Alan Noble

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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.

Start Up Australia launches, not to be confused with StartupAus

7:52PM | Wednesday, 30 July

A new not-for-profit body launched Wednesday, which promises to support startups – by which it means companies that have just started up.   Start Up Australia, will offer a number of free resources to entrepreneurs to help get their businesses and business ideas off the ground.   The organisation is part of a global Start Up network, with similarly named organisations in 44 countries, which is why the group couldn’t avoid confusion with another startup body, StartupAus (which focuses specifically on tech startups).   Start Up Australia’s Miriam Feiler says the best way for entrepreneurs to learn is through the advice of people who’ve done it before.   “We want to create a greater number of business start-ups here by providing the skills, encouragement, mentoring and training of people with big ideas, others who may have been retrenched, new mums working from home, retirees wanting to become self-employed. In fact, any Aussie who has ever dreamed of running their own business and wanted to have a go,” she says.   “Business is the engine room of the economy and our goal is for Australia to become the most entrepreneurial nation by 2020.”   The services it offers to entrepreneurs who sign up include a five day online conference featuring the stories of “50 of Australia’s business leaders” from a wide variety of industries, and a free 12 week online Small Business MBA sponsored by the Fortune Institute and hosted by entrepreneur Siimon Reynolds.   @rosepowell @BobbyWalter @gbissett @bigyahu Maybe someone in the media should call this for what it looks like. Lead gen for paid content? — Scott Handsaker (@shandsaker) July 30, 2014   Feiler rejected the notion that the organisation was a lead generator for paid content.   “Everything we’re doing is offered for free, through the support of corporate Australia,” she says.   She pointed to the Start Up Australia’s privacy policy when pressed further.   That privacy policy says Start Up Australia collects personal information on its users through visitor registration, webinar registration, newsletter sign up forms and event registrations securely so it can “provide and promote Start Up Australia’s  program to is users”, and inform them of “updates, promotions, and competitions pertaining to the Start Up Australia movement”.   It also says personal information, like users names, company and business contact details, may be shared with Start Up Australia’s sponsors/partners. Users can opt out by contacting Start Up Australia.   Start Up Australia’s founding sponsors include American Express, MYOB, ACCI and The Fortune Institute.   The organisation receives no government funding and is negotiating with a number of corporate partners for extra support.   The entrepreneurs behind the project include Reynolds, Brian Sher and John McGrath, with the support of Naomi Simson, Paul Greenberg, Creel Price, Larissa Robertson and James Stevens.   Like StartupAus, Feiler says Start Up Australia will work to produce data on startup companies which will be used to help guide government policy.   StartupAus board member Steve Baxter says StartupAus welcomes the efforts of all organisations working to support startups (though he appeared to be using the term differently relating it only to ‘tech’ startups).   “There are many different organisations and groups passionate about the tech startup ecosystem and its growth in Australia,” he says.   “StartupAus already works closely with Startup QLD, Startup Victoria, Startup Adelaide, Startup Tasmania, co-working spaces, AVCAL, the AIIA and many more.   “We look forward to seeing the tech startup community become a driving force in the Australian economy because of these efforts and more importantly the passionate tech entrepreneurs who are leading the charge.”   Confusion around how the public uses the term “startup” was highlighted by Google Engineering director and StartupAus board member Alan Noble recently, who said that the way Australians understand the term “startup” is too broad.   Speaking at the Vivid Sydney Smart Money forum, Noble noted that it was important policymakers understood the difference between small lifestyle businesses and the kind of startups that could make a real difference to the Australian economy.

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:                   www.thatstartupshow.tv   StartupSmart is a media partner.

