Executive & Board
Topaz Conway - Chair of the Board
Topaz has been growing businesses for over 20 years, including two of her own. She started working with start-up companies in Seattle, USA in 2000, as a founder, CEO, venture capitalist and finally as an investor. Her experience spans a number of industries, including IT, e-commerce, bio-engineering, and med-tech.
In addition to being Chair of SBE Australia (a NFP Accelerator for women-led companies delivering the world class Springboard Accelerator) since 2014, Topaz is a Director of Cicada Innovations (NSWs Deep-Tech incubator), is on the Advisory Council to the Minister of Research & Innovation in Alberta, Canada (ARIAC), and is a Commercialisation Advisor to the Accelerating Commercialisation Grant Program. She is immediate past Chair of PAFTec Pty Ltd, a respiratory protection device company, and has been a Director on the Telstra Industry Advisory Board.
Alex McCauley - Chief Executive
Alex is Executive Director and CEO of StartupAUS. He has previously worked as a lawyer, a diplomat for Australia’s foreign service, and a startup founder.
Having spent three years as an Australian diplomat in Tel Aviv, Alex came home to Sydney and started a tech company in 2015. Later that year he joined StartupAUS as Head of Strategy and Advocacy. He was responsible for developing StartupAUS’ extensive contribution to the Federal Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda.
Alex was appointed StartupAUS’s first full-time CEO in February 2016 and has grown the organisation rapidly since.
During his time in Israel, Alex led the Australian Embassy’s strategy and analysis on regional security issues, as well as entrepreneurship & innovation policy.
Alex has qualifications in law, political science, and economics from the University of Sydney.
Teresa Engelhard - Board Member
Teresa is a Silicon Valley native whose two decades of experience with startups and growth-stage technology companies includes venture capital, executive and NED roles. Since moving to Australia ten years ago, Teresa has maintained her Silicon Valley roots by helping Antipodean companies access overseas investment, markets, and exits.
Her global startup outcomes include a multi-billion dollar US listing, three US company trade sales, and five Australia and New Zealand company trade sales, all to overseas buyers. Teresa is currently on the boards of RedBubble, a creative online marketplace for made-to-order products featuring designs by independent artists; Planet Innovation, twice named “Australia’s Most Innovative Company” by BRW and a global leader in medical device and IoT product development; and Origin Energy (ASX: ORG).
Teresa also currently serves on the Entrepreneurs’ Programme Committee, a sub-committee of the Federal Government’s Innovation Australia Board.
Alan Noble - Board Member
Alan is Engineering Director for Google Australia and New Zealand. He joined Google in 2007 and has overseen the growth of the Australian engineering operation from 20 engineers to 600 engineers.
In 2005 he founded NetPriva, a networking software company based in Adelaide. NetPriva was acquired by Expand Networks in 2007, and in turn acquired by Riverbed. From 1986 until 2002 he lived in California. He worked for Schlumberger for 8 years, then in 1996 founded NetMind, developed the Internet’s first change detection service. NetMind was acquired in 2000 by Intellisync (now part of Nokia), where he was VP of Engineering until returning to Australia in 2002.
In addition to being a co-founder and director of StartupAUS, he is the founder of the Australian Ocean Lab (AusOcean), a director of the South Australian Museum, an Adjunct Professor in Computer Science at The University of Adelaide and a Fellow of Engineers Australia.
Attila Brungs - Board Member
Professor Brungs is the Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Technology Sydney. He has previously held senior positions with the CSIRO and McKinsey & Company.
Professor Brungs is a Rhodes Scholar with a Doctorate in Inorganic Chemistry from Oxford University and a University Medal in Industrial Chemistry from the University of New South Wales.
Some of Professor Brungs’ present key appointments include the Federal Government Research Data Infrastructure Committee; the NSW Innovation and Productivity Council; Convenor, NSW Vice-Chancellor’s Committee; Chair, UniProjects; and the Federal Government’s National University Precincts Advisory Committee. His experience includes many distinguished past board and committee memberships, including not-for-profit organisations, in addition to numerous state and federal government and institutional appointments.
Rachael Neumann - Board Member
Rachael plays across many parts of the Melbourne startup ecosystem as a mentor and investor in Startmate Accelerator, and a Board Director or strategic advisor to a number of founders and their early stage companies. She’s passionate about helping companies scale and increase their impact through differentiated customer experiences and new product development.
Notably, Rachael was the Managing Director of Eventbrite Australia, launching the Melbourne-based office to further serve the local ANZ market. Before stepping into the MD role, Rachael served as Eventbrite’s Director of Customer Experience Strategy. Prior to this, Rachael was a Case Team Leader at Bain & Company in Silicon Valley and throughout Australia, advising Technology, Private Equity, Consumer Products and Retail businesses.
