Google Australia


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.

Google Wallet not planning an Australian launch, leaving a big opportunity for local mobile payment startups

8:15AM | Friday, 22 August

Google has revealed it has no plans to launch its Google Wallet mobile payment platform in Australia, with the news leaving a large gap in the local market for Australian tech startups to fill.   As Fairfax reported, at a Trans-Tasman Business circle lunch in Sydney, Google Australia’s managing director Maile Carnegie revealed it had no plans for an Australian launch.   During a wide-ranging discussion, Carnegie listed off a number of priority areas for the tech giant in Australia, mentioning that there are no plans for a local launch for Google Wallet.   A Google spokesperson confirmed to Private Media the tech giant didn’t have any plans for a local launch of its online payments platform.   "Right now, we're focusing on Google Wallet in the US, and don't have a plan to share for international roll out,” the spokesperson says.   It’s good news for local startup entrepreneurs in the online and mobile payments space, such as Rewardle founder and managing director Ruwan Weerasooriya.   Rewardle recently added support for Android Wear devices, after appointing the former head of Fairfax’s digital and metropolitan news divisions, Jack Matthews, as its chairman.   Weerasooriya told Private Media that tech and banking incumbents don't have a lock on the future of payments, particularly when it comes to the mobile devices.   "Mobile computing is changing the game; the disruption allows a nimble start up the opportunity to compete and win against large, powerful incumbents,” Weerasooriya.   “As demonstrated by the recent porting of Rewardle onto the Android wearable OS which allows our members to make payments using their smart devices, mobile payments is becoming a bigger part of our offering and focus.”   However, the news is not universally positive for mobile payments startups. Earlier this month, Tappr launched a pilot program, its JUVO system, which integrates an MPOS (mobile point of sales) app with a card reader.   Co-founder and chief executive Brett Hales told Private Media Google’s entry to the market will bring a lot more attention to the sector.   “We handle more on the merchant side of things rather than the consumer side, where Google Wallet operates, so our emphasis would be on integrating support for Google Wallet and other payment systems into JUVO,” Hales says.   Hales also speculates that Google’s decision to focus Wallet on the US market is because banks in the US have not made the sorts of investments local banks, such as CBA, have in mobile payments.   “Google have seen this and seen it might not be a good idea to tackle the Australian market,” he says.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

First episode of That Startup Show taped in Melbourne

8:37PM | Sunday, 3 August

A who’s who of the tech and startup scene gathered in Melbourne to watch the filming of the first episode of That Startup Show, a new web and TV series aimed at the startup community.   The panel discussion show uses a format reminiscent of the ABC’s The Gruen Transfer. The first half of each episode is spent discussing the issues startups face, such as what constitutes a tech startup and developing effective social media strategy. Meanwhile, the second half sees entrepreneurs pitch their businesses ideas for a chance to win a trip to Silicon Valley.   The program is hosted by Dan Ilic, who some say bears an uncanny resemblance to Futurist Techspert Rambotia Jones. The panel for the first episode comprised of Google Australia’s Alan Noble, BlueChilli’s Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, and StartupSmart’s own Bronwen Clune.   While Melbourne produced the type of winter weather it’s infamous for, the event attracted an enthusiastic crowd to the recently refurbished Savoy Tavern, across the road from Melbourne’s busy Southern Cross Station.   Behind the scenes, there was a full television production crew, including multiple cameras, lighting, video, and sound editing staff. Many of the tech entrepreneurs couldn’t help but take a quick peek at the array of video and sound switching systems used to put the show together.   That Start Up Show producer Anna Reeves told Private Media "from the moment people walked in, you could feel a fun, collegiate mood".   "We're putting that down to the support we've had from our sponsors, community partners and crew who collaborated on so many aspects of the event," Reeves says.   That Start Up Show creative director Ahmed Salama told Private Media the turnout exceeded the crew's wildest expectations.   "We look forward to sharing the diverse and inspiring discussions around startups in this country in the coming episodes. And with some luck, inspire many others on the entrepreneurial journey," Salama says.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Startup leaders respond with caution to possible ESOP changes

