Technology Overload!

Unlike overclocking your CPU, overloading your memory with too much tech can be… well, AMAZING!

As well as draining. Over the last few weeks, it’s been an absolutely crazy ride. There has been so much going on. From my last post on Project Cars 2, I’ve spoken at the AutoDesk roadshow, been on a panel for Tech in the Cinema, hosted the stage at Technology & Gadget Expo, exhibited at two events, judged a bunch of pitches, had a fireside chat with Sphero, attended the Yeah Nah summit, showcased some sweet VR tech, sat on an eSports panel, won a technology award, and took out the ICT National iAwards with BajaBoard, oh and went to the opening of Australia’s first eSports bar.

Okay, so it’s A LOT. Like seriously, that is a lot of stuff; that one sentence is even one paragraph. Alrighty then, shall we break these up into categories, starting with the expos. And feel free to skip down until you see the section you want to read… or grab a cuppa and strap yourself in for the full article.


I won’t write too much about these, as I’ve already written an article for BajaBoard which you can read here, but I will add some extra bits. Firstly, I will say that if you ever can, try and avoid juggling two expos at once! It’s most certainly doable, but not recommended. Everything is not just double the amount of work, it’s more like triple because you have to think extra hard. That aside, these two were super fun. The National 4×4 Outdoors Show was more like a big trade show (which is what it markets itself as). There are tonnes of big things – bikes, cars, boats, trucks, caravans, you name it.

Checking out the bikes… I think this one is a little small for me

This show was particularly fun because it was very much our target market for BajaBoard. Everyone comes to the 4×4 with cash to spend. They are all thinking about Father’s Day and Christmas and what toys they can buy for their next adventure. Some of my favourite things were the motorbikes, archery gear, and massive 4-wheelers; legit, their suspensions is about 40 times the size of BajaBoard’s (maybe not quite that, but it’s huge!!!)

Look at that suspension! James is unimpressed

Next it was onto TGE (Tech & Gadget Expo). Unlike 4×4, there isn’t as much emphasis on buying stuff there as it was for the 4×4. In comparison, every stand at the 4×4 is selling, whereas TGE is more about showing, so most of the exhibitors are showcasing rather than retailing their products. But this makes it really fun too. There was a large area to demo new things – electric skateboards, trikes, dirt bikes, segways, golf buggies, and more. I got to try out all the electric skateboard brands, hang out with some awesome peeps, and give it a crack at drifting.

Startup Victoria with BajaBoard. Checking out the expo and talking about our sweet boards. Photo credit: Adrian Pinto

TGE was definitely the tech one out of the two expos and I was super lucky to host a couple of panels for That Startup Show. The first was on the Future of Work with Jess and Matt; talking about what kids will do for work in the future and what skills they needed. The main talking points were that kids need to follow their dreams, because they simply need to find something they are good at, and then be so awesome at it that people want to pay you to do it – seems easy! As a nice flow into that, I judged the kids entrepreneurship pitch, or kidpreneurs. Our winners were PowerShot, an App that measures the speed of your kick, hit or throw of  a ball. They had one of the best videos I had ever seen and did all the right things in terms of idea, market research, and testing the product – top job.

Always a tonne of fun with That Startup Show – and doesn’t the stage look amazing?

Day 2 of TGE saw me back on stage to host another future panel – future of travel and 3D printing, as well as being socially mindful. Essentially our panelists talked about urban mobility, getting from one place to another, as well as how 3D printing is helping people get access to things they wouldn’t usually have – whether it’s prosthetics, or rapid prototyping. 3D printing can be used for so many things and definitely great to see the range and scope that people are now using it. Again, more kidpreneurs up on stage and incredible to see kids as young as 5 getting up to present their ideas.

All in all, TGE and 4×4 were super awesome and can’t wait to be back next year!

Tech Talks

I’ve been doing lots of speaking recently – yep, I do love being on stage – and for a very broad range of categories. James and I did a talk for the AutoDesk roadshow on the BajaBoard journey, and some of the products we use to bring our designs to life. We spoke about how technology enables us to simulate and predict things even before physical products are built. It was fun talking to a bunch of engineers and watching their faces light up when we mention you can go up to 60km/hr on our board; yes, it’s rather neat!

Next, I sat on a panel for Tech in the Cinema. Hosted by Inspire9 and General Assembly, we talked about the future of work, what companies will look like down the track, and what skills are needed to ensure you continue to have work and not get overtaken by automation. Facilitated by the amazing-as-always Anna Reeves, we had fantastic discussions around current workplaces – the cultures of them, diversity, what successful companies are doing to stay ahead – and also around the types of jobs that will be around in future. Most of the conversation sat around the fact that people skills are the most in-demand types of assets and those that don’t have these skillsets will most likely be replaced. Sure robots will automate a lot of what we’re doing, but things like problem solving, creativity, and communication are highly sort after and will continue to be down the track.

