Jo Burston speaks at First Tech Talk with TEDxSydney and Qantas

'I didn't have a consistent income for 5 years'
'We've raised millions of dollars so far'

‘There is a lot of money to be made taking women entrepreneurs seriously.’

Rare Birds founder Jo Burston has become one of four tech and science entrepreneurs to deliver what is believed to be the world’s first tech talk held on a flight.

The speaking event on Qantas’s flight 73 from Sydney to San Francisco, was part of the airline’s partnership with TEDxSydney and was based around theme, ‘Ideas that fly’.

During the 13-hour flight Jo Burston, Marita Cheng, the CEO and founder of 2MAR Robotics; Jeremy Howard, CEO and founder of Enlitic, and Michael Biercuk, experimental physicist and director of the Quantum Control Laboratory, shared their visions for the future of technology, design and doing business globally .

Jo Burston says, “Being in the company of innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs for this world-first talk was very special.”

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An attitude change is needed

With 400 passengers listening in, she explained how women now control $21 trillion of wealth globally and, despite low rates of investment in women-own businesses by venture capitalists in Australia, “there is a lot of money to be made from taking women entrepreneurs seriously”.

According to the statistics from Women In Global Business and the University of Melbourne, just one per cent of women-owned businesses engaged in international trade reported an ownership structure that involved a venture capitalist. Jo Burston says the problem is with women entrepreneurs as much as it is with VCs, as there is conscious and unconscious bias held by both parties that is stymieing opportunities for growth.

The power of global connectivity

Jo Burston described the response to her inflight talk as “thrilling” and says the event underlines the significant role global connectivity plays in entrepreneurs’ ability to reach new markets, spread the word about what they do and form relationships that will benefit their businesses.

“Many passengers and crew were clearly engaged, with one crew member telling me about the business his daughter has started in the US. He asked how he could help her connect to Rare Birds. He was an extremely proud Dad. That resonates deeply with my purpose of inclusiveness and connectivity in our community.”

Also joining the flight were 10 Australian tech entrepreneurs and start-ups sourced by the innovation hub The York Butter Factory, and supplier diversity organisation Supply Nation.

Touring the tech giants

As part of the event, the entrepreneurs also visited the world headquarters of tech giants Google, Twitter, Facebook, Khan Academy and Silicon Valley Bank, and Singularity University.

Qantas and TEDxSydney have shown that it’s not all about doing business when you arrive at your destination. This route to San Fran and events like these enable entrepreneurs to make connections while they’re on flights. It’s very exciting,” says Jo Burston.

The entrepreneurs’ experiences on the trip will be shared during TEDxSydney 2016, held at the Opera House in May.
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'I didn't have a consistent income for 5 years'
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