8:44AM | Friday, 1 August

Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, Founder and CEO, Blue Chilli: "Ministers Hockey and Turnbull have been flagging changes since prior to 2013 election, so there's been more than enough time to put forward new legislation.   "We're competing in a global talent market and we're unable to reward and retain the best talent in Australia without these changes. Effective ESOP reform will cut the cost of early-stage startup innovation, get more innovation commercialised and help us create teams with a common purpose rather than an Industrial Age employer/employee relationship."   Yasser El-Ansary, AVCAL’s CEO: “Reform of the employee share scheme tax framework for early stage companies is long overdue.  AVCAL has recommended to the Government that employees of start-ups should only be taxed when a realisation event occurs.   "The approach also needs to be simple and low cost and will need to contain an appropriate definition of ‘start-up companies’.”   Niki Scevak, Blackbird Ventures director: “In a word: finally! Thank you to the government for finally removing this ill-conceived roadblock to Australia's best people working in startups.”   Adrian Stone, AngelCube co-founder: "The changes to ESOP are important because it removes one of the friction points for Australian startups at want to grow.   "At AngelCube, we had to use back door methods, such as reverse-option vesting agreements to achieve a similar result so, clearly, the need for ESOP reform is there even for startups making their very first hire. And, it's the earliest hires that make or break a new business."   Alan Noble, StartupAus board member, and Engineering Director, Google Australia and New Zealand:  “We look forward to changes to ESS/ESOPs that enable startups to be more competitive in attracting talent, and give employees more skin in the game."   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

That Start Up Show announces first panel line-up

7:31AM | Thursday, 24 July

That Start Up Show, the Australian startup and entrepreneurial web series, has announced the line-up of its first panel, including Alan Noble (#StartupAUS, Google Australia), Bronwen Clune (editor, StartupSmart) and Seb Eckersley-Maslin (BlueChilli).   That Start Up Show will focus on the fast-growing Australian entrepreneurial boom and the culture that surrounds it. This unique series brings together businesses, creatives, startups, VCs, capital, incubators and entrepreneurs to the public on a 6-month journey exploring the ups and downs of being a startup. The series will be filmed once a month commencing with a special launch event on Thursday 31 July.   The series’ first episode tackles ‘What the BLEEP is a start up?’, with the panel discussing why this definition is important to make in light of the federal government’s planned Entrepreneurs' Infrastructure Program for startups.   The VIP Ticket offer sold out quickly, and demand for Launch Tickets has been so strong that more tickets were released this week. Episode one films Thursday 31 July at The Savoy Hotel and the edited show will be released on YouTube a week later.   “The response has been so great we’ve had to release more tickets for the first show, which speaks to the startup community’s interest in a show like this for Australia,” says Sally Gatenby, co-producer of That Start Up Show.   A special appearance by Silicon Valley tech commentator Rambotia Jones has been confirmed, with more international guests arriving for the 6-month season.   WHERE:                Back Bar - The Savoy Tavern, 677 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 WHEN:                  Thursday 31 July, Doors Open 6pm, Show Starts 7pm LINKS:            StartupSmart is a media partner.

Collaboration can add $46 billion to the Australian economy: Report

7:43AM | Monday, 21 July

Improved workforce collaboration could add $46 billion to Australia’s national economy, according to a new report from Deloitte commissioned by Google Australia.   The report is based on a survey of 1000 Australian employees and managers conducted in June 2014 by Stancombe Research and Planning, comparing collaborative work to individual work.   It links increased collaboration with a 24.4% boost in productivity, equating to 54 minutes of work per week, along with a 29.2% improvement in quality, saving 64 minutes per week.   Assuming an average wage of $57,400 per annum and a workforce of 11.6 million, this equates to a $22.6 billion boost to productivity and a $29.2 billion boost from improved quality.   Even allowing for 16 minutes per week of wasted time (including wasted time and distraction) at a cost of $5.4 billion, the potential economic boost is $46 billion.   Not surprisingly, given the funding of the report, 69% of respondents identified shared electronic resources as the most important tool for workplace collaboration.   Other major factors include common areas for socialising (66%), meeting rooms (49%), open plan offices (46%), collaboration software (43%), video conferencing (43%) and social media (36%).   For businesses that collaborate effectively, 45.8% identify workplace culture as a key motivating factor, 38.5% cite team members as being instrumental, with available technology (28.1%), customers (22%) workplace layout (20.4%) and the economy (19%) all factors.   The report also asked companies whether they saw themselves growing faster, at the same pace, or slower than their competition.   Of those claiming to be growing faster than their competition, 52.25% identified collaboration as being a critical component of their corporate strategy. This compares to 36.49% of those growing at the same pace as their competitors, and 19.67% of those growing slower.    Google Enterprise Australia and New Zealand managing director Kevin Ackhurst told Private Media notes collaboration is a strong point of the startup community.   "Big companies can learn a lot from start-ups. Start-ups are built on ideas and energy, and collaboration allows that to flow around the whole company," Ackhurst says.   "Start-ups are about the art of the possible. And collaboration makes more things possible.   "Australia has a fantastic and energetic start-up community, and I have seen great examples of collaboration both within start-ups, and among them."

