Startup & Innovation Weekend - Tourism & Hospitality

    Friday, April 15 - 17, 2016

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Speakers
  4. Judges
  5. Coaches and Mentors
  6. Sponsors
  7. Organizing Team
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Startup & Innovation Weekend - Tourism & Hospitality

Friday, April 15 - 17, 2016

Friday, April 15 - 17, 2016
Event starts at 6:00 pm

Queenslander Room
TAFE Cairns, S-block
Gatton Street
Manunda, Qld 4870

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Startup & Innovation Weekend - Tourism & Hospitality

This event is proudly brought to you by the Queensland Government: Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation (DSITI) and Cairns Regional Council (2016 Innovation Series)

NO TALK, ALL ACTION: Take your business innovation or new idea to market in 54 hours. 

****This time round we are tweaking our Startup Weekend to include Innovation! We would like to encourage existing businesses to bring their team along to spend a weekend working on a new product or service and take it to market in 54 hours!****

  • Are you an existing Tourism or Hospitality business?  
  • Is your product becoming old and tired? Do you need to innovate but don't know how? 
  • Are you an entrepreneur working to bring a new idea to market? 

Far from just being yet another talk-fest, this event is very hands-on and aimed to get business ideas vetted, validated, pivoted and launched. Participants will start by throwing out ideas, then move on to choosing, testing and refining the best ones, and hopefully finish with the seeds of viable businesses. The weekend will be 100% focused on innovation, tourism and hospitality.

Participants will ideally tick the box on one or more of the following:

  • own or work in a related business or otherwise have some insight into tourism and hospitality; 
  • have some tech skills; 
  • have marketing skills or be well-connected; 
  • have a lot of energy or creativity to share and be great at energising teams and helping to drive projects forward. 
  Startup & Innovation Weekend , is it for me?  
  • If you are a business owner and you want to bring your team in for the weekend, to learn innovation... register today 
  • If you are someone who has a business and wants to learn how to launch a new product / service or test a new idea... register today.
  • If you are part of a corporation / government agency and you want to learn how to do innovation... register today
  • If you are an inventor and you want to learn how to commercialise it... register today
  • If you have an idea and you want to learn how to develop it.. register today
  • If you have no idea (haha) but are wanting to learn about how to start a business... register today 
  • If you have no idea, but just want to hang out with some cool people... register today
  • If you are a student and you want to be an entrepreneur... register today

Startup & Innovation Weekends are weekend-long, hands-on experiences where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs can find out if startup ideas are viable. On average, half of Startup Weekend’s attendees have technical or design backgrounds, the other half have business backgrounds. Drinks will be served Friday & Sunday night. There will also be food provided for the entire weekend.

Beginning with open mic pitches on Friday, attendees bring their best ideas and inspire others to join their team. Over Saturday and Sunday teams focus on customer development, validating their ideas, practicing LEAN Startup Methodologies and building a minimal viable product. On Sunday evening teams demo their prototypes and receive valuable feedback from a panel of experts.

Call us biased, but we think that there are dozens of reasons why you should come to a Startup & Innovation Weekend! Since we know your time is valuable, we’ll only list the top six:

1. Education: 
Startup & Innovation Weekends are all about learning through the act of creating. Don’t just listen to theory, build your own strategy and test it as you go.

2. Build your network:
This isn’t just a happy-hour. Startup & Innovation Weekend attracts your community’s best makers and do-ers. By spending a weekend working to build scalable companies that solve real-world problems, you will build long-lasting relationships and possibly walk away with a job or even an investor.

3. Co-Founder Dating:
We all know it’s not just about the idea – it’s about the team. Startup Weekend is hands down the best way to find someone you can actually launch a startup with.

4. Learn a new skill: 
Step outside of your comfort zone. With a whole weekend dedicated to letting your creative juices flow, Startup & Innovation Weekends are perfect opportunities to work on a new platform, learn a new programming language, or just try something different.

5. Get face time with thought leaders: 
Local tech and startup leaders participate in Startup & Innovation Weekends as coaches and judges. Get some one-on-one time with the movers and shakers in your community.

