The way Australians understand the term “startup” is too broad, says Google Engineering director and Startup Australia board member Alan Noble. We need to narrow the focus on high growth technology-enabled startups that delivered big returns, and we need more of them.
Speaking at the Vivid Sydney Smart Money forum, Noble noted that it was important policymakers understood the difference between small lifestyle businesses and the kind of startups that could make a real difference to the Australian economy.
He says some of Australia’s perceived weakness are its strengths, with the smallness of the startup community meaning that we are better connected and that we can share and transfer knowledge quicker.
“We need to think bigger,” urges Noble.” We’re not afraid to start a business, but we need to create companies that make a difference.”
These are Noble’s top three ways that we can grow the right kind of startup culture in Australia:
1. More entrepreneurs
We need more entrepreneurs in Australia says Noble, and the way we can do that is by increasing the available talent pool in Australia.
“This is more than just formal education it’s also about culture,” says Noble. “Innovation always has risk of failure. We need to increase the quantity of entrepreneurs but we need to increase the quality as well.”
He says Australians need a better attitude when it comes to failure, saying that in Silicon Valley it’s seen as a badge of honour.
“Failure can be cheap and fast – that is our mantra at Google,” he says.
Noble notes that 20% of students that study entrepreneurship at university go on to be one, and that there was a chance to increase that number.
2. Implement a stronger digital tech curriculum
Noble notes there are currently seven university incubators with 150 people going through programs there. That translates to 1 in 800 students going through incubators.
“We need to get this down to 1 in 50 and dramatically raise awareness around entrepreneurship,” Noble says.
He also notes that it needs to be easier for academics to go between academia and entrepreneurship.
There also need to be more done to encourage computer science at university, as well as combine it with another discipline – something he referred to as “CS plus X” to create technology solutions to real world problems.
3. Relax restrictions on 457 visas for software engineers, UX designers
We need more people and startup culture to kickstart the ecosystem, says Noble, and we can do that by relaxing 457 visas for software engineers and UX designers.
“Diversity and inclusiveness is needed to help newcomers come in and have a go,” Noble says. “The startup community cannot be ego-driven. We desperately need to be able to tap into global talent.”
Image credit: Flickr/jessicareeder