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Herbert Smith Freehills Startup School

A founder-focused initiative


Applications for the 2019 Startup School program have now closed. For enquiries or to join the waitlist for the next round, please contact us at [email protected]

The Herbert Smith Freehills Startup School is a free, law-firm led education program for startups in Melbourne. Startup School is a modular training program, which involves a series of practical workshops, led by experienced lawyers from Herbert Smith Freehills and some of its pre-eminent partners who are immersed in the startup sector, including Greenwoods + Herbert Smith Freehills, CultureAmp, Cannings, NAB Labs and Square Peg Capital. In every session, participants will hear from founders and advisers about some of the pitfalls of, challenges of and learnings from running a startup, have the opportunity to share their experiences with others, and learn from the best in the business.

Course Overview


In this session, we provide an overview of company and tax structuring to help gain an understanding of how best to structure your business, we cover mechanisms for making the most of tax incentives available to you and we discuss the pro's and con's of using ESOPs.

Speakers: Toby Eggleston (HSF), Adam Charles (HSF) and Damien Williams (MediPass) – Tuesday 7 May 2019 from 6pm-9pm 


In this session, we discuss the difference between various employment mechanisms and the rights, obligations and costs associated with each. The session covers some of the key terms that should be included in employee and/or contractor agreements, recruitment tips and includes a discussion on best practice employment practices.

Speakers: Natalie Gaspar (HSF) and Ewa Lobaza (HSF) – Tuesday 14 May 2019 from 6pm-8pm 


In this session, we cover some of the key legal and practical considerations associated with commercialising your product, including an overview of key intellectual property rights, including ownership and licensing regimes, maximising the value of your data and protecting your valuable business assets. The session also covers traps in commercial licensing and key privacy and data protection considerations.

Speakers: Katherine Gregor (HSF), Kaman Tsoi (HSF), Gavin Appel (Ignition Lane) and Rebecca Eastwood (Ignition Lane) – Monday 20 May 2019 from 6pm-9pm


In this session, we provide an overview of key contractual terms and a discussion on important legal risks and tips for managing these risks. We will also cover common areas of contract negotiation with your suppliers and customers, and general strategies for managing your business' liability.

Speakers: Anna Jaffe (HSF), Mandy Milner (HSF) and Zubin Pratap (Whooshka and Zeus Consulting) – Tuesday 28 May 2019 from 6pm-8pm


In this workshop, we cover key considerations for brand development and best practices for brand management. You will develop a toolkit of skills for developing clear and consistent messaging ready for the market, you will learn about the importance of developing a compelling narrative and you will explore ways to effectively use different channels to reach stakeholders. We will also discuss tips for developing a clear communications plan and presentation skills suitable for conferences, board meetings and panel discussions.

Speakers: Jeremy Herz (HSF) and Renee Bertuch (Cannings Communications) – Tuesday 4 June 2019 from 6pm-9pm 


In this session, we discuss various models of funding and the legal risks involved with each model. We discuss bootstrapping, debt and equity funding and the process leading up to IPO, including steps you can take now to ensure you are prepared for future due diligence processes. You will also hear about some of the key tips and traps when entering into shareholder agreements.

Speakers: Claire Thompson (HSF), Daniel Wypler (ANZ Ventures), Lucinda Hankin (Grok Ventures) and Dan Winter (Full Circle) – Tuesday 11 June 2019 from 6pm-9pm


In this final session focused on leadership, we discuss organisational purpose, vision and values and how to articulate these in an authentic, useful way and how to balance autonomy, growth and personal connection when it comes to driving performance and engagement with your teams. As part of the session, you will also develop a self-leadership framework in order to maximise your own performance on a daily basis.

Speakers: Omar de Silva (Plato Project and For Men) – Tuesday 18 June 2019 from 6pm-9pm 


Why should you sign up for Startup School?

Herbert Smith Freehills is a global top tier law firm with a first class technology practice as well as sector focus on technology. We represent top companies around the world and want to be a part of your pathway to success.

We are looking for founders, entrepreneurs and business enthusiasts who have an established startup and are preparing for scale or fundraising.

We offer you:

  • (Network) Access to a network of mentors, advisors and experienced professionals to help your startup navigate legal and regulatory challenges. Herbert Smith Freehills Startup School will enable you to build relationships and partnerships within the startup sector and the Melbourne business community.
  • (Curriculum) Herbert Smith Freehills Startup School brings together experts from the legal and related sectors to ensure that you are aware of, and understand, key commercial drivers and risks that will be important when operating your business.
  • (Support) Stuck at a cross-roads? Not sure if your legal issues require further advice? The team at Herbert Smith Freehills Startup School are experts in their respective fields and will be able to give you commercial and targeted advice to put you on the right path.
  • (Community) Hear from startups that have succeeded and failed. Herbert Smith Freehills Startup School is a practical and hands-on experience. You will hear directly from your peers in the startup community on their tips and traps and advice to make sure you learn from the mistakes of other startups that have faced the same challenges.

For enquiries about the Herbert Smith Freehills Startup School, please contact us at [email protected].

Herbert Smith Freehills' 2018 Startup School
In 2018, 18 Aussie startups took part in our second round of the Herbert Smith Freehills Startup School. Here’s what some of them had to say about their experience.


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