A Swiss startup lender that’s set up in Victoria weighed straight into the old Melbourne v Sydney debate

- July 24, 2019 3 MIN READ

Seriously, what reasons could any company see for setting up around here? Photo: AdobeStock

There’s a joke almost as old as the endless Melbourne v Sydney debate that goes like this:

Melbourne says: “We’re better than Sydney”.

Sydney says: “What’s a Melbourne?”

And while this Sydney-born Sydneysider loves his hometown – #goSwans! – Melbourne is a great city and we love it equally. We don’t think one’s better than the other, they’re just different, even though the two state premiers like to throw around taxpayer funds in a battle to prove they’re in charge of a better government and region.

You can get decent coffee in both cities, and while the pies are much cheaper at the MCG than the SCG, we admit, surfing off Brighton when a sou’wester sweeps across Port Phillip bay isn’t quite the same as when barrel waves turn up at Bondi.

But when you’re a Swiss “alternative” lender putting your shingle up in Melbourne and looking for a bit of cheap publicity, the obvious solution is to send out a media release with the headline saying “international startups should choose Melbourne over Sydney” and bingo, like a reality TV starlet faux pas, get everyone talking about it.

Adam Lane, the new managing director of Tradeplus24, an invoice finance business – what’s better, this model or factoring? – expanding internationally for the first time, said in the company’s media release that “Melbourne was an easy choice over Sydney due to the Victorian Government’s far greater commitment to tech initiatives, larger pool of available venture capital, its global recognition as the tech epicentre of Australia, and a superior ability to attract talent”.

Mic drop.

“After successfully launching and scaling our operations in Switzerland, we saw global expansion as a natural next step, and the choice of Australia had clear benefits for our business in particular,” he said.

“As an alternative lender to SMEs, we were looking for a market that had a thriving business sector which did not yet have access to the credit required to thrive and grow. Australia fit these criteria perfectly.

“However, it was not enough to find a country with high demand for our offering. We also needed to set up operations in a location within that country which provided access to resources, funding, support, partnerships, and where innovation and start-ups were taken seriously.

“Our research found that Melbourne was on top in almost every aspect, and so it wasn’t hard to make the decision to locate our first Australian operations in its heartland.”

The announcement continues saying “some of the state’s more notable homegrown startups include Afterpay, Airwallex, Culture Amp, Envato, and 99Designs. Overseas tech companies that have chosen to locate their Australian operations in Melbourne instead of Sydney include Zendesk, Slack, Square, and GoPro”.

Sydney could reply with one word: Atlassian.

Or Canva.

And yes, they point out that the Savills UK “Tech Cities in Motion” report ranked Melbourne at 22 out of the top 30 global cities in the world for tech firms to operate in. True dat, but Google and Facebook still based themselves in Sydney.

Perhaps they’re more rugby league-loving companies.

And perhaps because the media release was issued by a Sydney PR firm, Lane and his venture began to hedge their bets lest Sydney startups get a bit parochial and lose interest in doing business with a Melbourne-based company.

“The short and easily-commutable distance between Melbourne and Sydney also allowed all of the above factors to override the slight size difference between Melbourne and Sydney’s fintech scenes – the tech vertical Tradeplus24 belongs to – as well as the fact that the financial services industry in New South Wales sits at around $64 billion compared to Victoria’s $40+ billio,” the release said.

“Moreover, we are also seeking partnerships and clients from all over Australia, so this close connection between Australia’s two largest fintech hubs allowed us to make the decision we did,” Lane added.

Being prepared to ask the hard questions, Startup Daily tested Lane on the most important issues facing anyone living in Melbourne.

The Tradeplus24 boss supports the Geelong Cats.

He loves Earl Canteen’s coffee.

Maybe he’s Melbourne after all.