Next Carnegie’s Den pitching contest opens for applications

9:15PM | Monday, 15 September

Applications have opened for the next Carnegie’s Den, as two of the finalists from its last event remain locked in negotiations for investment.   Carnegie’s Den, a regular event, gives startups a platform to gain media exposure and funding from a network of prospective investors.   The best applicants are chosen to pitch to a room full of potential investors and a panel of expert judges.   Social media analytics startup Digivizer took home $15,000 in prize money and a $1 million investment opportunity after winning the judge’s choice award at Carnegie’s Den in May.   M.H Carnegie and Co head of new business ventures Nigel Hawtin says Digiviser and fellow finalist Selera Labs are still negotiating regarding possible investment.   Selera Labs is a software developer that has developed data analytics that improves financial governance, ensures transactional compliance and automates internal auditing processes.   Hawtin says investment has not been finalised yet, as investors do their “due diligence” and negotiations regarding valuation continue.   A new set of judges join Mark Carnegie on the judging panel for the latest event, including Fishburners general manager Murray Hurps, Scale Investors founder Laura McKenzie, 4Cabling founder Nicole Kersh, and muru-D entrepreneur-in-residence Mick Liubinskas.   “We’ve gone for a younger judging panel, more aligned to the startup space,” Hawtin says of the judges.   M.H Carnegie and Co is looking for later stage startups. Hawtin says while startups which haven’t been to market or haven’t raised capital won’t be ruled out, it’s more likely the finalists will be further along.   Recently a number of Australian investors highlighted that while they receive plenty of applications, often the quality of startups is a problem. Hawtin says the experience of Carnegie’s Den is similar.   “We end up getting enough, but absolutely, they have not been as advanced as it would be in other countries,” he says.   “We have engaged, spoken to incubators, and they feel like they’re doing a better job. I think it’s just one of those younger spaces in Australia and most people go abroad if they want funding.”   Applications close on October 10, with finalists set to be announced on October 27, before pitching at Carnegie’s Den on November 21.   To apply, visit   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

We’re all just making it up as we go along, and other startup lessons from Sydstart

9:06AM | Wednesday, 3 September

If the Australian startup ecosystem was to have a family reunion, SydStart might be it.   Over 1000 startup founders, budding entrepreneurs and investors gathered at the Hilton in Sydney yesterday for SydStart 2014.   Among them were Australia’s best and brightest entrepreneurs, Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, Freelancer chief executive officer and chairman Matt Barrie, Startmate founder and investor Niki Scevak, Canva co-founder Melanie Perkins and many more.   It was Mike Cannon-Brookes, perhaps the most uncomfortable with his position as one of the key figures the Australian industry looks to for advice and guidance, who drew the most interest.   He spoke of feeling like a fraud when meeting other prominent startup founders from around the world and being pleasantly surprised by the fact that they felt the same way. And he had a lesson for founders: entrepreneurs are all the same.   “You move up this weird totem pole of entrepreneurs, where you get to meet more and more interesting people and you to these weird points where you’re so excited to meet them, and you think to yourself ‘Wow, I’ve read about this person 40 times, just to get a half hour coffee is amazing’,” he says.   “And then they turn up and they feel the same way and it’s like ‘wow, this is weird’.   “You realise all these other super successful entrepreneurs are in exactly the same boat and that never goes away. They’re all doing it for the first time, they’re all making it up as it goes on, they’re basically making smart judgment calls and getting 80% of the decisions right. Ploughing ahead and continuing to be bold. They don’t get timid as the stakes get higher.”   That point – all entrepreneurs are the same, all are learning on the job, all are “making it up as it goes on”, permeated the entire conference. Throughout the day, it was impossible to miss the many conversations going on between founders after advice and investors, or the successful entrepreneurs taking time to give it to them, regardless of who they were.   It was a point Niki Scevak later picked up on.   “If you look around the investment landscape you have all these people that believe in cliches that aren’t true,” he says.   “They want to invest in proven founders, with a great management team, in this really, really big market, as if any of those are knowable at the time you get to invest.   “All of these great success stories that Australia has been home to, they were started by, no offence, people with very little experience who had just finished university, no business experience, they looked like complete jokes and not only that they were entering into markets that were incredibly crowded.   “You’re actually looking for first time founders that look like a joke, it sounds a bit silly, but founders know that. Founders know it’s a complete mess at the start. It’s not actually about that, it’s a couple of levels deeper and what unique insight do you have.”   As Fishburners general manager Murray Hurps pointed out as the conference closed, when he began his startup 16 years ago, there was nobody to help out with that mess.   That’s since changed thanks to the many co-working spaces and community leaders like SydStart conference coordinator Pete Cooper, as some of the many founders in attendance pointed out. founder Nathan Murphy spoke of the value of SydStart to people like himself.   “SydStart is like a big family reunion every year where you get to see old faces, share war stories and hopes for the years ahead,” he says.   “You gather around the elders and listen attentively to their advice for finding success.”   For Play2Lead founder Theresa Lim, SydStart was not just about advice but also a place to recruit her team.   “I was only expecting to potentially (meet) developers who I might add to my team or investors who might be interested,” she says.   “No only did I achieve that goal, but I made several customer leads from enterprise as well.   “I’ve had so many doors open to key customers through this (Fishburners and SydStart) community. Everyone is driven and helpful – the event itself inspires me to just keep going! Pete Cooper and Murray Hurps are tirelessly dedicated to making our startup community thrive.”

