Co-founder & CEO, Provenir
Chris Balazs is the CEO and Co-founder of Provenir, one of the leaders pioneering true paddock to plate produce, through on-farm mobile abattoir technology.
Chris’s innovative and adaptive approach to an emerging sector of the food industry has seen Provenir achieve great growth over the last year, and has bought a whole new disruptive technology to the red meat industry that will improve animal welfare standards whilst increasing farmers slice of the value chain
A scientist by profession, Chris has had the opportunity to work on global technology transfer projects and complete his MBA. He recently transitioned from this successful 20 year corporate career to focusing full time on ag-tech innovation. Now a farmer by choice, his combination of scientific knowledge, farming practicality and business acumen has enabled the holy grail of on-farm livestock processing to become a reality in Australia.
Founder & CEO, Pixc
Holly Cardew is the Founder & CEO of Pixc. Pixc provides on-demand image editing and optimisation for ecommerce merchants.
Holly started Pixc to help businesses automate their processes and scale their store. The company was started in a regional town in New South Wales and due to the lack of talent, Holly has built a completely distributed company around the world. She has spent her time in different startup ecosystems including the San Francisco Bay Area, Sydney, Brisbane and now Melbourne.
Lauren Crystal is the Managing Director of human-centred design agency Your Creative and Co-founder of project collaboration tool Hassl. Build for inclusivity, Hassl helps teams in over 50 countries work together and was chosen as Forbes Under 30 Summit’s ‘Ideas of the Year'. Lauren was named the 2019 Telstra Business Women’s Victorian Emerging Leader of the Year. She has a lot to say with an ongoing contributor for the Entrepreneur Magazine, Hackernoon and The Startup with a combined readership of over 500,000.
She built her first website at 11 and launched her first app at 17.
Managing Director, Character + Distinction
Kate is a communications and public relations strategist with over fifteen years of global experience working with the startup, technology, design and cultural sectors. Prior to founding Character + Distinction, Kate was the Head of Corporate Communications for a listed industrial company based in Zurich.
Character + Distinction specialises in communications and media strategy, public relations, corporate communications, and strategic events. Clients include Culture Amp, Powershop Australia, Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia & New Zealand, City of Melbourne, MYOB, July and Milkshake.
Kate is well connected in the startup and technology community, acting as a mentor for Startmate and for the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Accelerator Program. She is also an advisor to sports tech startup RefLIVE, construction tech startup Matrak, and for-profit social enterprise PARK.
Kate has completed executive programs in international communications strategy at Columbia University in New York and an advanced management program for high potential leaders at INSEAD in France.
CEO & Co-founder, Gobbill
Shendon is the CEO & Co-founder of Gobbill, an AI automation platform that digitises invoices, checks for fraud and automatically clears payments. Household users are protected from online scams, avoid late fees, maximise discounts and protect their credit rating scores. Small businesses have the additional benefit of scheduling automatic payments and synchronising data with their accounting software. Gobbill can pay over 40,000 Australian providers including utilities, telecommunications, council rates, insurance and more.
Prior to Gobbill, Shendon was a former advisor in innovation and commercialisation for the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Ventures and National ICT Australia (now CSIRO Data61). He has developed digital strategies to create new services and revenue streams for large organisations faced with increasing competition and digital disruption.
Shendon was previously the VP & CTO for an Australian-American biotechnology company that he helped to startup and scaleup. The company served high profile clients across medical research institutes, hospitals, pharmaceutical and biotech companies. It was profitable and acquired by the U.S. Government and private investors in its third year.
He has extensive experience in management consulting working at PwC, Arthur Andersen & KPMG.
Co-founder, Omny Studio and Investor, Cardinia Ventures
Ed is a technology entrepreneur and investor. In 2016, he founded Cardinia Ventures to support ambitious technology founders across Australia and the US. Some of his investments include Drop Water, Nura and Growlabs (acquired by Adroll).
Along with Long Zheng and Andrew Armstrong, Ed co-founded Omny Studio in 2012, helping companies and podcasters manage audio. Omny Studio was acquired by Triton Digital in June 2019.
Ed was the first employee at travel app rome2rio, and has worked at bigger companies including Funding Circle, Seven West Media, Groupon, ANZ Bank and Microsoft. In 2008, he co-founded SOAK Farming alongside David Burela, Dimaz Pramudya and Long Zheng. They went on to win the Microsoft Imagine Cup global software design competition.
Co-founder, Marketing Entourage
Sam is a Co-founder of Marketing Entourage: a human centred marketing and customer experience company that she co-founded with Phil Ore. Between them, Sam and Phil have worked on four continents, held senior positions at Nokia Siemens Networks, Lonely Planet, Elmwood Design Agency and The Press Association, before founding Marketing Entourage in 2015. Their clients have included the City of Melbourne, City of Darebin, Zoos Victoria, AusTrade, Community Sector Banking and Nous Group.
