[00:00:07] Sam here from Humans aren’t Robots. We have got Craig Swann from SouthStart into the fishbowl tonight here at the Digital Noir headquarters to have a conversation about the upcoming event here in South Australia, which is Southstart. He has a great vision of the future. And he’s whole ethos around this event is getting people together in a really human way and in a way where real conversations can happen. It’s really about how can we get interesting people that are doing creative, technical, visionary and industrious jobs around Australia and further afield together in one place and get a melting pot happening and start having some conversations and kind of that sort of reality check will be ripping people outside of their bubble and maybe exposing them to new ideas or different concepts they hadn’t seen before, or that sort of mishmash where two worlds collide and something new comes out of it.
And there’s a wave looming up behind us so that it would be really good for you to be on. So let’s jump on that wave and go surfing.
Your vision’s always been about bringing people together in a human way and in a natural way to try and take out this preconceived notion of what a conference is or a networking event is and strips back that kind of false schmoozing layer of it or the corporate layer or whatever you want to call it, and just try and make it a way for people to bump into each other and have a conversation.
[00:06:31] The interesting thing is providing people with a different perspective that you normally wouldn’t get in an insular world. And I think coming here in broad strokes, there’s certainly an element of just people who are cocooned in a certain type of lifestyle, a certain thing, and it’s not the kind of same cross pollination. But you can’t have that cross pollination if you don’t sort of break down a lot of those barriers that come with culture and society and all these things that everyone grows up with. So I think we’ve always tried to make it a very human thing. And hospitality is the way to do it. I mean you break bread, you bend elbows, good food, good wine and good people. It’s a pretty simple recipe and not everyone gets it. But certainly in the last few years, we’ve been able to do it to see the impact and the relationships and the crazy outcomes It’s just we kind of create the catalyst for the conversation. And then you spend a few days hanging out with people, sharing and connecting those dots together.
[00:07:56] Provide the hospitality as well, and that sort of warm welcome and put in the right sort of ingredients in place to allow those actually natural conversations to happen.
[00:08:05] So that’s to me the exciting part, is these weird, eclectic, experiential connections that just spark an idea, because I think everyone’s in an echo chamber.
[00:09:14] So just broadly, what is Southstart? What can people expect?
[00:09:28] Southstart at its heart is nothing more than a bringing together of curious, creative, chaotic individuals that are kind of stumbling through this world trying to change the future in some way. It’s really just a gathering of human people that are trying to do incredible things because we don’t get the chance to do that. We’re just so often just nose to the grind busting it out. And we need to have that kind of reflection point. So it offers once a year we can come together, put everything aside and just soak in the human brilliance.
So we’ve got two days and lawful streams of dynamic content will blow your mind. So there’s certainly, you know, all that stuff. But as I was saying earlier, I think one of the things that we’ve done this year which we’ve been building on, is this idea of bringing in these different networks.
So there’s nothing better than breaking out for drinks and dinner afterwards. And someone says, oh, my God, did you see that talk? And it’s like, no, man, I was here. And then those two ideas might have some idea sex and people are riffing on it. And so that is at the core what I think we try to do and try to capitalize and create this environment that does that. But we can’t, we can’t do anything other than invite the right people. That’s why we always go to the supper party analogy. It’s like, how do you do a successful supper party? You invite an amazing group of eclectic, interesting people. There’s the spread. You guys just go at it and you just sort of step back. And I think that’s part of the magic that we see unfold every year.
[00:13:12] And I think so you’ve obviously got all these wonderful people and minds coming together to be a part of the event talking and part of the summit. You sort of feel involved in that conversation is it’s much more of kind of you’re in the thick of it as opposed to just sort of passive watching.
[00:13:48] Yeah, I think everyone’s got a contribution to make. And everything in the world is happening so fast and there’s so much convergence that there’s so much opportunity for people that you would never think that you would have any similarity to from an industry perspective. It’s breaking down those barriers to have those conversations, but be inspired by these unique sort of insights from like really interesting people that really drop some bombs on people. It’s like we’re living in a world where people more and more are not going to be taking jobs, they’re going to be making them. So to do that, you really need to understand the broad strokes of what’s going on in technology and culture and all these things. If you don’t, what is the chance of doing that? And I think if I were to talk about what we would really aspire to is to try to become an event where we help the country have a better alignment between policy, behind investment, behind young people, what they’re thinking, because if those things become more and more aligned and as maybe a broad northern light for everyone to follow, that to me is interesting.
