The founder of Inspire9 reflects on seven years of helping “rocket scientists shoot for the stars” – StartupSmart

Photo courtesy of David Dixon

By Nathan Sampimon

After announcing a “massive expansion” on Tuesday and bringing a new CEO on board, Inspire9 founder Nathan Sampimon reflects on the journey of the Melbourne startup hub across its seven years.

Seven years at Inspire9 – what a journey it has been.

Reflecting on the last seven years of Inspire9, I think of the evolution of the community. I think of the waves of different resident groups, the incredible people I’ve had the chance to meet, the events and gatherings and those little moments when the magic is palpable — like being on the rooftop and watching the sunset after a hectic week.

In 2008, the Melbourne community seemed to be buzzing with life.

Twitter was only a couple of years old and Meetup seemed to have more and more events in Melbourne each week. Attending these events, I was always blown away by the connections I’d make with great people doing innovative things.

It was a dream of mine to create a space for these people to get together and continue to build on those connections in a functional workspace that propelled us all forward on our respective missions. As far as I could see, Melbourne was full of rocket scientists and I needed to create a launch headquarters to bring them all together.

Everything happened so naturally.

If I had to describe the growth of Inspire9 in a word, I’d call it ‘organic’.

The greater Melbourne scene was becoming more connected and more people were visiting our co-working space and joining the community.

We had a whiteboard where visitors would write their check-in when they arrived in order introduce themselves and what they were working on. This seeded the inspiration for building the online community platform which now powers the digital side of Inspire9, Tribes.

We began holding our first community events in 2009. These were 101’s on how to get into building websites, introductions to various coding languages and even courses on creative writing.

Our workshops became so big, we can people flooding out of our tiny workspace — a few times we had to relocate our workshops down to the local pub.

Alongside the amazing staff that have made Inspire9 the first name you think of when you think co-working, we’ve also had many community members who have created world-changing products before our eyes. I feel so lucky to have witnessed the connections that form within these walls and this story I’m about to tell springs to mind as a great illustration.

When Didier Elzinger first walked into Inspire9, he’d just left his role as CEO of Rising Sun Pictures and had an idea for the future of HR that was keeping him awake into the early hours. Jon Williams, Doug English and Rod Hamilton were also here at Inspire9 and had been spending time on their own startup ideas.

When these four individuals got together they began working in cohesion to see what they could create together. Next came a string of different products, each with a set of engaged customers who loved what the team was doing, but none of these products got traction like Murmur.

If measuring the user activity on their previous products was like measuring current in a tiny stream, Murmur was like seeing water being released from a dam.

They knew they were onto something big, and in March of 2015 they had Felicis, Index and Australian venture fund Blackbird join them on their growth journey.

Today CultureAmp have 63 staff across Australian and the USA and are the largest team in our community.

We’re not like normal companies who just focus on profit at the end of the financial year. We measure three things:

• Business sustainability: The financial side of making ends meet, and having revenue enough to meet the growing needs of the community

• Resident personal and professional growth: How do our residents grow as part of our community? How can we provide opportunities to ignite and stimulate this growth?

• Community connections: the number of connections we cultivate in the greater community, Melbourne and beyond via our events and meetups, blog, newsletter and social media audience.

It’s been an incredible seven years and I’ve had the time of my life working with the team to drive it to where it is today.

I’m absolutely delighted to invite Mark Balla to the team to drive the next stage of growth for Inspire9. I can already tell, it’s going to be a wild ride and personally I’ve got so many more rocket scientists to connect with.

Nathan Sampimon is the founder of Inspire9. This piece was originally published on Medium.

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