Google rakes in $1.8 billion revenue, pays $7.1 million tax

7:48AM | Wednesday, 9 July

It has been a tightly held figure, but we now know just how much search engine giant Google rakes in each year from advertising revenue in Australia—and just how little the company pays in tax.   With the government hinting at a tax crackdown on multinational tech companies such as Google, research released this week in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ annual Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook report shows the extent of Google’s profits and its tax bill.   The search giant generated advertising revenues of $1.804 billion in Australia last year, and is expected to grow revenues by another $2.072 billion this year, according to IT Wire.   Yet Google Australia declared a profit of just $46.5 million to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, and paid just of $7.1 million in tax, or 15% of that income.   Google records the majority of its income in its headquarters in Ireland, which allows it to report its earnings in other countries as ‘service providers’ to the Irish arm of the company.   It also bills its advertising customers out of Singapore, according to IT Wire, where tax rates are much lower.   According to the PwC report, Australian entertainment and media market is forecast to grow to $39.8 billion by 2018, a compound annual growth rate of 3.4%.   Advertising spending is set to reach $14.4 billion by 2018 and, in by that same year, internet advertising will be largest ad sector in the country, reaching $5.7 billion.   This article originally appeared on SmartCompany.

Winners announced for the inaugural Walkley Grants for innovation in journalism

6:45AM | Wednesday, 25 June

Three innovative journalism projects will share a pool of $40,000 in seed funding through a partnership between The Walkley Foundation for Journalism and Google Australia.   Unique to Australia, the new Walkley Grants for Innovation in Journalism are an investment in the future of the industry and encourage experimental approaches to journalism.   A statement on the winners says the program is central to the Walkley Foundation’s mission to encourage and support innovation in Australian media, as well as celebrate and encourage great journalism.   Brisbane journalist and academic Skye Doherty was awarded $25,000 to develop an online platform for her unique storytelling concept “NewsCube”, while Tim Dunlop and Hugh Martin, from Melbourne, got $10,000 to build a business and content strategy for “The News Franchise”.   “Youth Bytes”, a project by Stephen Turner, will use a $5000 grant to run a pilot program in Turner’s Coonabarabran high school, introducing students to the world of journalism.   More than 120 people from around Australia applied for the inaugural grants, judged by:   James Kirby, Eureka Report managing editor and Walkley Advisory Board member Ramin Marzbani, leading technology, internet and financial services analyst Aron Pilhofer, The New York Times former associate managing editor of digital strategy Jacqui Park, The Walkley Foundation director   Kirby said all judges were impressed with the creativity and passion on display in the shortlisted projects.   “Starting a media business in the current climate offers exceptional challenges and the chance of excellent rewards,” he said. “The hardest phase of financing a new media business will always be the ‘first phase’ funding, and we hope these grants can act as a catalyst to both reveal and promote new media projects across Australia.”

Here’s EXACTLY what the government can do to support the startup ecosystem

4:49PM | Monday, 14 April

The Australian tech startup scene is ready to take off, but Australia might become globally irrelevant if our political leaders fail to grasp urgency of the opportunity and scale of required change, according to a report released today by peak not-for-profit group StartupAus.   The 70-page Crossroads: An action plan to develop a vibrant tech startup ecosystem in Australia report details the present-day startup environment and puts forward 23 recommendations to put Australia on track to take part in the global startup boom.   “We can’t put our head in the sand and ignore this domestic and global transformation. We either get ahead of it, or become irrelevant in the global context. As a nation we need to affect systemic change now. Entrepreneurialism is at the heart of this retooling,” entrepreneur Adrian Turner says in the report. You can read the full report here.   According to the report, there are 1000 startups, 1500 founders, 15 incubators and accelerators, as well as seven student incubator programs.   It also includes conservative estimates of the limited Australian investment landscape, with $79 million invested by VC funds in startups in 2013, six funds and $22 million in angel investment deals.   StartupAus board member Peter Bradd told StartupSmart he believes all levels of government know they had to do more to support the startup ecosystem and are keen to, but lack a comprehensive road map showing what needs to be done.   “This is why we’ve shown examples from other countries of how the kind of change we all want can be implemented. We’re not asking for invention and risk, we’re asking to catch up,” Bradd says.   Labelling the government’s support of startups as “extremely modest”, the report also details the effective programs rolled out by the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the European Union.   “We’re not doing much by global standards, so we’re not going to get the opportunities opening up for other countries if we don’t accelerate what we’re doing,” Bradd says.   “We’re very far behind.”   The report, which explicitly states replicating Silicon Valley is not a viable goal worth pursuing, outlines an ‘action plan’ Australia to strengthen its startup ecosystem.   It outlines seven steps that could have an impact in one to two years, 13 that would have an impact in two to five years and three that would have an impact in five to 15 years.   Short-term steps include changing the regulation around employee share programs, creating an entrepreneur visa and relaxing 457 visa restrictions for new businesses, as well as developing a “landing pad” or program for Australian startups heading to Silicon Valley.   Medium-term steps include creating young entrepreneur scholarships, implementing a national learn-to-code promotion program, establishing a seed co-investment fund and creating loan schemes, as well as enabling a better legislative environment for crowdsourced equity.   The long-term steps recommended include a national program of entrepreneurial education, a digital technologies curriculum and a national program to raise awareness about tech startups.   StartupAus is a coalition of 50 tech startup community leaders. It is headed by a board that includes Bradd, Google Australia’s Alan Noble, Southern Cross Venture Partner’s Bill Bartee, RiverCity Labs Steve Baxter and ANZ Innovyz Start Accelerator’s Dr Jana Matthews.