Govt MP visits Fishburners, calls for urgent action to help grow Australia’s startup ecosystem

8:44AM | Wednesday, 27 August

Recently, parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Communications, Paul Fletcher, spent time at the Fishburners co-working space in Sydney, where he spoke with Fishburners general manager Murray Hurps, Head of Engineering at Google Australia Alan Noble and a number of startups.   Here are five things he took away from his visit:   1. The importance of STEM education   “Alan Noble and I discussed how Australia’s education system needs to better support students studying STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to help develop Australia’s tech sector.   “Alan said that we need to look at how our education system can allow students to grow their ability in, as he phrased it, ‘computational thinking’.”   2. Employee share ownership schemes matter   “Attracting and retaining talented staff is a potential ‘blocker’ to the success of start-ups. As I noted in a recent speech, employee share ownership plans and share options are a key tool used to attract staff, widely used in the tech sector in the US and other countries.   “Today our tax settings mean that Australian start-ups – and indeed later stage companies – cannot match the equity and option offerings of tech firms overseas, including the US.   “This issue is being looked at by the taskforce which is working on the National Industry Investment and Competitiveness Agenda: the taskforce will report to the Prime Minister later this year.”   3. Capital is key   “Raising capital is a key issue for start-ups in Australia. The government is considering a recent report from an advisory committee on corporations law, which makes recommendations about ‘crowdfunding’ – that is, how could we streamline the regulations governing the raising of investment capital to facilitate the use of the internet to raise small sums of money from large numbers of people.”   4. Startups create jobs   “I was reminded during the visit to Fishburners that the high-tech sector can play an important role in new job creation. A recent report from America’s Kauffman Foundation found that new business formation was 23 per cent more likely in the high-tech sector of the US economy than in the private sector as a whole.   “Adding to that, in information and communications technology (a sub-set of the broader high-tech sector) it was 48 per cent more likely. The report also found that new and young firms in the high-tech sector are more robust job-creators than such firms in the broader economy.   “The OECD reports in its most recent Science, Technology and Innovation Report that one third of job creation in the business sector comes from young firms with fewer than 50 employees – even though these make up only 11 per cent of total employment.”   5. Technology will disrupt major sectors of the nation’s economy   “Looking at the innovative new technologies under development at Fishburners, I was reminded of how digital disruption is impacting all sectors of Australia’s economy. A recent report from Deloitte Digital found that almost one-third of the Australian economy faces imminent and major disruption due to the transformative power of the digital economy.   “The sectors most likely to be affected include some of Australia’s biggest employers, such as retail and professional services.   “As the recent StartupAus ‘Crossroads’ report argued, startups have a key role to play in this disruptive environment, noting: ‘As a nation we need to take immediate and far-reaching steps to address market failures that are impeding the maturation and growth of our startup ecosystem.’”   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Sydney co-working space StartNest launches for start-ups ‘north of the bridge’

