The ten day mission will see the 20 participants visit the offices of global tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google, attend networking events with startup founders and student entrepreneurs, meet with fellow Australians who are running startups in the Valley, and take part in educational events to equip them with an understanding of what is involved in launching a globally successful tech startup.
Here are just some of the places we visited in 2017:
In return for receiving a fully funded place in the program, each participant commits to share their experiences with their peer groups, our partners, and the wider public through structured interactions and events post mission. This works on a points system, where alumni participants earn points for participating in various events. Examples include: participating in hackathons, guest speaking slots, media interviews, blog posts, guest lecturing, speaking at schools, and other engagements with corporates and investors. The purpose of this post-mission engagement is to foster wider impact through cultural transformation and sharing the learnings from the missions.
“The results of the experience are absolutely invaluable not only to the people who take part, but also to the wider community who are affected by the inspiration and changed perspectives that are brought back by the participants.”
- Kelsey-Lee Stay (2014 alumni)
The selection process starts with an online application, which is then reviewed by a panel of mentors who shortlist the applicants for interviews.
It is important to note that candidates do not need to have an existing startup or startup idea.
The mission works on a scholarship model, with selected participants places and travel costs paid through sponsorship from corporate and University partners. Some of these scholarships are for particular types of candidates only.
Last year, QUT Business School sponsored places on the mission for their students. While the Cotton Research and Development Corporation provided a scholarship for an individual with deep-technical skills who could positively impact the agricultural sector, particularly in regional areas and/or the cotton industry.
In Australia, a large proportion of first-time entrepreneurs are in their thirties and forties, with relatively few younger Australians engaging in creation of high-growth startups. Having young people become entrepreneurs is important because startups are high risk (most fail) and as a general rule, an individual’s risk tolerance decreases over time, particularly once they have a mortgage, a family and an established career.
A consequence of Australia’s entrepreneur demographic is that many startups founded here are at the lower end of the risk-reward curve. They are often focused on small niches, domestic markets, or are based on a business model with early revenue generating opportunities, with relatively few truly disruptive high-risk startups that are tackling sizeable global markets.
Our goal with the Youth Mission is to encourage more technically-skilled youth to participate in startups.
The Youth Mission is fully funded by external partners and supporters. Without their generous support, the missions could not happen. We are currently securing more partners, sponsors and supporters for our mission. We are encouraging Universities to offer their students scholarships to fund their place on the mission.
“When I went on the trip we had only just hired our first full-time employee and were wondering if we needed to raise some money to keep going. Now Tanda's a company of 30 and we help over 1000 businesses get the most from their workforce. The trip opened my eyes to how some great companies work, which continues to inspire me as we try to build one of our own. .”
- Alex Ghiculescu (2014 alumni)
Startup Catalyst has conducted four Youth Missions in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
“The program concreted my decision to pursue startups rather than go through with a corporate job. I no longer see myself trying to get a job as just a programmer. My goals have been changing since the trip as I reflect more on what we experienced. I'd love to have a successful startup and then do everything I can to give back to the startup community.”
- David Hooper (2014 alumni)