Rachael was a founding Board Member of LaunchVic, a $60 million venture seeking to solidify Victoria as a global destination of choice for entrepreneurs, startups, and innovative companies.
Educated in the United States with an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and two Masters degrees from Columbia University, Rachael has lived between Australia and the U.S. for the last eight years and now proudly calls Melbourne home.
Bill Bartee - Board Member
Bill is General Partner of CSIRO’s venture fund, Main Sequence Ventures. He was co-founder of both Blackbird Ventures and Southern Cross Venture Partners, and has co-founded several successful companies.
From 1997 to 2001, Bill helped build and lead the early stage investing for Macquarie Technology Ventures (MTV), a balanced venture fund focused on software, telecommunications, internet and life sciences. At MTV, Bill led investments in several market leaders including Altium (ASX: ALU), LookSmart (NASDAQ: LOOK), Seek (ASX: SEK), Telera (acquired by Alcatel), and onebox (NASDAQ: OPWV). At Southern Cross Bill led investments and is a Board Member or Observer in Mocana, Bislr, Mantara, Liaise, and Shoes of Prey.
Before co-founding Southern Cross, Bill was the start-up CEO of Mantara, a company that makes high-performance, content-based message routing systems. Prior to moving to Australia, Bill had 12 years of research, operational, and entrepreneurial experience in the United States. Bill earned a Bachelor of Science, MBA and Juris Doctorate degree (University of Richmond).
Elaine Stead - Board Member
Elaine is the Managing Director of Venture Capital and is responsible for the management of the
Blue Sky venture capital fund and portfolio. Established in 2012, the venture capital division has
expanded to bear its second fund, VC2014, and over $200 million in assets under management
across a broad range of industry sectors.
Elaine has worked for a number of years as a venture capitalist and management consultant to
the venture and industry across Australia and the United States. Elaine has also worked in
strategic management consulting, with both NASDAQ and ASX listed and private companies
based in Australia and the US. Originally trained as a stem cell biologist, Elaine has since spent
the last decade within the innovation and investment spectrum, initially in technology
commercialisation assisting public institutions and founders translate and commercialise their
technology across a broad range of industry sectors including agriculture, healthcare and IT.
Elaine has a strong academic foundation holding a PhD in biochemistry from the University of
Adelaide. She is actively involved in Australia’s professional venture capital community, as a
member of AVCALs venture capital stakeholder committee and as a member of the investment
committee of ANUConnect Venture Capital, the Australian National University’s venture capital
Peter Bradd - Board Member
Peter is co-founder and CEO of The Beanstalk Factory, a founding Director of StartupAUS, a serial entrepreneur, and one of the most influential tech leaders in the Australian entrepreneurial community.
Peter became a founding director of StartupAUS in 2013 and served as CEO from 2015 to 2016.
A successful Aussie startup founder himself, in 2008 Peter formed the personalised postcard app, ScribblePics. He was also a founding director of Australia’s largest startup co-working space, Fishburners, where he transformed it into a thriving, sustainable place for startups, speakers, mentors, and corporates to connect with each other. Fishburners is currently home to over 150 technology startups.
Over the past two years, Peter helped Australia’s largest companies in banking, insurance, retail, and media by applying the startup mindset and toolsets to create new business models.
As a regular speaker and featured thought leader, Peter has delivered an occasional address for the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at UTS, hosted Google’s CFO, Airbnb CTO and oDesk’s CEO, has appeared in The Australian, Australian Financial Review, BRW and Boss Magazine and has participated as a judge for many entrepreneurial competitions including SydStart, StartupWeekend and OZApps.
Aaron Birkby - Board Member
Aaron is a tech entrepreneur, currently serving as the CEO of Startup Catalyst, leading missions to Silicon Valley, Europe, Israel and Asia for youths, founders, investors and innovation leaders.
In 2016 Aaron was awarded the national Benson Award for Entrepreneurship, and also the Pearcey Award for Queensland.
Learning to code at the age of eight, Aaron has started over ten businesses (with four small exits) since the age of 16. His largest business, Arinda, which he sold in 2012, provided a cloud-based billing and authentication platform for public-space ISPs. At the time of sale that software was used by over 250 points-of-presence with over six-million users annually in nine countries.
Aaron previously worked as the Entrepreneur In Residence for muru-d Brisbane at River City Labs. He is also a member of Queensland Government Startup Working Group, serves on a number of advisory boards, has facilitated over 40 Startup Weekend and corporate hackathon events, has led multiple trade missions to Silicon Valley, Europe and Israel, and has a weekly technology segment on ABC Coast FM radio station.