Sebastian Quinn-Watson is a lawyer with Norton Rose Fulbright, specialising in mergers and acquisitions. He is particularly interested in China and the innovation eco-system and he had visited China often to explore more about the emergence of this phenomenon. Of CAMP he commented “CAMP was this wonderful opportunity to explore that kind of innovation mentality and that we so desperately need in Australia. The space that allows us to scientifically, critically and creatively challenge and question things. CAMP offered a platform to explore and refine the skills which I had previously had to travel outside of Australia to engage with. China and specifically cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Chengdu all provide a template on how to facilitate and grow a startup culture. These cities have all drawn on the best practice from places like Silicon Valley and Israel and have effectively, and in typical Chinese fashion, put it on steroids. Start-ups in these cities are scaling at speeds and to eye watering valuations that are starting to make their Silicon Valley counterparts seem small and quaint. Suffice to say, against this backdrop Australia needs to catch up fast and build meaningful connections with China at the innovation level. CAMP gave us a taste of the transformation that is happening in Beijing. Prior to CAMP there was not such a direct avenue for Australians to explore and meaningfully engage in this space.”
Sebastian’s experience with CAMP has been valuable for his legal career. “I’m an M&A lawyer working across both our China M&A team and also in our firms foray into the start-up space with the legal tech start-up Law Path. CAMP has been important for my legal career because it has provided a unique and powerful point of difference, vis-a-vie our competitors, when engaging in business development with either potential Chinese or tech focused clients. I’m fortunate to be able to now have this type of lived experience to draw upon when engaging with clients or potential clients who operate in these spaces.”
Beyond his legal career, CAMP also activated Sebastian’s entrepreneurialism. “CAMP was a catalyst for creativity and business. It activated an innovative mindset. It was a very empowering process to be on the creative journey that CAMP facilitated. The tools that we learned from the program around design thinking have been incredibly influential”. In January 2016, some 6 months after participating in CAMP, Sebastian co-founded OTEC APAC and Infin8 Ventures. OTEC APAC is a collaboration between the start-up lab Investible & the deal facilitators Infin8 Ventures. OTEC APAC hosted the Australian Phoenix Pitch Competition. The competition provides investment-ready Australian start-ups with the opportunity to pitch at one of the world’s largest VC conferences - OTEC Beijing.
Sebastian also said that the connections he made at CAMP were essential for building OTEC APAC “Through CAMP I met young entrepreneurs and professionals from Sydney, Beijing and Shanghai. They all were working in technology, investment banking and VC firms. All have assisted in their own way in supporting my entrepreneurial journey. I also note that it seems that these friend’s careers have progressed significantly since CAMP and are all increasing their sphere of influence. I certainly and genuinely feel I’ve met some of APACs future business leaders. I am grateful for CAMP for facilitating the growth of these friendships.”
But it wasn’t just simple networking at CAMP that CAMP offered. “I was the pressure cooker of the 9 weeks CAMP ideation journey that was foundational in forging these trusting and genuine relationships. It was through CAMP that we were introduced to one of our business partners, Investible. If not for CAMP, I can certainly say OTEC APAC would not have been as incredibly successful and impactful.”