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Running Virtual Startup Programs

Running Virtual Startup Programs

Accelerator Software
August 10, 2020

Running Virtual Startup Programs

Interview with Jeanette Cheah, CEO of The Hacker exchange

Today we’re exploring how Covid-19 is having an impact on how Startup programs are delivered.

Travel restrictions, remote working and an increased willingness to use digital tools, mean many Accelerator teams are moving to virtual or blended program model. So what does that look like? Watch or read the interview below to learn more!

Watch the Interview:


Read the Interview:

Hello, everybody, my name is Brian McCarthy from Accelerator Software and welcome to Episode 5 of Leaders of Innovation.

This is the show where we explore the topics and trends impacting accelerator programs and innovation delivery teams both here in Australia and also internationally.

Today, we’re lucky to be joined by Jeanette Cheah, CEO of The Hacker Exchange and expert in residence at Catalysr and recent finalist at the Telstra Business Women’s Awards. Jeanette co-founded The Hacker Exchange, which is an international program enabling students to incubate their own startups in international hubs such as Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, Singapore, Austin, Melbourne or virtually — thank you very much to COVID.

Jeanette also leads tech diversity programs at Monash University, is a mentor and pitch judge for accelerators such as Catalysr, Techstars and RMIT LaunchHUB. And in addition to all of that, Jeanette is fond of cooking up a storm or raising money by smashing giant gingerbread houses.

Jeanette, you are very welcome.

Jeanette: Thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be here.

Brian: Awesome. The first question I ask everybody is: what are you working on right now?

Jeanette: We are just mopping up virtually from having run two concurrent programs with students around the world. Founders and students from 10 different countries have been through some HEX programs in the last couple of weeks. We’re currently doing our user experience research, we’re doing our feedback forms, we’re doing our reporting and preparing business development for the next round of virtual startup programs that are coming up in the next few months. It’s really just a lot of transition time right now. It’s actually a great time to be chatting.

Brian: It sounds like you’ve got an awful lot going on. [laughs]

Jeanette: It’s good.

Brian: One of the really interesting things I wanted to talk to you about today in this particular episode is you have a very unique perspective on what’s happening across international startup ecosystems. So as mentioned in the intro, you’ve spent quite a lot of time both in and taking founders to some really central hubs. What are the trends that you’ve been noticing both in Australia and internationally in the startup ecosystems now that COVID-19 is having such an impact?

Jeanette: I think what I’ve noticed is that a lot of people are now doing things — and we are certainly doing things that we could have done all along but we just kind of didn’t. For example, you mentioned we take students and founders to these incredible ecosystems, so we’ll physically fly them to a place like Singapore or to San Francisco and incubate them into that city. But right now, we can do it in a virtual program and have an all-stars lineup of speakers from all of the different cities that we visit. We always could have done that, but we just kind of forgot. [laughs]

I’m certainly seeing a lot of our colleagues around the world quickly realize that their audiences have actually increased substantially and finding ways that they can change up their communication style and change up their business development style to engage with those audiences that have now suddenly become so front and center right here in their laptops.

Brian: Something which has been coming up as a trend is we’ve spoken about forced evolution as being a really clear way of describing what COVID’s doing to a lot of different ecosystems, and obviously the startup or innovation ecosystem is no different. That idea of it accelerating what was happening anyway with people’s migration to technology does make things pretty scalable. I think some of the programs we were talking to were saying historically, they ran 50, and now they were running 500 virtually in a batch. Less intense, but they were able to have more touch points with this kind of high-level number.

Because technology has been adopted across the board, does that change the composition of the programs that people are running as well?

how to deliver a virtual accelerator program

Jeanette: Yeah, it certainly does. A program we ran recently, we intended to have four universities from around the world, so we had people in Southampton in the UK, UC San Diego, ANU and Monash, so it’s like four big unis from different cities. We thought, “Three time zones — great, we can work with this.”