6. Join a global community:
Join over 45,000 Startup Weekend alumni, all on a mission to change the world. 

The Teams:
Your Startup / Innovation DREAM-TEAM will ideally include: 

  • Hipster: Designer / creative genius. They’ll make sure the final product is cooler than anything else out there. Your key question for the Hipster: Is this cool? 
  • Hacker: Programer / developer / engineer. The Hacker is the magician behind the functionality of your product. Your key question for the Hacker: Can you make it do this? 
  • Hustler: The Hustler doesn't know what "no" means and sees the result in terms of profit margins. Your key question for the Hustler: How do we make money from this? 
  • Herder: Coordinates all team member activities, budgets and timelines. 
Think global, start small. 


See what it's all about

Learn More


Friday April 15th

6:00 pm
Registration, dinner and networking
Arrive at the venue and get checked in

6:30 pm
Our MC fires the gun and we're off!
Startup Weekend is underway. Time to run you through the schedule and answer all your questions

7:00 pm
Welcome by Curtis Pitt
Innovation in FNQ

7:15 pm
Our VERY special guest
Prepare to be BLOWN away

7:45 pm
Pitches start
Optionally line up to give your 1-minute pitch

8:15 pm
Attendees vote for top pitches

8:45 pm
Form Teams
Teams start forming and get to work

11:55 pm
Time to pull up the stumps
Teams grab some rest, ready for a MASSIVE weekend

Saturday April 16th

8:45 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

9:05 am
Damian Zammit - Agile Planning
Creating your agile plan. What is the problem you are solving?

9:30 am
Roy Wybrow - Customer Validation
The customer validation process: build, measure, learn

10:00 am
Coach Meetings
Coaches help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!

12:00 pm

1:00 pm
After-lunch check-ins, status reports, calls for help

3:00 pm
Nathan Finney
Must know tax strategies for Startups, including the new federal tax breaks

3:30 pm
Donna Patane
Legal Tips for Innovators

6:30 pm

7:30 pm
After-dinner check-in, status reports, call for help

11:00 pm
Venue Closes
Venue closes for the day. If teams are REALLY committed they can hit a cafe. We'll give you some suggestions

Sunday April 17th

8:45 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

9:00 am
Game On
Start bringing your pitch together

12:00 pm

12:30 pm
Pitch Practice
An opportunity to have an initial run through your pitch to ensure you are on the right track and get some feedback

3:00 pm
Presentation Prep & Tech Check
Final hours of worktime should be focused on perfecting your presentation, tech-check for final presentations also takes place

4:30 pm
Tools Down & Dinner
All work to be completed.....break for dinner prior to final pitches

5:00 pm
Final Presentations

6:30 pm
Judging & Awards

8:00 pm

8:30 pm
After Party @ Lyquid Nightclub!
Celebrate the wins and learning from the weekend


Curtis Pitt
Member for Mulgrave. Treasurer, Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships

Born in Cairns Base Hospital and raised in Gordonvale, Curtis Pitt continues his family’s long history of service to the Far North.Having attended Gordonvale Primary School, Gordonvale High School, St Mary’s College Woree, he has a Bachelor of Arts (Politics) from James Cook University in Cairns.Curtis is a person of integrity and believes strongly in family values.  He is a hard worker who uses his drive and enthusiasm to serve the Mulgrave electorate and put the Far North first.  Curtis and his wife Kerry have had four children – Isabel (deceased), five year-old Tristan, three year-old Layla, and two year-old Kobi.

Philip Warring
Founder of Tourstogo

Phil Warring is a Cairns resident and previous owner of, an online tour and activity and booking website and technology solution for tourism businesses around Australia. As one of the original founders and  the director of sales and marketing for 10 years, Phil was involved in the strategic direction of the business as well as being in charge of innovation. won multiple business and tourism awards over the years including the Telstra Queensland Business of the Year and Small Business Champion in 2009 and Tourism Queensland Specialised Tourism Services award in 2010. Phil exited in 2014 and now owns a video production business that has been operational since early 2015. The business focuses on the production and distribution of social media and website videos and consulting to assist businesses to develop their own video content and get the most out of sharing video in the online environment. Since starting the business PhlipVids has had millions of video views for a range of different clients.  Outside of business Phil has had successes in the sporting community with securing grant funding for new sporting facilities and playing baseball and has adventurous hobbies from scuba diving and downhill mountain biking to the new sport of adrenalin sport of Flyboarding. He also has a passion for the environment and sustainability.

