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Announcing the winners of the australiabusinessblog.com Early Stage Audience Choice

The Audience Choice results are in, which begs the question, can we be more excited to share this news? No, we couldn’t. From hundreds of registrations, we have put together 10 breakout sessions and 10 roundtables. Your mission? Vote for the topics you want to see live and in person at australiabusinessblog.com Early Stage on April 20 in Boston, Massachusetts. And vote you did – mission accomplished!

Click, save, learn: Buy an early bird ticket now and you’ll save $200 in a day packed with quality content.

A little background before we announce the 10 presentations that won the hearts, minds and votes of australiabusinessblog.com readers.

For the uninitiated, TC Early Stage is our annual founder meeting. Workshops, breakouts, and roundtables — led by established founders, leading subject matter experts, and VCs — cover core fundraising, marketing, and operations topics. View the calendar!

This one-day event gives aspiring and early-stage startup founders – from the ideation stage to Series A – the confidence, skills, information, connections and community they need to take the next steps and grow their business.

Meet the winners of the TC Early Stage Audience Choice

The breakout sessions

Breakout sessions consist of a 20-minute presentation followed by a 20-minute Q&A in front of an audience of up to 125 founders. Each outbreak occurs once during the event.

What Unicorns Know: Set your business up for success by using Lean in its earliest stages

Speaker: Pablo Dominguez, Operating Partner, Insight Partners

Description: The most successful startups have one thing in common: they prepare for large-scale operational success in the earliest stages, sometimes even before they have a product. But how can founders look so far ahead, in a turbulent market, and predict their future business model? The answer is Scale, a five-principle Lean framework that helps any company accelerate its growth potential. Survival of the leanest requires hopeful unicorns who research, identify and remove waste that hinders the free flow of value to customers – without layoffs or hasty cost-cutting. Dominguez will draw on 25 years of operator experience to explain how fledgling startups should use Lean principles to become successful.

Building the Perfect Founding Team: Insights and Strategies for Non-Technical Founders

Speaker: George Hantzaras, Technical Director, MongoDB

Description: Building a strong founding team is essential to the success of any startup, and finding the right tech co-founder can be an especially daunting task for non-tech founders. Hantzaras will explore the importance of building a diverse and balanced founding team and share best practices for finding and working with the right technical co-founder. He will also discuss common challenges that non-technical founders may face as they build their founding team, and provide practical strategies for overcoming them.

Lack of Community: The Not-So-Secret Enemy of Early-Stage Founders

Speakers: Cait Brumme, CEO, MassChallenge; David Chang, Entrepreneur and Angel Investor; Diane Hessan, Founder, C-Space

Description: For startup founders focused on building the best product, gathering market data, and getting the finances they need, the purposeful search for a community may seem less important. The more than 4,000 early-stage startups we’ve launched provide case studies of how intentional community development can support founders working to achieve big things while accelerating their ability to build a business. We give you the opportunity to ask your most pressing questions and teach you how to:

  • Build your startup community from scratch.
  • Recognize the value of community at every stage of your business growth.
  • Identify the key players in your field and attract them to your circle.
  • Form relationships with people who offer more value than what they ask for.

Get the most value from value-adding investors

Speaker: Amber Quiñones, Head of Platform and Operations, BBG Ventures

Description: Whether you call it “Platform,” “Portfolio Impact,” or any number of clever euphemisms, we live in the era of value-added VCs. Many companies have invested heavily in the platform function to grow the company’s network and make their investments succeed. Yet the wide range of team structures and focus leaves founders struggling to determine how to properly engage with Platform – and about what. Quiñones will demystify this feature, clarify how to leverage the different forms of VC Platform, and assemble an operational SWAT team to unlock more value from your value-added investors.

Building a successful pilot program: how to prove product value and win yet another customer

Speaker: Ned Brody, CEO of Actifai

Description: An excellent pilot program eliminates initial barriers to customer growth, such as licensing fees and change management. Creating an ideal pilot engages customers in the critical onboarding phase that enables success and future collaboration. It builds trust and rapport with decision makers and provides financial proof-of-concept. Brody will describe how to create and deliver a pilot program that will grow technology companies, including:

  • Designing a “live” value-creating pilot.
  • Drafting pilot timeframes and roadmaps
  • Minimizing customer technical and change requirements
  • Creating executive evangelists
  • Standardize pilot programs and adapt them to unique customer needs
  • Develop statistically sound results and A/B test design
  • Include post-pilot roll-out conditions in contracts
  • Collecting key growth data and feedback

The roundtable discussions

In roundtables, one person leads a 30-minute interactive conversation with up to 20 founders. Each roundtable will take place twice during the event.

What you need in a Lead Seed Investor. Spoiler Alert: It’s more than money

Speaker: Ishan Sachdev, General Partner, Deciens Capital

Description: When you’re struggling to find your first funding, the best investor is usually anyone willing to write a check. In the friends-and-family and angel phases, companies often don’t have a lead investor. Consequently, many founders don’t know why they need one or what to look for other than a willingness to invest. But as startups approach their first major seed round, the choice of a lead investor suddenly becomes top of mind. From negotiating investment terms to providing “platform services,” leads can be a powerful influence on long-term success. Ishan Sachdev, whose venture capital firm exclusively leads seed rounds, will discuss how founders can find the right lead investor for an early round of funding – and why the fit between investor and founder matters.

How founders can prepare for successful exits at every stage

Speaker: David Jegen, Managing Partner, F-Prime Capital

Description: The vast majority of startup exits happen through acquisition, but remarkably little content exists to help founders through post-acquisition life. David Jegen has been through 11 different acquisitions from multiple perspectives – as founder, investor and board member. He will break down the different types of startup acquisitions and how startups impact, and discuss key points that help maximize employee success and happiness in the long run.

What is your risk archetype? How to turn risk into your startup superpower

Speaker: Ben Jennings, Chief Revenue Officer, Embroider

Description: Everyone who starts a business takes a risk, but that doesn’t mean every founder is a risk taker – or even understands their risk tolerance and appetite. Using our Risk Archetype quiz, founders can discover what kind of risk taker they are and how that impacts everything related to growing a company – from fundraising to building a team to critical decision making. Founders leave with a blueprint to convert their specific Risk Archetype into their superpower.

Navigating entrepreneurship like an underrepresented founder

Speaker: Ghalia Aamer, CEO of TalkMaze

Description: This interactive discussion is aimed at young founders and other underrepresented groups. The goal is to create a sense of community among attendees and support each other to be successful as entrepreneurs. Aamer will facilitate the discussion using guided questions to encourage vulnerability. By sharing her personal experience of starting a business as a full-time student and young woman of color, she will create space for others to share their own challenges, which they can tackle together as a group. Founders will walk away strengthened by a series of new connections with like-minded entrepreneurs who can help each other succeed.

How to use PR to get in front of investors

Speaker: Liza Vilnits, founder and CEO of Beyond Trending

Description: Founders understand the value of PR, but often lack the knowledge to leverage and execute it. How do you properly frame your story so that investors notice you through the press? This session offers a sample edtech case study (from a school teacher to Chelsea Clinton and Serena Williams), plus a “roll up your sleeves” discussion to help founders better write their stories and understand how to engage media.

australiabusinessblog.com Early Stage will take place on April 20, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. Don’t miss the Audience Choice presentations and much more. Get your early bird ticket for $249 and save $200. We can’t wait to see you in Boston!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Early Stage 2023? Contact our sponsorship sales team at filling out this form.


Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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