Combining passion with computational thinking could help Australian startups

6:25AM | Tuesday, 17 June

In a follow up to his talk at last week at Vivid Sydney about growing Australian startup culture, Google engineering director Alan Noble has written a an official Google blog post about encouraging more computer science (CS) graduates.   At the event, Noble suggested that one of the ways to ensure mores startups in Australia was to produce more CS graduates, as more startup founders had CS degrees than any other qualification.   “Students will be a whole lot more excited about studying computer science if they can combine it with their passion, their X,” Noble says.   In the post, which is titled “CS+X: What’s your X?” Noble notes that “it’s not just startups which need CS graduates; demand is growing globally from all sectors of the economy so that by 2020, global demand will exceed the number of graduates by 1 million jobs.”   Noble suggests that we might also consider changing the name of the degree, to encourage more to take it up, as computer science “sounds a bit intimidating, doesn’t it?”   “Certainly there is a scientific/mathematical basis to CS, but the CS practitioner mostly relies on computational thinking (CT) skills,” he writes.   “CT includes pattern recognition, pattern abstraction (generalisation), modelling, design, and programming (coding). “   Noble says it’s not “well appreciated” that CT is “applicable to more than just software engineering; it is increasingly a critical skill for understanding and using the computing technology that underpins much of our modern society.”   Highlighting one of the three ways he mentioned in his talk about growing more startups, Noble says that “CS combined with another discipline, brings with it new insights and new ways of approaching things.”   “We call this CS + X, where ‘X’ can be virtually anything,” he says.   “For example, CS + retail = online shopping, CS + finance = ‘fin tech’ (think online banking, personal finance management, etc.), CS + music = products like ‘Pandora’, CS + health = fitness products like ‘Fit Bit’, etc. The opportunities are endless.   “There’s even an Aussie startup called myEvidence combining CS + crime fighting.”

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, Freelancer.com founder Matt Barrie and Google Australia’s director of Engineering Alan Noble.

Why and how Australian start-ups must overcome their fear of failure

3:22PM | Wednesday, 12 March

When a home-grown entrepreneur returned from Silicon Valley recently to run a series of events in Brisbane, he was struck by a strong sense that Australia’s fear of failure was holding the community and technology sector back.   Adrian Turner cited the poor returns of the tech venture capital industry so far and the cultural background of the country as contributing factors.   To get to the bottom of the issue, StartupSmart spoke to a range of community leaders across the country.   Aaron Birkby is a serial entrepreneur and a co-founder of Gold Coast start-up incubator Silicon Lakes. He told StartupSmart cultivating a culture that embraced failure should be a priority for the start-up ecosystem.   “I absolutely agree that Australia has fear of failure and that it’s holding us back. It’s causing so many lost opportunities,” Birkby says. “We learn it in school where the focus on grades and scores discourages people from trying new ideas, taking risks and messing up.”   Birkby believes the key to creating a more robust culture is for successful entrepreneurs to share candidly about their failures.   To this end, he seeks out mentors for the incubator who have not only successfully exited start-ups, but also stuffed a few up.   “Mentoring, and entrepreneurship really, isn’t just about the business. It’s all the emotional aspects around it too,” Birkby says.   Beyond sharing the gory details of smashed start-ups, bankruptcies and broken relationships, Birkby says the start-up community embrace the fact failure is best way to learn.   “The time I’ve spent in Silicon Valley, people talk about failures as badges of honour. There are rumours some angel investors won’t even look at your idea if you haven’t failed at something first,” Birkby says.   A survey of over 1000 Australians conducted in 2013 found more were planning to launch their own businesses than ever before. But almost a third said they had a pronounced fear of failure and over a quarter feared giving up the security of full-time work.   Ann Parker is a co-founder of Telstra’s Sydney-based accelerator program Muru-d. She’s run accelerators across the world and says the fear of failure is more pronounced in Australia than the United States and Western Europe.   But she’s positive about Australia’s chances to create a more enabling culture, attributing the heightened concerns about failure as a growing pain of fledgling start-up communities.   “I think the best way to describe this fear of failure is a learning curve that we need to overcome, as we’re taught it from a very young age,” Parker says. “I’m not convinced that Australia is worse than all other countries, it’s just a bit behind on the curve.”   According to Parker, failure for tech companies is getting cheaper and easier to fix so start-ups can fail quickly and relatively painlessly.   “We need to keep celebrating that failure is good. The only thing that’s bad is if you try the same mistakes again,” Parker says. “If we can embrace the culture of fail fast and embrace the lessons learned and if we can get that across more parts of the ecosystem then we’ve done a good job.”   Fear of failure doesn’t exist in isolation. Parker says the best antidote and action start-up communities can take is encouraging an open and collaborative culture.   Businesses fail for a range of reasons. According to a study published in 2013, the most common reasons were management issues.   Of the 1000 business owners surveyed, 61% of S said small businesses failed because of an inability to manage costs, 50% said inexperienced management, 50% said poorly designed business models or no business plan, 49% said insufficient capital, 37% said poor or insufficient marketing, and 35% said insufficient time managing the books.   But attitude also plays a powerful role, says Harry Schiff, the founder of Adelaide-based errand outsourcing start-up Agent Anything.   Originally from Canada, Schiff told StartupSmart both countries, but especially Australia, needed to get comfortable with the arrogance break-out start-ups require.   “I don’t think anywhere, besides Israel so far, has had the balls of the Americans when it comes to totally disregarding what people say. But that arrogance and bravado helps a lot in the fake-it-till-you-make-it tactic that truly innovative start-ups need to be the next huge thing,” he says.   The impact of a chronic fear of failure isn’t just about people not trying their ideas. Schiff says it is also shaping how our entrepreneurs work.   “There is a lot of momentum here to go and work, but people focus on activities rather than on getting stuff done. Because setting a firm goal with a due date makes it far more likely you’ll have to admit, even just to yourself, that you’ve failed.”   He recently ran an event in Adelaide in which start-up community leaders shared their biggest mistakes so far and what they’ve learned.   “This event is not about celebrating failure. It’s about celebrating actually doing things, not just trying. When you do things, when you get out there and try stuff, you’ll fail. It’s just how these things go.”   In the coming months, the event team are launching a website to track the failed product releases of tech powerhouses such as Google, Apple and Microsoft to demonstrate innovation and failure go hand-in-hand, even for the biggest and best companies.   After the failure of Google’s Wave, Australian head of research and development Alan Noble told StartupSmart there while it was a failure, it was worth it.   “Australians can be too quick to judge our failed entrepreneurs. We should be giving them the credit to acknowledge they took a chance and they can try again,” he said.   “By almost any other criteria, there are incredible lessons that we learned from Wave – including technology lessons and execution lessons. The individuals from that project have gone on to do good things… It was a great undertaking for us and something we learnt a lot from.”   Schiff, who studied science in university, adds it takes a long time to normalise and embrace failure, but adds substituting a call to get comfortable with failure for a call to implement a culture of experimentation, may be the key to change.

