Sydney and Melbourne are the country’s top two cities for startups, and those ecosystems have plenty to offer for hubs.
But as last week’s Startup Genome report revealed, Australia is also building strong alternative hubs outside the major capitals in cities where real estate is more affordable, lifestyles are easier and talented tech people want to be.
What do those places have in store for them? We asked several founders and this is what they said.
Founder and CEO, Zipline.io
While it may be isolated, Perth is home to a strong startup community – from our events to the people and network, we all support local success. This has always been a strength of WA’s startup ecosystem.
Opportunity-wise, there’s a lot of focus on education across the state, including the skills needed for technology and entrepreneurship. This is supported by a local focus on diversifying the WA economy, meaning there is increasing government and corporate support for companies looking to grow in WA.
Perth is the de facto center of innovation for resources of the world, so there is a lot of room for companies supporting this sector. This extends to the areas in which the resource industry is invested – from families to social issues and community well-being.
Asia is also on the doorstep, making regional growth easier and often more accessible. Being outside the larger cities and having a direct route to London can also make Perth a more attractive location when renting from the US and UK.
Of course, like any smaller town, our local investment pools aren’t as well established, meaning financial support often comes from out of state. We’re also the most isolated city in the world, and while that might be great for stopping a virus or creating a strong local community, it can sometimes feel lonely or cut off from the rest of the Australian startup community.
My biggest tip for a startup startup in Perth is to think of yourself as a national company from day one. Spend time actively building relationships and customer base in other markets early on and you will never feel limited.”
Two hours north of Sydney, Newcastle is not a country town but a bustling, vibrant place of creatives and thinkers. While it was once a resource center, today it is a forward-looking city that values innovation and technology.
There is strong local investment in the startup community as both government and industry are actively trying to close the economic gap left by the resource transition. This means there is a lot of support and opportunities for anyone looking to grow their business in Newcastle.
The city offers an ideal balance between lifestyle and bustle. The beach life and friendly people make it a great place for families. The talent pool is also ambitious and surprisingly robust as many bright candidates have moved north to escape the cost of Sydney.
When hiring, it’s often easier to stand out from local talent because they’re actively looking for us rather than us looking for them. That said, it can be harder to attract more senior specialists as you get older.
While it was difficult for many in the beginning, financing can also be harder to secure, even if you have a strong customer base and a lot of traction. This makes finding the right investors even more important (we like to think of it as an extra compatibility check, how well do they really know us and understand the realities of a global company?).
My top tip: quickly build a strong team on the ground and invest in your culture. By doing this, people will quickly see you as a respected company that they want to be a part of. From here, get your story out there as far as you can and keep investing in the local community. You’ll find that investors and great talent are more genuinely interested in your journey once these things have already been established.
While it’s clear that Brisbane offers a certain kind of lifestyle, many don’t realize that it’s also a fantastic place to build a business.
When you’re away from the chaos of a big city, you’re less likely to get stuck in the crowds (both professionally and personally).
There’s also less comparison and more room to run your own race, where I think the best growth happens. Your business is more likely to be measured by its own goals, not the growth milestones of others.
In Brisbane, it’s also easier to fly under the radar until you’re ready. This means you can focus on solving customer needs and not the pitfalls of echo chambers.
The overheads are also lower and the talent pool is diverse and hungry, making it easier to find good people, especially at an earlier stage.
You’d be amazed at how many great employees just don’t want to live in the Sydney or Melbourne rat race, yet crave an interesting startup challenge.
Brisbane also has an excellent education system, producing the highest level of graduates who are intelligent, smart and eager to learn. For an early stage startup looking for top talent without the capital of a startup or late stage corporate, there is much more flexibility.
Of course, the journey can be a lot. Many clients are often located in the larger cities, which means you can spend more time away than desired. I’m sure travel is still less than the average Sydney/Melbourne commute.
It can also be harder to be taken seriously early on.
My top tip is to invest time in relationships and get to know the right people early on. This allows you to run your business anywhere as you have cheerleaders in every corner.
CEO and Co-Founder of Fleet Space Technologies
South Australia is rapidly developing as a global center of excellence for the aerospace industry. This is determined by the collaboration between a growing ecosystem of fast-growing start-ups, scale-ups and academic institutions. This progress has been nurtured with support at the federal government level.
The recent $20 million government investment for a job-creating satellite manufacturing center is just one example of the support we have to move the industry forward.
As any founder knows, scaling a business requires a collaborative approach that empowers our people. In Adelaide, we have benefited from the region’s growing appeal for science, technology, engineering and commercial talent. We have gathered a remarkable group of people and are proud to have secured investment from Australia, the US and beyond.
My biggest tip for those considering building a business is to define a vision and then provide the very best individuals with what they need to execute it.
It’s a matter of trusting that clarity of focus and the collective strength of your team to make it happen.