Unearthing a new start-up scene out West



Population: 1.69 million


Start-up survival rate: 73.1% (2007 to 2009).


While Western Australia is heavily associated with the mining industry, its state capital is playing host to an increasingly diverse start-up sector.


Despite being the most isolated city in the world, Perth’s proximity to Asia gives it an advantage over other states, with new tech companies and consultancies forming an increasingly key part of its profile.


Perhaps the most well-known start-up success story to come out of Perth is iiNet, founded in 1993 by Michael Malone, who insists it was far easier to start up in a smaller market.


“It’s an isolated environment and an isolated business community as well. It makes it possible for you to set up here,” Malone told StartupSmart.



More recently, Perth-based developer Filter Squad – which created the popular Discovr apps – secured a $1.1 million investment from WA venture capital fund Yuuwa Capital.


Filter Squad, formerly known as Jammbox, was founded by Dave McKinney and Stuart Hall in January. Despite its funding success, the company has no intention to relocate.


“We’re pretty happy in Perth actually,” McKinney says.


“We acknowledge that there is a strong culture of investment with start-ups in the Silicon Valley and we don’t have that here. But in another way, it’s good for us to do our own thing.”


That’s not to say Perth-based businesses don’t have their eye on international markets.


In July, Perth-based mobile social networking company MOKO.Mobi acquired US mobile site mbuzzy.com as it attempts to make its mark in the US market.


MOKO.Mobi founder Ian Rodwell says the acquisition will serve as a stepping stone for future deals, not only in the US but in Europe and South East Asia, “to cover that global footprint”.


Another Perth success story is TheBroth, founded in 2005 by Markus Weichselbaum, who worked as a research scientist before founding TheBroth to focus on internet projects.


In 2008, the company relocated its headquarters to San Francisco while still maintaining a strong R&D centre here in Australia.


Meanwhile, specialist web company Red Tiki was a finalist at SXSW in Texas this year, while Perth-based consulting group Velrada came second in SmartCompany’s 2011 Smart50 Awards.


There’s lots of help on hand for Perth start-ups, from the Centre for Entrepreneurship at Curtin University, to the Centre for Entrepreneurial Management and Innovation.



The City of Perth Small Business Grants are available to all city-based entrepreneurs and small businesses looking at undertaking unique or innovative projects.


And while Perth might not be known for its nightlife, there are plenty of networking opportunities for start-ups, including Perth Entrepreneurs, Morning Startup, and Extra Mile Networking Perth.


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