National INCUBATE university accelerator program to pitch at Google Demo Day

4:18AM | Friday, 11 April

Fifteen early-stage startups manned by students from four universities will pitch at the National Demo Day for the INCUBATE program during a Google for Entrepreneurs event today.   The INCUBATE program was launched at the University of Sydney and received financial and in-kind support from Google Australia to roll out to three universities: Curtin University in Western Australia, Bond University on the Gold Coast and the University of Adelaide.   Students in the program receive 11 weeks of co-working space, mentoring, workshops and $5000.   Program manager James Alexander told StartupSmart the graduating companies were expected to be ready for seed investment, and either be launching a product or already have one in the market.   He adds the small cohorts have minimised the dropout rate. One team at Bond University and two at Sydney University didn’t finish the program.   “Next time we run this, we’re going to have a closer focus on innovation accountability through more rigorous weekly and monthly milestones,” Alexander says.   INCUBATE will be releasing a report in the coming months with the key lessons they’ve learned running the program in multiple universities. Alexander says they’ve learned a lot about setting achievable but challenging goals for early stage companies.   Learning from the network effects of the national program was always part of the plan.   As the rollout began, Alexander told StartupSmart they hoped the program would create a national network of students and entrepreneurs to drive a culture of innovation.   “That’s where the potential is: to encourage more start-ups to launch from campus. There is a big gap there at the moment, with too many students leaving universities without being clued up on the start-up scene and how to get going,” Alexander says.   The pitch event today will include keynote speeches from Pandora founder Tim Westergren, founder Matt Barrie and Google Australia’s director of Engineering Alan Noble.

Google launches e-book celebrating the stories of Australia’s rising startup sector

4:46PM | Tuesday, 1 April

Google Australia has launched a campaign, armed with an e-book and video, to encourage Australians to take up coding.   Written by Fran Molloy, Start with Code shares the stories of the rising startup ecosystem, including startup founders including Noller, Peter Bradd, Marita Cheng and Mitchell Harper.   In the foreword, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull writes about the profound changes the internet and technology have wrought on the world.   “We need to improve the way we teach our kids; we need to inspire a generation of digital natives who are already avid consumers of technology to embark on careers as entrepreneurs and coders, in e-commerce and as engineers.”   The need to overhaul the education system to equip Australia with coding skills is something Atlassian cofounder Mike Cannon-Brookes also argues for in the book.   “At Atlassian, we know in the next 20 years we are going to have to hire a truck load of computer science people. We’ve got to start breeding them way earlier. We need to train them, at school, now.”   The investment in tech skills and the startup community, both key themes in the book, are argued for by accelerator founder and investor Niki Scevak.   “People call it a brain drain, I call it a brain boomerang, where they’re flying over but they’re coming back a few years later and bringing all that skills and knowledge they’ve had in Silicon Valley back to Australia.”   Google has also launched a video with the book, which celebrates Australian innovation so far and suggests learning to code is a fundamental step for any aspiring inventor today.   Check out the Australian inventions such as boomerangs, notepads, utes, wine casks and Wi-Fi in the video below.   {qtube vid:=THEpcW7vFkc}

