Sydney-based tech incubator BlueChilli is preparing to launch its LongTable incubator, whereby start-ups work around a 25-metre table with a “virtual window” into BlueChilli’s other offices.
Founded by Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, BlueChilli combines software development, marketing, branding and business development skills with investments in online start-ups.
Eckersley-Maslin, who has dubbed this strategy “venture technology”, wants to launch one new start-up every month this year, which means BlueChilli takes on a new start-up every month.
He says the BlueChilli team is “very excited” to be unveiling its LongTable incubator on May 10. The LongTable will digitally connect BlueChilli’s Sydney and Melbourne offices.
“The LongTable incubator name derived from a long table we’ve got in here – it’s a 25-metre long table,” he says.
“All our start-ups and staff work on the same table together… We’re basically saying no one person is above anyone else.”
“The LongTable concept will be expanded in Melbourne and other countries – it will digitally connect them with a video wall.”
“So when you look at the end of the table, you will see into the Melbourne office.”
In addition to Melbourne, BlueChilli plans to extend LongTable’s reach to South East Asia and San Francisco, so start-ups in these locations will be connected to the entire BlueChilli network.
“By having these networks in other countries, it’s easier for people to move from one point to another,” he says.
Eckersley-Maslin says while it’s not compulsory for anyone within BlueChilli to sit at the LongTable, he would be “very surprised” if people didn’t want to be a part of it.
“On a day-to-day basis, start-ups that work on the LongTable have their own space – filing cabinets, etc. It’s an open plan so everyone’s around,” he says.
“[The space also contains] five meeting rooms and multiple breakout areas and dozens of whiteboards… Everything they need is there.”
“Every week, we have mentoring and events and random sessions designed to provoke creative thinking.”
“For example, every Monday morning we have CEO stand-up, where the CEOs go through their business.”
“They say what their name is, what their business’s name is, what their elevator pitch is, what they did last week, what they’re doing this week, and what they need a hand with.”
According to Eckersley-Maslin, the goal of this exercise is to create a “micro economy”, whereby the start-ups can utilise each other’s services. It’s also designed to motivate people.
“It’s very difficult to admit to people they didn’t do anything. By pledging a commitment to do something next week, you’re telling 30 people, ‘This is what I’m going to do’,” he says.
Eckersley-Maslin says he’s seeing a lot of ideas around social commerce at the moment, and has already picked one up.
“We’ve got 16 investments – some in Melbourne, some in Sydney, one in San Francisco and one up north in Queensland,” he says.
“There’s a huge trend towards crowdsourcing and crowd-based business, which is really exciting, and a lot of photographs and video-sharing apps, spurred on by Facebook buying Instagram.”