Australian startups don’t need incubators, they need customers


By Lucy Lloyd

We speak to Australian companies all the time who are facing the question of how to tap into the startup market.

They ask us about investing, incubating and accelerator. To them we say: Why not try becoming a customer?

Don’t get me wrong, incubators and accelerators have their place and are a proven component of great startup communities, but given the choice we’d take a customer every time.

The Australian market is becoming saturated with initiatives to foster early-stage startups, with corporates, universities and governments setting up their own versions almost weekly.

It’s no secret that investment appetite isn’t keeping pace with the startup scene but neither is the appetite of companies and executives to try something new.

For Mentorloop our experience is that one week we’ll chat to a large corporate or bank about participating an innovation program they’re funding to promote women in startups then the following week we can’t get a call with their HR team to demo our mentoring software.

Ideas are great but true innovation is in the execution.

If we’re serious about fostering an innovation economy we need to support local businesses doing something new, approaching an existing problem differently, or creating a new market.

We need a cultural change beyond just the recognition of the local tech scene through press-friendly startup programs – we need CIOs and CTOs willing to take on a little more risk for more innovative results.

Next time you’re researching software to solve a business problem, why not take a look at what’s happening in your local startup scene rather than making a beeline for the big, US-owned players?

Even if it’s just a change in procurement where local businesses are trialled alongside the big players, it’s a huge step forward for our growing local industry.

Buck the trend, and innovate by disrupting the software procurement process.

Using a developing, locally-coded software solution that approaches existing business challenges in a new way – that’s what makes you a change-maker.

Lucy Lloyd is the co-founder of MentorLoop.

This piece was originally published on the MentorLoop blog.

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Since 2010 StartupSmart has been Australia’s no.1 publication for the startup community and those interested in the startup movement globally. Publishing news, information and advice daily, and placing itself squarely at the centre of the government’s national innovation agenda, StartupSmart is a leading participant in the momentum that surrounds the world’s focus on technology, creativity and entrepreneurialism.
  • Nigel

    So true, am about to start that journey.
    Just finished developing the product and am about to go out converting leads to clients.

    However, in the early stages, we startups also need to recognise the C suites desire to reduce risk. As startups we are risky, so maybe we need to sell with a risk reduction message as well…start small to prove everything is fine (a paid for trial with KPI’s) and if all KPI’s passed, then there is a commitment for a larger order.

  • PaulDHauck

    Great point! Many startups that I’ve worked with get their initial traction by working with an anchor client that’s willing to invest time in getting the product up to commercial grade, in exchange for having it effectively developed around them. Startups that work with an anchor client have a huge leg up on those that try and anticipate the market’s requirements, and suitable contracts can assure the client continuity even if the startup fails or changes direction later.