What we didn’t realize was because of COVID and because it was summer break in the Northern Hemisphere, a lot of the students were in their home country, so we ended up having students in 10 different countries. We ran a 23-hour program because we had to cover all these different time zones. In terms of the composition, all of a sudden, you’re dealing with students in Spain, in China, in Russia, in Mexico, in America. What’s super cool about it is that they are all having a very similar lived experience, they’re making friends with each other, and all of a sudden, those barriers come tumbling down. So it’s been really, really fascinating to see them come together.

Brian: That is interesting. How are people collaborating online? Do you find there’s a very different dynamic now that it’s all virtual as opposed to in person?

Jeanette: Yeah, I think so, and I think one of the things we’ve noticed is people struggling to decide what’s the right etiquette for online engagement, and how are people working through cameras on, cameras off, et cetera.

We have taken probably an approach of saying, “What’s the best practice in an in-person workshop or an in-person delivery, and how can we best apply that to a virtual space?” So whether that’s something like music at the time when they walk into the room, and whether it’s having great engagement, we’ve come up with this term, and I’m going to share it with you first. This is an exclusive. I haven’t written this down anywhere else yet, but I’m kind of calling it “party at the front, business at the back, the reverse mullet of online programming.”

Brian: [laughs] Reverse mullet. I absolutely adore that.

Jeanette: [laughs] What we’ve found is when you’re delivering programming virtually and the founders are interacting, you need to be almost at 200% energy. You need to use your body. I often stand to present. You can lean in, you can use your space in a different way. But then the planning of delivery from the point of view of the people doing the program, you almost need to be militaristic in the back end. So it is business at the back, party at the front. So we might be playing Usher’s “Yeah” on program, but at the back, we’ve planned that. [laughs]

So that’s a really interesting way, and I think if the people running it have that level of confidence, it actually changes the dynamics of the people participating. You really just want to get away from that whole one-to-many communication vibe. The more interaction you can generate, I think, the better.

Brian: Yeah, I love that. I really think it’s a great idea. With the interaction via technology — and again, this is actually something which “Big Al” Alan Jones was talking about when we had him on a little while ago was that idea that it’s actually really easy for people to become fatigued.

Jeanette: Absolutely.

Brian: It’s all 100% virtual. That’s why I love the idea of injecting the music into it and choreographing this kind of experience for the users.

You did mention something interesting, which is that in order for the end users to have a successful journey, the people delivering have to be at 200% energy. Obviously, putting in all of this choreography work, how does that affect the delivery team? Is there more pressure on the team and more stress now than there was, or does it make it easier because it’s possible to do it from home?

Jeanette: I would probably say it’s a little bit more pressure because not only are you responsible for great content and great energy, but you also have to make sure all the tech is working, so the rehearsal vibes higher for teams that are delivering.

But having said that, people who are great facilitators in person, they probably pride themselves on being able to read the room. I can see someone nodding, I can see someone on their phone, I can kind of get the sense of what’s happening in a workshop or in an accelerator program and know what I need to do to adjust my energy for that room. It’s very hard to do that virtually, which is why I think participants need to really understand that their active participation helps the presenters, and then that in return makes a better program.

So my call-out to anyone who’s participating as a student or in an online class is “Give your presenters some goddamn feedback. We need to see the nods, we need the thumbs up. If you’re on mute, everyone do this. [crosses arms] We need to see some physical feedback and some chat. Engage with us because that is what is going to energize your presenters, and that’s going to make the whole experience better.” It’s like teamwork to make a great program online. I think it’s a lot of teamwork.

Brian: As they say, something like two-thirds of communication is non-verbal, so those cues that we all get and we read subconsciously and consciously are so important. I guess it’s tough because if you can only see people from the shoulders down or thereabout, you can’t see if they’re tapping their foot or what they’re doing with their hands. So they might actually be taking notes, but as far as you’re concerned — 

Jeanette: Maybe they’re on their phone.

