StartCon explores ‘fall of tech elite’

James Riley
Editorial Director

Australia’s largest startup conference will focus on the decline of Silicon Valley and the recent widespread criticisms of some of the biggest tech players in the world.

StartCon’s 2018 event, taking place in Sydney on Friday and Saturday, will see 4,000 attendees, 65 speakers, 160 exhibitors and 650 startups descend on Randwick Racecourse.

With a theme of “Silicon Valley is dead, long live Silicon Valley”, the 9th instalment of the startup conference will be exploring recent public criticisms of the likes of Elon Musk and Facebook, and the opportunities presented by a decline in interest in the startup capital of the world.

“We’re seeing Elon Musk coming into criticism in the media and the same with Mark Zuckerberg – the tech elite have fallen, and we’re seeing a large-scale exodus from the Valley. The question is, is the Valley still the best place to create and grow your company?” StartCon CEO Cheryl Mack told

“In this truly digital world, the answer is no. You have world-class tech companies cropping up all over the world, in far-reaching places like Australia. With what’s going on in the tech world, the Valley really isn’t the be all and end all for you to grow a tech company. We’ll be looking at different cities and what makes a great startup ecosystem.”

Speakers at StartCon, run by Freelancer, will include General Assembly co-founder Matthew Brimer, who recently sold the company for more than $412 million, Google analytics advocate Krista Seiden, SoGal Ventures co-founder Pocket Sun and Disrupt You author Jay Samit.

“Attendees can expect a really exciting, fun event with awesome insights,” Ms Mack said. “We really try to avoid boring panels and low energy stuff. It will be high impact with actionable insights from keynote speakers, focusing on particular topics that startups need to learn to grow their business, like pricing a product, working with corporates or getting funding.”

The two-day event will also feature a $1 million pitch competition with participants from around the Asia-Pacific, and the annual Australasian Startup Awards.

Ms Mack said the aim is to come away from the event with actionable takeaways and productive lessons.

“Founders and startup people will come away from the event learning how to take that next step in their business. Regardless of where the company is you can learn something, from pitching 101 all the way up to how to go global and get your 6 billion users from the 100 million that you’re at now,” she said.

The first StartCon event – then called SydStart – took place nine years ago, and the conference has come a long way since then. While the first event saw a couple of hundred people come together “to have a chat”, this year will see 25 international speakers and thousands of attendees.

“We’ve created this truly global event. We’ve got people paying to fly out here to attend this event, and that’s creating exponentially more partnership and collaboration opportunities for local startups,” Ms Mack said.

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