In fact, there are tonnes of website like this one that will give you the likelihood that your job will be replaced by robots in future. Just type your job position in there and it will give you a percentage chance that a robot will be doing your job very soon… just don’t type the word “founder”… it thinks that you have a 67% chance of automation as your job is to “make or form wax or sand cores or molds used in the production of metal castings in foundries”… hmmmm, wrong job description?

On the cards next was a fireside chat with Sphero’s Jon Carroll. I had already been on a panel with Jon at TGE, now it was my chance to sit with him at Inspire9 and ask all the juicy questions. Firstly, I asked Jon what he thought of Australia and how it compared to the Valley. His response was it’s been 12 years since he’s been here, a lot has changed, he’d only been there a week, and ask him again in another 12 years; legit response! I had the chance to quiz Jon on the ins and outs of Sphero, especially his collaboration with Disney and Pixar on the Star Wars BB8.

I’m a bit of a Star Wars and Pixar fan, so I immensely enjoyed Jon describing how he and his team taught Pixar designers and artists how to use real robots in their animation and storytelling. Jon also talked about how Disney gave them huge insights on narrative and how to use it in their product marketing. Having worked in hardware startups, Jon and I talked about the difference between software and hardware startups and challenges that come with having a physical product – lead times, distribution, delivery, prototyping etc. A group of keen hardware enthusiasts were present and bailed up Jon for some in-depth advice on what they need to do next.

We finished off the night playing with Spheros, trying out new tricks, and testing out the story mode. It was fantastic to have Jon here in Australia, and even more exciting to learn of the new Sphero products that just hit the shelves – make sure you get one.

Yeah…. Nah!

The best sounding Aussie conference name ever! If you’re not Australian, and I know I have some readers from overseas, you may have noticed Aussies say “yeah, well, nah” or “nah… yeah”. It’s just something we do. Basically take the last thing we said, and that’s your answer, “yeah, nah yeah” means yes, and “yeah, nah” means no. Makes sense? Good we can move onto what the conference was.

Yeah Nah was held by Launch Vic less than two weeks ago and was a showcase of Victoria’s best startup success stories featuring companies like Envato, Catapult Sports, Culture Amp, Square Peg Capital, KeepCup, HealthKit, RedBubble, and more. It was a fantastic line up of speakers who shared their success journeys, and more importantly, talked about what they learned from some of their shortcomings.

Seems like I was enjoying myself! Photo credit: Launch Vic

A couple of the things that really stood out was how some founders really love the start of the startup journey. They love building the company, watching it grow and prosper, leave it to the rest of the team and go on to start another company. I think they thrive in the unknown, the excitement, and the challenge of starting a business. Whilst lots of founders look to exit or want to be the continuing CEO at massive companies, I really admire these people who just want to keep building new ideas. Cyan Ta’eed, one of the founders of Envato, spoke about this and how she’s leaving the digital market giant to her team while she heads off to make Artisan chocolate; yummy!

Another aspect of startups that stood out and clearly resonated with the crowd was health, and in particular mental health of founders and founding teams. It’s becoming rapidly evident that well-being is a huge problem in startups. From late nights, to stressful meetings, deadlines, and keeping a company afloat, sometimes we can lose ourselves in the process and forget to put our health first. If we don’t keep our health first, as founders, we won’t be able to push the company forward, we won’t be able to lead anyone, and we won’t be able to build ourselves and our teams. Cris Pearson from plasq & Skitch shared his incredible heartfelt struggle as a founder and how it’s so important to put yourself first, otherwise everyone else suffers. His message echoed so well and he was swamped with questions after his talk. Great advice and well noted by all.

Yeah Nah also featured tonnes of amazing food, and it was a fantastic opportunity to catch up with the startup community. I hear the talks will be available online at some point so I encourage you all to have a look at them as they were truly inspiring and one of the best conferences I’ve been to.

eSports taking the spotlight in Australia

Every man and his dog are talking about this at the moment… eSports! Professional videogaming. Less than a decade ago most people didn’t even know this was a thing, until now. In Australia we’ve seen world renowned success very recently with the Intel Masters, the Overwatch World Cup and more. In my last article, I talked about Project Cars 2 and hinted at some of the work I’m doing around eSports, especially in the racing industry. It’s such an exciting journey and I had the pleasure of being involved in another one of Motum Simulation‘s latest events. Webb Performance, a training program that focuses on upcoming drivers came into Motum to test their skills in our VR motion rig.