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.

Finalists announced for pitching conference at leading technology conference Tech23

9:04AM | Wednesday, 18 September

Twenty-three start-ups will pitch to a panel of investors and start-up veterans for prizes ranging from meetings with mentors to tens of thousands of dollars at the upcoming Tech23 conference in October.   The start-ups come from a range of sectors including robotics, app development and software-as-a-service.   Marita Cheng, founder executive at robotic arm-maker 2Mar Robotics and chief told StartupSmart the competition was a great networking opportunity for her team.   “It’s a great way to get the message out there about my company and to meet other entrepreneurs and some investors, as well as refine my pitch and have the chance to earn some prize money as well,” she says.   2Mar Robotics launched in April, and is currently refining the second iteration of its product and taking pre-orders. Cheng has been passionate about robotics since she was very young.   “When I was growing up, my mum wanted me to do the chores but I would do it begrudgingly, and thought a robot would be better. And there were none, so I thought, why can’t I be the one who brings them into the world?” Cheng says.   Nicholas Tong, co-founder and chief executive at fall detection and elderly support watch company Edisse told StartupSmart the conference was very well regarded and they’d been encouraged to apply by several mentors.   “The competition will put us in contact with people we wouldn’t usually be able to reach,” Tong says, adding while they’ve been pitching since they launched the start-up eight months ago, they’ve recently been focusing on product development.   “Pitches are iterative in themselves. We’ll get a whole bunch of questions after one pitch and re-factor that in. We’ll need to have another look at it, as we haven’t been pitching as much recently as we’ve been focusing on the second iteration of the product,” he says.   Tong says his team is looking forward to pitching their idea, and getting people excited about the elderly, who he believes have been overlooked for decades.   “Our team quickly knew we didn’t just want to build another social start-up or app. We wanted to create something that had real impact, and we realised falls was a major one. And if you look at the market, it seems like no one really cares and there’s been no innovation,” Tong says.   The speaker line-up for the day will include Alan Noble from Google, Bill Bartee and Larry Marshall from Southern Cross Ventures, Melissa Widner from Seapoint Ventures, Paul Bassat from Square Peg Ventures, and Stuart Richardson from Adventure Capital.   Tech23 is coordinated by Slattery IT. Slattery IT founder and chief executive Rachel Slattery told StartupSmart they were seeing a larger contingent of start-ups based outside of Sydney.   “About half are from Sydney, but in the past it would always be a few more than half. About six are from Queensland, and that’s exciting as usually we’d be lucky to get one,” Slattery says.   “We were looking for the most innovative companies that could demonstrate traction. Ultimately it’s an event, so we look at what’s going to be interesting and who is great talent.”   While prizes haven’t been confirmed yet, Slattery says there are some “fairly hefty wads of cash floating around” and they were delighted to welcome AMP, PayPal and the REA group as prize sponsors.   The start-ups taking part are: 121Cast, 2Mar Robotics, BuyReply, Edisse, Ennova, Food Orbit, Geepers, HSK Instruments, Instrument Works, Intersective, Kounta, Liquid State, My Myk, Nano-Nouvelle, ollo mobile, OneTouch, Open Learning Global, Roomz, SABRE Autonomous Solutions, See-Out, SimplyShow.Me, SkyTree, and Xped Corporation.

