Australian startups don’t need incubators, they need customers


By Lucy Lloyd

We speak to Australian companies all the time who are facing the question of how to tap into the startup market.

They ask us about investing, incubating and accelerator. To them we say: Why not try becoming a customer?

Don’t get me wrong, incubators and accelerators have their place and are a proven component of great startup communities, but given the choice we’d take a customer every time.

The Australian market is becoming saturated with initiatives to foster early-stage startups, with corporates, universities and governments setting up their own versions almost weekly.

It’s no secret that investment appetite isn’t keeping pace with the startup scene but neither is the appetite of companies and executives to try something new.

For Mentorloop our experience is that one week we’ll chat to a large corporate or bank about participating an innovation program they’re funding to promote women in startups then the following week we can’t get a call with their HR team to demo our mentoring software.

Ideas are great but true innovation is in the execution.

If we’re serious about fostering an innovation economy we need to support local businesses doing something new, approaching an existing problem differently, or creating a new market.

We need a cultural change beyond just the recognition of the local tech scene through press-friendly startup programs – we need CIOs and CTOs willing to take on a little more risk for more innovative results.

Next time you’re researching software to solve a business problem, why not take a look at what’s happening in your local startup scene rather than making a beeline for the big, US-owned players?

Even if it’s just a change in procurement where local businesses are trialled alongside the big players, it’s a huge step forward for our growing local industry.

Buck the trend, and innovate by disrupting the software procurement process.

Using a developing, locally-coded software solution that approaches existing business challenges in a new way – that’s what makes you a change-maker.

Lucy Lloyd is the co-founder of MentorLoop.

This piece was originally published on the MentorLoop blog.

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