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Rail maps keep track of startups

Monday, 17 August 2015 | By Denham Sadler
BlueChilli chief growth hacker Alan Jones says one of the hardest parts of running a startup is trying to work out where you stand, and the isolation that goes along with that.


“The startup industry is everywhere and nowhere,” Jones says.


“For the people running a startup it’s a weirdly isolating and lonely experience. After going to a startup event, it’s very difficult from that experience to figure where you fit in and where the industry exists.”


That’s why BlueChilli created the Startrail map back in 2013, a visualisation of the Australian tech startup community and the various connections between startups, educators, incubators, accelerators, and investors.


The new and improved Startrail maps

Now the incubator and accelerator has released an updated version of the Sydney map, and one of Melbourne for the first time.


The maps are split into three “zones”: education, incubation and growth, with bootstrapped startups appearing on their own train line down the bottom, with no formal connections. They detail where each startup has come from and who they received investment from, and all the various networks within.




The Melbourne rail map includes 83 startups and numerous incubator and accelerator programs.


Jones says it’s all about visualising this startup network to make it seem more tangible and accessible.


“The maps help people feel like they belong, that they exist,” he says.


“It’s something to show to employees, investors, spouses and kids so you can say, ‘look, I really am doing something’.”


Additional layer

Since the map was first created in 2013, a new group of networks has been added, Jones says.


“There’s an additional layer in the ecosystem now,” he says.


“In the previous map it was incubator and accelerator programs, and then there were some funds but they weren’t really affected or connected with the incubators and accelerators.”


“Over the last five years we’ve seen the success of Australian accelerator programs lead to the creation of funds that use those programs directly, like BlueChilli Venture Fund and Blackbird.”


After starting off as a project for a design intern, the maps have now found their way into the office of small business of the NSW government, the Australian headquarters of PwC and Microsoft, and even onto walls in Silicon Valley.


In the future, Jones says he hopes the maps will be able to incorporate where former employees of large Australian startups are now, and more cities and regional areas around the country.


Over 502 startups requested to be added to the map, and Jones says he knows this isn’t a comprehensive list.


“We know they don’t include all the startups, and we encourage those people that haven’t entered their startup to get in touch,” he says.


“We’ll be announcing another data collection in the next couple of months.”


Startups can apply to be added to the maps here.


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