[00:15:04] I think we are in a really interesting position at the moment where there is this brave new world of sort of decentralization and so much interesting things happening. But then we’ve still got this old world, you know, a lot of the policy makers and sort of the traditional kind of politics and media and these things that still exist, this framework on top of this exciting thing that’s bubbling underneath. And a lot of people aren’t even really aware of what’s actually happening there. And when it does bubble up, it’s going to be kind of whoa where did this come from?
[00:15:36] Well, when you live in an exponential age, I mean, it’s almost impossible to comprehend. We’re living in a time where biologically we can’t evolve at the rate of technology. And that’s a huge disconnect.
So if anything, it’s more than just having the opportunity for people to actually have some of those conversations with just interesting people that can provide real input, not just some echo chamber bullshit that you pick up and spew on.
[00:17:42] Yeah, and I think that by bringing this sort of eclectic group of minds together, fostering some of these conversations that just kind of fly under the radar for a lot of people.
[00:17:52] Yeah, but I mean, it’s about exposure, right? I mean, if your eyes are blinded on something, you won’t be exposed to something. Like we’re saying, I think we need to bubble those things up into our own personal space to be able to make sure that we can get through that.
[00:18:44] I’m surprised no one’s saying like, jeez,how much money’s been printed?There’s a fallout from that stuff totally as an aside from this. We’re changing the world’s psychology, that there’s behavior modification that is happening exponentially as well. And that affects business. That affects the way you communicate and solve problems. And so I think there’s a lot of change that we need to make that people aren’t even thinking about making because they’re trying to survive and you can’t blame them.
[00:19:29] And I think we don’t really realize how far we’ve come and what we have to do to maybe retrace or how we fix things that have happened in the last 10, 15 years that have happened so exponentially, yeah, it’s there, but it’s fun.
[00:19:48] Oh, I mean, selfishly, this is one of my favorite times of year. Despite the crazy stress and the amount of work that goes into it, it’s the opportunity to break bread with 400 people and be sitting in Goldenboy having this amazing food and having someone talk to me about quantum and what’s happening. It’s something that I hope that everyone gets the same out of it because, like, I just bake myself in it.
[00:20:16] And I think for people listening, like everything that Craig’s talking about is available, you can just buy a ticket and come along to this.
[00:20:24] I think what we’ve done is open up that kind of experience much larger because generally obviously catering and trying to host and do a great job with our guests and our speakers and all that kind of stuff, and they certainly made a big part of that. But for them not to get the chance to interact with the core community as much as we’d like, was something that we really doubled down. And now I think we’ve got eight restaurants for the industry dinners.
[00:21:42] 8 restaurant and the National Wine Center this year, which is I think a really great venue too.
[00:21:48] It’s a beautiful venue. And I’m really excited by the idea that we kind of have a home, we have a residence for two days, everything else didn’t feel like we were residents,we were tenants. I think it’s going to be an interesting venue for the intimacy because it is intimate.
[00:23:34] And it’s beautiful architecture as well.
[00:23:39] So I think that the ability to cater to small or intimate group will only strengthen those kinds of pathways and bonds and true authentic relationships.
[00:25:03] It’s gonna be a fresh group of people that we don’t get to normally interact with. So we’re going to get a chance to really connect with people that are here that we haven’t a chance to because we’ve all been bustling off, isolated, doing their work at home or what have you, but that plus all these other people coming in to me is a really exciting part because I think we all miss it.
[00:26:23] And a big part of this is just the pandemic at the situation we’re in. But I love the idea of speakers or people that are involved bringing their partner over and having it be more of kind of that warm family kind of feel, as opposed to fly down to Adelaide for a day of talk and then jet back to Sydney or whatever it might be, but actually coming for a couple of days enjoying it. That’s definitely the hospitality element that you’ve been trying to bake into this from the start and the people that have come from overseas or interstate.
