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Should you stay or should you go? The big question for many Australian startups

Monday, 10 November 2014 | By Kye White

Startup founders need to get out of Australia and see the standard set by entrepreneurs in successful tech hubs around the world, according to Startup Victoria’s Scott Handsaker, but that does not necessarily mean they should move there.


“No matter what kind of business you have, Australia focused or globally focused, you need to spend time in successful ecosystems like New York, Silicon Valley, London, Berlin, those kinds of places,” he says.


“The amount of time they put in, the amount of hustle, that shows you the amount of work you need to do when you get back to Melbourne, or Australia, and the level of intensity you need for your business, they just move so much quicker.”


Handsaker says it’s successful startups that will grow the ecosystem, not where they are based, so a decision needs to be based on what will give them the best shot.


Exto Partners managing director Peter Hammond says Australian startups need to consider a couple of things when trying to determine whether or not moving overseas will give them the best chance of being successful.


“Some companies might focus on Australia and be able to get the model right, and be able to start generating revenues,” he says.


“Alternatively their business model might need scale, and so it’s important to go into those bigger markets. It’s all a matter of focus. You’ve got to prove your model so your investors have confidence your business model makes sense, and you’ve got to be driving revenue.”


Pollenizer co-founder, mentor/investor in StartMate and Muru-d entrepreneur in residence Mick Liubinskas says there are opportunities for Australian startups that focus on global sales.


“Entrepreneurs should do whatever they can to grow their own businesses,” he says.


“My view is they absolutely should be going overseas for sales. Safesite out of Brisbane, they came down to Muru-d and they had three trial sites in Australia. Through the Muru-d program they got to Los Angeles and made some connections and now they’re moving part of their team to LA. They’ve got local advisers and have raised a bit of money locally.


“We have a lot going for us in that most of the world is happy to work with Australia. We have no enemies, so that provides a good opportunity to go global.


“It makes a huge impact every time there’s an entrepreneur at that stage in Australia, whether or not it succeeds or doesn’t, it actually adds to the ecosystem significantly, their experience is as important as money.”


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