FounderX Day 1


FounderX started at noon and I turned up to FounderX late morning due to my need to recover from the Paul Kelly and Charlie Owen concert and a Sunday night with some Australians. The concert wasn’t hard work, but staying out and networking late was a challenge.

From the minute I set foot in Founder Institute HQ, I felt welcome and at home. I was shown around, finally met the great Mike Suprovici who has been giving me tremendous amounts of feedback on my pitch deck and had the opportunity to put faces to a few names.

I’d already connected with a few grads in my FounderLab cohort and found these guys in the backyard.

I met Sarah, the Canadian founder of crowdsourced storage service SpaceiShare, Eepi from online coaching platform Coachilla and Susan from multi-lingual healthcare engagement and infomatics platform SpeechMED. We immediately connected due to our shared experience with the Founder Institute, plus the sunny weather. Also, they’re awesome, so that helped.

That afternoon I had three mentor sessions – Mark Weiss, Sheffie Robinson and Shruti Shah. All had a unique take on Passel’s opportunity and were able to give me some great feedback on what they thought my biggest challenges are and how they thought to overcome them. I took pages of notes and have a tonne of work to do.

They all thought that, if we can get Passel right in Australia, that the US market it a logical next step.

More coffee, more chats and then off to San Jose for the icebreaker, networking and more drinks. There’s a theme developing here.

What do Americans ask Australians? At least in San Francisco, I can tell you it’s two main things:

What do Australians think of Donald Trump?
I won’t go into that here, but, you know, interesting!

Why are all the animals in Australia deadly?
Apart from drop bears? They’re not. But if you camp by a billabong and put raw chicken on a fire, the crocs are going to come and see what’s going on!

Drinks were great fun. Whether it was meeting the Other Australians – Rueben and Gavin from Biznotics, or Founder Institute Directors from all over the world, interested investors or more FI grads such as the incredibly charming Kristian from OneGarageOver who is trying to land the holy grail of sharing economy projects – neighbours sharing tools. You have to meet this guy, especially read about his “Good Neighbour Policy”!

Also met Harold Hughes (no apparent relation) from Bandwagon (a fan-to-fan marketplace that helps you protect home field advantage and create the ultimate game day experience). As an Essendon supporter who has suffered through too many games sitting with single-digit IQ opposition supporters, I wish him all success.

All too soon, it was time to go. It was a Monday night, after all.

I stayed until stumps because I felt I had a national pride at stake. Eepi and I were trying to figure out if we could book an Uber for two drops when a local offered to give us a lift back to Palo Alto.

I’ll let my Facebook post from that night tell the rest of the story:

You know you’re in Silicon Valley when a guy who has an AI diet startup that reads menus and tells you what you can eat, who is also a member of the number one Clash Royale Team in the world, gives you a lift to your Airbnb in a Tesla P90D.

I think that sentence sums up Silicon Valley.