Australia’s first all-female hackathons to launch in Sydney and Melbourne

2:27AM | Monday, 17 February

Sydney and Melbourne are readying to host Australia’s first female-only hack-days as women’s coder groups combine forces to boost the number of female tech start-up founders.   The She-Hacks events will be run in the Google Australia offices in Sydney and at Melbourne co-working space Inspire9 in late March.   The events will bring together coders, project managers and designers who will form teams of around five to develop apps around a ‘communities and neighbourhood’ theme.   The She-Hacks events are co-ordinated by the local chapters of international networking group Girl Geek Dinners.   According to co-ordinator Tammy Butow, the Melbourne chapter has grown from 300 to 800 members in 18 months.   Butow told StartupSmart they’re looking forward to seeing the impact of more tech-savvy women.   “The internet we know now was primarily built by men, so we wonder about what it will look like if there were more women involved in it,” she says.   She attributes the underrepresentation of women at existing hackathon events to low numbers of women pursuing tech careers and ineffective marketing campaigns.   “A lot of the time the communication is quite masculine,” she says. “We’re seeing a couple of groups like The Fitzroy Academy of GSD achieving a 50/50 split. It’s about branding and sharing your message in a way that appeals to both groups.”   Events, especially networking events, are critical to encouraging women to get and stay involved in the tech start-up community.   “Events like these are an attempt to right the issue of low numbers of women in tech and connect the women who are involved or thinking about careers in tech with each other,” she says.   She adds the ongoing underrepresentation of women at hackathons is due to how the events are marketed.   The hackathons will be the peak events for their ongoing series of female-focused coder events.   Other events include an upcoming picnic in Melbourne with almost 100 female coders and the ongoing series of Girl Geek Dinner events in Sydney and Melbourne.

Tech education start-ups ready to boom with Australia on the verge of a massive digital skills crunch

12:30AM | Wednesday, 18 December

Australia is entering a period when rapid upskilling will be needed to maintain economic growth, says the local head of adult education start-up General Assembly.   Regional director Riley Batchelor says that with increasing demanded from employers for technical skills from new and incumbent staff, start-ups working in this space can anticipate booming demand.   “Five thousand students later and we can say there is a pretty clear trend from the last two years of skyrocketing demand for the coding related subjects,” Batchelor says.   He adds everyone from entrepreneurs to employees in industries from retail to government are increasingly expected to be code-literate.   “We’re already seeing the first phase of the digital upskillings,” Batchelor says. “The start-up and digital space is growing at the moment. We’re seeing a huge demand from across the whole spectrum as digital is touching a wide variety of people.”   Batchelor adds the rise of design-focused and user-friendly technology powerhouses such as Apple have also sparked increasing understanding and investment in developing user experience skills.   “It makes sense that start-ups get the importance of user experience, but it’s spreading beyond that as well. You need to get to know your users, do some persona development and create good digital products with clean mobile experiences,” Batchelor says.   General Assembly has branches in the United States and the United Kingdom. Batchelor says Australian founders, employers and policy makers can look to these countries to get a feel for how the boom may progress and the impact it could have.   “We’re in the very early stages of what’s going to be a huge boom in digital skills. We can see from the US and UK how it’s happened there and what it looks like, so we can expect it’s only going to grow,” Batchelor.   General Assembly recently announced a free online course with Google Australia covering the fundamental aspects of launching an online start-up.   It has also recently announced its opening a second campus in Sydney’s Surry Hills, one suburb over from its existing site at the Fishburners co-working space in Ultimo.

Sydney University’s Incubate entrepreneurial program begins national rollout with Adelaide

12:38AM | Thursday, 12 December

Incubate, a start-up accelerator program launched and piloted by Sydney University, has announced its first partnership with Adelaide University set to run an Incubate program from January 2014.   The national expansion of the award-winning entrepreneurial education program is supported by Google Australia.   Students in the Incubate program receive 11 weeks of co-working space, mentoring, workshops and $5000.   The Adelaide program will be coordinated by lecturer Claudia Szabo and include mentoring from Google Australia’s engineering director Alan Noble, Freelancer founder Matt Barrie and serial entrepreneur and venture capital investor Dr Michelle Deaker.   “This is a great opportunity for our students. It will open up fantastic entrepreneurship avenues. We are very excited to be hosting this program,” Szabo says.   National program coordinator James Alexander told StartupSmart they’re midway through negotiations with universities in every state and are thrilled to partner with Adelaide University as their first program in the national roll out.   “We were very happy when Adelaide University wanted to be partner, as I’m constantly meeting entrepreneurs who are from Adelaide. There is something in the water down there,” Alexander says.   The Incubate team are looking forward to piloting the program in another university context. Alexander says their key questions are about developing the program so it fits well.   “The big question for us is can a university host an accelerator program successfully without having to build up the infrastructure that usually accompanies university programs, such as a dedicated commercialisation department, or raising a fund,” Alexander says.   He adds the two programs will be sharing resources and mentors, and they have several live-stream mentoring sessions scheduled.   “It’ll be great to see network effects of having two programs running across major cities. We’re looking forward to tapping into the Adelaide start-up mentoring community, and sharing what we’ve learned here,” Alexander says.   He adds they’re midway through negotiations with universities in every state, and are looking forward to announcing further partnerships shortly.   “We’ve got pretty ambitious plans and now it’s only a question of timelines,” Alexander says.

