News & Analysis

Melbourne startups embrace mentoring as “Chilli Chats” launches

- April 15, 2015 2 MIN READ

It was announced in February that tech incubator Bluechilli would be setting up a presence in Melbourne. The company appointed Sophie Hose and Ren Butler to head up operations, in what I believe is Australia’s first all female led branch of an incubator.

The appointment has meant that existing Melbourne based startups in the Bluechilli portfolio – Pitchpoint, Tribalmind, Liquorrun, Swift and Koobee now have an on-the-ground support system, as the Bluechilli portfolio across the city begins to expand.

It appears that in addition to supporting various startup events around the country, Bluechilli Melbourne is placing an emphasis on mentorship in the space, launching ‘Chilli Chats’ on Tuesday afternoons for Melbourne entrepreneurs to take advantage of.

Hose, who prior to joining Bluechilli was the former head of Ad Product for Newscorp, told Startup Daily that it has been really interesting to connect with people and find out what the general mood across the Melbourne startup ecosystem is, what issues they are experiencing and how they can be helped.

“Our key focus is on reducing the barriers for Melbourne entrepreneurs to launch their own tech startup,” says Hose.

“So that’s about providing access to advice, and support [as well as access] to the formal Bluechilli accelerator program. As part of reaching those outcomes we have been piloting ‘Chilli Chats’ on a Tuesday afternoon in which we have been providing 30 minute catch-ups with people in the community just to talk about whatever they want to”.

Both Hose and Butler have said that Melbourne is a slightly different market to that of Sydney, and that part of their roles are to recognise what those differences are. In order to provide genuine value for Melbourne based startup founders the pair have taken a real hands-on approach to gain a deep understanding into the wants and needs of the locals.

Hose told Startup Daily that they have also noticed some trends when it comes to the Tuesday afternoon ‘Chilli Chats” sessions.

“We are seeing some really healthy proportions of people that are experts in a particular field that have good deep vertical knowledge in a particular industry and a business idea that relates to solving a problem [in that industry]. Their challenge is they aren’t really sure how to get that to market, particularly around the tech side of things” said Hose.

This is actually a great sign of the Australian startup ecosystem starting to mature. Back three years ago, it would be more likely that attending such sessions would be a group of people that have a bunch of ideas, with no focus on what they are wanting to do and are more in love with the idea of being a tech startup founder than actually creating a product that makes a difference.

Melbourne entrepreneurs can book in for a ‘Chilli Chat’ session here.