Brian: — you might think they’re typing on their keyboard, which makes it tough.

In terms of program delivery, if you were giving advice to somebody who was designing a program today in this new dynamic, what are the top three things that you would say, “All right, here’s three things I would recommend that you consider when you’re putting that program together”?

Jeanette: I would say start with being very user-centric. It’s the same advice you’d give to anyone building a product or an experience. It’s really to put yourselves in the mind and the experience of that user and think about, “What do they need?” whether it’s down to the breaks, as I’ve seen that you and Alan spoke about, whether it’s down to mixing up the technology so it’s not just Zoom fatigue. Maybe you can have different kinds of networking software. There’s some great ones out there. Maybe you can allow them to actually just have a phone call and encourage walk-and-talks amongst the team.

Those kinds of things, I think, are crucial, having that user-led journey. Take the time to, as you say, choreograph and plan from the back end, plan your polls, pre-prepare them, do the tech rehearsals — kind of boring stuff, but it’s the same that you would do with making sure your slides are fine.

And then I think from a… I will come back to you on this one because I’ve totally lost my train of thought, but it was a good one, and it will come back to me in probably five minutes.

Brian: [laughs] You’ll have your eureka moment when I’m halfway through some sentence. You’ll go, “Stop, Brian! Knowledge bomb!” I like it.

Jeanette: [laughs] [10:38] I’m going to deliver.

Brian: For The Hacker Exchange, fundamentally, this is, as we said, about cross-pollination, taking minds and humans from one geographical location and then giving them the opportunity to be like sponges in another geographical hub. How have you been adapting to the new travel restrictions that are happening? What have you guys been putting into place to manage that?

Jeanette: I’ve not been at home this long, I think, in years. [laughs] My dog, my cat and my British man are very happy to have me home. It’s been an adjustment, and for us as a business, it actually forced us to go, “Okay, what is it that we’re actually providing? What’s the value? If it’s just the destination, then we may as well just be a Contiki Tours. We may as well be a travel agent.”

We very quickly realized that’s not the only value we’re providing. At the end of the day, we’re trying to create transformational experiences. We want to create the innovators that we need tomorrow, and in order to do that, there’s a few key ingredients. Yes, there’s the destination, but more importantly, it’s a transformative experience that someone can have even if they’re sitting in their bedroom.

So we put a lot of thought into trying to redesign what that could look like. Oftentimes it includes the introduction to brand-new people — and not just an introduction, but suddenly you have to rely on them. Suddenly you have to do things with them. It’s collaboration with a new network. We spend a lot of time trying to understand each individual participant and what their goals are, so there’s a lot of personal accountability there.

You mentioned before this concept of how people are starting to increase their cohorts. We’ve done probably two things: one is we’ve found a model where we can have an increased cohort with a lot of activity and energy, and then we’ve thought about, “Okay, but we still want to have a focus cohort so we can really support each individual founder with the right kind of mentorship.” We want to look at them and say, “We see you, and we see what you’re trying to do.”

I think if you are going to increase your cohort, you need to balance it out some way with being able to make sure they feel like they’re not just part of a MOOC or a massive open online course that they can drop out, which typically have less than five percent completion rates.

Brian: That’s the thing: it’s a recipe, right? It depends on what you’re trying to bake. So if you want to bake a particular type of cake that takes a lot of time, the time you put in, if you do it right, it’ll come out in the results, and if you want to feed the masses, a really simple recipe, it’ll be less complicated. You can give it to a lot of people, but the end result might not be as special.

Jeanette: Or be as tasty.

Brian: Or be as tasty.

Jeanette: [laughs]

how to run a virtual accelerator program

Brian: Just to clarify for everybody, before we hit record, Jeanette was telling me that she’s quite the cook, and also, she has a beautiful new little springer spaniel puppy who loves to keep her company while she’s cooking up a storm in the kitchen, hence the recipe analogy.

