Welcome toFuture founders festival

The Future Founders Festival is a place for students and budding entrepreneurs to learn, gain confidence and have fun with their ideas. If you missed it, you can watch the recordings from each of the events to catch-up.

Ever wondered what it’s like to start a business? Already got an idea but not sure what to do next? The curious amongst you is what the festival is designed for.

Presented by Study Melbourne and StartSpace, the Future Founders Festival ran from Thursday 15th to Friday 16th July, with a series of online events, a pitch competition and learning from inspiring and successful founders, the festival program offers everyone the opportunity to take part, whether you are based here or offshore.

Sign up for regular announcements for future elements of the program or keep reading to find out more.

Future Festival
Catch up

Festival event recordings

Watch our Future Founders Festival 2021 event recordings to catch up on insights and tips from experienced founders and leaders covering everything from lived experience, the startup ecosystem and how to get started, to MVPs and networking. 

Festival 2021

Principal speakers

Speaker portrait
Winitha Bonney OAM
Thought Leader, Founder and chief, Amina of Zaria

Winitha Bonney is the leading expert in helping corporates build inclusive cultures and is Australia's first and foremost thought leader helping people of colour to advance in leadership and entrepreneurship. In 2021 she was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her extensive work in diversity and inclusion.

Winitha has over 22 years of experience in executive roles and has founded several businesses. She has an incredible amount of unique insights, experiences and expertise to help People of Colour succeed.
You can connect with Winitha at: www.winitha.com

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Jill Tang
Co-Founder, Ladies Who Tech

Jill Tang is a serial entrepreneur, community builder and Women in STEM advocate. 
She is the co-founder of Ladies Who Tech, a social enterprise focusing on changing the status quo and promotes gender diversity and inclusion in STEM industry through offering digital upskilling education, career opportunities and community network.  It connects more than 30,000+ members across all social media in greater China and now has presence in 11 cities including Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. 
Her work has been reported by Forbes China, the Guardian, BBC, TechNode, Paper, CGTN and CNN. Jill was a finalist for 2016 Australia China Young Alumni of the year and top 100 Gen T in China by Asia Tatler in 2019. 
She holds a Bachelor of Commerce from La Trobe University, Master of Applied Finance from Monash University and MBA from Melbourne Business School. 

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Richard Li
Co-Founder, July & Brosa

Richard Li is an Australian entrepreneur whose businesses include direct-to-consumer luggage startup July and online furniture retailer Brosa, one of Australia’s most successful DTC brands.

Rich co-founded July in late 2018 with Athan Didaskalou to create the biggest travel brand in the world, starting with APAC.

Richard also co-founded and built Brosa, Australia’s biggest online furniture retailer from the ground up. One of Australia’s fastest-growing eCommerce businesses, Brosa is now worth over A$50m and has been backed by some of Australia’s most prominent and successful Venture Capital funds including Airtree Ventures and Bailador Technology Investments.

Prior to Brosa, Rich built his expertise in business strategy, brand development and ecommerce as the largest seller to Groupon Group globally, sourcing and creating products from China for retail sale in USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. A Chinese native who moved to Australia at 16, Rich has deep networks in China and wider Asia, including deep supply chain capabilities and a finger on the pulse of the Chinese consumer.

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Aamir Qutub
CEO and founder of Enterprise Monkey

Aamir Qutub is the award-winning CEO and founder of Enterprise Monkey - an Australian multinational web and app development company.  Under Aamir's leadership the company has achieved Australian Smartest Innovation of the Year Award and in 2016 Aamir was recognised as Australian Young Business Leader of the Year.

Being an automation evangelist, Aamir’s interest in process optimisation, business consulting and career hacks has taken him to the peak of success by doing what he loves. Aamir has since founded Mentor Monkey and co-founded Angel Next Door.

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Dominic Soh
TEDx Speaker and Head of People and Culture of Datarati

Dominic Soh is a TEDx and international speaker who’s worked with Tesla, National Australia Bank, VW & Australia Post to help teams develop resilience to thrive in change and uncertainty. He is a former international student, the Head of People and Culture of Datarati, has spoken on the TEDx stage twice, presented in over 12 countries, coached professionals from ANZ, EY & Deloitte and interviewed high performers like U.S. Navy SEALs and Olympians. He’s been featured on Entrepreneur.com and The Sydney Morning Herald and other speaking clients include Google, Intel, New York University, University of Copenhagen, Chartered Accountants and EU Business School. Connect with Dominic at dominicsoh.com 

Festival 2021

Guest Speakers

Offering a range of expertise, tips and practical advice, be sure to catch as many as you can of our festival guest speakers who are experienced founders and leaders, many of whom have international student or migrant backgrounds. We can all learn a lot from their journeys.

