New South Wales independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich says he finished a two week stint at Sydney co-working space Fishburners with more awareness of the problems facing Australian startups.
Greenwich, whose electorate encompasses startup hotspots Darlinghurst, Surry Hills and Ultimo, was based at the co-working space for two weeks in August.
“I found it to be quite inspiring,” he says.
“It was great to be around so many people with great ideas, who are turning those ideas into products and apps, and making things happen.
“It was great to hear first-hand from various entrepreneurs what their concerns were and for them to explain the issues to me.”
Those issues included immigration policy, education, employee share option schemes and competition for government grants and tenders.
And he’s already endeavouring to tackle some of them. He says he’s asked the New South Wales Minister for Education to include coding in the school curriculum, something which he says the government is working on.
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“The reason for that is, I understand we have a bit of an education gap here, and we’re falling behind countries around the world that are teaching coding and promoting entrepreneurship as a career,” he says.
“I was also able to hear some of the issues caused by ESOPs and some of the other barriers the government puts in place. I heard so many stories from people saying we’ve got this great idea, it’s already successful, but because the Australian government and state governments need to work on issues around education, immigration and employment, because it becomes prohibitive to operate in Australia.”
Greenwich says a number of startups spoke about the lack of startup specific grants and how it’s basically impossible for a startup to compete for a government tender. He’s pushing for a number of government tenders to be made available exclusively to startups.
During his time at Fishburners a number of startups caught his eye, including shopping app Stashd, which he’s downloaded, and Uber competitor Ridesurfing. But the one that impressed him the most was eClosure, a platform that helps families shut down the social media sites of deceased relatives.
“Those sites become a hunting ground for people engaging in identify theft, so it’s a really important service to tackle that,” he says.
The New South Wales state election is scheduled for early next year and Greenwich says, should he be re-elected, he’s strongly considering basing himself at Fishburners once-a-month.