An idea is the most powerful, important and valuable part of a startup’s journey.
Unicorns such as Canva, Atlassian and Go1 all began as ideas that became a new reality. And it’s that crucial moment the 2023 Startup Daily Best in Tech Awards wanted to celebrate and recognise with the Best New Idea award.
A trio of tech savvy 20-somethings, Dan Brockwell, Jono Herman and Marina Wu, launched Earlywork in early 2021 as a careers newsletter and since then that idea has blossomed into Australia’s first tech bootcamp, Earlywork Academy, complete with a job guarantee in tech sales.
The result has been immediate and impressive with everyone from the first cohort landing roles with an average salary of $101,000-plus within a month.
With the federal government and Tech Council of Australia focused on creating more than 300,000 tech jobs over the next eight years, Earlywork’s focus on training and employment for entry-level tech workers is music to those ears, as well as a younger generation inspired to be part of startup life.
The idea is also a money-saver for the tech companies involved, costing them far less for hires than traditional channels.
Just four months after launch, Earlywork had already hit a $1 million run rate and achieved profitability alongside partnerships with leading tech companies.
Some 18 months ago, the startup landed $700,000 in pre-seed from Square Peg, Archangel Ventures, Phase One Ventures and several angels, adding to its momentum.
And last year, as tech sector redundancies began to bite, Earlywork launched Between Work, a collaboration with VC fund AfterWork, connecting laid-off tech talent to new roles.
For the Startup Daily Best in Tech Awards judges, this widespread support was proof that not only did the Earlywork team have a great idea, they also had the traction to make it succeed, and in doing so, help the broader startup sector succeed too.
Accepting the award on behalf of his co-founders, Dan Brockwell sees the win of as recognition that Earlywork has addressed something that’s been a pain for a long time and solved it in a way that doesn’t necessarily demand a new form of technology.
“I think sometimes the best idea isn’t the sexiest tooling or the latest AI, Web 3.0 or whatever it may be,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s about looking at a problem really deeply and thinking about different ways to combine existing tools out there to create a new solution to that problem.”
It’s advice that should offer inspiration to other founders as they look to solve other problems.
For now, Brockwell and the team are looking at what needs fixing next to help the sector.
“If there’s one thing I’d say, I think it would be greater literacy and financial support around startups that aren’t going down the conventional unicorn and B2B SaaS type path,” he said.
“I think there are a lot of incredible businesses in Australia solving really important problems that think venture capital is the only way to build their business and a very traditional class of venture capital.
“There are a lot of amazing problems that need to be solved that don’t necessarily fit that traditional ladder. And so what I’d love to see especially for founders starting out is greater support for a lot of those, you know, call them zebras, if not unicorns.”
One word used for a herd of zebras is a dazzle. You can bet that as they grow, Earlywork will be there helping everyone dazzle.
The other finalists in the Best New Idea category were:
MRead. MRead is developing novel sensors to accurately detect explosives and drugs, with the goal of helping to heal communities and countries following the trauma of conflict.
Abtulus. Abtulus has created the VentiWatch, technology that monitors ventilation of patients with respiratory failure, and guides rescuers to ventilate them properly.
This article is brought to you by Startup Daily, with the support of Techstars.