Murray Hurps launched his first startup when he was 16, and has spent the next 16 years running companies and supporting other tech ventures.
After co-founding the national startup survey Startup Muster four years ago, he took over as CEO of Australia’s largest startup hub Fishburners two years ago.
According to Blackbird VC co-founder Niki Scevak, Hurps is one of the most important players in the Australian startup community.
“If there is a power law to startup returns, then Murray is the power law to Sydney’s startup ecosystem,” Scevak says.
“Governments don’t change society, people like Murray do.”
In an AMA session run by Blackbird, Hurps revealed the most crucial piece of advice he has ever received during his entrepreneurial journey, and how it helped him to look past negativity.
“The more people you reach, the more chance you have of dealing with idiots and those are the only ones you’ll remember,” Hurps says.
“I used to lose sleep after reading reviews and would ignore a thousand positive reviews to fixate on a few unhappy people.
“Just expect this to happen and remember the ratio of happy customers rather than the hurtful few.”
Building a better ecosystem
If Australia was designing its startup ecosystem from scratch, Hurps says there’s one important thing that he’d do differently.
“If starting from scratch I’d urge people to reconsider starting representative bodies unless absolutely needed,” he says.
“Somehow we’ve ended up with a dozen different organisations representing different locations and themes of startups, and while good work is being done I feel sometimes it could be done better with all these enthusiastic people working together.”
He adds that the wider Australian community needs more international experience when it comes to fund management.
“We obviously have huge amounts of capital in Australia but a relatively small number of very experienced people working to deploy that capital,” Hurps says.
What he’d do with $10 million
Across its entire five years of existence, Fishburners has only received $20,000 in government support.
But if the Sydney co-working space happened to receive a large chunk of funding, Hurps has some plans already.
“I’d invest a significant part of the $10 million into a detailed study of the ecosystem to find which parts are having the biggest impact for Australia and quantify the ROI for any further support,” he says.
“I’d then spend the remainder on finding other funding sources to ensure these parts of the ecosystem can increase their impact in the future.”
The importance of co-working spaces
Fishburners is a not-for-profit co-working space, and Hurps says this sets it apart from the wealth of other locations across the country.
“The natural incentive for a for-profit co-working space is to maximise the utility of their desks, so they naturally accept all applicants and will try to maximise the margin on servicing those applicants,” he says.
“Fishburners currently accepts about 30% of applications and spends far more on programs within our space to ensure we have an amazing community of highly-scalable tech startups.
“It’s this preference for outcome over profit that is not anywhere as numerous as the huge number of co-working spaces launching in the last few years.”