On 12 September 2018, Blackbird held its annual conference for founders, Sunrise Island.
It was held on an island in the middle of Sydney Harbour on a glorious 30 degree spring day.
Guests were transported on a privately chartered ferry accompanied by performers in fantastical costumes, welcomed by a high priestess and ushered through a dark, 180 metre underground tunnel to reach the conference venue.
An army of nesting seagulls enforced security throughout the day.
Sunrise Island was designed to be a wonderland for the ambitious. A haven for everything from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Thanks to every single attendee who came and contributed to the electric levels of energy felt on the day. Who embraced all the weirdness with good humour.
Thanks to our sponsors for making it all possible. To all the speakers who generously gave their time and their wisdom.
And huge thanks to @joelconnolly who always delivers the magic. ⚡️
I delivered the opening remarks and @nixos suggested that I post them online, so here they are.
Blackbird’s mission is to supercharge Australia’s most ambitious founders.
Every year we put on The Sunrise conference to inspire the next generation of great Aussie founders to get started.
The theme of this year’s Sunrise was inspired by modern day explorers. Those wild hearts who set up micronations, or who dream of establishing communities on Mars or the Moon.
People like Walt Disney who wanted to build a technological prototype city of the future on swamp land in Florida and sold sponsorship rights to fund it.
People like Columbus who believed you could sail west across the Atlantic to reach Asia.
And who pitched kings and queens of Europe for 7 years with a plan…
that most thought was impossible…
until one day Queen Isabella of Castile finally agreed.
To those women inspired by Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s novel, Herland.
Who envision a feminist cashless society supported by permaculture farming, satellite internet and the ability to 3-D print any necessary supplies.
To the Seasteading Institute, who want to build floating cities on the world’s oceans to house the next billion people on Earth.
The people who do dream of these things are not born extraordinarily talented nor exceptionally lucky.
Walt Disney was one of five children in a lower class Irish family who did the paper run at 4:30am every day from 10 years old.
Columbus was the son of an Italian weaver, not very well educated, not good with people, nor was he particularly good at pitching, it would seem.
Gilman grew up at the turn of the last century to a poor single mother and moved schools seven times. She didn’t have more than 4 years’ schooling in total.
Patri Friedman, the founder of the Seasteading Institute, well, his grandparents were Rose and Milton Friedman (one of the world’s great economists), so maybe he’s the exception.
The point is — wild hearts are people just like you.
The Sunrise is about sharing the stories of wild hearts who asked themselves “Why not me?”
We’ll hear from many of them on stage today, and we hope their stories will nurture the wild heart inside of all of you.
If you don’t know where to start, you have come to the right place. In this room, there are 999 other people who can help you.
The timing will never be perfect. Blackbird’s message to you is: just get started!