4:49AM | Wednesday, 10 April

A new co-working space called StartNest is set to open on Sydney’s north shore in two weeks, positioning itself as the first major space for start-ups and entrepreneurs “north of the bridge”.   StartNest, located at 65 Hume Street in Crows Nest, is focused on housing high-growth start-ups. The doors open on April 15, with celebratory drinks to be held on April 18.   The space was founded by Simon Foster and Jonathan Herrman, both of whom work at Shoeboxed Australia, along with Katerina Morjanoff and Sean Marshall.   Morjanoff is the founder of Speaker to Stage, while Marshall used to be involved in SydStart.   In addition to providing desks, internet and meeting rooms, the StartNest team will work with residents to connect them to mentors, investors and partners.   StartNest will also be a centre for start-up activity on the north shore, hosting events and workshops. There are also plans to double the available space over the next 12 to 18 months.   Foster told StartupSmart the establishment of StartNext “happened very quickly”.   “Funds tend to associate with co-working spaces and there isn’t a big one on the north shore,” Foster says.   “It means that when there are start-up events, they tend to be in a Fishburners or the other places on the other side of the city. It’s a hassle to get over from the north of the bridge.”   Shoeboxed Australia was sharing its lease with another company when an opportunity arose to create a co-working space.   “We knew our landlord was getting some free space. We thought, is this something we should do?” Foster says.   “We decided to go ahead and do it. It was one of those inflection points where you’re pressured to make a decision and you just make it.   “It will be the first major co-working space on the north shore. We will have 45 desks initially. We have the ability to expand within the building.”   Foster says the north shore has a slightly different demographic to the typical start-up scene.   “They’re a little bit older, more experienced and a bit more mature businesses. But we’re also looking to bring in people who are service professionals for tech companies – things like SEO consultants, web designers,” he says.   “They could be one-person or two-person companies… interested in being part of the community and have lots of value to give. It should make for a very interesting group of people.   “The other person we’ve got involved is Peter Cooper, who runs SydStart and was one of the founders of Fishburners. He’s helping us out on the mentoring side.   “A big part of the difference between a service office and a co-working space is the community... It’s not just a commoditised thing.”   According to Foster, the Crows Nest atmosphere is changing for the better.   “It was sort of the Lygon Street of Sydney in the fifties. It’s changed quite a bit. There are a couple of the original Italian restaurants still here but now there’s much more variety,” he says.   “It went down a bit over the last 10 years. There used to be, in the dotcom days, a lot of multimedia companies but that seems to be coming back.   “We’re surprised to find all these people coming out of the woodwork.”

Co-working growing pains

11:23PM | Tuesday, 13 November

A growing number of start-ups are claiming co-working spaces to be their secret weapon, giving them a competitive edge in their quest for world domination.

Uncovering the Canberra start-up scene

9:29PM | Tuesday, 11 September

Canberra   Population: 358,000   Start-up survival rate: 71.7% (2007 to 2009).   If Australian entrepreneurs are asked to think about the best start-up hubs in the country, it’s safe to say Canberra doesn’t immediately spring to mind.

Canberra start-ups get funding but connections still lacking

8:50AM | Tuesday, 28 August

Five Canberra-based start-ups have received $170,000 in government grants to develop their products and services, but a local player says Canberra’s start-up scene still has a long way to go.

Co-working hub Fishburners launches new space for start-ups

2:57AM | Friday, 24 February

Sydney co-working network Fishburners has launched a new space for start-ups, partnering with the City of Sydney to roll out the Darlinghurst facility.

Sydney co-working space Investon set to launch

3:10AM | Monday, 11 March

New co-working space Investon will launch in Sydney this Friday, with the founders insisting it will be a thriving hub for people to share their ideas, as opposed to simply sharing a workspace.