#Startup Victoria finds the human connection

The team behind Startup Victoria held the inaugural Above All Human conference in Melbourne last week, co-directed by Susan Wu and Bronwen Clune, and MC’d by futurist Mark Pesce. If there was a single, overarching theme to the day, I would sum it up as: don’t overlook the human component in what you do.

Whether you are a startup founder or investor, defining your purpose is not enough; it also takes considerable self-awareness to build an innovative, successful, and sustainable business. It also requires curiosity, risk-taking, resourcefulness, empathy, creativity, resilience, perception, drive, reflection, vision, perseverance, passion, luck and critical thinking….

Featuring an interesting mix of established, experienced and emerging startup entrepreneurs and experts, we were treated to a broad range of themes including:

  • bringing financial services to the “unbanked” world;
  • the importance of design;
  • building startup platforms and ecosystems;
  • the power of storytelling;
  • challenging gender bias in the tech sector;
  • the potential of mass customisation;
  • understanding the value of an accelerator program;
  • the ethics of driverless cars;
  • changing minds with technology; and
  • the wisdom of knowing when to give up the dream and move on to the next opportunity.

Aside from the plenary, Q&A and panel sessions, there were product demos and startup pitches, and the whole event offered a valuable learning opportunity for anyone interested in engaging with the local startup community, or those curious about making connections between technology and the human condition.

Finally, it should be said that without Melbourne’s growing status as a global startup venue, the organisers would have been unable to attract such an impressive cohort of international speakers. This also reinforces Melbourne’s reputation as one of the world’s most livable cities (#1 or #11 depending on which list you are reading…).


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