I was at Techcrunch’s Startup Battlefield Australia today, and it was great

You know, it’s been a while since I last posted. And it’s been hard to get this moving again. Partly as I’ve been busy, but also that there’s a lot going on – but none of it particularly inspiring me to write.

Harvey Weinstein, Uber leading the headlines for sexual assault. Gender politics, citizenship politics and the Same Sex Marriage vote in Australia. A new iPhone launched to mixed reviews. Microsoft sniped at Apple, Salesforce sniped at Microsoft…more of the same really.

And then Techcrunch held its first Startup Battlefield Australia in Sydney on 16 November 2017. Here’s the agenda

It was a great event, with some fairly polished pitches (or should I say, well coached pitches – they all followed a very good formula).

Healthmatch was a deserving winner, for a product that helps patients find and register for clinical trials – one of those targets that I didn’t realise was so in need of being reimagined. Congratulations.

Apart from that though, there were a few other highlights.

Mike Cannon-Brookes, of Atlassian fame, had a good “fireside chat” (ugh, what is with that term) and spoke of a few things, including how Atlassian was able to maintain stride even when they started seeking funding after they’d achieved a pretty good scale. By always thinking like a ‘public’ company, they didn’t lose momentum – this makes complete sense. The laissez-faire nature when a company is reportable only to itself can be (and is) a problem for governance and ego. By being beholden to someone else – whether equity/shareholder or customer – a group needs a higher level of maturity and operational nous.

His other interesting comments were around how they treat remote working as another office – as in, they have a Sydney office, a SF office, a remote office etc. It’s a good approach, both for diversity and inclusion, and also as it takes seriously the need to recognise that remote working has an emphasis on working, and not “remote” (ie “not here”). I liked it – it’s a good practice.

The other big highlight for me was around the blockchain discussion (involving Simon CantAvichal GargDr. Jemma Green and Kavita Gupta) – which revolved less around the technology opportunity and more around the regulatory maturity, especially in the age of the ICO – I love this kind of discussion. Global politics mixing with technology mixing with risk. It’s the great game, with an emphasis on how different markets are treating the very nascent and untested technology that is blockchain. Great stuff.

There’s so much potential around blockchain in the future – around identity, ownership (or titles, licensing etc) and more. Powerledger has a great model that uses the ledger model to allow users to onsell their surplus energy to others. It’s a fascinating use case for it, and while it certainly adds complication to the management of household energy, the idea that a house could recoup some of their energy bill is always enticing. This is one of the challenges acknowledged – how does blockchain become more than a complicated concept for users, and become a product that has mass appeal to justify the hype.

Now that’s more like it – the kind of inspiration, thought-provocation I was hoping for.

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