QUT Students to embark on Startup Catalyst Youth Mission

It’s the day before me and twenty other young tech entrepreneurs, including three other QUT students, get on a plane bound for San Francisco, into the heart of the tech world in Silicon Valley.

Typing that sentence gave me goosebumps.

But what is this all about, why am I going to Silicon Valley of all places? It was just over a month ago I heard about Startup Catalyst from one of my good friends. They are a company that organise missions to international hotspots for youths, startups, investors, corporates, and innovation leaders. In particular, they run a “Youth Mission” specifically for young, tech-savvy entrepreneurs and future CTO leaders. The trip involves 10 days in Silicon Valley where we get to meet and interact with global tech leaders like Google and Facebook, and visit smaller startup companies.

On the 9th of October, I applied for the program in the hope that I would get the chance to meet the incredible people that make these tech giants great, to learn from the masters and translate that knowledge and skills into my own life and pursuit to create something great of my own. I knew I was competing with applicants from all across Australia – it was nerve-racking but I was determined to impress the organisers of the trip.

After a rigorous application and interview process, I was offered a place in the program and now I’m here typing at Brisbane Airport awaiting my flight to Sydney to then connect to another flight to San Fran.

I am beyond excited for the trip – one of our Youth leaders, Colin, recently sent through the Program Schedule and all the places marked out that we will be visiting. It’s gearing up to be an intense two weeks. I’m most excited for Startup Weekend, which is on the fifth day of the trip.

For this event we’ll be travelling to Santa Cruz, but as Peter, our other Youth Leader, has advised, we will not be spending it at their famous beaches. Instead, we will be using the twenty unique technical forces that are the chosen participants for the trip to pitch solutions surrounding the topic of “Sustainability” for Startup Weekend. You’ll have to stay tuned on our blog posts to know what eventuates of the three day long event, but I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. Who knows, we might incubate the next idea that may change the way we think about the world’s resources.

Even though I am not even close to setting foot in America, I have already gained incredible insight and startup contacts through the Startup Catalyst program. We had Launch night a week and a bit back and it was awesome. Steve Baxter opened the night beautifully, telling us the story of how he founded the organisation and where it was today. I mingled with Angel Investors, past alumni, high-profile sponsors and Venture Capitalists. In fact, I already have two coffee meet-ups with Startup Catalyst contacts when I get back regarding a potential project that I’ve been considering recently!

Of course there’s a distinct ‘elephant in the room’ when discussing a trip to America at the current time. It will certainly be interesting to observe the general state of the American people so shortly after the Presidential election. I suppose that is also something to be revisited and discussed when we are there in the flesh. Though, it would be nice if the AUD appreciated a little more so I can buy countless amounts of Nike and Apple products while there.

We will be blogging at least once a day, if not more, on the official Startup Catalyst blog. See: blog.startupcatalyst.com.au/.

This is going to be the trip of a lifetime and I honestly can’t wait.

– Kaitlyn Sapier, one of nineteen very excited 2016 SC Youth Mission participants

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