Jeanette: She’s very excited about my increased time in the kitchen, and she likes to hang around my feet to see if I accidentally drop things.

Brian: [laughs]

Jeanette: But yes, you’re right. Setting up a new program, it is like baking or creating something. You’re thinking about, “What are the ingredients? How long are we going to run it for? What’s the desired outcome from this? What if the cake sinks in the middle?” Sometimes that might happen.

Right now, alongside with everybody else, we are learning in public. We are doing our best, and all you can really do is this kind of iterative feedback. Right now, one of my team members is on the phone speaking to founders. We just went through really trying to extract from them what worked, what didn’t work, “What can we do better?” I think that’s what we all have to do right now. We’re all back to learning and learning, and practicing what we preach, really.

Brian: It’s a fascinating time because a lot of the expectations around delivery that people used to have with anything were linked to the fact that you’d be going to a venue and it would all be set out, whereas now, everybody, I think, appreciates that everybody else is doing a lot of stuff on the fly in the sense of doing their best to adapt. I think that breeds a huge amount of new transparency around the humans who are actually delivering the program. People are a lot more forgiving.

Jeanette: Yeah. What a great way to be to encourage innovation. I think that perfectionist mindset is something that handed me pretty much my — growing up and going to uni and my first 10 years of work in the corporate world, you really feel like you had to be perfect, feel like you had to tick all the boxes. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. There’s plenty of people out there that still feel they can’t launch something until it’s perfect. And so what a really interesting environment for us to all get used to that mindset that we learn in the startup world about version one is better than version none. [laughs]

Brian: Yes, 100%. It kind of feeds nicely into my next question. So something else which is also featured in these conversations is COVID and travel restrictions and the fact that we’ve gone from a very much connected and global market to something which has become a little bit more fragmented. The walls are up in some countries more than in others, and it’s really shone a light on the dependency on this international supply chain. A lot of people talk about that from the perspective of manufacturing. Actually, there’s sovereignty of innovation as well, that ability to grow your own and have your own ideators and creators within your own borders.

So from The Hacker Exchange’s perspective, I guess it puts you guys in a unique position because what you’re really talking about doing in many occasions is giving, in the Australian example, Australian participants the chance to go to these other markets and learn and then take that back.

Jeanette: Yeah. I remember speaking to — I think it’s Patrick Lee; he’s the founder of Rotten Tomatoes. He was talking about the concept of how you say you “seed” innovation, right? What does that mean? He actually described it as it’s literally like an oak tree: you plant something. Silicon Valley’s been around for a long time. It’s a big tree. One company grows, and it drops a lot of acorns, and it seeds more companies. That’s talent, that’s investment, that’s expertise.

You look at ecosystems, maybe like Melbourne, and maybe we’re still growing. We’re not a sapling, and we’re a bit bigger, but we’re not a giant oak tree yet. And so it stands to reason that we don’t have that same volume of stuff being seeded.

And so I think that by introducing our students and founders to more mature ecosystems, they can get a sense of, “What does this look like? What are the attitudes that people have? What are the behaviors?” And then — and this is probably the coolest thing — we don’t tell them just to come home and replicate that. We tell them to think about, “What does this mean for you in your context as a founder and a leader? What does this mean for you as a contributor to your local ecosystem? Which bits do you like? Which bits do you think you could take it or leave it?”

There’s a lot of argument out there that say that places like Silicon Valley might be a bit passé. We’re looking at Estonia, we’re looking at South Korea. We’re trying to find where the future’s coming from.

And so I think when you bring students and young people and founders to these different cities, they can do that sponge thing, but it’s really important to stand up and go, “What’s sticking?” because not everything is going to stick. That’s where the individual values, I think, come to the floor and the ecosystem values come to the floor.

