Sydney and Melbourne are the nation’s top two cities for startup and those ecosystems have have plenty going for them hubs.
But as last week’s Startup Genome report revealed, Australia is also building strong alternative hubs outside the main capitals in cities where property is more affordable, the lifestyle is easier and talented tech people want to be.
What have those places got going for them? We asked several founders and here’s what they said.
Founder & 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’re all championing local success. This has always been a strength of the WA startup ecosystem.
In terms of opportunities, state-wide there is a big focus on education, including the skills needed for tech and entrepreneurship. This is supported by a local focus on diversifying the WA economy, meaning there is increasing government and corporate support for businesses looking to grow in WA.
Perth is the de-facto resources innovation hub of the world, so there is great room for business that supports this sector. This extends to the areas the resources industry is invested in — from families to social issues and community wellbeing.
Asia is also on our doorstep, making regional growth easier and often more accessible. Being outside the bigger cities and having a direct route to London can also make Perth a more attractive location when hiring from the US and UK.
Of course, like any smaller city our local investment pools aren’t as well established, meaning financial support often comes from outside the state. We are also the most isolated city in the world, and while that may be great for stopping a virus or creating a strong local community, it can feel lonely or apart from the rest of the Australian startup community at times.
My biggest tip for a budding Perth startup is to consider yourself as a national business from day one. Spend time actively building relationships and a customer base in other markets early on and you’ll never feel restricted.”
Two hours north of Sydney, Newcastle isn’t a country town but a bustling, vibrant place of creatives and thinkers. While once a resources hub, today it is a future focused city that deeply values innovation and technology.
There is strong local investment in the startup community, as both government and industry actively look to fill the economic gap that the transition from resources has left. This means there is a lot of support and opportunity for anyone willing to grow their business in Newcastle.
The city offers an ideal balance between lifestyle and hustle. Its beachside living and kind people make it a wonderful place for families. The talent pool is also ambitious and surprisingly robust, as many smart candidates have made the move north to escape the expense of Sydney.
When hiring, it is often easier to stand out amongst local talent as 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 scale.
While it’s difficult for many in the early days, funding can also feel harder to secure — even if you have a strong customer base and great traction. This makes finding the right investors even more important (we like to see it as an added compatibility check, how well do they really know us and do they understand the realities of a global business?).
My top tip: Build a strong team on the ground quickly 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 as far and wide as you can, and continue investing in the local community. You’ll find investors and great talent are more genuinely interested in joining your journey if these things are already established.
While it’s obvious that Brisbane offers a certain type of lifestyle, what many don’t realise is that it’s also a fantastic place to build a business.
Being away from the chaos of a big city means you’re less likely to be caught up in the hustle (both professionally and personally).
There is also less comparison and more room to run your own race, which I believe is where the best growth happens. Your business is more likely to be measured against 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 customers’ needs and not the traps of echo chambers.
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 surprised how many great employees just don’t want to live in the rat race of Sydney or Melbourne but still crave an interesting startup challenge.
Brisbane also boasts an outstanding education system, producing top tier graduates who are intelligent, savvy and inquisitive. For an early stage startup seeking top talent without the capital of a later stage startup or corporate, there is much more flexibility.
Of course, the travel can be a lot. Many customers are often in the bigger cities, meaning you can end up spending more time away than desired. I’m sure that travel is still less than the average Sydney/Melbourne commute though.
It can also be harder to be taken seriously early.
My top tip is to spend time investing in relationships and knowing the right people early on. This enables you to run your business from anywhere as you have cheerleaders in every corner.
CEO and co-founder of Fleet Space Technologies
South Australia is rapidly emerging as a global centre of excellence for the space industry. This is defined by collaboration between a growing eco-system of fast growth start-ups, scale ups and academic institutions. This progress has been nurtured with support at a federal government level.
Indeed, the recent $20 million dollar Government investment for a job-creating satellite manufacturing hub is just an example of the support we have to continue to drive the industry forward.
As every founder knows, scaling a business requires a collaborative approach that empowers our people. In Adelaide we have benefited from the region’s growing attraction to 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 case of trusting in that clarity of focus and the collective power of your team to make it happen.
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