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Tech start-ups sought for new start-up community

Thursday, 10 February 2011 | By Oliver Milman

Budding entrepreneurs have been invited to apply to join an innovative Sydney “start-up community” that aims to house a selection of Australia’s leading tech start-ups under the same roof.


The community, which has been dubbed FishBurners after one of the supply ships in the First Fleet, will be located at a 400 square-metre office in the Sydney suburb of Ultimo from April 1.


FishBurners is looking for 20 early-stage businesses, each comprising of a founder and at least one full-time member of staff, to move into the space.


The fledgling community insists that it’s a not-for-profit exercise, rather than a fee or stake-based incubator, and will charge rent of $250 per desk, per month.


Peter Davison, an original investor in Confinity, which went on to become PayPal, is the financial backer behind the scheme. Six start-ups that already co-habit with each other, including The Entourage, GradConnection and 99Dresses, will move into the new space and will help choose their co-tenants.


“We are looking to create a new kind of model and have the chemistry of a better kind of environment for start-ups,” Davison told StartupSmart. “There’s nothing wrong with incubators. They have their place. But they are motivated by investment and we don’t want to impose constraints.”


“We are the enablers, not the visionaries. If I get my money back in five years and see lots of success stories, that will be a good return for me.”


Asked if he would put money into any of the successful applicants, Davison, who currently has investment interests ranging from a domain name provider to an online TV operator in Paraguay, says: “That’s not the goal of this. We want to see cross-fertilisation in the community and help crystallise their vision. But I wouldn’t rule out any investment in the future.”


Jack Delosa, founder of youth entrepreneur network The Entourage, adds: “We will pay the investment back and then put any surplus back into the community. Ideally, we want start-ups that will take up more than one desk, because you know that they won’t hit the wall in the next quarter.”


“The response has already been strong, bordering on the overwhelming. If there’s strong demand, we’ll create a second and third community. We will probably expand to Melbourne if there’s the demand.”


Start-ups that wish to be part of the community have until February 15 to apply. For more information on the scheme, click here.