City of Sydney backs new start-up network 66 Meetups

A new start-up meet-up backed by the City of Sydney has attracted more than 100 entrepreneurs and investors, with Sydney’s lord mayor flagging further start-up initiatives for the NSW capital.


Emilio Simbillo, PR manager of 66 Meetups, which launched on Wednesday night, says the event “was received with very encouraging feedback” from start-ups, investors and the media.


“Sydney’s thriving technology and creative start-ups are making this city the southern hemisphere’s Silicon Valley,” Simbillo says.


Members of 66 Meetups will come together on a quarterly basis to share ideas, create partnerships, and connect with start-ups and entities in order to succeed.


Also in attendance on Wednesday were City of Sydney officials, including Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who said start-ups need to be connected to government, big business and investors.


“We know that start-ups need a supportive environment that allows for experimentation and, yes, for failure as well,” Moore said in a statement.


“They also need affordable spaces in the inner city where like-minded people can gather.”


The 66 Meetups event was organised by events guide AroundYou and tenants of 66 Oxford Street – a city-owned building housing creative and cultural entrepreneurs.


Martin Orliac, chief marketing officer for AroundYou, said in a statement the idea for 66 Meetups was born at the launch of this creative workspace earlier this year.


“The tenants are pretty much all entrepreneurs in various ways – there are artists, arts businesses, start-ups and others,” Orliac said.


“By meeting with other people in the spaces, you realise that you can share knowledge and ideas, and grow stronger.


“We thought it was a good idea… to have a gathering of all the people in the building.”


“But very soon other people became interested, others wanted to give a talk and it suddenly evolved into a free and open networking event, each time covering a relevant topic for creative entrepreneurs in Sydney.”


According to Moore, the City of Sydney is planning to investigate ways of becoming a “broker” between venture capitalists and start-ups.


“We need to start redirecting some of the money that goes into property, mining and exploration into our local talent,” Moore said.


“[We should also be] encouraging the Federal Government to look at tax incentives, so we can help innovative small businesses become the mid-sized or larger businesses of Sydney’s future.”


The news comes after Sydney-based business Shoes of Prey raised $3 million from Australian and US investors, including Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes.


Shoes of Prey co-founder Jodie Fox told The Sydney Morning Herald the deal highlights Sydney as an ideal place to do business, particularly in the burgeoning tech scene. 


“In light of the calls from Clover Moore and [Google Australia managing director] Nick Leeder just last week to turn Sydney into Silicon Beach, we’ve got the proof that we have the talent and the Silicon Valley buy-in to make it happen,” Fox said.


According to Fishburners founder Peter Davidson, who also spoke at the 66 Meetups event, there has been a fundamental shift in the way businesses are starting up and operating.


“It’s easy to buy a domain name, it’s easy to start buying traffic, it’s easy to build a website – anybody can do it,” Davison said.


“So instead of trying to emulate Silicon Valley, a mature ecosystem of investors, entrepreneurs and acquirers, Sydney can provide opportunities for the new breed of bedroom entrepreneur.”


“We need to start out by giving them the opportunity to learn from each other, network and talk to the big end of town.”


“Doing so might trigger an industry of successful small businesses, creating jobs and bringing in money. With a little luck, one or two Silicon Valley-like success stories might emerge.”


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