Craig Blair

Co-Founder and Partner, AirTree Ventures
Craig Blair is the Co-Founder and Partner at AirTree Ventures. He has led investments in Canva, Petcircle, Go1, Employment Hero, Prospa, Brighte, Different, Drone Deploy, and Archistar.

Craig’s venture capital career began 15yrs ago at netus, a venture fund that delivered top decile returns to investors. Prior to VC, Craig founded 3 businesses, including Travelselect (exited to Lastminute.com), Beamly Australia and Founding Chairman of PetCircle.

Craig spent his early career as a civil engineer, where he learned to build things. For his sins, he also has had stints in strategy consulting and investment banking.

Craig is a Councillor on the St Andrew’s College Council, University of Sydney and a guest lecturer at AGSMs Graduate School of Business.

Craig holds a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Sydney, as well as an MBA from INSEAD.

Trena Blair

Founder and CEO, FD Global Connections
Trena Blair is a highly accomplished global businesswoman who effortlessly transverses corporate and entrepreneurial communities transcontinental. A global citizen, Trena has lived and worked in Australia and the United States during her 15+ year international corporate executive career. In 2014, Trena founded and is Chief Executive Officer of FD Global Connections, a boutique Sydney based consultancy that is engaged by Australian businesses to scale into the USA and UK. Trena is passionate about positively influencing the 70% failure rate of scaleups, by working with them to prepare for international expansion and connecting them with her established, trusted networks. Trena is engaged by Australian Federal Government agencies, Universities, ASX listed companies and Small Businesses to create strategies and programs for global success. Trena is regularly sought as a Mentor for startups, and was recently appointed Mentor for Nasdaq’s Entrepreneurial Centre, USA. She regularly appears as an expert across media channels including Television, Radio, Podcasts and Panels. As a qualified company Director, Trena combines her Executive role with a Non-Executive Director Board portfolio.

Neil Bourne

Managing Principal, Eaton Square
Neil Bourne is a Principal with Eaton Square in Sydney.

With over 20 years experience in the IT industries in roles ranging from technical, operational through to financial and strategic, Neil Bourne brings a distinctive range of insights to bear on the journey from start-up through to final exit for businesses in the technology sector.

Neil has been working as a corporate advisor in the technology sector assisting with growth strategies, capital raisings, mergers and trade sales for over 10 years.

In addition, Neil draws on his experience with large organisations based on his time as a management consultant with Andersen Consulting (Accenture), assisting commercial and government clients with eCommerce strategies and IT implementations.

Neil holds an MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management and a BSc (Hons) in Electronic Engineering from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom.

Dr Michael Caristo

Partner, Genesis Capital
Dr Michael Caristo is an experienced investor and advisor. Prior to founding Genesis, he was a Partner and member of the investment Committee at Liverpool Partners – a leading investment and advisory group. Michael is a qualified medical doctor, and has published scientific papers in the field of stem cell research.

Felix Danziger

Managing Director, HDPartners

Felix Danziger started his career in the 90s in large professional services corporations in the US – Merrill Lynch and The Boston Consulting Group – followed by years of business building at French brand L’Occitane en Provence in the Americas and Europe (a small to medium size high growth private family business then, a publicly listed multi-billion dollar company these days). Since moving to Australia more than 15 years ago, he has been investing private capital in private businesses, including co-founding HDPartners 10 years ago, where he invests growth capital and works both in and with consumer businesses / brands. With HDPartners, he has led successful investments in brands such as Zimmermann and Status Anxiety, amongst others.

Felix has an MBA from Harvard Business School and an Economics Degree from Universidad San Andres (Argentina).

Rob Gaunt

Director, Chief Executive, ACE Training

Rob Gaunt is CEO of ACE Training, a registered training organisation that he acquired last year, marking Australia’s first-ever acquisition via a search fund. With a 20-year history and approximately 50 employees across four campuses in Victoria, ACE provides courses and licences in civil construction and heavy machinery, selling both to corporate customers and to unemployed jobseekers.

Rob started his career selling photocopiers and worked his way up to Chief Operating Officer and then Chief Executive of Marine Rescue Technologies in the UK, where he managed a team of 35 and grew EBITDA threefold before existing to a strategic buyer. He then obtained an MBA at Macquarie Graduate School of Management before launching his search for a company to acquire in partnership with SMEVentures, a platform for search funds in Australia.