In the last two years, Sam has helped over 500 startups and small businesses with strategy, marketing, education, pitch mentoring and consultation. In 2018, she and Phil were supported by LaunchVic to roll out a marketing education program to the Victorian startup ecosystem. Due to the success of the program, they launched ME Startup (a membership involving access to a marketing accelerator, education, services and community) in July 2019.
Mark B. Johnson
Strategic Advisor, Board Member, and Executive Coach
Mark is a strategic advisor, board member and executive coach for a number of technology companies in Australia, Europe, and the U.S. For the last two decades, Mark has worked in and with the venture capital community in Silicon Valley, as well as companies ranging from early-stage startups to the Fortune 500.
On top of holding roles as CEO of SkyPilot Networks, Associate Partner at Mobius Venture Capital (SOFTBANK) and directing product strategy at Preview Systems, Mark spent 10 years at Apple where he worked in technical, marketing and international management roles building platform ecosystems.
Mark has been working with Australian founders for a decade and is currently a Program Coach for Skalata Ventures’ inaugural seed investment program, a Global Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) for the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) and was the inaugural EIR and Program Lead for QUT Creative Enterprise Australia’s initial Collider Accelerator.
Co-founder & CEO, Cynch Security
Susie is Co-founder and CEO of Cynch Security, a Melbourne-based startup that solves cybersecurity problems for small business owners.
Susie began her career as a corporate insurance broker at two of the world’s largest firms, working with some of the biggest and smallest companies across Australia. Throughout those early years, she honed her skills in translating complex technical insurance advice and information into plain language that everyone could understand.
When she left Marsh in 2014 to join Australia Post as its Senior Insurance, Risk & Compliance manager, Susie never expected her career to change so much! During her almost five years at Australia Post, she moved from her insurance role into risk management, commercial management and being an innovation partner. Eventually, Susie become Head of Cyber Security Business Services, where she balanced the needs of the CISO and Information Security Office with the needs of the rest of the business.
In late 2018, Susie decided to take the leap and throw herself into her joint startup full-time. She hasn’t looked back since, growing the business alongside her co-founder from an idea and rough MVP to one that is internationally recognised and on the brink of international expansion.
CEO & Co-founder, A Cloud Guru
Sam is CEO and Co-founder of A Cloud Guru, a disruptive online learning platform that has helped almost 1,000,000 people around the world learn cloud computing and build their engineering careers.
He leads the vision for ACG's unique learning platform, built cloud-native on Amazon Web Services. Sam has a passion for technology, education, and enabling individuals & organisations with the skills needed to build the products & services of the future.
Sam has an extensive software development background, having managed large engineering teams across the world. Previously he worked for Microsoft in both Seattle and Oslo. He was part of the Windows team, and owned the Disk Defragmenter for Windows Vista and Windows 7.
He speaks regularly at events around the world and champions Australian entrepreneurial efforts in the tech scene.
Ivan is the Co-founder and CEO of Brosa, a direct to consumer furniture brand disrupting the $14 billion Australian home and living retail industry. Launched in 2014, Brosa's mission is to help customers create beautiful homes effortlessly.
Backed by esteemed VC funds including AirTree Ventures and Bailador, Brosa's 60 person team runs across four offices and has been featured in the AFR Fast Starters and Deloitte Technology Fast 50 as one of Australia's fastest growing businesses.
In 2016, Ivan was included in Forbes Asia’s 30 under 30 innovators revolutionising their industries. Ivan was previously head of marketing and growth at Elto, which was acquired by GoDaddy in 2015.
Patrick is CEO of global creative platform 99designs. Bringing opportunities to freelance designers around the world through direct project work and design contests, 99designs has paid out more than $250 million USD to its creative community to date.
Founded in 2008, 99designs has grown from a small, online forum into a worldwide community of talented designers that is now a go-to design solution for businesses, agencies and individuals. Headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, 99designs also has offices in Oakland, California and Berlin, Germany.
VP of Product & Technology, A Cloud Guru
John is VP of Product & Technology at A Cloud Guru, a leading online learning platform that has taught cloud computing to nearly 1,000,000 students in over 198 countries.
John leads ACG's Product Management, Product Design, Software Engineering, Security and IT Operations teams. Since starting with the team, John has been instrumental in ACG's rapid growth and has scaled one of A Cloud Guru's fastest growing teams. John has a passion for culture, team building, and leadership development.
Global VP, Product Strategy, Oracle
Rob Phillpot is responsible for product vision, strategy and management, as well as engineering, and is an Aconex director. Together with company Co-founder Leigh Jasper, he raised A$86 million in private equity investment before listing Aconex on the ASX in December 2014. Rob is a Director of Scotch College, Melbourne.
