The next generation of Australian startup entrepreneurs are flying to Silicon Valley

Hacker Exchange travellers with Philip Dalidakis. (Source: supplied)

The best and brightest university student entrepreneurs are flying out of Australia today to mix with the big wigs in Silicon Valley.

Hacker Exchange, which is a new startup itself, takes Australian startup founders to the US to network with the best minds in the industry. The Exchange’s maiden tour starts today, with seven university-age entrepreneurs hopping on the plane for the Student Innovation Program.

“It’s our hope that The Hacker Exchange can help accelerate the growth of our own startup economy here in Australia,” said Hacker Exchange co-founder Jeanette Cheah.

“By equipping our next generation of leaders with world-class skills and exposing them to the possibilities of entrepreneurship as a career path, we are developing a pipeline of opportunities for young talent in the years to come.”

The first group, who were all drawn out from Melbourne’s RMIT university, will visit LinkedIn, ZenDesk, Atlassian, Google for Entrepreneurs, Gigster and 500 Start Ups during the trip.

The activities include workshops, tours, talks on how to pitch, software development, marketing, creating prototypes, data generation and networking. In return, the university is providing course credit to the seven students.

Cheah said the company has a strict policy of an even gender split for their tour groups.

“One of our key values is to change the face of diversity among [startup] founders,” she said. “We will not run a program where there is an unequal gender diversity.”

While the first trip was focused on students, Cheah said Hacker Exchange is working to create tours for established founders and to bring prominent Silicon Valley figures to Australia for speaking engagements.

Victorian state innovation minister Philip Dalidakis, at Hacker Exchange’s launch last month, praised the company for its investment into the local startup scene.

“Accelerator programs are critical to helping our next generation entrepreneurs and aspiring startups to build knowledge, create networks and gain industry experience that will help them grow,” he said.

The first tour departs Australia today and will return on February 18.

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