Brian: So true. When we look at the Australian ecosystem and we talk about that sovereignty of innovation, irrespective of that, we all know, the cats and dogs on the street know that you have to have a really strong innovation ecosystem if you expect good, strong technology companies to come out of it, to employ people, to feed money back into the nation and increased GDP and all those wonderful things which help a country to grow and a society to be successful.

Outside of this cross-pollination of startup ecosystems, what do you think the main levers are in Australia to help lift all those boats in the startup ecosystem? There’s a small question for you.

Jeanette: [laughs] That’s a huge question. You’re right. What’s that stat? I think that we hear that the Victorian startups ecosystem brings over four billion dollars’ worth of value to the economy. That’s great, but the levers to pull — we obviously work in the education space of innovation, so I think that educators and the education system has a huge part to play in seeding the attitudes and the behaviors and the learning behaviors that are required for great innovators in the future. I think that there’s probably some learning design levers that we could pull all the way down through our high school and primary school industries, and there’s some amazing educators out there already working on this stuff, I know.

In the ecosystems that we see that seem to be quite connected, there’s a really interesting through-line from government through to corporate through to education through to startup. It’s not to say that they’re all specifically connected or pointing in the same direction, but there’s a lot of interconnectivity from a network perspective. They understand why they’re doing something, they understand each other’s incentives.

So there’s probably a part to play there in the corporate Australia lever. I came from working 14 years in corporate, and I think when I left, there was certainly not a significant population of the corporate team that would understand why startups do what they do or why people act in that way, why they choose to have such a risky life. [laughs] And also, they might not have understood how they can support in the position of perceived power from a startup’s perspective. I think it’s just everyone understanding their roles to play and the incentives that exist for other players.

Brian: So it’s a combination of education, teaching people that they can and maybe how, and then also providing with the incentives or support to let them have a fair go, as they would say.

Jeanette: Yeah. In Singapore, they provided, I think, $7,000 per citizen to upskill on new economy skills. That was a government initiative where they said, “We’re going to actually invest in our people.” I don’t know if that’s the right thing for Australia, and obviously we’re in a very interesting economic time right now.

But I’m definitely seeing a lot of focus on — it’s the skill sets, it’s the mindsets, it’s the networking, and then it’s the personal individual confidence that everyone needs to bring to the table because without that, the other three things don’t matter. You might be super skilled, have a great mindset and have a great network, but if you don’t do anything, it’s not going to move the needle.

Brian: How do you engender that confidence in an ecosystem?

Jeanette: This is probably why we spend so much time on the individual because you’ve got to give individuals enough self-efficacy or self-confidence to say, “I have the ability to do something that’s active and make change.”

One of the reasons I get out of bed in the morning is because I know that there are people — particularly young people — going to work and waiting for permission from a manager to do something interesting or to do something socially focused, and what I want to see is less of that. I want to give them the confidence so that they don’t feel they have to wait to step into their leadership power.

I think mentors are super important. I think people in industry giving young people the time of day — not just young people, but anyone who’s trying to do something new, just having a great pay-it-forward mindset and helping others to take a small step in a new direction, I think we all have power there and that’s something I want to see us all do a bit more of.

Brian: I like that, and it’s something I believe as well. I think that everybody needs a champion in their corner, and it doesn’t have to be somebody who takes them all the way or supports them but just says, “Give it a shot,” or is generous with their time to help somebody bounce a few questions off or whatever it may be. It is that — not hive mind, but a community mind that makes a difference.

Jeanette: Yeah. You only need to be a couple of steps ahead of someone else to help them along. I think a lot of us feel like, “Is that my place to be a mentor?” I didn’t think it was my place for a while until you realize, “Gosh, there’s a lot of stuff I learned in that last 15 years that could be useful to someone who’s now starting out.” Again, they can sponge it up, and then they can stand up and take it or leave it. [laughs]

Brian: I can tell anybody who’s listening or watching that I have seen Jeanette in action mentoring and coaching many startup founders in RMIT Activator, and I’d say they’re very lucky people to have the opportunity to learn.

