Attending these types of events as press can sometimes be a bit conflicting for me. I think of myself first and foremost as a founder. The journalism side of our business I try and leave for those I employ with journalism degrees, so this is my opinion on TechSydney, the organisation’s mission, and its revenue strategy.
There are sure to be a number of articles published today about the fancy function held last night at the Powerhouse Museum to launch the not-for-profit organisation TechSydney. Discussion will take place that focuses on diversity, inclusion, fragmentation, talent problems, government lobbying, and space, density, and proximity issues.
To be frank, any conversations about these topics are premature, because that is not what last night was about.
Last night was about getting 200 of the fastest-growing tech startups in the room – startups worth a collective $11 billion – and getting their buy-in and commitment to support the organisation. And that is not anecdotal support either, it is about cash.
Specifically, it was about getting the 200 (mostly) founders at the dinner to purchase company memberships, being exemplars to the next group of Sydney-based tech companies.
Without that skin in the game and financial commitment by every prominent player in the ecosystem first up, TechSydney dies – fast.
The proposed membership structure for the organisation was revealed at last night’s event. The yearly pricing is as follows:
Individual or Accelerator Company – $250
Early Stage – $2,500
Mid Stage – $10,000
Growth – $25,000
International Unicorn – $25,000
Top Tier – $50,000
Angel Investors – $5,000
Venture Capital Firms – $50,000
Universities – $50,000
Corporates – $50,000
Foundation Members – $250,000
This pricing model is way too complicated, and some work needs to be done on making it simple, such as having a three tiered approach, max. TechSydney’s definitions around what each of these stages of a tech company are could be fleshed out a bit further, too; as it stands I don’t know where a fast-growth company like my own fits.
Actually, does TechSydney even define media play as a tech venture?
The organisation did a great job explaining why it is important to startups, but perhaps could have been a little more proactive in explaining the resources it would need to achieve its goals. I know I am getting slightly ahead of things here, but if TechSydney is successful in raising or generating $2 million in revenue in year one, what do we need to spend on to drive the ecosystem forward?
Proximity is Paramount
Physical distance between work and hang out spots in the Sydney tech community help enhance the fragmented state of our city ecosystem.
Although we have many collaborative spaces and programs like Fishburners, Tank Stream Labs, BlueChilli, WeCo, iCentral, Gravity, ATP Innovations, The Hub Sydney, The Emporium, muru-D, Jumpstart, Springboard, Startmate, INCUBATE and many others, these are all examples of individual collaborative ecosystems and the collaboration factor between all tech citizens is no where near as strong as it could or should be.
It is vital that Sydney creates a concentrated area where startup activity happens.
One of the standout points within the City of Sydney’s Draft Tech Startup Action Plan is the fact that when an industry “clusters” within a particular location, there is usually a higher level of success that stems out of that location, both from an economic and community standpoint.
This is something that Wellington as a city does extremely well. Perhaps an educational opportunity exists there for TechSydney.
A Top 10 Global Startup City
As mentioned in the opening address to the audience by Dean McEvoy, CEO of TechSydney, in the last Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking report Sydney dropped four places from 12 to 16.
If we take into account that the report is missing massive startup markets like China, it’s likely that Sydney sits even lower on the scale. I would hedge a bet that cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Beijing would appear in the top 10.
It’s also worth noting that Australian and New Zealand startups do not have a big presence on databases like Angel List and Crunchbase, which is one of the key sources of data that was used to assess ecosystems across the globe.
Australian founders are also notoriously bad at engaging with surveys properly, which of course then skews the data. This is a problem for our ecosystem – if we are really serious about the ranking, we need get serious about the penetration of participation rates.
First things first though – TechSydney needs its paid anchor members.
Image: Illustration Sydney City | Source: Owned