ONCE A YEAR, SOME OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL THINKERS AND TINKERERS, ENTREPRENEURS AND EXPERTS, REBELS AND RENEGADES FROM ACROSS THE WORLD DESCEND ON QUEENSLAND’S SOUTH-EAST, WHERE A WEALTH OF TALENT AND INNOVATIVE SPIRIT COMES TOGETHER FOR THREE FULLY-CHARGED DAYS OF WORKSHOPS, MASTERCLASSES AND PRESENTATIONS.
The Myriad festival is Brisbane’s privately founded and independently managed flagship startup business event. An event where a veritable big bang of startups, investors, enterprise, students, government, money and media collide, shining light on ideas verging on earth-shattering.
This is a corner of the world where flying cars, virtual reality, life on Mars and artificial intelligence are up for discussion amongst the brightest and boldest minds, willing the imaginary into the irrefutable amongst speakers from companies like MYOB, Google, NAB, Apple, ASX, Slack, Planet Ark and Greencross.
This year also saw Myriad travel to new heights (literally) with ‘Myriad Air’ going sky high, as 30 Queensland startups flew back across the Pacific direct from Silicon Valley on a specially-chartered Qantas 747 packed to bursting with some of the world’s most innovative entrepreneurs, investors, founders and VIPs. A total of 360 of San Francisco’s most brilliant minds were a captive audience for the pitches of a lucky few for 14 blissfully uninterrupted hours between the Valleys of Silicon and Fortitude.
And, thanks to the Queensland Government’s $500-million Advance Queensland strategy, and the efforts of Townsville’s local innovation hub Innovation NQ (iNQ), 10 of North Queensland’s most progressive people were granted the exclusive opportunity to showcase their own ideas at this year’s event.
Scott Rogers, NQ Myriad Co-Ordinator and founder and start-up investor of Open Fund Pty Ltd, was a part of the driving force behind the North Queensland Myriad cohort.
“Being Townsville born and bred, I was proud to be able to bring a NQ team to Brisbane to showcase a diverse range of North Queensland founded businesses.” Scott said.
One of the chosen representatives, Alana Kennedy, is a local indigenous entrepreneur inspiring women in business all over Australia. “The highlight of the event for me was the workshops, and seeing the power of having the right people in the room working together on an idea in high pressure with limited time,” she said. “It is unbelievable what can be done when the right people align under pressure with the right support and processes.”
“It is unbelievable what can be done when the right people align under pressure with the right support and processes”
Indeed, workshops covered topics for everyone, from ‘How humans and bots can work together to get shit done’ to ‘Australia: the entrepreneurial nation?’. Daily workshops supplemented keynote speakers by giving attendees a more interactive experience. But that’s not all.
“The Myriad atmosphere is open and diverse,” Maddy Voinea from local production company BlueKino said. “You find investors in tailored suits alongside millennial hipsters riding through the expo garage on electric scooters wearing t-shirts that say, ‘Ideas are nothing. Execution is the game!’ The emphasis is on sharing your ideas and in doing so allowing the startup community to provide direction and support.”
The ‘expo garage’ was a new addition for this year’s event, and was a custom-designed exhibition space of 200 stalls showcasing the latest and greatest ideas coming out of Queensland, catering for startup budgets through to full tower style spaces. As we all know, space is a hot commodity, and all of the stalls at this year’s event sold out.
Networking is a major drawcard of Myriad festival for entrepreneurs and investors alike. Aside from the opening and closing parties, Myriad runs elevator pitch competitions, and holds events during the program with opportunity for networking and mentor discussion.
Alexandra Whitehead, Company Director at Be Psyched and Co-Founder at Becon Health, was one of Townsville’s local showcasing entrepreneurs.
“Being able to speak with key influencers in the start-up scene, such as Peter Laurie, Steve Baxter, Aaron Birkby and Mark B. Johnson (was invaluable),” she said.
“From these interactions, I’ve learned that going global is a real possibility. Our region needs serious founders that are going to tackle global problems – this is what it will take to dramatically impact our economy through job creation and talent retention.”
Perhaps stemming from the age-old Aussie tradition of mateship, there is also a big emphasis on collaboration. Trent Small, from Solar Relief in Townsville, said it was a focus for the business since returning from the event. “The opportunity to explore connections made and develop these into real opportunities,” he said. “An example of this for Solar Relief is to utilise another exhibitor’s recycled battery systems in our portable power supply units.”
iNQ Co-Ordinator Nicole Lucas agreed about the importance of collaboration, particularly for our local community. “Collaboration is everything,” she said. “(Events like Myriad highlight) the importance of building relationships and the generosity of those who work in the startup space with their time, knowledge, experience and networks.”
Myriad CEO Martin Talvari said Australia is on the cusp of greatness.
“You find investors in tailored suits alongside millennial hipsters riding through the expo garage on electric scooters”
“Australia is one of the best places to build a company,” he said.
“With so much great talent and the best lifestyle, it’s on the right side of history where people appreciate wellbeing and business as being equally important.
We will see this trend growing in the future and masses relocating to Australia. This is just a beginning, for Australia and Myriad.”
In an era of unparalleled advancement in health, technology, energy and a ‘myriad’ of other fields, the collaborative force of 5,000 innovative futurists fuelled on nerves and adrenalin will surely prove to be instrumental in conversations that shape Australia’s, and North Queensland’s, entrepreneurial development. Myriad promises something for everyone, a reason to attend no matter the agenda, and a virtual smorgasbord of futuristic and forward-thinking ideas to feast on.