Start-up bus concept comes to Oz

The organisers of SeaChange StartUp Camp Merimbula have launched Australia’s first-ever StartUp Bus, inspired by the Startup Bus in the United States, but it will only take in the far south coast of NSW.


Liam O’Duibhir, co-founder of IntoIT Sapphire Coast, says the StartUp Bus will coincide with this year’s SeaChange StartUp Camp, which will take place in the coastal town of Merimbula from March 15-16.


“We admired what was going on from groups that went from San Francisco to Austin, Texas [in the Startup Bus],” O’Duibhir told StartupSmart.


“I thought it was particularly exciting, and captured the spirit and the essence of start-up culture, and was quite surprised they hadn’t done it in Australia.”


The “leader” of the StartUp Bus is Marc Englaro, co-founder and chief executive of InsightfulCRM, who is also associated with Sydney Angels.


It will depart from Sydney-based co-working space Fishburners, in the Sydney suburb of Ultimo, at 8.30am on March 15 before arriving at Canberra’s Entry 29 co-working space approximately four hours later.


Then at 2.30pm, the bus is scheduled to make a stop at the business premises of Birdsnest Online Clothing Store, located in the small town of Cooma, where the participants will be given a tour.


The bus will then arrive at the start-up camp at around 5pm. On Sunday, it will return to Sydney via the same route.


The bus trip is free of charge for those participating in the start-up camp, which is expected to attract around 40 participants. About 30% of those are expected to take the bus.


O’Duibhir describes Birdsnest, which was founded by Jane Cay, as a talisman for start-ups in regional areas.


“Birdsnest has been an outstanding success… [Cay] went from having four retail staff to about 90 staff at the moment. She’s about to launch her own clothing line,” he says.


“The operations she runs are first-rate. It’s about volume and about responsiveness, and it’s such a competitive field… because there are so many online fashion retailers.”


“Jane faces constraints very few businesses are under. How she deals with them illustrates how strong and robust her business management is.”


In addition to Cay, the StartUp Bus passengers will hear from Minister for Defence Materiel Mike Kelly, who, according to O’Duibhir, has an interest in the technology sector.


“We held an event in Merimbula called Politics in the Pub. It was about technology, and this was a topic Mike has, in the past, indicated a key interest in,” O’Duibhir says.


“We formed a relationship with Mike [after he spoke at this event]. He heard about a lot of the start-up initiatives we were undertaking in Merimbula and he was very keen to come back.


“When we asked him to be involved in the StartUp Bus, he instantly came back and said yes.”


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