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.
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.
CEO at BROSA
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.
Co-founder & President, Airwallex
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.
CEO & Founder, Shebah
George McEncroe has had extensive experience in leadership and resilience. She founded Shebah - the all-female rideshare - in the midst of divorce and the realisation that the weight of raising 4 kids now fell on her shoulders. George believed that driving for a rideshare would give her the balance she needed.
When she recognised there was a lack of safe options for women in this sector, she created an alternative. The birth of Shebah allowed George to make space for women in startups and the tech industry. She’s a fierce competitor in a field where women are an afterthought.
Shebah is now inspiring 90,000 female passengers to demand safety as a necessity, not just a nice-to-have. The company is now changing the lives of over 1000 drivers, all of whom are women and all of whom now have flexibility, a solid income, and a collective purpose of female empowerment. George also encourages financial literacy by providing free consultations with financial experts to all Shebah drivers.
George is engaging, professional, witty, and more than anything, she gets it. She knows that women aren’t a marker of diversity, but human experience is, and her extraordinary life is no exception. As a divorcée doula, a loving mother and a powerful role model to many, she’s unapologetic as a result of an unwavering courage to be comedic. She understands not only balance in life, but also balance in life’s darkest moments. George didn’t just find balance for herself, she made it. And is helping create it for so many others.
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.
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.
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