04/09/2015 | By Anne Lawrence

This post originally appeared on

Participants at last years’ Sunshine Coast Startup Weekend will remember Marcus Eikeland as the enthusiastic co-facilitator in a green T-shirt, working on stage and behind the scenes, helping coordinate the successful inaugural event.

Many wouldn’t have known that at the time Marcus was only a recent arrival to the region, particularly given how well he immersed himself in the local community and developed a natural yet casual leadership style.

Now, you will often find Marcus in business airline lounges from Norway to Dubai to Silicon Valley USA, leading his own international business consultancy VONA.

Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast was an important step on this whirlwind journey.


Two years ago, to complement an already impressive career as a project manager for leading companies in Norway, the then 31-year-old Norwegian decided to do his MBA at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

After graduating in 2014 and returning to Norway, Marcus now has his plane ticket already booked for a special trip back to the Sunshine Coast for the 2015 Startup Weekend event, scheduled in May.

“There’s no place like the Sunshine Coast and there is no place or event like Sunshine Coast Startup weekend, anywhere else in the world,” said Marcus.

“My experience at Startup Weekends in Norway can not be compared to Sunshine Coast Startup Weekend. Last year’s Sunshine Coast event exceeded everyone’s expectations. It generated incredible impact both locally and across Queensland, as well as created #SiliconCoast, the largest independent entrepreneurial movement on the Sunshine Coast.”

“The people who attend Startup Weekends are one of a kind, they are enthusiastic, open minded and most importantly, entrepreneurial minded. This hub of energy uniquely attracts an extraordinary breed of people that think outside of the box.”

The weekend event is a 54-hour long workshop, which leaves little time to talk and more time to make things happening. The contestants will start working from the first night, where they will form groups and pitch their idea in front of a panel of judges by the end of the night. They will also be introduced to a new way of doing business, leaving them with a completely different perspective on things.

“The people at the Sunshine Coast are something special, they are much more dedicated and passionate than any group of people I have met before. Compared to other Startup Weekends that I have attended before, it seems that Australians take on more initiatives and take greater steps towards building communities that foster and support entrepreneurial activities."

“Maybe it’s the Australian culture, maybe it’s the beautiful weather, whatever it is, the Sunshine Coast should be proud of its entrepreneurial culture.”

When asked to describe Startup weekend Sunshine Coast with one word, Marcus responded with AMAZEBALLS.

“Startup weekend is an opportunity of a lifetime, it was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life.”

Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2 May 2014


Marcus’ tips for future Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast participants is to leave your pride at the door.

“Startup Weekend is more than just entrepreneurship, it is about getting people together in to teams to create something fantastic.  This if one of those types of events where people do not care about your title.  In other words, you can be a student, a general manager or have no title at all; the only thing that matters is what you bring to the table.”


“More action, less talk.  And the future belongs to the ones who show up”.

More information about Marcus and his business Vona:


BLOG POST written by Thy Lam, USC Public Relations Student.