Jeanette: Thank you. I guess I will shout out because RMIT was our very first partner for The Hacker Exchange, so without RMIT, we might not be here.

Brian: Oh, really? Wow. They’ve been a big influence on our own journey as well, so we’re really big fans of the RMIT Activator crew.

Here’s one for you: last 12 months, what is your biggest learning?

Jeanette: I guess I can be a little bit vulnerable here. In the last 12 months, we went through some team changes. The co-founder that I started my business with decided to work on some new projects, which is awesome, but that kind of stuff is really hard in a business. I learned a lot about myself and how to regulate — [laughs] maybe still learning — some of my emotional reactions to things that are happening in a business sense and trying to make sure that that’s something that I could take care of myself with and my team with.

Probably the other biggest learning at the start of COVID was if you can actually find a way to serve your community and to figure out what your community needs from you, it was the way for me to help me get over my own stress and my own anxiety about the situation. It’s like, “Okay, times like this call for a leader. I don’t know if that’s me. I might have a very small community that I deal with, but what do they need from me?”

There was a really interesting analogy, and I can’t remember the source. I’ll have to put it in the comments of your LinkedIn thing. It’s like when a child falls down and scrapes their knee, they look around for a teacher or a parent to put a band-aid on it and give them a hug. Solve my problem, make me feel better. With the onset of COVID, the entire world fell down and scraped their knee.

Brian: [laughs]

Jeanette: And we looked around for leaders to give us a hug and put a band-aid, and there was no one there. [laughs] So if you can be that person for your community even in a really small way, and even if it’s your co-founder or your friend or your mum or something, taking that small active leadership is super powerful and super helpful. That’s probably my biggest learning from the last 12 months.

Brian: That’s huge. What I felt was a really interesting line between those two was both had a lot to do with self-awareness.

Jeanette: Yeah. I think you could be doing this, doing careers, doing your job for 30, 50 years and learn new stuff about yourself every day, so taking some time to… [laughs]

Brian: Process it.

Jeanette: This is weird because you’re giving me time to self-reflect. It’s like, “Do you charge for therapy sessions, Brian?” [laughs]

Brian: [laughs] Hang on a second: startup founder — this could be a business opportunity. How much would you pay?

Jeanette: [laughs]

Brian: No, it’s a pleasure to talk. And like I said, one of the really interesting things about this series of conversations that we’re having, as I mentioned before, is that there’s so much content out there for founders, and there’s so much content out there for teams, and it’s right that there is to help them support each other. But a lot of the time, I think people skip over the fact that actually, the people delivering programs, the people providing the infrastructure and the paths for founders to travel through, they’re also founders and human beings. There isn’t necessarily enough conversations around the challenges that are shared and very, very common across that group of people.

Jeanette: Yeah. It’s definitely operating on these two speeds. Again, the front-of-house thing is like, “Yep, everything’s okay. We’re good. Everything’s fine. We’ve got some plans, we’ve got a strategy,” and then having the safe space with your team and your friends to be like, “I just need to fall apart today for like half a day.”

Brian: [laughs] Yeah. “I need to walk around the block. I’m leaving my phone behind me. Everybody just leave me alone for 10 minutes.

Jeanette: [laughs] Yeah. And then coming back to be strong for your community. It is a real two-speed thing. Thank you for shining that light on us. We’re doing all right, but you know… [laughs] It’s been a rough few months.

Brian: We’re all in it together.

Jeanette: That’s it. Exactly.

Brian: We’re coming towards the end now, and I’ve got a couple of interesting questions for you — as if the last ones haven’t been interesting.

Jeanette: Sure.

Brian: So congratulations: here’s a crystal ball. I would like you to look into this magical crystal ball and take a pragmatic look and think: what will the Australian startup ecosystem look like in 24 months? Realistically, there’s a lot going on at the moment, and two years is both a long time in the life of a startup, but it’s not that long in the life of an ecosystem. Where do you think we might be sitting?