Nathan Finney
Crowe Horwath Principal - Business Advisory

Nathan focuses on providing quality advice and service his clients can rely on. Nathan is a Principal of the Cairns office’s business services and taxation division. His focus is providing quality advice and service that his clients can rely on. Clients and experience Nathan has over ten years of experience advising clients ranging from high net worth individuals to SMEs and listed public companies across the construction, utilities, financial services, retail, not for profit, tourism and hospitality industries. Nathan has also spent time in a commercial environment holding senior management positions in both large private and listed public companies. Nathan has the following service specialisations: - Taxation of Partnerships, trusts and companies - Business performance monitoring and analysis - Tax planning and consulting - Financial modelling and analysis - Business management consulting - Business financing - Business acquisitions and disposals   Professional background Bachelor of Management, Newcastle University The Institute of Chartered Accountants - Member 

Damian Zammit
CEO - IoT Australasia

Bringing ideas to life, helping companies with cost-effective innovation strategies. 

Damian works with businesses to create and implement change management strategies, which maximize employee adoption with a strong focus on innovation and continuous improvement.  

In 2014 Damian was recognised as an “Innovation Champion” by the Queensland Government’s Department of Science, Information, Technology, Innovation and Arts.  

Donna Patane
Senior Associate

Donna Patane is a Senior Associate and a member of the MacDonnells Law state-wide Commercial team practising in intellectual property, commercial and property law. Donna’s practice involves advising clients on a wide range of matters including trade marks and intellectual property, information technology, franchising and management rights matters, residential and commercial conveyancing, business transactions, business structuring, corporate advisory, body corporate law and leasing.

Event Judges

Dr John Hamilton (Ph.D)
Head Management & Governance, Director E-Business, College of Business, Law and Governance, James Cook University.

Professor John R. Hamilton (Ph.D.) researches competitiveness, innovation and strategic futures. He has extensive corporate national (and international) leadership and management experience. He consults on online and/or offline engaging interactive environments, and develops capabilities for business-consumer real-time interfacing. Current research interests include: corporate leadership, value-deliverance, social networks, corporate and virtual intelligences, cloud business scenarios, major-events management, tracking, and interactive learning. John manages the Acute Futures Group ( It deploys international R&D task teams with software developers from Norway, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia). The Acute Futures Group uses its unique value-deliverance systems to create custom-built, experiential, skilling scenarios for global and futures-focused organizations.

Richie Bates
Councillor for the CBD and Inner suburbs CRC

Richie Bates is the councillor for the CBD and Inner suburbs in Cairns Regional Council.  As Chair of the Council Water and Waste portfolio Richie is acutely aware of the need to be innovative and efficient in meeting the water, sanitation  and sustainability needs of a growing city.   While Richie’s background is in Telecommunications Engineering his passion is for cycling, and as Vice President of Cycling Queensland he is a strong advocate for active transport solutions and showcasing Cairns as a premier “Cyclesport Destination”

Mark Stanley
Marketing Manager TAFE North

Mark Stanley is the Marketing Manager at TAFE Queensland North. He has been in the industry for more than 20 years and has a Master of Business Marketing from the Queensland University of Technology.   Mark has a diverse marketing background; he has worked at The Cairns Post, International Paper Foodservice, Buderim Ginger and Secure Parking. In these roles he developed multi-country labelling, launched new products, reduced production costs, increased sales growth, coordinated improved distribution and achieved wide-spread media coverage.   Mark is highly experienced in category management, product and market development, B2B and B2C sales, FMCG Marketing, distribution strategy, stakeholder engagement, partnership management and the planning of integrated marketing communications, utilising research and market analysis.   Mark has been the recipient of a Queensland Multi Media Award for Best Promotion and a Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers Association Award in the Marketing Events category.

Coaches and Mentors

Dr Brian Hur

Brian is a technologist, veterinarian, and serial entrepreneur.  He has had various roles at startups from engineer to CEO of just starting bootstrapping companies to larger startups just before they IPO.  Last year he founded VetPronto and was part of the YCombinator Winter 2015 batch in Silicon Valley. 