Matthew Grigg

Director, Paddington St Finance

Matt Grigg has over 20 years of professional experience including 10 years of consulting experience with the ‘Big 4’, initially as a business development and account manager and, more recently, as a technical specialist providing advice to a broad spectrum of clients in relation to R&D claims, grant programs and project design / management. Most recently, Matt led KPMG’s Greater Western Sydney R&D practice, with an industry focus upon advanced manufacturing, food & beverage and technology businesses.

Prior to his consulting experience, Matt spent almost a decade in financial services and funds management in Australia and the UK, including roles with JP Morgan, Thames River Capital and ING Australia.

Matt holds a Diploma of Financial Markets and post-graduate qualifications from the Securities Institute (FINSIA).

Adrian Herbert

Managing Editor, Private Equity Media
Adrian Herbert has worked as Managing Editor of Private Equity Media since 2006 and led a management buyout of the business in 2012.

Private Equity Media is Australia and New Zealand’s first and leading private equity and venture capital publisher. The company is working to develop this position to serve the entire private capital investment community in the two countries.

Dr Paul Kelly

Managing Partner, OneVentures
Dr Paul Kelly is a Managing Partner of OneVentures and serves on the investment committee of OneVentures’ three main Funds, chairing the Fund III Investment Committee, and leads the healthcare and biotechnology practice across the firm. Paul is currently Chair on the Boards of OneVentures investee companies Vaxxas and Hatchtech and is non-executive director of BiVACOR, and Clinical Genomics. He is also non-executive director of US based Agamatrix Inc.

Paul is an Australian physician and serial biotechnology entrepreneur with over 30 years’ experience in developing and commercialising biomedical innovations in the United States, Europe, United Kingdom and Australia. While in the UK and US he led early-stage and mid-stage companies, public and private, with a record of achievement in transforming ideas, technologies and products into sustainable successful businesses and delivering strong returns for shareholders and investors as a founder and CEO.

Paul joined the OneVentures team in 2009, as a co-founder of OneVentures’ first fund in 2010, after spending 15 years in the UK and USA (mostly in Boston, MA). Paul served as CEO of Gemini Genomics (Nasdaq:GMNI), one of the world’s first clinical genomics companies, which he co-founded in 1995 to discover and commercialise novel gene-based diagnostic and therapeutic targets. At Gemini, Paul as CEO led the company in one of the UK’s largest biotechnology IPOs of the time, completed strategic corporate acquisitions in Sweden and Canada, and negotiated collaborations with some of the world’s leading research institutions and biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. In 2001, Paul led the company’s successful merger with Sequenom (Nasdaq:SQNM), valuing Gemini at over US$250M. Paul then continued in the US working with local biotech and med-tech entrepreneurs and co-founded Agamatrix, now a leading bio-sensing medical device company with operations across the US and South East Asia, and Atomera (Nasdaq ATMR). He then served as President and CEO of Orchid Cellmark (Nasdaq:ORCH) at that time the world’s leading provider of genetic testing services in both the UK and US. During his tenure he developed and implemented major operational, financial and strategic restructuring, growing revenues by over 50% in 2 years from US$40M to $60M per annum and increasing the companies’ valuation 10 fold.

While in the US Paul also served as President and CEO of Medcenter Solutions, a US based online medical education and pharmaceutical marketing company.

Before becoming a biotechnology executive, Paul had a distinguished career as a researcher and physician specialising in endocrinology at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, Australia. While serving as a researcher at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, and in his postdoctoral work, Paul authored over 100 scientific publications, largely in genetic epidemiology of common metabolic disorders, which have been published in leading journals such as Nature, New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, British Medical Journal and Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Paul has served on a number of national governmental advisory bodies, as well as on the boards of public and private companies. He served on the Board of Directors of the American Society of Medicine, Law and Ethics from 2005 to 2008. Paul is a graduate of the University of New South Wales where he received his Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (Hons), and Doctor of Medicine degrees. He is a Fellow of the Australasian College of Physicians. He also serves on the UNSW Medicine Dean’s Advisory Group and serves on the Board of Directors of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

Paul Kennedy

Managing Director, Bain Capital Credit

Paul Kennedy joined Bain Capital Credit in 2018. He is a Managing Director in the Private Credit group based in Bain Capital Credit’s Sydney office responsible for investments in Australia and New Zealand. Previously, Paul was a Division Director in Corporate and Asset Finance at Macquarie Group and was an Associate Director at CHAMP Private Equity. Paul commenced his career in the Investment Banking Group at Credit Suisse.

