Information for mentors

Help inspire Canberra’s next big thinkers, innovators and entrepreneurs.

A crucial element of the IACT program is our brilliant network of mentors, who help inspire, motivate and guide our teams through this pivotal stage in their entrepreneurial journeys.

By mentoring an IACT team, you can:

  • Give back to the local startup community
  • Develop your own skills by teaching others
  • Be the first to hear about innovative new business ideas
  • Scout for talented young entrepreneurs

Interested in mentoring? Get in touch with Vicki Stanley, IACT Program Manager at, with some detail about your expertise and areas of interest and what you’re looking for in a team to mentor.

Frequently asked questions about mentoring

Mentoring with IACT is best suited to those who have had their own recent experience working on or with startups, e.g. founders, business consultants, etc. We’re looking for mentors who can give teams encouraging yet frank feedback and advice, and who can prompt teams to ask themselves the right questions.

It is up to you how much time you are able to commit to mentoring, however we recommend setting aside 1-2 hours per week from September to October to meet and work with teams.

The IACT teams will also invite you to optional events for those looking for more opportunities to engage with teams.

Once you have signed up as a mentor, you will be invited to attend our Mentor Matching event on 27th August. There, you will have the opportunity to meet teams through a series of speed-networking rounds, then nominate which teams you may be interested in working with.

If you can’t make it along to the Mentor Matching event, we can also send you team profiles from which you can nominate your preferences.

From there, the IACT team will work behind the scenes to match you up with a suitable team/s and link you up.

For those looking to engage with teams in a less formal capacity or a greater range of teams, or are joining us later in the program, we welcome you to connect with teams as Secondary Mentors. This year, we’re excited to be linking up with the mentoring platform from OK RDY (IACT alumnus and IACT19 Silver Partners), to help our teams engage with a broader network of mentors.

Many mentors choose to mentor more than one team, but it up to you and your capacity – we don’t want you to have to stretch yourself too thin. While we certainly appreciate all the mentor assistance we can get, there are certainly no expectations for you to mentor multiple teams.

Once matched with a team or teams, it is between you and your team/s to decide where, when and how often you wish to meet. We would recommend some short form of contact, e.g. email, phone call, face-to-face meeting each week from September to October, so you are able to see the teams’ progress.

While the IACT team will check in with you and teams every so often to see how the mentor relationship is going and if there is anything we can assist with, we encourage teams to initiate contact with mentors and to manage the relationship.

Once the program concludes, it is up to you whether or not you choose to continue the mentoring relationship with the team, though there are certainly no expectations for you to do so.

As IACT is a free program, we do rely on the generosity of our mentors to volunteer their time to help our teams. We appreciate your understanding.

Great to hear! To express your interest, get in touch with Vicki Stanley, IACT Program Manager at, with some details about your expertise and areas of interest, and what you’re looking for in a team to mentor, and we’ll be in touch!

Our IACT19 Mentors

Thank you to all the brilliant mentors who have offered up their time to guide the IACT19 teams!

Adish Chauhan

MINDCo Group

Key skills/expertise: Extensive experience in international business across different sectors and spanning almost 40 countries in Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe, inc. expanding businesses across regions and working closely with senior business leaders. Experience of introducing and expanding business for B2B Services (Data Analytics and Cloud/HR/EXIM Consulting) and Consumer Products.

Looking for in a team: Team with technology products or with innovative ideas.

Aidan Cavanagh


Key skills/expertise: I know what it’s like to wear a lot of hats. While at SOAPdrones, I covered areas like Project Management, Software Development, Marketing, Machining, 3d Design and Networking. While not being as well versed as someone dedicated to one field, this overall understanding makes for great communication and integration between the different parts of the company. It also means that I can pivot focus and work on what’s needed at the time, or be the guy who first adopts a new approach or technology within our team.

Looking for in a team: While my experience lies in autonomy and aerospace, I’m keen on helping out in any field. Any individual or team who have set out to tackle a problem and fix it, are an interesting team.

Aishwarya Mahadev

Key skills/expertise: Design thinking, finance, social business models, presentation tips.

Looking for in a team: Teams with ideas on clean energy or any teams using social entrepreneurship models.

Arash Joobandi

Apis Group, Prepear, Zio Health

Key skills/expertise: Software engineering, Digital media, Start ups, AI.

Looking for in a team: Practical and enthusiastic.

Coco Ho

Health Horizon

Key skills/expertise: Small team startups, research and data management, health innovation ecosystem, art and craft.

Looking for in a team: Open-minded, positive and up for a challenge, especially in the sustainable/ environmental, green living, health and community building space.

Craig Thomler


Key skills/expertise: Digital, Marketing, Start-ups, Strategy.

Looking for in a team: Open to all entrepreneurs.

Crystal Xi Guo


Key skills/expertise: Management consulting
Strategy and operations
Team leadership and management
Operating model and service design

Looking for in a team: Teams that want to take their ideas to the market / implementation

David Williams


Key skills/expertise: Managing ICT and Business projects, developing business cases, procurement, risk, Knowledge Management, SCUBA.

