Growth

Why I’m moving to Silicon Valley after 18 years of supporting the Australian startup ecosystem

Mick Liubinskas /

After 18 years of loving my life growing technology companies in Sydney, I’ve decided to make the move to the USA. It’s a big step and I do it with excitement, fear, disappointment and hope.

In August this year, after muru-D Syd3 demo day, my family and I will relocate to San Francisco. Our plan is to stay for at least a few years but then come back to Sydney. It’s not going to be easy moving with three kids, and a cat, but my wife and I are up for the adventure and ready for some change.

I’m going to miss my family and friends, but I’m also really going to miss the tech ecosystem – my other family. It feels like it’s bad news that one of us is going away, but trust me, it’s a good thing.

The good news is that along with muru-D, I’ll be staying on as a mentor of Startmate, a director of Pollenizer and supporter of Australian tech companies.

My main role will remain as an entrepreneur-in-residence for muru-D, but with a twist. muru-D was established just two and a half years ago and has 44 companies in the portfolio. By this time next year that number could be as high as 80. We’ve got a great program working in Sydney, Singapore and through our partnership with River City Labs in Brisbane and it’s producing high potential companies.

The reality is that after the companies graduate from muru-D, many of them could still do with some help to keep growing. With the alumni growing fast, the workload to help them is getting beyond the team, whose prime goal is to run great programs.

So my new role will have two functions. Firstly to support the alumni directly, with growth, team, partnerships, capital raising and potentially exits. And secondly, to create stronger networks outside of Australia and South East Asia so that muru-D companies can take better advantage of big markets – specifically the USA, China and Europe.

There will be a new entrepreneur-in-residence to run the Sydney cohorts and also to support muru-D local.

One of the reasons this is a good thing for Australian tech community is that part of muru-D’s mandate is to grow the ecosystem. So whilst a lot of my energy will go to muru-D companies, I’ll also be supporting all Australian, fast growth tech companies with global ambitions.

Why do I have to be in Silicon Valley to do that? There are a few reasons.

To meet people

Networks are about relationships with people and they are built face to face. It’s about understanding each other, showing commitment, following through and also about continuity.

With all the technology in the world, consistently being there is one of the foundations of strong networks. I can’t do what I need to do from Australia with the occasional visit.

To be with the best

Silicon Valley is still the world’s leading market for fast growth tech for companies.

China is huge, Europe is growing stronger and other markets are emerging and other markets but the best people, partners and investors sits between San Francisco and San Jose. It will mean some travel to those other markets, but the Bay Area is the best base.

To prove myself

I’m proud of what I’ve done, but I’m not done. I also think I’ve underachieved. I’ve learned so much and in hindsight I’m dissatisfied.

I’ve also got a great bunch of friends who keep nailing it at higher and higher levels and I’m ready to challenge myself further. Being at Galactic Central Point brings opportunities, but it will also be very hard. Bring it on.

To improve myself

I need to get better. For me, for muru-D and for the Australian ecosystem. I want to be challenged in all areas and be a tiny fish in a massive pond. I’m someone who thrives on change and this is the change I need t grow.

Because it’s time

After 18 years, more than 30 trips and helping about 10 companies move to the Valley, I want to be immersed in it.

Sydney is good and growing but San Francisco is Legoland, the NBA and North Shore Hawaii for tech. I want my Uber driver to have a startup. I want all the billboards to be startups. I want to have 18 different events per night.

I hope everyone who has supported me understands my logic here. I do love Australia and think it will always be home. I’ll be back.

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