The co-working trend continues to gather pace, with a new space set to launch in Hobart, much to the delight of Tasmanian start-ups, while a Melbourne suburb has been pegged as a potential location for a new collaborative hub.
The Typewriter Factory, which will launch at the end of the month, will become Hobart’s first start-up incubator and co-working space.
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Dr Polly McGee, StartupSmart blogger and co-founder of Startup Tasmania, is the brains behind the operation, which will offer a modern office space in tech precinct Salamanca Place.
McGee could not be reached for comment. But entrepreneur James MacGregor, who will be taking a desk at The Typewriter Factory, says the city is in desperate need of a co-working space.
MacGregor, a freelance marketing manager specialising in start-ups, is a previous employee of Pollenizer and has also worked overseas. He returned to Hobart about a year-and-a-half ago.
“Fifteen years ago, there wasn’t a start-up community here. No one even used the term 10 years ago, but now there’s a little niche community down here. It’s very pint-sized,” he says.
“Everyone knows what everyone is working on… [However,] you don’t know the network of people here. People are keen here and they’re interested, but they don’t have the scale.”
“There are no VCs here at all.”
MacGregor says most Australian start-ups are focused on the US market rather than the Australian market, so it shouldn’t matter which state you’re based in.
“In theory, it doesn’t matter where you are but in reality you need to be connected to Melbourne or Sydney,” he says.
MacGregor believes The Typewriter Factory will “go a long way” in helping Hobart’s start-up scene, which is somewhat fragmented.
“There has been a very supportive group of entrepreneurs down here meeting at cafés and pubs at regular times and things like that.”
“There’s a lot of people here doing interesting stuff so it will be a big thing to have them all working in one building.”
Meanwhile, Melbourne-based serial mobile entrepreneur Aron Steg is considering opening a co-working space in the suburb of North Caulfield as an alternative to various city-based venues.
“I have been complaining for a long time that there is minimal co-working/tech hub space in Melbourne outside the CBD/Richmond area,” Steg wrote on Silicon Beach Australia.
“A landlord I know has a great office building in Caulfield North becoming vacant early in 2013 and he has asked me to make a business case for it to become a tech hub/co-working space.”
Steg told StartupSmart it’s high time Melbourne received a co-working space located outside of the CBD and inner-city suburbs.
“All of the co-working spaces are all either in the CBD or very close around it. I’ve been doing start-ups for years now and I’ve always been in Prahran, South Yarra, Richmond, etc.,” he says.
“In all that time, I’ve never needed to dash into the city for anything.”
“The model in your head is you need to be near something. But I’d rather have a start-up near my house to avoid the painful commute each morning into the city.”
However, Steg is unconvinced the North Caulfield co-working space will eventuate.
“The problem with the space is it’s probably too big. It needs lot of people to make it a viable proposition – probably 100… It’s about 1,200 square metres split over two floors,” Steg says.
Steg says the venue is due to become available in March next year, but “to keep a reasonable level of capacity, for such a large building, is probably beyond my capability”.