First year Gold Coast IT student, Dylan Birot has become the third member of the Studio 39 group to complete the Startup Catalyst program in California in November.
Startup Catalyst aims to change Australia’s digital enterprise culture by exposing as many people as possible to the new digital companies changing our business and technology world from Silicon Valley.
The continual success of Griffith students in the Startup Catalyst program is building the University’s capacity for a student entrepreneurial culture that compliments the university’s teaching and learning resources.
Fresh from visiting major companies in Silicon Valley including Google, Facebook, Atlassian, Dropbox, Twitter and many others, Dylan hit home on the run, determined to change his own approach to business.
“It’ll sound strange, but it’s almost like I’ve taken on this more VC (venture capitalist) like perspective towards startups now. I’m a lot more critical about ideas and value propositions,” he said.
“I don’t want be another copycat startup founder, just content to leverage value from other people’s products. I want to try for new, I want to try for a scale that’s near to monopoly. One of the things you encounter in Silicon Valley are people who are really ambitious and unafraid of discussing that ambition and unafraid of failure. That’s pretty different to here.”
Strategic direction also got a boost when several founders advised the group to “follow in the footsteps of the giants” (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon etc) and understand when and how they will change direction and what they will need.
The trip was funded by Griffith Sciences and comes on the back of Dylan’s establishment of an app development company with current and former Griffith IT students, working out of Studio39 on the Gold Coast, the Griffith Enterprise co-working space. Their company, BonneSai, is taking advantage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create cheaper apps faster than previously.
Dylan was admitted into the program as one of over 300 applicants and one of the youngest ever given a place. Griffith Enterprise have been working with student entrepreneurs by providing space, advice, events and support.
“San Francisco and Silicon Valley were just awesome, a whole new level. You finally understand why the startups over there are the way they are. It’s almost difficult to not have impact. The pace everyone works at is almost ridiculous, mostly because of how cut-throat the competition is over there, you basically have to if you want your company to survive” Dylan said.
While expecting to encounter new ideas on how to convert concepts in to products and get products into markets, he also came across an emphasis on human development and management he wasn’t expecting.
“The level of investment the companies have in their people is amazing, we’d have Google and Facebook Engineers talking about how great the places were to work in. We met one of the Directors at Facebook who spoke about how important human management was to them and their companies. It’s pretty simple, they depend on getting the best people and keeping the best people and if they can’t do it, people will go somewhere else,” he said.
“What is also surprising is the level of openness people have to discussing their ideas. People will literally give away the secret sauce of their startup because everyone knows execution is everything.
“The best teams, with the best plans and the best talent will be successful.”