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Migrant entrepreneurs mentor international student startups at Future Founders Festival

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State Library Victoria has today announced that Australia’s first festival for international student startups, innovators and founders will take place for the second year running from 15-18 July 2021, thanks to State Library Victoria’s StartSpace and Study Melbourne, a Victorian Government Initiative.

The free Future Founders Festival aims to immerse students in the startup ecosystem, providing the knowledge, inspiration, skills and networks they need to overcome the major barriers to starting a business in Australia.

The four-day program comprises a combination of online and onsite events including expert-led workshops, panel discussions, networking, a pitch competition and 48-hour hackathon.

Speakers include some of Australia’s most inspiring migrant entrepreneurs and mentors such as:

  • Richard Li, Founder of July, a direct-to-consumer luggage start-up backed by major bags retailer, Strandbags. Richard was able to grow July from $0 to $5million in revenue in just one year. He is also the Co-Founder of Brosa, one of Australia’s fastest-growing eCommerce businesses, now worth over $50million and backed by some of Australia’s most prominent Venture Capital funds including Airtree Ventures and Bailador Technology Investments.
  • Alex Power, Founder of Delivr, a Ballarat-based food delivery service and Federation University graduate. Alex founded Delivr with just $200 in 2017, it is now the only profitable business of its kind in Australia, if not globally, with a turnover in the millions.
  • Eliza Li, Co-Founder of Halad to Health, a not-for-profit providing free health education and services to some of the most disadvantaged communities in rural Philippines. Since launching in 2019, Halad to Health’s innovative social business model has raised over $200K and provided free health education to over 6000 students.
  • Jill Tang, Co-Founder, Ladies Who Tech, a social enterprise that aims to narrow the gender gap and promote inclusion in STEM through recruitment, education and networking. 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. In 2020, Jill was awarded ’Social Impact Award’ at AmCham Future Leaders of the Year Award.
  • Winitha Bonney OAM, Founder of Amina of Zaria, a digital platform and private membership empowering women of colour and #ColourFULL, Australia's first leadership and entrepreneurship conference and awards night by women of colour for women of colour and allies. Winitha is one of Australia's strongest Thought Leaders in the advancement of Women and People of Colour into leadership and entrepreneurship.
  • Aamir Qutub, CEO and Founder of Enterprise Monkey, a Geelong-based multinational web and app development company that helps to automate businesses; achieved a turnover of $2million in five years. Aamir has since founded Mentor Monkey and co-founded Angel Next Door.

StartSpace Community Lead Aun Ngo said the festival is a unique opportunity for international students to gain real-world business skills that might not be available elsewhere.

“Starting a business can be a huge challenge for most people but international student entrepreneurs face particular challenges. Cultural and language barriers, smaller networks, navigating work rights and visas as well as access to funding are just some of the obstacles they face.

“We can’t wait to unearth potential new businesses from within our vibrant international student community. It really speaks to the core of StartSpace, which was founded to help early-stage business founders from all backgrounds get their ideas off the ground through building confidence, connections and skills.”

Global Victoria CEO Gönül Serbest said the festival will build on the success of recent community roadshows and workshops focused on employability and entrepreneurship for Victoria’s international student population.

“The Future Founders Festival is helping students to build networks and explore opportunities with Victorian businesses and the start-up community, as well as connect with students offshore through our Study Melbourne Hubs initiative.

“The Victorian Government’s investment in the program is part of our plan to support the recovery of our international education sector – these initiatives will empower and support Victoria’s international students as a globally connected talent pool,” said Ms Serbest.

This year’s festival follows the success of the inaugural Future Founders Festival in 2020. It is the hallmark event of the new yearlong Future Founders Program, which is designed to take international students and budding entrepreneurs on the journey from forming a business idea to getting it off the ground. It has been made possible thanks to a $500,000 investment from the Victorian Government, through Study Melbourne.

The festival is free, but participants must register. To do so, and for more information including the full speaker list and schedule, visit