Jack Le Brocq tests his real skills in the simulator

It was fantastic to see lots of young drivers, from GTs to Formula 3, Toyota 86 and more, tackle the tracks and the simulators with ease. Their real world driving seamlessly transitioned into the sim, giving them helpful insights on their abilities. One of the guys even beat Scott McLaughlin’s time! I think we’ll have to get Scotty back to set the fastest lap again. I don’t want to say too much more about this as there’s heaps more to be revealed soon around the whole eSports racing thing, and if you want to check out what the Webb team were up to, you can see their Facebook page.

Racing aside, my next eSports gig was on a panel for the Events Horizon Conference. Sitting on such a prestigious panel was definitely awesome! We had Chris from Corsair, Casey from Dark Shadow Studios, and Lachlan, the owner of a new eSports bar in Melbourne. We had a very lively discussion around the future of eSports, the movement of the industry in Australia, how people can get involved, and some of the challenges that come with being so far away from the rest of the world. There are tonnes of exciting things to look forward to and eSports is simply going to keep on getting better in Australia.

Speaking of better, Lachlan just opened Australia’s first eSports bar, GGEZ. We were all eager to head to the opening only a few nights after our panel – how very fitting. There was a bit of debate around whether this is actually Australia’s first eSports bar, given that there are a few others; Mana Bar and Beta Bar, already in existence. After the owner of Mana Bar responded to these people saying “I feel the title of ‘Australia’s first eSports bar’ is accurate” due to the fact that it is true to what it is. Unlike the current bars, GGEZ is a typical sports bar, but for gaming. Mana Bar and Beta Bar are simply themed bars, often with gaming events and themed food. GGEZ however is targeted at showing live pro competitions, Twitch streams, and other professional videogames on their various TVs.

Loving the decor at GGEZ

The hype definitely didn’t go amiss and the opening was sensational. Equipped with Neon, and an array of amazing food and drinks, I believe GGEZ is set to ground eSports in Australia and further push Melbourne to the top of eSports as it begins to rival Sydney. Sitting around drinking cocktails, indulging in mini burgers and watching the pros play League of Legends is exactly what I envisioned of an eSports bar. Overwatch, Counter Strike, Magic the Gathering, and Street Fighter could be seen on the other screens around the venue. Oh, and we even got the coolest enamel badges! Totally adding this one to my pin collection. Well, that’s it on the gaming side. GGEZ are running meetups and tonnes of other events so keep your eyes peeled.

Check out ’em badges. Who wants one?

Awarded for Technology

We’ve been super lucky to win two exciting technology awards with BajaBoard. I won’t say a whole lot about them because you can read the blogs I wrote on the BajaBoard site for our National iAward, and our DRIVENxDESIGN & State iAward.

BajaBoard by BajaBoard
Stoaked to win this prestigious award! Photo credit: iAwards

What I’ll talk about instead is what it’s like applying for the awards, and receiving them, plus some of the fun we had along the way. Firstly, awards are awesome! Some people think that they are not valuable, they’re too expensive, they take up too much time, and they don’t mean anything. Instead, awards recognise hard work, and talent. If you play them correctly they can be incredible assets to you and your company. They are most valuable when you’re looking to raise. Investors will often search for your business or product online and see what others are saying about you. If you’ve won awards, it says you have determination, you definitely have a good product/service, and that you’re willing to put in the hard work to make things happen.

Awards can also be useful if you have physical products. How many of us have bought wine, jam, or something else that has “gold award winner”, “national award winner”, “good food winner”. And it’s not just for food and beverages. These awards mean that it’s not just you who likes you’re product, but others have recognised its worth and talent.

Being recognised on a number of levels has a multitude of other benefits – free media press, and allows you to go to PR agencies with a story. If you’ve won some big award, it makes it easy to front up to a journalist with a good template for some quality coverage. Awards are also great to add to your CV and your company’s portfolio. How often have you walked into an office or showroom and seen a bunch of trophies and frames displayed. You probably thought “well, these guys must be good… look at all the awards they have!”

Cost shouldn’t be an issue here either. Many prizes are often free, or have discounts for startups. There really is no barrier to entry and there are tonnes of awards for literally anything you can think of. So take the time to find some awards that fit you and your business, and spend some time working hard on them. You’ll find it pays off!

The end is in sight

Well that’s it for me. It’s been a crazy few weeks, but definitely fun. If you don’t want to miss a moment of the action, make sure you follow me on Twitter as I’ll be at some big events very soon – and promoting some great things for you to come to. Looking forward to sharing more awesome stories, but for now, if you read this whole article, I applaud you, if you didn’t, stash it away for a rainy day.

Mish out.

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