[00:27:04] We’re putting together an event by just thinking about the quality from the beginning, like what do we want to have here and making sure that filters on there. And I think this will be a very different year in terms of the way it unfolds. I mean, I think a lot of work has gone into bringing everything together.
[00:27:37] Is there any sort of change in focus around the types of conversations, types of people that have come in, or is that similar to what we’ve sort of expected in the last couple of years?
[00:27:47] Well, it’s interesting because, I mean, for me, it’s always been trying to bring in the different aspects of community. So even when we announced that Robin Donlan from Tesla was coming, I think there’s a big part of the audience here in Adelaide. I thought, like, this is an amazing conversation that we should have about if we’re going to talk about what’s Australia’s super power. I mean, renewables would have to be up there. Cleantech would have to be up there. And to be just blessed to have the chair of the company resident and Australian that’s here, that can offer perspective, being inside of two bellies of the beast, and to be able to share that, that’s just a rare thing to hear. But again, that’s just in conjunction with all the other types of conversations that are going to lead around that.
[00:29:04] I think that conversation around energy and ag is something that we’ve had a big presence here, ag tech in Australia that I think flies under a lot of people’s radar for sure.
[00:29:15] And so, you know, I think we saw a lot of success last year and having that sort of ag tech stream that Michael McEleney did a great job creating and bringing some and it’s really interesting, you know, we were going to put out this release because we went through all of our past speakers from two events and just looked at when they showed up and then what’s happened, following that in terms of like the amount of investment that has gone into Founders’ that have spoken, it’s almost that we feel like maybe we’re a lucky charm.
It’s like we never really use the word conference. Last year we called it the convergence. This year, we’re calling it the conversation.
[00:31:03] I’ve been there like standing at the front of a crowd and looking back at, well, I haven’t spoken to 400, but 100 people with lanyards just staring at their laptops and their phones instead of sitting there giving something and everyone sort of looking down at the screen, it’s a strange world.
[00:31:20] Well, I mean, it’s terrible who wants to do that. I mean, the same thing you have at a dinner and you look at families that are doing that every night. We’re all being exposed to this world. We’re all dealing with these things. Hear a different voice about what is happiness in this time worth more than money, talk about it.
[00:32:19] And I think if it’s all just about the hustle and about that sort of entrepreneurship kind of vibe, then there’s a lot missing from that.
[00:32:28] Yeah. I mean, and just bring in some local business and bring in Sage and Redarc and intelligence.
[00:32:37] Maybe everyone’s unaware of it, but there are also people aware of it, but they have stories to tell around business and how they’re growing and how they’re innovating. And so I think, you know, that’s also been trying to bring a bit of that in.
[00:32:50] Of course, huge success in a lot of people may not even be familiar with that. And I think having those discussions to be more aware that it’s going on, being able to tell those stories, I think are important for us to realize that we have a presence inside of a larger national sort of voice that’s here. There’s a lot of innovation that is happening, that if you’re aware of it, there’s more opportunities for growth and for partnering.
[00:34:04] We all live in bubbles, but especially here in South Australia, we’ve literally kind of been isolated. But also I think some of the business culture here that there hasn’t been historically that big cross pollination across different industries.
[00:34:25] By exposing some of the stuff it allows you to think bigger, allows you to think differently. It allows you to think about ways that you could interact with our own community. And so that’s a big part of how do you also support the local community in some way? And I think post event, you want people to be still thinking about that in terms of business relationships.
[00:35:17] It’s a big part of our personality here in Adelaide, too.
[00:35:31] When we brought in some of these amazing people that might be residing based on the East Coast and coming here and they had such an amazing time, man, you guys got something pretty good going on here. I think that’s a great part of the experience, too, by having that sort of outside perspective coming in.
[00:36:17] Yeah. And it’s exciting for me running a business, wanting to keep young people here, wanting to keep people sort of excited and passionate about doing business in South Australia. How can we push the boundaries? Like, what’s next?
