Ben Sand - Slum to Raising $73 million in Silicon Valley

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From a slum in Chippendale to raising $73M in Silicon Valley

Ben grew up in Australia, started a few courses at uni and TAFE and worked on a farm, in childcare and doing computer repair. His background includes computer science, marketing and amateur legal work.

Somewhere in 2000-2010 Ben learned about startups and has not looked back since. After a few false starts and lots of learning, his big break came in 2013 in the USA.

Ben is a co-founder of augmented reality hardware company Meta ( ). Ben wrote the company's successful Y Combinator application and ran its 3 successful Kickstarter campaigns totally US$1.7M. He helped lead the company as Co-CEO, where he did optical research, hiring, marketing and helped raise US$73M. Meta is now valued at $300M with 150 employees and still growing strong.

Ben now coaches startups, and is very interested in companies with a strong purpose and goal to improve the world. This Friday Ben will share a few highlights from his startup life and stories of how he made through some near death moments.

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What you will learn
  • Starting and exiting a startup
  • Surviving near death moments in the technology industry
  • Highlights of Ben's Startup life


York Butter Factory

Vendor since 2012

The York Butter Factory is the co-working space for Melbourne’s high-potential early-stage technology entrepreneurs.

Established in 2011 inside an 1850s heritage-listed space, York Butter Factory is home to upstarts with bold, global ambitions and clear intentions to change the world.

Named after the original 1855 building, the York Butter Factory is situated on King Street at the base of the Rialto. This brilliant bluestone warehouse is the ultimate juxtaposition of old and new, building tech startups out of one Melbourne’s oldest structures. The 577sqm space is across two floors and has an open plan coworking space, informal collaborative area, meeting rooms, an industrial fridge and room for up to 60 entrepreneurs.

Opening its doors in October 2011, it has established itself at the center of a rapidly growing startup ecosystem in Melbourne. York Butter Factory was co-founded by the partners of Adventure Capital, who run their VC fund out of the space.

YBF already hosts nearly 50 startups largely in the Consumer Internet space. Opportunities to access funding is through its owners’ tech-focused VC fund as well as seed funding provided directly to deserving startups and via the Aurelius Digital angel investment network. There is a culture of collaboration, resource sharing and tough love. Tenants are curated with a view to fill the space with high-potential digital media and web 2.0 startups with a global ambition.

The vision is to become the central hub of the Australian tech startup ecosystem.

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Refund & Cancellation Policy

York Butter Factory requires 48 hours notice via email prior to the start of a class or event for a full refund or transfer.  Refunds and transfers will not be processed if cancellation occurs within 48 hours of the event commencing. We do not offer refunds for missed classes. There are no fees for refunds or transfers. For cancellations prior to the 48 hour cut off, email York Butter Factory to organise a refund or transfer

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Terms & Conditions

Anyone partaking in any classes or coming to any events at York Butter Factory or organised by York Butter Factory must agree to these terms and conditions.


I agree to take on full responsibility for any damages, injuries and for physical and/or personal property, which I might incur whilst participating in classes and/or events organised by York Butter Factory.


I agree to give York Butter Factory unrestricted publishing rights for any photographs or videos taken at York Butter Factory classes and events or on York Butter Factory's premises. (For use of York Butter Factory marketing materials).


York Butter Factory requires 48 hours notice in writing prior to the class for a full refund or transfer. 


In the event that a class is cancelled, students will be notified via text message or email and entitled to a full refund or credit.

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