THE NEWS WRAP: Abbott promises free trade with China within 12 months

10:33PM | Monday, 7 October

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has vowed to emulate New Zealand by signing a free trade agreement with China within 12 months, following a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the APEC summit in Bali.   “Our intention is to move as quickly as we can. I would be disappointed if we couldn't conclude a significant free-trade agreement with China in 12 months,” Abbott says.   “Let’s face it, the Kiwis, have had a series of agreements, including one with China, which have been very good for their economy.   "They've managed to go from start to finish much more quickly than we've been able to manage over the last few years under the former government and I think we can do a lot better than that now.”   Google urges political leaders to focus on NBN benefits   Google Australia and New Zealand managing director Maile Carnegie has urged Australian political leaders to focus on the disruptive economic benefits the national broadband network is set to provide, rather than the costs of setting it up.   “I look at the energy around the NBN. At the moment, it's focused around cost. I'd love to talk about the benefits and how we can change the rhetoric, from cost to disruption,” Carnegie says.   “It feels like we could be on the cusp of renewal but I'm frustrated that we're not recognising the benefits.”   Telstra reveals strong demand for 4G services   Telstra has released new figures showing it has added 3.4 million devices to its 4G network since it launched two years ago.   The figures show a 23% increase in demand month to month, with around one-fifth of its 15 million devices now on 4G.   It is important to note that figure is the total number of devices, meaning a single customer with both a 4G tablet and a 4G smartphone would be counted as having two devices.   “Since launch, we have activated more than 3.2 million 4G devices on our 4G network. This includes more than 360,000 4G smartphones since June 30 this year, or more than 25,000 per week,” says Telstra Mobile and Wireless group executive director Warwick Bray.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.9% to 14936.24. The Aussie dollar is flat at US 94.32 cents.

Top four tips to get the most out of Google AdWords

10:51AM | Tuesday, 1 October

Debbie O’Sullivan, senior industry manager at Google, shared her top tips for start-ups and a range of useful extensions at a Google for Entrepreneurs event this week.   Rich Flanagan, head of small and medium business marketing at Google Australia, spoke to StartupSmart about how start-ups with limited budgets can make the most of their AdWords spend.   Flanagan cautions users that while AdWords is a popular tool, it’s not a get rich quick marketing solution.   “It’s true you can launch the account in a few minutes, but it does take a bit of time to see how users are responding to your ads, Flanagan says. “It does take nurturing over time, you won’t turn one dollar into thousands overnight.”   Experimentation is key   O’Sullivan said testing is key to making the most of Google AdWords. Flanagan added start-ups should always have at least two different versions of an ad running, so they can see what works and retire the underperforming option.   “Test different creative in real time and move towards the one that is performing best,” O’Sullivan said, adding it was essential to link AdWords and analytics accounts otherwise AdWords traffic would appear as part of the much broader “organic traffic”.   Flanagan says his top tip is to think of AdWords as something that can be iterated quickly over time.   “You can start small, to boost one product or service in one city and start to build your confidence,” Flanagan says.   Your ad’s ranking is not just about spend, it’s also about quality   Start-ups should create different ad groups or campaigns for each product or service so the content can be targeted and closely match your site, said O’Sullivan.   “Make sure your campaign mirrors your site, and have one campaign per product and landing page,” she said, adding that the closer your ad matches your site, the higher your quality score will be.   Where ads are displayed on the page is calculated based on quality score and the amount the entrepreneur is willing pay in the algorithm-driven ad options.   The quality score is managed by an algorithm which factors in site load time, malware and dangerous softwares, and the similarity of the content in the ad and page.   Flanagan says the quality score is important.   “Some people believe giving us as much money as you can means we’ll put you at the top, but that’s not true. We believe ads are information, and it needs to be relevant. Once you click through there should be no surprises,” he says.   Make the ad as engaging as you can   The quality score also assesses how engaging the ad is, and Flanagan says there are several best practice solutions.   “You definitely want to have a strong call to action. It could be some sort of special offer. Are you mentioning something around price or is seasonal? You want to not be too far away from your competitors’ offerings, but you want your ad to stand out as there will be 10 to 12 ads on the page,” he says.   Having a strong call to action that is timely or a significant saving can be boosted by how you write the content as well, right down to the punctuation and capitalising.   “Typically we see, depending on the industry and product, that if the first letter of every word is capitalised, it does grab people’s attention. But you can’t have it all caps as that’s screaming on the internet,” Flanagan says.   He adds users need to check how their ad appears on multiple devices as the use of mobile phones and tablets increases.   Explore extensions to offer more options to users   O’Sullivan talked the crowd through a range of extensions to the core AdWords copy, such as the “click to call” button on ads which enables users to get in touch immediately, and social media extensions so users can follow you without even visiting your site.   Flanagan adds that the extensions provide sub-links, so there’s deeper richer information in the ad which gives a better experience for users.

