Meet the New Wave of U.S Ready Mentors

UNSW Founders is proud to announce the stellar Mentor lineup in the New Wave U.S. Ready Bootcamp, helping 10 ambitious women-led startups from UNSW break into the U.S. market. Each mentor will leverage their extensive U.S experience to guide the planning and implementation of a successful market entry plan for the 10 U.S. bound startups.

Trena Blair

Forbes described Trena as “an expert in expanding businesses from Australia into the U.S., with New York as the entry point.” She served for seven years as a Business Excellence Evaluator for Business Excellence Australia, where she found her passion for helping Australian companies prepare for and launch in the U.S.

In addition to corporate experience with Optus, Westpac and American Express, Trena has founded two startups. She has mentored startups and scaleups at Tyro FinTech, served as Australian Ambassador and Mentor for the USA Quesnay's Female Founder's Global Competition and was appointed as a mentor by the Australian Federal Government for the Boosting Female Founders initiative.

Alexandra Smart

As Founder and Managing Director at GINGER & SMART, Alexandra leads an Australian designer brand at the forefront of design and sustainability in fashion. The brand is sold in GINGER & SMART boutiques and more than 30 partnership stores in Australia and overseas.

Highly respected as a creative business leader and with over 30 years' experience in fashion, retail and media, Alexandra is responsible for the growth and expansion of the GINGER & SMART brand both nationally and internationally. 


Hamish Hawthorn

Hamish serves as Chief Operating Officer at Curious Thing, a conversational AI company. Prior to this, he has worked as a COO at UpGuard, Inc, a cybersecurity company, and Cicada Innovations, one of Australia’s major technology innovators. 

For the better part of two decades, Hamish has been involved in the commercialisation of new technologies, in software, biotechnology, and advanced manufacturing. 


Michael Levy

Michael Levy is Chief Executive Officer of WHAPPS Online Rewards, which has featured on’s fastest growing U.S company list for the past fourteen years.

His company helps build reward and employee recognition programs to produce profitable results. Clients include Macy’s, Nielsen, and RWJ Barnabas Health. 


Jennifer Zanich

Jennifer has successfully founded five startups, and exited two. She has spent over 10 years in the U.S, founding and fundraising for multiple technology companies. Currently, she is building the Go-To-Market strategy for Apple Music for Business.

She also built and launched the UNSW 10x Accelerator program, and launched the UNSW Angel Investor program.


Li Wu

Startup CFO Li Wu has weathered 3 recessions, worked in 60 countries, and brings 20 years’ extensive global finance and operational experience. 

Li has transitioned from major corporations, including KPMG, eBay, and PayPal, to assuming a leading role in successive San Francisco technology companies and startups. His focus is strategy, finance and operations.


Susan Lucas-Conwell

Experienced board director, advisor, and founder Susan Lucas-Conwell served as Executive Director of CSIRO US, opening the Silicon Valley innovation centre, and managing North America for Australia’s national science organisation. She is on the Advisory Board of the Global Corporate Venture & Innovation Summit. As Global CEO and Board Director at Great Place to Work Institute, Susan reinvented the business model to increase annual revenues by 30%. 

Susan has been recognised with the “Innovator Spotlight Award” (Frost & Sullivan), and “Women Who Made Their Mark” (Watermark).   


Richard Frawley

An experienced CEO and Director, Richard is a mentor with the Founders Institute. In addition to working with several startups in B2C and B2B, he has worked in major multinationals, including Alcatel-Lucent, Salesforce, and Cisco.

He also runs his own consultancy, with a focus on the critical junctures between technology and the business.


Olivia Humphrey

Olivia Humphrey is the founder of Kanopy, a new channel for streaming films to members of academic and public libraries, which forged a new model to monetise and distribute independent films. She sold the company to a US private equity firm, securing the platform as one of the great Australian tech success stories. 

Olivia serves as a Non-executive Director on Curtin University’s Commercialisation Advisory Board and is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Curtin University. She  was awarded the 2020 Advance Award for Education which recognises the work of remarkable global Australians making an extraordinary impact on the global stage.


Emma Weston

Emma is the CEO and a Co Founder of AgriDigital, one of Australia’s leading agtech and emerging fintech companies. Emma has had a diverse career as a lawyer and agribusiness executive and is mentor to several startups and founders in Australia and overseas. 

She was recently recognised as winner of the Eastern Region ‘Disruptor’ category in the 2020 EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. 

Emma sits on several boards and committees, and is the former Deputy Chair of FinTech Australia, a director of the Commonwealth Government’s Digital Skills Organisation Ltd, a member of the National Farmers’ Federation Farm Data Code Working Group and Grain Trade Australia’s IT Advisory Committee, as well as a director of blockchain start-up Geora Ltd. 


Gary Elphick

An experienced entrepreneur, Gary is the CEO of DisruptSports, which delivers print-on-demand manufacturing of retail quality sports equipment. DisruptSports is based in LA, London and Sydney. His concurrent venture, M.i.A merchandise, is headquartered in California, and provides print-on-demand licensed merchandise for e-commerce storefronts.

Gary has served as Catalyst in Residence, advising UNSW-based student startups.


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