Jeanette: Interesting. I guess I would like to see… What I’m predicting is that Australia might start to define itself a little bit more in terms of what are the two or three industries that we just kick ass at. I think that’s something that other great ecosystems are good at: they have a particular thing that they’re a little bit known for.

I know that Victoria’s got their [29:05] healthtech and sportstech, and Sydney’s got fin, and there’s a few different things around, but also, I would like to see firstly the Australian ecosystem come together. I’m not a big fan of the inter-city rivalry. We are, as far as the rest of the world, considered one place, so there’s a little bit of like, “Let’s come together and boost each other up instead of fighting internally.” I’d like to see us having a bit more clarity on our identity as an ecosystem.

I reckon we probably would see another few unicorns pop out in the next couple years. These are interesting times, and there’s some creative people working on some cool stuff right now. I don’t know how specific you want me to get, but that’s kind of what I see. And I reckon you’ll probably end up with a situation where entrepreneurship, like [29:47] Lens education, is common throughout primary, secondary and tertiary education.

Brian: That’d be a great outcome, and I love that. This is a very positive spin on what’s going to happen in the next two years because while there’s a lot of doom and gloom out there — 

Jeanette: What are other people saying? [laughs]

Brian: It’s been very much a total mix because the reality is that there’s going to be some fantastic stuff that’s going to come out of all this change, and there’s going to be some big challenges, too, and nobody’s denying either side of that. But I think it’s really great and important to also say, “There is all this good stuff that’s coming out. Let’s talk about that.”

And I think you’re right: there’s some incredibly exciting companies in Australia at the moment who are probably at that stage where they’re really getting ready for super growth in terms of moving internationally. I think what has come up in the previous conversations was probably the tier below that.

Jeanette: Yeah, the investment will certainly be a little bit harder to come by for sure. I think that’s probably a situation where we’ll all have to come together with upskilling, re-skilling, and I think new teams are going to form, and they’re going to be quite unexpected. New teams might include people that are maybe corporate refugees as well as people from the startup space that have fallen over, and that might be an incredible new cross-skilled team that no one saw coming.

I think that we might see potentially some of the corporates that are doing well in these times maybe play the role a little bit of not a white knight, but they might start to realize the power that they have in the economy and maybe play a role there.

I don’t quite know what what’s going to happen with the angels and stuff. I don’t know. What do you guys think? What have you seen?

Brian: It depends. I’ll tell you what I’m reading: it’s that everybody says that they’re investing, and I think some people are and some people aren’t. What we’re seeing is some people are raising at the moment. There’s no question about that. I think the big question is what stage it’s happening, and I think for some people at the earlier stage, it’s not happening the way it was, but for people who are slightly more mature, they tend to be garnering that investment that is out there.

Final question, Jeanette, for you is actually related to investment. Congratulations, here’s a check for a half-million dollars. You have to pick one startup niche to invest in. Where are you going to put that half-million dollar tech?

Jeanette: Edtech.

Brian: Edtech? Awesome.

Jeanette: Yeah. Virtual learning, it’s only at the start. Zoom University is not going to be sustainable for the long term. There’s some great edtech here in Australia as well as around the world. Yeah, I’m pretty excited to see how we better serve the kids.

Brian: Phenomenal. Jeanette, thank you so much. I know that your laptop battery is running out, so I’m going to cut this before we both get involuntary cut off. Thank you so much for your time and for lending your expertise because this is a conversation worth having, and you’re a wonderful guest to have that conversation with, so I really appreciate it.

Jeanette: You are a wonderful interviewer. I really appreciate the invitation, and thanks, everyone, for watching.


We hope you’ve enjoyed this interview.

The Leaders of Innovation series is supported by AcceleratorSoftware.io the All-in-One Accelerator Management Platform :)

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