Sunrise Alpha

Sunrise Island is our homage to Founders. We want to build a startup movement in Australia. We want to help Australians begin their journey into startups. We want to inspire them and help them overcome obstacles. And we want our audience to meet and learn from the very best people in the startup community.

Hear Australia's best technology founders tell their stories, from high school, to university all the way to founder and CEO of their own company.

The Sunrise brings together Australia’s most successful tech leaders to tell stories from their beginnings. They talk about the pivotal decisions, the big mistakes, the near misses and the ah-ha moments. Their tales are embarrassing, exhilarating and inspiring.

Learn first hand what it takes to build a successful startup here in Australia, and get to hang out with a bunch of founders at all stages of their own journeys.

This conference is for high school students and aspiring founders who want to hear from and meet the founders of Australian startups. These people are the rockstars of the Australian startup scene and they'll talk about how they got to found their companies.

We’ve already created a series of 4 workshops specifically for high school students. These will be focused around entrepreneurial thinking, invention and design. These workshops wil inspire the future leaders of tomorrow and equip them with the tools they need to create the future.

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Wednesday September 12, 8:30am - 5:30pm. We have also designed the program so that students can also leave at 2pm, or earlier if needed.


Cockatoo Island, Sydney.



A self-described ‘big nerd’, Nardini grew up in a family of engineers and built model rockets and telescopes as a four-year-old. She went on to get two degrees in Aerospace Engineering, and worked at the European Space Agency. Now, she’s the cofounder and head of Fleet Space, which is building nanosatelites to launch into space in a constellation to connect the 75 billion devices that will make up the internet of things by 2025. “We have to build a new internet, and I’m going to do it,” Nardini says.

Cedar Anderson - Flow Hive

A third-generation apiarist Cedar Anderson was keeping bees at the age of six and - even then - he thought ‘there has to be a better way’. He’d seen his brother get stung, the bees get crushed, and a honey harvest take an entire week. The pair worked on designs and prototypes, and came up with Flow Hive, which breaks the honeycomb cells and allows the honey to drain.

In February 2015 they decided to take it to market, but rather than seeking investments, they launched a crowdfunding campaign. Within 15 minutes they had raised $250,000 and by the end of the campaign they had US$12.2 million in preorders, which broke Indiegogo’s funding record.

Cliff Obrecht - Canva

Cliff Obrecht’s first job in the start-up world was “outsassing” school secretaries. Recognising the complexity of existing design software, Melanie Perkins and Obrecht started Fusion Books, a drag-and-drop interface for designing school yearbooks.To get their product out there, Obrecht cold-called schools trying to find the names of yearbook coordinators. Their families helped them print, fold, lick stamps, and mail out the books to schools across the country. Fusion Books gained traction internationally, and the pair dreamed bigger and bolder and went on to found design startup Canva in 2012. They took their idea to Silicon Valley and were rejected “50 thousand times”. Now, Canva has millions of users and its designs can be seen everywhere, from café doors in country NSW to sports clubs in Poland.

At the beginning of the year, Canva became a “unicorn” after raising $40 million from investors.

Who is behind it?

The Sunrise Alpha is put on by Blackbird Ventures and Google. Blackbird Ventures is a leading venture capital firm in Australia ( We invest capital into early stage startups. We're made up of Aussie founders (and dads) and are very keen to inspire the next generation of founders here in Australia. We also run the Startmate accelerator (, which helps founders through the first months of their journey to greatness.You all know Google! What you may or may not not know is that Google has a team of hundreds of engineers in Australia, and they are super active in promoting startups and STEM in Australia. All these people have kindly stepped up to make sure that The Sunrise Alpha is free for you and your students!

What is new this year?

Last year we were at Carriageworks. We intentionally kept the students together with the adults attending the conference. This year we’ve moved the conference to Cockatoo Island and we’ve changed the content program around significantly. We’ve done this in part to make Sunrise more relevant to students, and all in all a better more memorable experience.

Sunrise has always featured founder stories from some of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs. This year we're changing things up a little bit. We are being inspired by micronations and the crazy misfits who declare sovereignty just about anywhere they feel like. What would an Island, or a nation conceived and created by founders look like? Sunrise Island.

The content is being tailored so that all of the content will be useful not just to the adults in the audience, but to the students as well.

What will they be talking about?

The founders talk in detail about some pivotal decisions they made in the early years of starting their business, they  will also talk about their journey from high school to founding their business.They'll talk about what it’s like to start a business from scratch, what it takes and how they got there. They'll take lot of questions from the audience and be available to chat afterwards. Most of all they’ll tell you how they were just normal people who followed their passion!

How do we come along?

We’ve invited a handful of schools from our networks to start. If you’re seeing this, you’re probably on this list. We’re inviting school groups, accompanied by a teacher.

If you’re interested, apply by filling in this form. We’ll let you know as soon as possible if we can accept your application. It’s not far away, so please get onto this quickly! YOU NEED TO APPLY BY August 2nd.

How much does it cost?

Nothing…. thanks to Google! You just need to get yourselves there and back. We will be running chartered ferry services to Cockatoo Island, or if it’s more convenient you can catch a public ferry to the Island.

You’ll also need one teacher to attend per 25 students.