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.

Australian entrepreneur comes out of shell to pitch on world stage

7:42AM | Tuesday, 16 July

Australian entrepreneur Neil Smith is nervous ahead of pitching his start-up in front of a panel of investors in the US this week.   He’s one of six finalists from around the world, and the only Australian, who are in San Francisco taking part in start-up accelerator Founder Institute’s Founder Showcase event.   His start-up, slidefish, is an online platform for feedback for presentations and documents and Smith says the stakes are high.   “The level of pitching and expected standard is very high and the other companies involved all have great products and teams,” Smith says. “The opportunity is enormous; we have the chance to get a lot of exposure in the US and globally as a result of being a finalist.”   Previous finalists have raised more than $US75 million as a result of pitching at the event.   While Smith adds he’s not sure slidefish is even officially launched yet, he did a soft launch at a Google start-up event in February after Mick Liubinskas, from incubator Pollenizer, called for people to launch that night, promising promotion from himself, Kim Heras from accelerator PushStart, and Sally-Ann Williams and Alan Noble from Google.   Smith says being part of the Sydney program of the Founder Institute forced him to do all the business development work he was avoiding, and took away a lot of the random factors that can cause a company to fail, such as defining what the company is and its vision and developing a marketing plan.   The program was also personally challenging for participants, including Smith.   “It made me come out of my shell, as uncomfortable as that is at times. To start a company is one thing but to go and face people that you don't know with your baby is hard, to take the criticism and use that to build a better product and business,” Smith says.   “For me it was at times very hard and nerve wracking, I am quite happy to sit in a room by myself and work away without seeing or talking to anyone else for days or weeks. So to stand in front of a group of strangers and not sweat, and have wobbly hands is difficult, but after a few months of it you do get somewhat used to it, but I can't say I am comfortable at all with it yet.”   Regardless of the results of the final pitch, Smith will be developing a permanent presence in the US over the next 18 months.   “A large part of our target market is corporates like banking, insurance and advertising. These US companies will often only talk to you if you have an office here,” he says.   Slidefish is also looking at setting up offices in Europe and Asia for similar reasons.   “So the plan is to go global, be where the customers are, and grow as fast as we can,” Smith says.

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, Freelancer.com 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.”

Google to examine Australian start-up scene for StartupAUS project

3:48AM | Wednesday, 20 March

Google has commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to gather data on Australian tech start-ups, and has already released preliminary findings, after partnering with five well-known Australian tech entrepreneurs including Matt Barrie.

Shop2 the first Aussie start-up selected for US incubator AngelPad

3:45AM | Monday, 11 March

Personal shopping magazine Shop2 has spoken of its experience as the first Australian start-up to participate in AngelPad, a US incubator founded by former Google employee Thomas Korte.

Start-up gathering TiECON Sydney launches “25 words or less” comp

9:54AM | Monday, 24 September

Entrepreneurial convention TiECon Sydney has launched a “25 words or less” competition, offering the winner a two-hour timeslot at its conference, as Australian start-ups vie for prizes in increasingly unusual ways.

TiECON Sydney to dole out $50,000 through start-up pitch contest

9:34PM | Tuesday, 4 September

Start-ups have been given an 'open door' chance at the TiECON Sydney event to land $50,000 from angel investors, with organisers claiming that the initiative is an opportunity for new ventures to hone their pitches.

Google Sudo aiming to drive growth among Aussie start-ups

5:09PM | Wednesday, 9 May

Google is rolling out a new series of networking and tutorial events aimed at growing Australia’s start-up scene and fostering the “enormous talent” of local entrepreneurs.

UNSW takes on start-ups for Venture Incubator Space

3:12AM | Thursday, 22 March

Incentivised social health platform Vimcore is one of three start-ups to be accepted into the new Venture Incubator Space at the University of New South Wales, along with Mijura and Shop2.

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