Google-backed incubator launches in Melbourne

9:50AM | Wednesday, 18 September

A new, Google Australia-sponsored start-up incubator program, Melbourne NEXT, will launch next week at the York Butter Factory co-working space.   The five-week program for 10 start-ups will focus on customer discovery, idea development, fundability, pitching and launch strategies.   Event coordinator and community manager at Google Developer Group Leon Gouletsas told StartupSmart the program was specifically created for pre-accelerator or launch start-ups.   “This program is designed to address that post-idea pain point for entrepreneurs. It can be quite challenging to work out how to get into accelerators or what you require for early stage launch,” Gouletsas says. “They need a bit more idea refinement and business model development. We saw that gap, and we’re really keen to up the maturity of the Melbourne start-up scene.”   The program includes seven local mentors from entrepreneurial and investor backgrounds: Leni Mayo, Stuart Richardson, Nic Hodges, Laura McKenzie, Dave Slutzkin, Nathan Sampimon from Inspire9 and Marc Harrison.   This is the first time the international program has been run in Australia. Over 30,000 entrepreneurs have graduated from programs held in 25 countries.   “The first ever event was in the Middle East. It was deliberately chosen in some of the more interesting parts of the world because it seeks to bring together entrepreneurs regardless of background to work in collaboration,” Gouletsas says.   Gouletsas adds the program focuses on customer discovery strategies. He estimates the course will take 20 to 25 hours a week, including three hours of class time.   “What we’re really about is getting out of the classroom. The mentors are helping the entrepreneurs focus on value proposition development, and customer acquisition and segmentation opportunities. They’ll talk about what to do outside the building, and how to tackle these big questions,” Gouletsas says.   The program will not be requesting or seeking equity commitments from the program members. While the program isn’t specifically targeted at tech start-ups, Gouletsas they will be heavily favoured in the selection given the backgrounds of the mentors.   “The most important thing for us is they need to attend all the sessions, be fully committed and be ready to build their start-ups,” Gouletsas says.

Startup Spring Festival to include over 100 events

9:56AM | Thursday, 12 September

The first ever annual Startup Spring Festival, a celebration and awareness raising festival about the Australian tech start-up scene, now includes over 100 events.   The festival will include hackathons and start-up weekends, “walkabout” tours of incubators and co-working spaces, as well as a wide range of educational opportunities and travelling events.   Launched in late August, the festival is coordinated by StartupAus, a not-for-profit collective of tech entrepreneurs including Google Australia director of engineering Alan Noble; Freelancer founder Matt Barrie; Shoes of Prey founder Michael Fox, Bill Bartee from Southern Cross Ventures; and Peter Bradd, chief executive of Sydney co-working tech hub Fishburners.   The festival aims to showcase the tech start-up scene across the country, in major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, but also in rising tech start-up cities Brisbane and Adelaide. There will also be events in Perth, Tasmania and Canberra.   In August, Bradd told StartupSmart the event was designed to get the good news and momentum building in the tech start-up scene out beyond to a wider audience.   “Strategically, we need to show there is momentum to get buy-in from other stakeholders. Government, big corporates and some universities don’t quite understand or believe in entrepreneurs, so awareness is quite important for making change,” Bradd said.