Rob Koczkar

Managing Director, Admantem Capital
Rob Koczkar is a Managing Director of Adamantem Capital. His experience spans private equity, public company directorships, strategy and social impact investing.

He was Chief Executive Officer of Social Ventures Australia from 2014 to 2018, a Managing Director of Pacific Equity Partners from 2004 to 2014 and a Principal with Texas Pacific Group from 2002 to 2004. Rob also spent seven years with Bain & Company, advising clients on issues relating to strategy, mergers, and operating improvements in a wide range of industries.

Rob received a BEng (Hons.) in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering from the University of Melbourne. Rob currently sits on the board of Hygain, Zenitas and Legend. He also serves as the Chairman of Social Ventures Australia.

Paige Kohalmi

Founder, Greenstorm Capital
Paige Kohalmi is an experienced small business operator with a passion for developing businesses and building great teams.

A Macquarie University MBA, Paige has close to a decade in operations management.

Paige gained her initial business skills working in her family’s import and distribution business. She later ran her own small business before moving on to various operational roles in SMEs. Along the way, she gained expertise encompassing technology-led business transformations, operational efficiencies, digital marketing and finance.

Paige is currently seeking to acquire her ideal business for investment and growth through her search fund Greenstorm Capital.

Ben Lee

Search Investor
Ben Lee is a business owner and active search fund investor having invested in a number of searches and acquisitions in Australia and overseas. Ben is presently chair of a family owned group of businesses with a focus on agriculture and renewable energy. Prior to this he spent 15 years in corporate finance and investment banking in Australia and London most recently with Macquarie Bank in their Agricultural Investment team. He holds a Master of Finance from London Business School and trained as an Accountant with Deloitte.

Sharon Lim

Director of Content, Singapore Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (SVCA)

Sharon Lim connects the dots in the Asia Pacific private equity and venture capital ecosystem through content, research and events. At SVCA, she brings members together by engaging with them in interviews, webinars, podcasts and in-person events. In her work, Sharon also engages with a growing community of family offices as well as family-owned businesses in the region especially on succession planning and alternative and sustainable investments.

Sharon founded Interest Alignment Management (IAM) in 2012 to help clients sharpen fund communications and has since expanded services to provide research and capital introduction. Her chief areas of research focus are family offices and climate action. She was also responsible for crafting the agenda for the 2021 Global Summit for She Loves Tech, a mission to close the funding gaps for women and technology. She interviewed 2021 Nobel Peace Laureate Maria Ressa at SLT Global Summit.

Sharon broadened her horizons from journalism and ventured into the conferences business at PEI Media. As a journalist, Sharon has covered private equity, energy markets and shipping at Dow Jones Newswires and S&P Global Platts.

Brad Lynch

Partner, Advent Partners
Brad Lynch’s professional career has been mid market focused from both an advisory and principal investing perspective. He started his career working at Ernst & Young focusing on valuations, business due diligence and mergers & acquisitions. For the last 15 years, Brad has been focused on mid-market investing, holding senior private equity roles at the Riverside Company and ANZ Banking Group prior to joining Advent Partners in 2013.

During this time, Brad has partnered with some incredible businesses including investments in Flintfox, Mandoe, SILK Laser, Junior Adventures Group, Wellness & Lifestyles, Valuation Exchange, Simcro, Sigma Coachair Group, Gentrack and Neller Payroll Services just to name a few.

Brad holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Melbourne and a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance from FINSIA. He is also an Associate Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Grant McCarthy

Managing Partner, Tidal Ventures
Grant McCarthy has over 20 years of technology and investment experience. He is the CEO of AddVenture Fund (a A$10 million Seed-stage fund based in Sydney), having led the investments in the existing 9 portfolio companies. He is an avid angel investor (SocietyOne, Stackla, Commercialize.tv, China Search International, Skiddoo.com.au, 8common, Purpleclick, Wego and Syndic8) and an advisor to startups through the consulting and independent principal investment firm he founded in 2013. He has worked with Western corporates on deal origination and M&A expansion strategy into South Asia, including Microsoft, Nokia, Siemens Networks and Turner Broadcasting.

His early career (99-07) across APAC enabled Grant to immerse himself in early stage technology businesses where he had company & deal exposure to many of today’s internet giants including Seek, Alibaba, SoftBank and Baidu.

