With the vision of encouraging local entrepreneurs, Startup Week, a Techstars program, worked with the Melbourne startup community to bring together 24 speakers who ran sessions on a wide range of startup relevant topics including intellectual property management, startup insurance, design and emerging technologies. Over 400 attendees participated in these learning sessions that also had a heavy emphasis on networking and relationship building.
The Startup Week comes on the back of the Melbourne Startup Weekend, a two-day hackathon (also a Techstars program) that saw enterprising teams solve problems based around the retail tech theme.
I attended a couple of events, one focused on fintech and the other on virtual reality. These are two great emerging technological trends that will be having a profound impact on two very different industries and provide glimpses of how technology will evolve in the future.
Clover and the future of financial advice
Clover is a fintech startup that is disrupting the financial advice industry which, at present, is mainly centred around retirement planning and often tends to miss out on serving younger people who are often put off by high upfront costs, lack of transparency and inflexibility. Clover is harnessing the power of algorithm-driven robo investing to create customised passive portfolios of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) matching each customer’s needs. The processes of portfolio creation, rebalancing and reinvesting are completely machine driven, which allows Clover to charge lower transaction fees relative to other funds that are managed by portfolio managers.
Clover co-founder and CEO Harry Chemay has a firm belief in the emerging technologies of robo investing and robo advice and how these will change the financial advice landscape by reducing administrative overheads while making investment advice much more precise and efficient. By offering a low entry point to investors and offering a richer user experience, Clover is hoping to attract young millennials who are high earning and need effective investment strategies to meet life goals such as entering the property market and raising a family, but are not necessarily thinking of retirement.
Harry also predicts that robo advice along with blockchain technology will reshape the needs for workers in the finance industry over the next decade, possibly making many types of roles redundant. However, the most complex and personalised form of advice will still be a person-to-person service, at least in the foreseeable future.
Whilst fintech is an incredibly exciting and certainly growing space within the tech sector, Harry acknowledges that it is also radically different because of the enhanced compliance requirements that need to be met in order to operate within the highly regulated financial sector.
Building a Virtual Reality App in 120 minutes
In the VR workshop run by the Nathan Beattie of Melbourne-based VR studio Virtualex, at ACMI X, participants were taken through the creation of a VR app under two hours on the Unity Development platform using code in C Sharp. As someone who is relatively new to the idea of virtual reality, it was a great introductory workshop on how easily one can pick up the essential skills of designing VR applications.
Virtual Reality is already well known in the gaming world and is becoming more mainstream with architects, advertisers and real estate companies showing an increasing interest in the technology for providing product demonstrations and building walkthroughs for their clients. There are also applications of VR in the travel industry as well as movies that are still waiting to be fully explored.
As the tech industry gathers steam in Melbourne, we will see more and more events happen around the city that provide opportunities to aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs to learn from other experienced experts while connecting and growing as an ecosystem.