned for demo day.  We saw daily improvement in the pitching of the startups. But it is not all about pitching – they have really improved the focus of their business proposition during the program and I believe that this will have the greatest impact on the startups going forward.

Rich: Demo Day was just the start of the next phase for the 10 startups. Its great to announce them to Melbourne but also really looking forward to watching their journey post program

SBC: How do you feel you’ve benefitted the Melbourne ecosystem?

Trevor: We have benefited the local eco-system by introducing new diverse thought in the eco-system, along with seven companies who have strong expertise in renewable energy systems.  We have invigorated our mentor community, our corporate partners and others in the eco-system, with innovation that they can touch and feel and have given them belief that Melbourne can be a global playing in the Smart Energy sector.

Rich: The impact a program like this has on the Australian & Melbourne startup ecosystem cannot be underestimated. It’s the first time a global accelerator program has run in Melbourne and unlike Australian programs that recruit from a limited talent pool in Australasia, this program has bought in the best and brightest from around the world. There were applications from 48 countries, 17 of the 20 teams that came for Selection Days were from outside Australia and 7 of the final ten chosen are foreign startups coming from Asia, Europe, and North America.

SBC:  What do you feel have been the biggest successes, improvements you have seen within the startups? Any who seemed to really take control on Demo Day?

Trevor: All are startups have improved their ability to succinctly explain the value they create and to whom. The improvements is seen more from founders with English as a second language. Pawel from Cognitum and George from OXTO have, in a very short time, learnt how to command an audience in English and tell a strong story. Of course, we have 10 excellent startups and some like Jonathan from Uprise. Umesh from Energy Tech Ventures are such natural and commanding presenters. 

Rich: The biggest successes have been in the results of our completed POCs. We’ve had some amazing results which were shared on Demo Day. From WePower’s $40mil ICO to EnergyTech Ventures and 1Ansah both proving they can potentially save millions annually for their corporate customers.

SBC: How do you feel this first program has prepared SBC Australia for future endeavours?

Trevor: The challenge for Startupbootcamp and its partners, EnergyAustralia, Spotless and DiUS is to extend the program next year – to define the themes that are shaping the energy sector and to find the next wave of startups that are disrupting the energy industry. 

Rich: We are only at the start of an exciting period in and we see great opportunity for those startups seeking to build resilience into existing energy infrastructure, decarbonising of energy production both at grid scale and off-grid and empowering the consumer with great choice.

SBC: Any final comments or notes you want to share that we didn’t cover?

Trevor:We would love to extend the ecosystem with more corporate partners taking an active role in the development of the smart energy ecosystem in Melbourne. The learnings that can be achieved in working with startups on cutting edge projects cannot be underestimated – and those forward-looking companies that embrace innovation and change are the ones that will shape our energy future and will survive any disruption to the market. 

Rich: Our demo day was amazing! Over 450 people at the MCG, all the startups pitched amazingly well and buzz in the room was electric!  We have also seen changes in the language of the leaders and policy makers here in Victoria. 18 months ago, no one in the startup ecosystem was talking about energy in Melbourne. Now the CEO of LaunchVic Dr Kate Cornick and Minister for Innovation and the Digital Economy The Hon. Philip Dalidakis can be heard talking about energy as one of Melbourne’s startup community strengths and they mention it because of this program. If you haven’t already – you should checkout the videos from Demo Day on our Youtube channel here: http://bit.ly/2w46pU7