Festival 2021


Get program updates
Event schedule: Thursday, July 15th, 2021
09:30am - 09:45am
15 mins
Official Festival Opening

Don't miss the intro to the festival, a short 15 min greeting session where you will be briefed about what is happeni...

09:45am - 10:25am
40 mins
How to be future ready? Embrace entrepreneurship

Welcome to the brave new world - a landscape that is becoming more unpredictable, disruptive, competitive and non-lin...

10:25am - 11:15am
50 mins
No Failures, Only Feedback In Entrepreneurship

Life as an entrepreneur is about enjoying the journey, not just focusing on the destination, according to

09:30am - 09:45am
15 mins
Official Festival Opening

Don't miss the intro to the festival, a short 15 min greeting session where you will be briefed about what is happeni...

Pitch your early-stage startup to industry leaders

The online Future Founders Pitch Competition finals took place on Friday 16 July as part of the Future Founders Festival. The competition offered students with a business idea the chance to practice presenting, get some feedback and compete for a prize. 

The winners

First place  - Vimi

This award was accepted by Daniel Tan, Business Ops Lead for Vimi. The team were awarded the following:

  • $2,000 AUD ex GST
  • $7,000 in Practera credit 
  • StartSpace Loft membership


Second place – Inspiring Chats

This was accepted by Eugenia Yuan, Co-founder for Inspiring Chats, who took home the following prize:

  • $1,000 AUD ex GST  
  • $3,500 in Practera credit


Third place – MatchTee

This was accepted by Teresa Chan, Co-founder for MatchTee who was awarded:

  • $500 AUD ex GST 
  • $1,500 in Practera credit


Competition details

Applicants of the competition submitted a short 3 minute video pitching their business, outlining the problem they are solving and the progress they have made as part of an application process.

The videos and applications are reviewed by start-up industry experts and a small number of finalists had their pitches played during the Pitch Competition Final online on day 2 of the festival, Friday 16 July.

The finalists all took part in a live Q&A with a panel of expert judges to determine the winner, which was then announced in the session after a judges deliberation.

The Judging Criteria

The judges reviewed the pitch videos based on 5 key criteria.

1. Market & problem – the story about your specific target audience and the problem you are solving for them (20%)

For example: “We know that international students just like Prayansh who are arriving in Victoria for the first time need … [list a problem unique to your audience]”

2. Solution – the explanation of your offering, service, or product and how it solves this problem (20%)

For example: “[Your product/service] … is making the experience of settling into Australia easier for new international students like Prayansh by … [explain how your solution works]”

3. Team – demonstrating how the team is particularly setup for success to deliver the solution (20%)

For example: “We believe we are the best team to achieve this because we have a great combination of skills and experience. Our Creative Lead knows exactly the right style to connect with international students, our Tech Lead, is already building our app… etc.”

4. Traction – demonstrating what has been achieved so far (20%)

For example: “We have proven that students need and want our solution. We already tested the BETA version of our app with 20 students and they all had a positive experience”

4. Overall Pitch – delivering the pitch in a clear, engaging, and interesting way (20%)

There was also more information about the competition provided in the Terms and Conditions page.


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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Have you got any questions about the Future Founders Festival? Hopefully you will find the answers below. If you still have questions please email the team at StartSpace: startspace@slv.vic.gov.au

Where can I find the Code of Conduct for the Festival?
The information about the Digital Code of Conduct that applies to the Future Founders Festival can be found here: https://startspacehq.com/future-founders-festival-code-of-conduct/
How do I book for Future Founders Festival?
To book for the festival, simply follow the registration link and book via Eventbrite. The festival ticket gives you access to the full 2 days of online festival programming. It's entirely free to attend and we encourage you to join as many sessions as possible.
What are the different tickets available for the festival?
There is only one festival ticket type. It gives you access to the full 2 days of online festival programming. It's entirely free to attend and we encourage you to join as many sessions as possible across the two days.
Is there a Festival music playlist?
Yes! 'Looking Out, Looking In' presented by City of Melbourne is series of playlists by selected curators to represent the world class, diverse, effervescent and growing music scene in Melbourne. Tune in to find yourself some new local music at https://open.spotify.com/user/ze94ti6e69obimcf1ztgahbhr