Looking for in a team: Anything but games and preferably something that contributes to the community.

Johnsons Sangah


Key skills/expertise: Customer Service, Startups, Grant Writing, Training and Development

Looking for in a team: Passionate teams! Any idea can work with a team that has heart.

Lisa La Maitre

Therapy Masters and Canberra Wise Women

Key skills/expertise: Health, biology, biomechanics, holistic health, allied health, PTSD, trauma, recovery, sports preparation, injury management, social media, branding, marketing, PR, communications, pitching, public speaking, events management, customer experience, business administration, startups, hack competitions.. just to name a few 😉

Looking for in a team: I’m happy to work with a team that’s open to learning and growing their skills.

Lizzie Nicholls

Deloitte Consulting

Key skills/expertise: I have a background in strategy and operations consulting with a focus on organisational design, end-to-end value chain reform, and asset management.

Looking for in a team: I‘m passionate about business model innovation; I want to help teams to make their ideas real, by helping to define the operations needed to create value for the customer, and in turn deliver profit for the business.

Logan Smithson

Artifex ANU, Grid Labs

Key skills/expertise: Full-stack web development, software engineering, UX/UI, graphic design, teaching tech skills, community management

Looking for in a team: Teams with software solutions. Specific areas of interest include education, art, and community engagement but open to anything.

Mark Gleeson

Performance Management & Development

Key skills/expertise: Applications of Innovation, Presentation Skills, Psychology, learning and Career Development, Virtual Reality applications, Use of Music in Psychology innovations, Share Market innovations

Looking for in a team: VR, Education, Share Market technology, Innnovative products not done before

Mathew McGann

Health Horizon

Key skills/expertise: Building team, product development, physics, health, podcasting, two-sided marketplaces, B2B.

Looking for in a team: Technical products that’ll make the world a better place.

Rohan Samaraweera

Department of Home Affairs,
Australian Signals Directorate

Key skills/expertise: Research & Analysis, Marshalling Expertise, Resilience, Problem Solving, Leading diverse teams, Strategy , Curiosity, ‘Intrapreneurship’, Artificial Intelligence, Technology Development, Intelligence and Security ,Communications ,International Affairs, Cyber Security, Digital Government, Training & Vocational Learning.

Looking for in a team: Any – although particularly interested in technology, education, AI.

Shooby Kandel


Key skills/expertise: Brand, digital products, creative, strategy, sales god.

Looking for in a team: Strong and viable ideas with the ability to see them through.

Tabs Fakier

Artifex ANU, Grid Labs

Key skills/expertise: Full-stack web development, software engineering, UX/UI, graphic design, teaching tech skills, community management

Looking for in a team: Teams with software solutions. Specific areas of interest include education, art, and community engagement but open to anything.

Tom Worthington

TomW Communications & ANU Research School of Computer Science

Key skills/expertise: Award winning e-learning designer, certified computer professional, tutor university software project students.

Looking for in a team: Education, computing, or defence focused.

Tommy Cheesman

Future Superfoods Pty Ltd

Key skills/expertise: Inventor of a mobile, scalable, modular insect (cricket) farm, 24 years in the Australian Public Service (8 years as a Costing Analyst, now I assess innovative proposals), keen devourer of science journals (despite failing science at high school), have a passion for securing the future of food and innovation in general.

Looking for in a team: Food-tech, Ag-tech or Sports-tech teams.

Dr Tracey Benson

University of Canberra, ACT Education, TransArts Alliance

Key skills/expertise: 25 years of working in the digital environment as a maker, tertiary educator and consultant. As an educator, I co-designed one of the first web design and interaction courses at an Australian university which applied the W3C web standards and User Centred Design, Design Thinking and Participatory Design. Over 15 years working with Federal government – leading in the implementation of digital environments and ICT Transformation projects. Over a decade of working with Behavioural Insights in the context of environmental behaviour change programs. Project Management. Extensive networks locally, nationally and internationally in the fields of digital media, tertiary research, science and design. Research background in emerging media, engagement tools and communications.

Looking for in a team: Projects exploring innovations with ICT, teams focused on sustainability and energy savings systems solutions, health and wellbeing projects.

Youssef Hafiz

ANU Research School of Engineering

Key skills/expertise: Mechanical Engineering, Project management, Product design and manufacturing, Managed engineering-based start up company, Handled IP (patent, copyright, industrial design, etc.) formulation, evaluation and conflicts, Teaching engineering students how to form their engineering product into sound business plan, including addressing market needs, value proposition, IP, business model, future growth, operations and finance.

Looking for in a team: Engineering solutions, physical product design and manufacturing

Zainab Farouk


Key skills/expertise: Innovation methodologies, Design thinking, Strategy on using new and emerging technologies in business.

Looking for in a team: New and emerging tech, especially in AI and RPA, Innovating for social impact.