Jonathon Miller

Managing Director, Kraken Australia
Jonathon Miller is the Managing Director for Australia at global cryptocurrency exchange Kraken and is a leading voice in Australia’s growing crypto sector. Co-founding one of Australia’s longest-running crypto service providers, Bit Trade, in 2013, Jonathon has been deeply involved in the Australian crypto industry since its inception. As a founder and entrepreneur, Jonathon cut his teeth in education and founding product development and blockchain consultancies prior to joining Kraken in 2020 via acquisition. He continues to spearhead Kraken’s Australian operations and is passionate about driving adoption of crypto in Australia.

Kraken is one of the leading global crypto exchanges with over 8.7 million clients worldwide and counting.

Bede Moore

Managing Partner, APAC, Antler

Bede Moore is the Managing Partner of Antler in Australia, with a wealth of knowledge and experience in starting and scaling technology led digital businesses. Before Antler, Bede was the CEO of Sydney’s peak technology industry body, TechSydney, and prior to this he was the co-founder and managing director of Indonesia’s largest ecommerce site, Lazada, which was acquired by Alibaba in 2017 for US$3.5 billion.

Kelley Myers

Principal, Eaton Square
Kelley Myers is a private debt and equity investment professional with experience across a wide range of sectors – telecoms, technology, industrials – and geographies – UK, Europe, Africa and Canada. She spent much of her financial career in the UK. Kelley recently joined the Sydney office of cross-border M&A and capital advisory firm Eaton Square. She is skilled in financial modeling, credit analysis, special situations and debt structuring.

David Odgers

Executive Director, IFM Investors
David Odgers is responsible for sourcing, structuring and negotiating new private equity investments, managing existing investments, as well as fundraising. David has more than 20 years of experience in private equity, consulting and business leadership roles. He joined IFM Investors from Bain Capital, where he was an Operating Partner with responsibility for investments in MYOB, Retail Zoo and Camp Australia. Prior to joining Bain Capital, David held senior management roles at eBay as Sales and Marketing Director, and at The Nuance Group as COO. Earlier in his career, David spent 10 years as a management consultant, chiefly with Bain & Company, where he worked in Europe, the United States and Australia on a range of industries and strategic issues for private equity and corporate clients.

Stephen Panizza

Head of Renewable Energy, Federation Asset Management

Stephen Panizza is a founding member of Federation Asset Management. Previously, Stephen was the Chief Investment Risk Officer at the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). Prior to CEFC, Stephen was a senior member of Macquarie Capital’s Principal Investment division, and led that division in Asia. He has over 30 years’ experience in the financial services industry, including 15 years living and working in Asia.

Whilst Stephen’s recent history has been dedicated to clean energy and renewables financing, his detailed prior experience across infrastructure, resources, industrials, services and other sectors often proves useful to investee companies as they look to contract with governments and other businesses.

Stephen holds a Bachelor of Economics degree and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Western Australia.

Kieren Parker

Managing Partner, Addisons
Kieren Parker works with clients across the spectrum of mergers and acquisitions, corporate and commercial transactions. He brings the additional perspective gained through investing a significant part of his career working on the client side of transactions holding executive roles from corporate development and strategy to line management with profit and loss responsibility.

Kieren trained with a US corporate firm in Sydney, and then worked with a magic circle firm in London, specialising in private equity. He has never been too far from the industry, taking commercial roles with portfolio companies of The Carlyle Group in London (energy infrastructure) and Advent Capital in Sydney (construction), and consulting to CHAMP Private Equity.

Simon Pither

Partner, Quadrant Private Equity
Simon Pither is a Partner in Quadrant Private Equity’s Growth Fund. Simon joined Quadrant in 2008 from Melbourne-based mid-market private equity fund, Advent Private Capital. Simon is a director of Quadrant Growth Fund investee companies ARQ Group, Grays, Love To Dream, Modibodi, Papinelle, Seertech and Southern Star.

Jeremy Samuel

Managing Director, Anacacia Capital
Jeremy Samuel is the founder and Managing Director of Anacacia Capital. The firm has around $600 million in private equity capital committed to Australia’s leading private and public small to medium enterprises (SMEs). Anacacia partners with management to help these companies to grow and enables passive shareholders to sell down or retire. Anacacia has won numerous industry awards including ranked Australia’s best performing buyout fund and in the top 5% of all Australian public equity funds and the AIC/AVCAL Chairman’s Award.

Jeremy is currently a Non-Executive Director of Anacacia portfolio company, Duncan Technologies. He was formerly the lead director of Anacacia’s award winning investments into Appen, Yumi’s Quality Foods, Rafferty’s Garden, Lomb Scientific and Home Appliances. He also chairs the firm’s investment committees.

