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Star-studded event series helps entrepreneurs face the Startup Grind

Monday, 25 February 2013 | By Michelle Hammond

The US-founded Startup Grind event series continues to grow in Australia, with the Sydney and Melbourne chapters set to host the founders of Atlassian and Zendesk respectively.


Startup Grind, founded in Palo Alto, is a global start-up community designed to educate, inspire and connect entrepreneurs. Monthly events are hosted in more than 35 cities and 15 countries.


The events typically feature successful local founders, innovators, educators and investors who share personal stories and lessons learned whilst building innovative companies.


Startup Grind chapters are located in “entrepreneur-friendly” cities such as Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, New York, Singapore, Sydney and Melbourne.


Locally, Startup Grind Australia has heard from the likes of Freelancer founder Matt Barrie, Xero Australia managing director Chris Ridd and Red Bubble founder Martin Hosking.


Each interview is referred to as a “fireside chat”.


“Each fireside chat brings to life the amazing journey of each of the entrepreneurs, in a candid look at starting from scratch, building an audience, raising capital, and all the hurdles we all need to overcome,” says Chris Joannou, director of Startup Grind Melbourne.


Joannou, who is also managing director of tech start-up showcase DreamPushers, is excited about what’s in store this year.


“The event series is about to see some of its most highly anticipated speakers coming over the next couple of weeks,” he says.


On February 26, Startup Grind Sydney will open the year by hosting Scott Farquhar, chief executive of Atlassian, which he founded alongside Mike Cannon-Brookes in 2002.


Atlassian, which is regarded as one of Australia’s greatest success stories in the technology sector, sells innovative and award-winning enterprise software for software developers.


Atlassian’s clients include Microsoft, Apple, BMW, NASA and Harvard.


While Startup Grind Sydney prepares for its fireside chat with Farquhar, the Melbourne chapter will hear from Mikkel Svane, founder and chief executive of Zendesk, on March 14.


After a trip to San Francisco in 1995, Svane launched what was one of Denmark’s first horizontal community portals.


Less than a year later, the portal was acquired by a Danish newspaper and Svane founded software company Caput, serving as its chief executive until 2002.


Svane then became general manager of German company Materna before launching Zendesk in a loft in 2007. Zendesk is the leading provider of cloud-based customer service software.


Joannou says Startup Grind has come a long way since it was founded, especially in Australia.


“Startup Grind started with a group of colleagues discussing their projects afterhours and has grown to a worldwide sensation, with talks to reach 100 chapters worldwide by 2014,” he says.


“The beauty of Startup Grind Australia is that its sole aim is to inspire and educate entrepreneurs locally with the best in local tech.


“At the same time, it promotes local talent to the global community.”