Michael McLeod Talks With ABC About Indigenous Entrepreneurship

Listen to Michael McLeod talk about Indigenous entrepreneurship and Australia’s First Indigenous Startup Weekend.

Michael is a Ngarrindjeri Monaro man from Southern NSW, who is a judge and Keynote speaker at Australia’s First Indigenous Startup Weekend.

Michael’s business is called Message Stick, which is a unique business in that it is owned by Aboriginal Australians. The company was started in 2003 to show that Aboriginal Australians can own and manage a services business that engages with large corporations and Government agencies. The business does not seek any sponsorship, donations or social grants whatsoever. They seek only the opportunity to prove themselves and to be treated as worthy business partners.

Michael’s future is aimed at advocating the need for Australian society (particularly the private sector and our Governments) to embrace, and support, the challenge Indigenous people face when his people begin the journey towards economic independence.

His Message Stick business model is aimed at proving that Indigenous and non-indigenous people can work together to achieve generic economic results – yet still fully support, and participate in, community growth.

Why You Can’t Miss FinTech Startup Weekend

FinTech is shaping the way that consumers and financial institutions are interacting and it’s a permanent shift. It’s a move from closed to open, from centralized to distributed, and from ‘in a few days’ to now. What’s more, is that there’s an engaged community of people waiting to share, collaborate and create with you.

When Adrian and I launched NextBank Brisbane (aka Next Money) we weren’t sure how strong the FinTech community would be. After a few months, we had over 200 people in our meet up, and our second event showcased a number of awesome Queensland based FinTechs and had a turnout of around 100 people.

But why get involved?

I’m an interested individual

If you’re passionate about finance and/or technology, then getting involved in a FinTech community is a great way to remain relevant, hear about what’s going on at the forefront of the industry and chat to like-minded people. Don’t limit your potential by working in your own thought bubble. Have you ever been to a great conference where you are challenged with new ideas and are removed enough from your typical working environment to think a little more clearly? It’s like that.

I’m an investor

A community like Next Bank is a sideline seat to the game. You will get closer to people, ideas, discussions and get to follow new businesses from the early stage. Our Queensland community is well represented from angel, PE and VC investors.

I’m an employer

For many employers, geography is important, which is why getting involved in a local FinTech community is key. The proposition is simple, you have a room of people giving up their free time to contribute to the future of finance. Finance professionals are among the most educated groups in Australia and when thinking of technology, they tend to be the ones pushing the envelope.

I represent an incumbent

Incumbent sounds like a bad word, but it’s not. The incumbents in the industry arguably have the most to gain. Sure, they fit into the employer basket too and can use FinTech communities to poach the best and brightest, but getting involves also unlocks new strategic opportunities, challenges group think and (worst case) gives you an inside view of the potential industry disruptions on the horizon.

How do I get involved?

If you’re in Queensland, just head to http://www.meetup.com/NextBankBrisbane/. If you’re in another state, then have a poke around https://nextmoney.org/chapters/ or do a little googling… there won’t be one too far away.

Why Startup Weekend?

For any budding entrepreneurs, Startup Weekends are a great way to hone your rapid fire problem solving skills and learn something new. Teams work cross functionally making it a dynamic, interactive and creative environment, which makes it an experience that structured learning just simply can’t replicate. Participants learn by doing and have the opportunity to push their skills into whichever direction they wish. For me, it was my first startup weekend (quite a few years ago) that forced me to build a social platform, and with the help of other team members and mentors, I came out with not just a knowledge base but real experience that I have been able to deploy in other projects since.

FinTech Startup Weekend Brisbane is running from the 8th -10th of July, so don’t miss out. Details and tickets here.

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After the Show Was Over- Some Facts & Videos From the Weekend

The 2016 Startup Weekend for Health Brisbane was another awesome event.

Videos were produced for the event that celebrated team journeys through the weekend for teams SIDLET (baby sleep pattern diagnostics), Mind your Mob (Assisting in Mental Health for Indigenous Australians), Working Mouse (a corporate team using the Weekend for employee training purposes) as well as interviews with participants, facilitators and mentors.

Check them out at  Youtube Startup Weekend for Health Brisbane Playlist

176 Tickets were sold inclusive of participants, organisers, volunteers, mentors, sponsor ticket and attendees for Friday and Sunday night pitching. 78 people participated as part of the Startup teams.

Participants came from a variety of backgrounds, including clinicians, researchers, students, non-technical and entrepreneurs. Most had NOT been to a startup weekend before and this was a fantastic opportunity to experience first hand the power of collaboration that comes with the Startup Weekend format.


ON the Friday, there were 33 idea pitches resulting in 12 teams being formed.

Pitch List

Most teams remained together throughout the weekend with a few adjustments.

The 12 teams pitched their new businesses on Friday night to an audience of approximately 130 people.

Final Pitches

Congratulations to the winners from the weekend, including:

  • Overall winner – Nom Nom Snap  – An app to derive nutrition information from photos of food.
  • Most innovative business – Sidlet – Infant Sleep Patterns
  • Most validated initiative – Mind Your Mob – indigenous Mental Health


We had some awesome sponsorship support. Many, many thanks to:

Sponsors T Shirt

Thanks to the 20 mentors who provided their free time to assist in the event. We bow down to your wisdom and support!


Many thanks to our judges Dr. Chris Zapalla (President of AMA Queensland), Mr. Steven Dahl (CEO, Smart Clinics), Dr. Judy Halliday (UniQuest) and Dr. Clarence Tan (Singularity University).

Judges judging


We raised some money as well – Four organisers / mentors also raised money for Leukaemia research at the event by participating in the World’s Greatest Shave initiative and shaving their heads on the Sunday, raising $4,500.

A Group Shave

Thanks to all the participants, mentors, organisers and sponsors for your brilliant support of this event!!

Bernie Woodcroft, Lead Organiser