Roy Wybrow
Lecturer at JCU School of Business: Project Management & Entrepreneurship

Started career at Aircraft Research & Development in DSTO Edinburgh SA in 80’s where worked on GRU project, F111 Digitalization project, Jindalee Project and later F18 & BlackHawke selection project In 90’s was design manager and later project manager in an innovative special purpose machine engineering firm winning 3 beyond 2000 awards. In 1992 while in this company developed and oversaw the introduction of interactive webpages where clients could amend in real time projects. This came from intranet project (1991) which saw design and factory workshop being networked to allow real-time amendments of autocad drawings. Another project in 1993 saw the introduction (working with Westpac) of over-the-net automatic salary & invoice payment & banking system. From here was head hunted by BHP International as a greenfield project manager. This lead to a career in mid 90’s as a contracted Management turning around failing businesses to profitability in various countries for various large corporations. This career was cut short due to political unrest and advise to leave which forced Roy back to Australia and landed in Cairns. Upon arriving in Cairns (2001) gained MSCE qualification and worked setting up national ERP systems for Solution accounting software company as well as an MBA. Upon completing the MBA was asked to develop statistics program for JCU SOB (Due to physics & Maths qualifications from Flinders university in 80’s). 2005 developed a project management and entrepreneurship subjects that are more applied. In the Entrepreneurship subject students create start-ups to pitch at a Dragons Den format. Both are still running.

Aaron Birkby
EIR @ RCL Accelerator

Entrepreneur In Residence at River City Labs Accelerator powered by muru-D.  Co-founder and CEO of Silicon Lakes. Startup Weekend Australia. Weekly tech segment on ABC Coast FM.14 businesses, 4 successful exits.

Komal Bandhi
Lead Programmer @ PI Data

Komal Bandi, a local programmer in Cairns, graduated from James Cook University in 2011 with masters in Information Technology and Business Administration. He now runs an IT consulting business ( specializing in programming, system automation, business dashboards and systems integration. Apart from the daily routine, I enjoy doing salsa, capoeira, reading books and having a lovely time with friends. During the startup weekend; I will be helping participants with Website and APPS mockups, building landing pages and helping with social media.

Ben Walker
CTO - theSPACE Australasia

Ben is a full stack web developer with a passion for design and teaching others to code.  He’s the technical lead of Emerging Entrepreneurs, an entrepreneurial course for high schools students and is currently writing his first book on how to build Instagram from scratch using Ruby on Rails.

Kurt Pudniks
Director of Digital Physics Pty Ltd

Kurt Pudniks is a Cairns local born in 1982, was dux of St. Augustine's College 1999, and on a national scholarship graduated from the Australian National University (ANU) with BE(Hons) BSc(Hons) in 2005. His early work experience included Navy Platform Systems in Canberra on vulnerability studies of the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) and ANZAC Class Frigates, and Aurora Energy in Tasmania on network planning of the electrical power distribution network. Achieving MIEAust CPEng in 2010, Kurt is the Director of Digital Physics Pty Ltd, and works as a systems engineering and computational science consultant. He returned to Cairns in 2013 as the Defence Materiel Office (DMO) Certification Engineer supporting Navy Hydrographic Group, and from July 2014 seeks to offer further professional services to the Cairns region in partnership with local businesses.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Startup & Innovation Weekend - Tourism & Hospitality team is grateful for the support of local community partners without whom this event would not be possible.
Learn how to become a sponsor here.

Signature Sponsors

We aim to: develop and coordinate science and ICT policy across the Queensland Government develop a whole-of-government approach on innovation as a key enabler of the knowledge economy support and invest in research and development to meet the state's future challenges build a strong relationship with key innovators

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Organizing Team

Techstars Startup Weekend Cairns is 100% led by volunteer community leaders.
Learn how to get involved here

  • Damian
  • Seth
  • Shelley
  • Troy


Aaron Birkby
EIR @ RCL Accelerator

Entrepreneur In Residence at River City Labs Accelerator powered by muru-D.  Co-founder and CEO of Silicon Lakes. Startup Weekend Australia. Weekly tech segment on ABC Coast FM.14 businesses, 4 successful exits.

Event Staff

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