Elias Bizannes is an entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He began his career shortly after graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Sydney at PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2005, before being recruited into search engine start-up Vast.com in 2009 and subsequently was approached to work as a director at one of America’s oldest venture capital firms Charles River Ventures in 2011.
Parallel to his days as an employee, he launched several projects and in 2012 began working full-time on his own ventures. In 2008, he pursued a group of initiatives under the “Silicon Beach” moniker, which has now become the defacto brand and community representing Australia’s entrepreneurial technology. In 2010, he launched StartupBus which has become well known as a bootcamp for entrepreneurs (featured in Time Magazine), and in 2012 StartupHouse – a building in the heart of San Francisco where entrepreneurs live and work on their start-ups (featured in the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent).
How did your time at the Business School change you both professionally and personally?
It’s hard to quantify what change the school had on me, but I can attest to the impact it had because of the people I met. I met some of my best friends at the school that to this day are in my life. I will never forget how refreshing it was to start at University with a group of people who I considered like-minded, that outside of my studies challenged my thinking and opened my eyes to the world.
What did you do in the year immediately after graduating?
I went backpacking around Europe and the Middle East for nine months. Best thing I ever did.
What has been the greatest accomplishment of your career to date?
Finishing my education at university and at the Institute of Chartered Accountants. It was a tough six years but it has laid a solid foundation for the rest of my career.
What does being a University of Sydney Business School
alumnus mean to you?
Foundation of knowledge – I keep thinking about the things I learned at university which make more sense now that I am in the field eight years on, having worked in professional services, a Silicon Valley search engine start-up, venture capital and now in my own business. Everything I learned during my undergraduate degree has remained relevant and useful, even though I didn’t appreciate it at the time.
What would you say to a prospective student who is considering study at the Business School?
Get some exposure to computer science: it’s the future of all industries. And try and start a project on the side that makes you money, like a business (as opposed to a summer job).
Best book you have read in the last 12 months:
Call me Ted by Ted Turner
Daily website ‘favourites’
Techmeme.com, facebook.com, twitter.com and stratfor.com
Motto to live/work by
Think big; talk small; walk but don’t run