We chatted to Harrison Cleaver, our Head of Community and Events at Stone & Chalk Melbourne, about the thriving startup community, his doppelgänger Draco Malfoy, the TV shows he’s currently bingeing and how the ‘mega hub’ is fuelling innovation for the Australian fintech ecosystem.
Harrison claims that one of the best parts of his job is meeting all the amazing teams based at Stone & Chalk and learning what they do, and introducing them to each other.
“It’s my treasure, as part of my job, to actually foster those relationships,” says Harrison.
So, what’s the community like at Stone & Chalk Melbourne?
“At the moment, we’re pretty much half full and are looking to fill our hub with the right people. So far it’s been about curating those people to be the right fit, both in what their startup is, but also in embracing the right attitude”, Harrison says.
He continues, “As a mega hub, we have a responsibility to focus on growth. Since opening the hub, we have learnt a lot about how to connect with the fintech community and create a culture of cooperation.”
Harrison says there are multiple ways of engaging the fintech community, but the key is to find what works for each individual team at Stone & Chalk.
“At large, you’ve got to talk about the big topics, you’ve got to find things that are relevant to them and the experts can come in and speak to those challenges and be really engaging.”
“Stone & Chalk is a melting point of multiple experts and industries, including corporate partners, industry leaders, regulators which means we get to run events which bring these people together to help shape the future of fintech.”
“Recently, we celebrated a packed house of 300 people with ASIC, ATO and Austrac to talk about the future of Australian regulation in regards to Crypto currencies. It was exciting to see that there were some very bold questions asked that night,” he says.
Another way Harrison has engaged with the Community is the introduction of Tribe Leaders within startups to keep Stone & Chalk team in the know about what tools and assets certain companies might need to grow.
Harrison says, “I’ve done it with a few companies that I’ve worked at in the past, and it was just something where if you have a large amount of startups, they have a great amount of brains there. And if you’re prescribing things to them, then you’re focusing all those brains into one bottleneck, so let’s use all the brains we have and make sure they’re connecting with each other.”
He says that although he may have a limited amount of time in a day, Tribe Leaders empower people to leap from challenges together and leverage their depth of knowledge and rewarded for collaborating.
Harrison says that having spent some time in the U.S.A working with Mass Challenge, “I was really driven to make sure that what we have here in Melbourne is world class and that we can grow that across the country as well.”
“We can break down the Sydney / Melbourne barrier and have Australia come onto the world stage by making the community strong and thriving”.
Talking about the Malfoy doppelgänger, “If I get to three o’clock in a day without someone saying you look like Draco Malfoy, I am amazed, and I have yet to go a day since the second (Harry Potter) movie without someone calling me on it. And I mean, even when I’m traveling all over the world.”
If you’d like to chat to Harrison, we recommend mentioning any Marvel show and he’ll be able to recount the plot of nearly every episode, or if that’s not your thing, try Rick & Morty. That’s where his nerdism goes into full swing. He’s also an avid fan of YouTube.
“There’s always something I can learn, like how to make water go uphill or other things that are interesting and applicable which can be thrown out into the most interesting conversations,” he says.
If you know anyone looking to be part of this epic community or book our space for upcoming events at Stone & Chalk Melbourne, get in touch with Harrison.