AFTER five years establishing a networking hub for Far North entrepreneurs and start-ups, a trip to Silicon Valley for The Space leaders Troy Haines and Damian Zammit is “like a dream come true”.
The pair are in the US as part of the Advance Queensland Startup Catalyst mission and have been partially funded by the State Government.
Nine other regional Queensland start-up leaders are touring Colorado’s world-renowned start-up ecosystems in Denver and Boulder and California’s Silicon Valley.
Before starting The Space Mr Haines was working on what he thought would be “the next big thing in the personal development industry”, a goal-setting and accountability app called iAMconnected.
But the platform struggled to gain traction and falling more and more into debt, Mr Haines reached out for help.
“In my own experience as an entrepreneur and an ‘ideas person’, I dreamt of creating a company that could change the world, but from my remote location I struggled to figure out how it might be done, despite recent advances in technology and internet accessibility,” he said. “I started looking around my region for help from other entrepreneurs, mentors, key service providers, and investors. But there was no obvious network to tap into, no path to follow, and no regional infrastructure to help build the high-growth, high-scalability start-ups.”
Looking abroad, Mr Haines could see Silicon Valley had everything he needed, but was not in a position to relocate.
“Silicon Valley is the global pinnacle of start-up ecosystems. While over in the Valley we will meet with leaders of start-up groups, hubs and coworking spaces,” he said.
“Building these relationships will help enable us to connect Cairns entrepreneurs to the Valley. We’re over here to network our arses off!”
Start-up Catalyst chief executive and winner of the 2016 Pearcey National Entrepreneur Award Aaron Birkby will lead the group.
“Queensland and Colorado have a lot in common in the way the state is intervening to encourage entrepreneurship, collaboration and development of an innovation culture — we can learn a lot from the experience there and adapt these leanings to benefit our own regional ecosystems,” Mr Birkby said.