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Jo Robyn

Chief of Staff

Jo is Chief of Staff at Black Nova Venture Capital. Jo has over 10 years experience supporting and leading delivery and Executive leadership teams at the likes of Atlassian, Afterpay and Brighte. Jo’s had various roles within scaling tech organisations across PMO, Strategy & Operations and Change Management in global, cross- functional capacities. She also serves as a startup coach and founder mentor for Blackbird Giants, Startmate, Techstars and Global Sisters Australia.

Outside of work you can find me at?

Teaching or doing pilates somewhere in the Eastern suburbs (I’m an addict!), enjoying the lush Australian landscape of beach and bush, anything outdoors and in the sun (wearing sunscreen of course!), curating playlists, reading about the latest productivity hacks, or finding a new hobby to master.

Best thing about startups?

Startups offer the right mix of timing, innovation and agility; 2 of those 3 you can influence. With the technological advancements and capabilities that exist today, there’s never been a better time to solve a problem and build a business. The amount of creativity and curiosity that I see every day continues to impress and humble me, and I get to learn from startup founders and teams just as much as they learn from me.

Top piece of advice for founders?

“A dream without a goal is just a wish. A goal without a plan is just a dream.” 

Building a software business isn’t novel – there are many that have done it before you, and even more will do it again. It’s a set of rinse and repeat activities to turn a vision into a viable, commercial, sustainable operating engine. What will set you apart is your ability to execute. Many people have great ideas, few will turn those ideas into a reality. The last few years’ shifts in market dynamics means it’s no longer a ‘growth at all costs’ game. Get back to basics and focus on your fundamentals – build a business plan, know your key metrics every single day and deeply understand the levers you have to influence them, stay close to your customers. Everytime you run into a challenge (of which there will be many), go back to your plan and adapt. 


What do I look for in a founder?

The best word that comes to mind to encompass it all is ‘maturity’; maturity in their thinking – have they thought through the problem from all angles and personas, considered every possible solution and assessed the opportunities, risks and threats; mature enough to know when to seek advice, when to ask for help, and when to block out the noise; mature enough to know they can’t be good at everything, but what they can do is surround themselves with a credible team to lean on; the maturity to be wrong, and say “I don’t know, but I will find out.”

Two truths and a lie?

  • I’ve met former US President George W. Bush
  • I’ve won a marshmallow eating competition
  • I’ve nursed tiger cubs in South Africa

Favourite Quote + why?

  • “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” Alan Watts
  • “The purpose of life is not to be in the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” — Marcus Aurelius
  • “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.” Hector Garcia

Top 3 podcasts or books?

  • Indistractible by Nir Eyal: it’s a must-read for productivity hacking and time management in alignment with your values
  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  • Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

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