Nima Sedaghat

Partner, HWL Ebsworth Lawyers; Co-Founder and Investor, WayFinder Capital
Nima Sedaghat is a Partner and Management Advisory Committee member of Australian law firm HWL Ebsworth, and a Co-Founder of WayFinder Capital.

For almost 15 years, Nima has been advising business owners, executives, Australian and foreign investors and sponsors, on restructures, mergers, acquisitions, and investment transactions. As both a lawyer and chartered accountant, Nima has been appointed to senior roles in professional service organisations such as PwC and Deloitte, and law firm MinterEllison. Most recently, he joined HWL Ebsworth as a partner in 2017 with a growth mandate and within 12 months scaled a nationally focused business, as well as building a team of exceptionally talented professionals. In addition to his role as a capital partner of HWL Ebsworth, Nima was appointed in 2021 as an inaugural member of the Management Advisory Committee.

Since 2017, he has been active in the Australian Search Fund ecosystem, having advised on structuring the first traditional Search Fund in Australia – leading to the establishment in 2020 of WayFinder Capital as a specialist fund manager and the first institutional fund of Search Funds and Searcher-led transactions in Australia.

Pete Seligman

Search Investor
In late 2012, after a 15-year career spanning engineering, investment banking and general management, Pete Seligman co-founded Alpin Group to acquire, operate and grow small businesses in Australia. Alpin acquired its first business in June 2013 and over the next four years acquired four more.

Pete acted as CEO for three of those businesses, for periods ranging from six months to three years, after which he managed his own succession and remained on the boards of each as a non-executive director.

This owner/operator experience gave Pete the mix of autonomy/accountability he was seeking, opening his eyes to the world of small business and the global ‘entrepreneur through acquisition/search’ community. He is now leveraging his own search and owner/operator experience to back other aspiring entrepreneurs as search investors, playing his part in supporting the critical global transition of small business ownership from baby-boomers to the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Nicholas Sweeney

Division Director and Head, Macquarie Mid Market

Nicholas Sweeney is a Division Director and Head of Macquarie Banking Financial Services Middle Market team. Nicholas has over 18 years’ experience providing corporate banking and growth capital solutions for clients. For the past 7 years, Nicholas has been part of the team empowered to build Macquarie’s Middle Market business, with a focus on providing acquisition and growth capital solutions, primarily to mid-market privately held and private equity sponsored businesses.

Prior to joining Macquarie, Nicholas worked as a Director in ANZ Banking Group’s Corporate Banking Division, as well as holding senior roles within Esanda FleetPartners and Campese Management Group.

Cheyne Tan

Operating Partner, Potentia

Cheyne Tan joined Potentia in 2019 and has over 20 years’ experience in Management Consulting, M&A and as CEO of a number of software and digital businesses. Prior to joining Potentia, Cheyne was MD of the Global Voucher Group (GVG), a subsidiary of GoCo plc / Future plc, an LSE listed media conglomerate. In 2010, Cheyne was CEO and Founder of BlikBook, a data analytics and engagement platform in the Higher Education sector. BlikBook was acquired by Civitas Learning in 2015 and Cheyne was appointed MD International at Civitas Learning.

Christian Westerlind Wigstrom

Co-Founder and CEO, Monoova

Christian Westerlind Wigstrom is CEO of Monoova, a Sydney-based fintech which specialises in freeing business to scale with fully API-driven end-to-end payment solutions.

Born in Sweden, Christian moved to the UK to study after finishing his military service.

While completing his PhD at Oxford, he worked as an economic advisor and speech writer in the UK Parliament before spending three years as Chief of Staff and Markets at a large agricultural start-up in Zimbabwe.

He arrived in Australia in late 2016 ready to help revolutionise the payments industry locally and across the world.

Mick Wright-Smith

Founding Partner, Epsilon Direct Lending
Mick Wright-Smith is a Founding Partner of Epsilon Direct Lending and member of the Investment Committee. He is responsible for the origination, execution and management of growth and event-driven middle market corporate financings across Australia and New Zealand including leveraged buyout and acquisition financings, growth capex funding, recapitalisations and refinancings.

Mick has 21 years’ capital markets experience in corporate lending in Australia, the UK and Europe. He was most recently Executive Director and National Head of Middle Market Leveraged Finance at CBA and has previously held senior lending roles with CIT Leveraged Finance, Barclays Leveraged Finance and Balmain NB.

Mick has a Masters Business Administration from the University of Edinburgh, a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance & Investment from Financial Services Institute of Australasia, and an Honours degree Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne.

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