Prior to establishing Aconex, Rob managed document control, quality and trades on a site team at Brookfield Multiplex, a leading global contracting and development firm specialising in large-scale buildings, commercial structures and infrastructure projects. It was Rob’s construction industry expertise – combined with Leigh’s consulting experience in e-commerce strategy at McKinsey – which created the Aconex cloud collaboration platform. Prior to Brookfield Multiplex, Rob was an auditor at Deloitte and Touche in Australia. He holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Planning and Design degrees with Honors and a Master of Building degree from the University of Melbourne.
Kerri Lee Sinclair
Chief Investment Officer for Technology, Kin Group
Kerri Lee is the Chief Investment Officer for Technology at the Kin Group. Kerri Lee has over 20 years’ experience working across the high-growth technology ecosystem, from co-founding her own startup (Microsoft acquired in 2007) to working in senior strategy/corporate development roles in some of Australia's leading technology businesses, including Looksmart, Intelematics and Aconex.
Over the last three years, she has led the direct investment of private capital into select Australia-based global high-growth technology companies focused on agtech, supply chain and enterprise disruption. Also working collaboratively across the Kin Group (a single family office) portfolio, she reviews global and local investments in disruptive businesses of interest.
Kerri Lee is also the Chair of SBE Australia, a non-for-profit that runs venture capital programs like the Springboard Enterprises Program, focusing on connecting women-led businesses with expert networks.
Sara Ramirez Morales
Director of Talent & Employee Success, A Cloud Guru
Director of Talent & Employee Success, A Cloud Guru
Sara is A Cloud Guru's Director of Talent & Employee Success. Sara and her team of people geeks have helped to scale A Cloud Guru's operations in Australia, the UK and the US, tripling their headcount from 25 people to 75 people in 2018, and doubling headcount again this year.
Sara's career spans 14 years and has seen her work for leading companies including LinkedIn. Sara has a deep knowledge of startups and established Australia's first talent acquisition function to service portfolio companies for AirTree Ventures, one of Australia's leading Venture Capital firms.
Head of Corporate Development, Airwallex
Co-founder & CEO, Stelect
Elise is a Co-founder and the CEO of Stelect. She is a biomedical engineer, entrepreneur, speaker and women in STEM advocate. Elise is passionate about improving health outcomes for patients and the role that innovation and technology plays in the future of healthcare.
Elise completed a Master of Biomedical Engineering with a Business Degree at the University of Melbourne. In her final year at the University of Melbourne, Elise was a part of the BioDesign Innovation program. Here, her love and passion for Med Tech innovation grew, and this was where the idea for Stelect was born.
Stelect was formed in 2017 and is a medical device startup, commercialising a novel imaging balloon catheter to aid in the treatment of coronary blockages. Stelect believes that no medical procedure should be based on guess-work and hence their goal is to remove the guess-work from stent selection. The Stelect device translates to real health benefits for patients whilst ensuring uptake by clinicians.
Elise leads and executes on Stelect’s commercialisation, financial and investment portfolios, working with both Stelect’s current and future investors to aid in the company's growth.
Co-founder & CEO, Fresh Equities
Ben is the Co-founder and CEO of Fresh Equities, a service helping wholesale investors gain access to hundreds of discounted ASX investments a year. With ten times more opportunities than anyone else in the market Fresh has seen phenomenal growth since launching in late 2018.
Previous to Fresh Equities Ben worked for a Melbourne based family office helping them grow and exit a number of high-growth businesses and has worked on over $250m in private equity transactions.
Investment Manager, Impact Investment Group
Rachel is the Investment Manager at Giant Leap, a venture capital fund backing founders using business to drive positive social and environmental change across three themes: health and wellbeing, sustainable living and empowering people. The fund is backed by the Impact Investment Group, a leading Australian funds manager whose mission is to shift capital towards impact investments.
Rachel’s background is in management consulting and corporate finance and she is also on the Board of the Catalyst Fund, Impact Investment Group’s charitable foundation.
GM of Digital and Products, LaunchVic
Digital Marketing Manager - LaunchVic
Emma Howchin is the Digital Marketing Manager at LaunchVic. As a Fashion Designer turned Digital Marketer, she has developed a unique perspective when it comes to combining creativity, statistics and business. Emma loves a side hustle and has spent the last twenty-five years creating business’s after founding her first company at nine years old.
Influenced by ‘out of the box’ thinkers and the pace of digital trends, Emma aspires to guide founders on their voyages through entrepreneurship.... also flex her CEO muscles making kickass lipstick with Hi Doll Cosmetics and rocking rainbow accessories on Rainbow Nymph.
Community Lead, LaunchVic
Josh has been involved in building community programs for the better part of the last decade. He currently heads up community at LaunchVic, where his role is to empower startups and scaleups across Victoria, connecting them with the people and knowledge who will enable their success. Josh has presented at local and international events on building communities, and is passionate about supporting regional entrepreneurship and purpose-driven businesses.
To keep busy, he’s involved in several startup programs, co-runs FuckUp Nights in Melbourne & Sydney, is the President of a queer rowing club, and is launching a new event series showcasing LGBTQI+ people working in tech. Josh's pronouns are he/him.