I caught up with Anna Pino, CEO of Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre, organisers of Start-Up Camp Canberra to get a better idea of how this three day long unconference actually works. By way of background, Start-Up Camp Canberra is now in its 5th year and will be held on the weekend of the 25th-27th July 2014 at the ANU College of Business and Economics.

So what is Start-Up Camp?

Start-Up Camp is an ideas competition with a focus on web-based solutions and is open to problem-solvers, creative thinkers and ideas people from all over Canberra.  The ‘campers’ most of whom have never met before, get together on the Friday night and teams are formed.  Over the next 48 hours they go through a process of problem identification and selection (team members have to sell their ideas to each other and agree on one), idea formation, prototyping and pitching. It’s a great opportunity to experience what it’s like to evolve an idea,  launch a business and see what can be achieved through collaboration and focus.

What do you mean by web-enabled business?

Teams try to come up with an online solution such as a website or an app and over the years we’ve seen some amazing solutions developed, including an online 3-D printing marketplace, a fashion sizing app and a web-based learner driver training program.   It doesn’t have to be a polished working product at the end of the weekend, but it dos have to be developed enough to convince a potential mentor or investor to keep talking to you.

Can this really be done in one weekend?

Yes it can! Start-Up weekends are held all over the world, including (and especially by) companies such as Google and Facebook!  We have had a least one team from each Startup Camp continue to work on their idea after the weekend meetup.

Will we actually have to build a website or an app?

No, the panel of judges is more interested in the commercial viability of the idea. They’re interested in whether the idea can make money, there’s a good sense of who the potential customers would be and there’s a clear path to market. You’re welcome to build a website or app over the weekend, but simply presenting your idea in a PowerPoint presentation at the pitch session is equally valid.

What does the program look like for the weekend?

We kick off at 6pm on the Friday night with the focus on team formation and identifying problems to solve. The Saturday is spent working on ideas with workshops and mentors on hand to provide advice. The Sunday is all about preparing for the afternoon pitch presentations where each team gets to present their idea to a panel of judges.  We also feed the participants and have a couple of guest speakers over the weekend.

Is this only for programmers?

Absolutely not! This event is about the process and launch of good ideas. We encourage local students, professionals, and all others interested in entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity and problem-solving to get involved. Teams are created so that they have a mix of skills. Opinions and life experiences are just as valuable to the creation of a successful idea. In fact, the more diverse the groups, the better the results normally are.

Will there be food?

Yes, light meals and snacks will be provided.  But if you are exceptionally health conscious or have special dietary requirements (E.g. Vegan, Gluten-free) you might want to bring your own. It’s all about food on the run.  In the past we have had to actively encourage teams to get up and eat – they all get totally caught up in the business idea . There is no alcohol allowed on the premises, but we have a mocktail function to celebrate following the pitches on the Sunday.

Can I still come along if I don’t register?

Unfortunately not, tickets are limited. By registering we are able to communicate directly with you prior to the event  We are able to get a good idea of the types of skills we will have available on the day and, most importantly, we can make sure there is enough food and drinks to keep everyone going. Without your registration, we cannot guarantee any of the above!

Are we allowed to sleep?

Sleep is optional, but highly recommended. You will have access to the venue until 11pm on the Friday and Saturday. However, at some point, even your intrepid organisers will want to go home and sleep and you will politely be asked to leave and come back in the morning. But you can keep working on your own premises if you are so driven.  We don’t put a time limit on how much work you want to put in.

How much will it cost?

Thanks to the support of ANU and UC, the event will be free for participants’ affiliated with these institutions. Other participants are asked to make a $50 contribution to help cover the catering costs for the weekend.

Who gets to keep the IP developed during the event?

To keep things as simple as possible, we recommend that each group member has an equal share to what is developed during the weekend. However, it is really up to each team. The sponsors and organisers of Start-Up Camp Canberra do not own any of your IP, nor do we take equity or commissions on sales.

Who are the organisers?

Start-Up Camp Canberra is an initiative of Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre Ltd. Lighthouse is a business development centre, supported by Epicorp Limited and the ACT Government. Lighthouse’s role is to ‘shed light’ on the commercialisation process through mentoring, referral and high-value events and programs such as Start-Up Camp Canberra.  You can find out more about Lighthouse at www.lighthouseinnovation.com.au 



26 August 2016


StartUp Camp


Address :

Unit 6, 65 Tennant Street, Fyshwick ACT 2609

Phone :

+61 2 6163 8300


+61 2 6163 8399


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