mentors at demo day

Our Mentors

Our startups gain access to a network of over 100 mentors from some of Australia’s most innovative companies.

Our Featured Mentors

Natasha Rawlings
Startup Investor, Entrepreneur and NED

Natasha’s start up experience includes co-founding and leading location-based and mobile marketing start-up (StreetHawk), and being the CEO of an organisation helping women tech entrepreneurs scaling for growth. Over the last few years Natasha has been firmly entrenched in early to mid stage tech start ups as investment manager for UniSeed. Natasha is passionate about making new ideas – whether products, services or new ways of doing things – real.

Mike Nicholls
Mike Nicholls
Partner, Main Sequence Ventures

Mike is one of INCUBATE’s longest-standing mentors. He brings his 20 yrs + business experience to help the startups including founding and selling his first IT company. He has expertise in Sales & Marketing and previously CEO & Managing Director of 4 companies with practical experience across a range of industries.

Mike is a Partner of CSIRO’s $200m fund, Main Sequence Ventures. In his spare time, he writes a blog on startups and technology called and builds cool things.

Brad Deveson
Principal, Falling Cats Consulting

After software development adventures in the early days of the PC, Brad founded BIS in 1991 as a custom software development company. In 1998 the company pivoted to focus on corporate expense management which was a growing B2B sector. Brad and his team grew the company to 65 large organisations including Woolworths, AMP, GPT, the ATO, the Northern Territory Government and many others. Brad exited in 2014 but the company, now is going strong.

“When in doubt, do something.” 

James Alexander
Co-founder and former Program Manager

James is on a mission to support and invest in the next generation of emerging founders. Currently, he is launching and fundraising for Galileo Ventures and is also the founder of INCUBATE. Since 2012, he has recruited and supported students to launch over 107 startups across all industries from med-tech, robotics, materials, hardware to enterprise software. He also teaches Technology Venture Creation, one of the top courses in Australia for engineering students focused on building world-class technology companies. In 2016, he was shortlisted for the AFR Higher Education Emerging Leader and he sits on the Industry board for Faculty of Engineering & IT at Sydney University.

Austin Nichols
Director of Sales, Cisco Meraki

Austin is the Director of Sales at Cisco Meraki, a global leader in the wireless networking space owned by the world’s largest networking company, Cisco.

Coming from Silicon Valley, Austin has a plethora of experience in with tech companies as well as being an active mentor to many rising startups. He is a Cum Lauda graduate of UCLA.

“Simply put – INCUBATE is a great startup program. From the team to the events to the mentor network – it gives students the ability to learn from some of the best and brightest in Australia. Coming from the Silicon Valley to Sydney, the INCUBATE program is clearly well thought. You can’t put a price on the benefits of going through it.”

Rick Baker
Rick Baker
Founder, Blackbird Ventures

Rick is a co-founder of Blackbird Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on investing in the best global tech startups being formed in Australia. Prior to Blackbird, Rick ran MLC’s venture capital portfolio with investments of over half a billion dollars. Prior to MLC, Rick co-founded two successful software companies: IDC Global and Right Party Connect.

Michelle Deaker
Managing Partner, Michelle Deaker

Michelle is the Founder and Managing Partner of OneVentures, a leading Australian venture capital firm with $320M in funds under management. She is a former successful entrepreneur and business executive with over 18 years experience in information technology enterprise businesses targeting finance, retail, media, security, and education across Australia and the United States. A former director of NICTA (now Data61) and former member of the AVCAL VC working group, Head over Heels, and the NSW Government’s Taskforce for the Digital Economy. Michelle is also a member of Chief Executive Women.

Every time I go to INCUBATE, I come back energised, there is an enormous amount of satisfaction in contributing to a legacy of developing the next generation of entrepreneurs and businesses.

Matthew Childs
Founder, CEO, Wine Stash and Kidz That Move

Matthew has founded two successful companies Wine Stash and Kidz That Move. Additionally, having studied at the University of Technology Sydney, Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Matthew shares his passion for innovation, sustainability and entrepreneurship as a resident entrepreneur for INCUBATE.

Elyse Daniels Founder and Director, Exodus Wear and Synoply

Entrepreneurship was always in her blood with Elyse’s family starting a promotional products business when she was just 12 years old. The school holidays saw her working for her parents.

At 20 she joined the family business in promotional products full-time and while there learnt the importance of personalisation and the demand for custom products. She saw an opportunity to sell jackets that were designed by the customer and customised inside and out focusing on the leavers wear market and community groups. In August 2009 she took her first order of custom jackets and with that Exodus Wear was born.

From there it was a quick transition to full-time entrepreneur but a long journey with many ups and downs to reach the point of running a multi-million dollar company servicing Australia wide. With highlights such as having Justin Bieber wear one of her jackets to learning first hand the pitfalls of sourcing direct from China every day the business teaches her something new.

What makes a great mentor?
At INCUBATE, we’re always looking for specialised mentors, as the we have a wide variety of products and industries within each intake. Mentors help coach our startups to be in the best position to make the right decisions for their businesses. The ideal mentor has an entrepreneurial background and/or specialised industry experience. Being a mentor is a non-solicitation role where mentors volunteer their time and talents to help our startups along their journey.


What INCUBATE events are relevant to mentors?

  • Class Launch – an invitation-only networking night at the beginning of the cycle introducing our latest cohort
  • Advisory Board – Pre-booked before each cycle starts, mentors commit to three advisory board sessions
  • Mentor Match – Speed networking event where mentors get to chat to each team for 8 minutes in search of the “right match”
  • Demo Day – The end-of-cycle pitch night showcasing what the startups achieved in the 14-week program

Note that mentors may choose to attend all, some or none of the above depending on their level of engagement and availability.

How much commitment is needed from a mentor?
Connecting with our startups is done in different formats depending on what the mentors and startups are comfortable with. It may be via email, phone, google hangout or over coffee. The commitment of a mentor varies from person to person, based on mentors’ availability and areas the startups need support in but may include:

  • On-going consultation
  • Participation in startups’ advisory board
  • Provide workshops in mentor’s area of expertise
  • One-on-one sessions with the startups to provide feedback on their areas of expertise (e.g. UX sessions reviewing startups’ websites)
  • One-off consultations or introductions to others who may be able to help the startup

How does a mentor meet the startups?
INCUBATE organises multiple networking events per cycle for mentors to meet our current cohort of startups. Outside these events, we also do direct introductions and organise workshops in areas the current teams need help in.

I’m interested in becoming a mentor, what’s next?

As an overview, a mentor:

  • Has an entrepreneurial background and / or has specialised industry experience
  • Volunteers their time to support startup(s) in our program
  • Understands this is a non-solicitation role and does not expect compensation from the startup team(s) they’re supporting

INCUBATE is currently reviewing the mentor process, if you have any questions in the meantime please email us at