Google meet-up for female tech start-up founders gets growth on the agenda

6:32PM | Thursday, 27 June

Google Australia held its first Google for Entrepreneurs Women’s Meet-up on Wednesday night to encourage more women to step up and take risks as part of Australia’s growing entrepreneurial culture.   According to a Google blog post, the event was launched to address the “disproportionately low number of women starting their own tech businesses in Australia”.   Held in Sydney, the event featured entrepreneurs Jo Burston of Job Capital and Naomi Simson (pictured above) of RedBalloon, as well as Google leaders Kendalle Bennett, Sally-Ann Williams and Claire Hatton.   A spokesperson for Google says around 70 women attended and they plan to hold the meet-ups every three months.   The panel discussed how small businesses can become more creative and innovative digital marketing campaigns to help grow tech start-ups.   Simson and Burston told StartupSmart they were excited to see so many female entrepreneurs, but wish gender wasn’t still an issue.   “I want to stop talking about gender,” Simson says. “But right now, we need to. But I don’t believe it’s a gendered reason that’s holding us back.”   “As far as opportunity goes, I think it’s a level playing field,” Burston says. “Australia is an incredibly fortunate place to start a business, and I’d like to think our start-ups have an attitude of opportunity rather than entitlement.”   According to Burston and Simson, growth was the main topic discussed at the meet-up.   “Are we dreaming and planning big enough?” Simson says. “You’ve got to want to grow, it sounds really obvious but some people get so busy working in the business that they’re not focused on growth.”   Burston says the key to growth is constantly articulating your vision and accepting you won’t have the same team at every stage.   “You need to have the right people in the business at the right time. The team that starts the business with you is not necessarily the team that goes through all levels of growth,” Burston says.   She says for the first four years of her business, Job Capital, she had almost no staff turnover, but after a period of strong growth she now has created a completely new team.   “Either individuals want to take that journey to the moon with you, they want to learn how to, or they don’t want to and that’s okay,” Burston says.   Simson says fear is the other factor holding women entrepreneurs back, but it doesn’t need to.   “What’s the worst thing that can happen? That your business will get so big it’s out of control, or that you’ll have to give up total control?” says Simson. “You have to get the people who have the skills you don’t, so you can give up your fear because you can trust them to get the bits you can’t do.”   She adds that processes may seem boring, but they are critical to scaling and will set business owners free when they’re done right.   Burston agrees fear is a powerful obstacle for women entrepreneurs.   “It’s in your gut. If you’re one of those fighters who will never give up, the fear dissipates pretty quickly,” says Burston.   “The thirst for success is much stronger than the fear of failure. And you don’t know how resilient you are until you face a challenge. How you react to a situation versus what the situation is important.”   Both said having a clear vision was one of the most powerful things an entrepreneurs of either gender could have.   “No one goes into business wanting to stay small, but maybe they stop asking themselves what they need to do to grow the business,” says Simson.   Research released by Google and industry peak body startupAUS this year found the tech start-up sector had the potential to contribute $109 billion to the Australian economy, and create 540,000 jobs by 2033 with support from entrepreneurs, educators, government and corporate Australia.

Tech start-ups could contribute $109 billion to local economy by 2033

4:17PM | Monday, 22 April

Tech start-ups have the potential to contribute $109 billion to the Australian economy, or around 4% of GDP, by 2033, according to a new report, which identifies four key ways to unlock the potential of the sector.   The report, titled The Startup Economy: How to support tech startups and accelerate Australian innovation, was commissioned by Google and prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers.   Preliminary findings of the report, which provides a snapshot of Australia’s 1500 tech start-ups, were released in March.   Google commissioned the report after helping form #startupAUS, a new industry group that is working on a national campaign to promote the Australian tech start-up sector.   The group is led by Google Australia engineering director Alan Noble, founder Matt Barrie, Shoes of Prey co-founder Michael Fox, Fishburners’ Peter Bradd, Southern Cross Ventures’ Bill Bartee and Startmate founder Niki Scevak.   Google and PricewaterhouseCoopers have now released the findings of their report, which shows start-ups have the potential to contribute $109 billion or 4% of gross domestic product – and 540,000 jobs – to the Australian economy by 2033.   According to PwC partner and economist Jeremy Thorpe, the findings will prove useful as the start-up sector continues to grow.   “There is no comprehensive catalogue of start-ups in Australia [but] we believe there’s 1500 start-ups in Australia… The majority are in Sydney,” Thorpe says.   “The vast majority of start-ups do not succeed – they actually fail… [Only] 40% of entrepreneurs in the start-up space, when they fail, will start again.”   The report highlights four key ways to unlock the potential of the Australian start-up sector:   Attract more entrepreneurs with the right skills   In the short term, Australia needs 2000 more tech entrepreneurs each year drawn from the existing workforce.   In the long term, Australia’s education sector must produce more skilled tech entrepreneurs.   Encourage more early stage funding   Funding for the Australian tech start-up sector will need to increase.   Australia invests approximately $US7.50 per capita in venture capital per annum, compared to the United States ($75) and Israel ($150).   Open up local markets to tech start-ups   Governments are major consumers, with spending totalling $41 billion in 2012. They can become more start-up-friendly with procurement reform.   “Companies can [also] think more innovatively about how they use start-ups,” Thorpe says.   Foster a stronger and open culture of entrepreneurship   Australia has a considerably higher “fear of failure” rate than nations like the US and Canada, constraining the sector.   The tech community is key to changing this by celebrating its own success and becoming more inclusive.   According to Noble, this last point is a key takeaway.   “This is a good thing – that the community realises the fate of the sector is actually in its own hands,” Noble says.   “#startupAUS is a start-up itself. We’re still actually figuring out what the organisation’s structure will look like. It will be some form of not-for-profit.   “We want to make sure it’s very much driven by the community itself. It won’t be like your traditional government body – it will be a much more community-led organisation.   “A big part of its success will be ensuring we do provide ways for the community to collaborate… and, with any new venture, no one has a monopoly on ideas.   “Hopefully the research released today will go some way to helping to inform the debate and get to where we need to go by 2033.”