[00:36:41] I think a big part, too, is that sort of mindset and culture piece where a lot of young people particularly might not be thinking I’m not a startup, but I have an idea. But that’s not the most important piece. You might be an amazing communicator or marketing person, or you’re a technologist. You’re someone that could help someone that has a great idea. Not everyone has to have a great idea for them to be a part of something that’s special.
[00:37:31] Yeah, I can’t really think of many industries that can’t leverage some creativity of listening to somebody else that has done something in a different way and bring that back into their world and everything can be improved on. It’s interesting, like coming back to that decentralization point, obviously cryptos are in the news a lot at the moment.
[00:38:28] I think the underappreciation for this sort of third wave that’s happening right now with the Web and what it’s doing with a decentralization lens on it is, I think, magnitudes larger than the impact of what the Internet had in terms of how we’re going to connect as societies, as cultures, as governments, as autonomous individuals.
[00:40:07] But there’s more of that community feeling in what’s happening around blockchain and around sort of these decentralized platforms and projects like that.
[00:40:48] It’s really interesting that it’s the youth that’s driving this next wave of DFI and decentralization generally. And they’re really almost like a generation removed, but they’ve been completely digital.
[00:42:20] This is the next generation that’s going to build things that you don’t understand yet.
[00:43:03] But at the same time, it’s been really amazing to see that generation above all of a sudden kind of start getting it in a little way and probably resentful that they’re late on it. You gotta stay curious 100 percent. And I think that’s so key now because, you know, we’re in an exponential market.
[00:44:10] I just got that picture of the wave in my head. And it really does feel like, you know, I mean, the Blockchain space.
[00:44:41] I can’t help but think just based on the kind of convergence of people coming in. These are the kind of conversations you hope just people just naturally have, like what will happen if all of a sudden that become this weird, decentralised, you know, mining operation based on solar. And so you’re using the power of the sun to drive commerce.
[00:45:38] I think the sustainability angle really I think that’s actually going to help propel it further forward. Just out of necessity and we’re in a unique place to be able to get in that conversation here in Australia.
[00:45:53] Maybe it is just using the language around that. I mean, it’s just it is, even though you think about what’s happening to space and the idea of sovereignty and the importance of data acquisition and even the fact that we can be tracing water levels off the Murray, there’s all these things that could be done through some of these technologies.
[00:46:56] Like there’s a disconnect between something like fleet space of Mirada, like space is then interfacing with traditional farming or traditional agriculture, on a day to day level.
[00:47:09] Totally different things. Although if you look way back to the dawn civilization, understanding the stars and the seasons and the cycle of nature was how you were able to grow, so it’s come full circle in this crazy, weird way. But I think it’s the language that we’re mining data like that’s what’s happening. But if we don’t understand the implications in the bigger picture and bringing the people that are tackling different pieces to share those thoughts and maybe potentially solve them over a bottle of wine, that’s the exciting part. I think to see that stuff organically kind of develop.
[00:48:14] And a lot of this stuff feels futuristic, but that future is rushing at us.
[00:48:19] It’s crazy. I think the earlier conversation about, are a lot of the youth or a lot of the people that could be inclined to be a part of that revolution or evolution, are they disconnected? It’s all about conversations and interesting people that are just poking and provoking you.
[00:49:03] I definitely think I’m just thinking about lithium batteries and the technology around that, like, I don’t know if we have any capability in Australia around building them. I was thinking the other day, I think there’s something like 400 lithium battery factories in China. And at the moment, lithium is for electric cars. Is that what they are?
[00:49:24] Used for a lot of stuff, but certainly that’s one use for sure.
[00:49:26] I mean, like the States have sort of two or something. There are these actual great opportunities to bring back some of these components of having the full supply chain here in Australia.
[00:49:45] And a lot of that would revolve around advanced manufacturing, robotics, things that are just sort of evolutions of what has traditionally been a big part of the culture here.
[00:50:13] But it’s that, you know, it’s a microcosm, but it’s a spark. It’s a conversation that’s happening in Adelaide that otherwise wouldn’t be. It’s exciting. And people should get along and get involved.
[00:50:22] I would advise you to come along because you don’t get a parade of this kind of people coming through Adelaide too often.