It’s hard to believe ‘startup’ was barely a word eight years ago. Our startup community in Australia has grown enormously in that time.
Fishburners was one of the first organisations to the party in 2011, and I had the privilege of being employee number one.
This piece is a reflection on the startup economy’s significant transformation.
1. The rise of bootstrapping and alternative funding models
2. The rise of the non-technical founder
We’ve also found a lot of co-founders actually meet at Fishburners, with technical founders recognising the impact and importance of the perspective and skills their non-technical counterparts bring.
Building a successful startup is just like building any other business. Creating the product is just one part of it. What non-technical founders usually lack in coding ability they make up in determination, business experience and marketing potential.
3. Startups are born in co-working spaces, not garages
A decade ago, one of the most powerful myths surrounding entrepreneurs was that a startup journey begins in a humble garage. But the startup journey today looks very different to a young Mark Zuckerberg working away in his garage. Instead, we’re seeing a significant rise in urban innovation districts globally where founders can share ideas.
Innovation districts are not solely resigned to incubators or accelerators. The term includes all physical and virtual spaces that build on the ‘community’ aspect that so often drives innovation and success. This includes solutions labs, universities, co-working environments and even public spaces.
At the end of the day, entrepreneurs are those who have the greatest need to be able to learn from others. I believe gaining access to groups of like-minded entrepreneurs is the biggest reason startups have left their garages behind.
4. Most startups are born global
We used to talk of Australian entrepreneurs ‘making it’ overseas and the ‘boldness’ that came with this. Today, I find most startups that come through our doors are incorporating global intentions as early as the ideation stage. As the power of technology continues to amaze, it’s only natural that its applications are becoming globally applicable.
And what’s more, when expanding overseas, the US is not the only market founders are looking at. A whopping 95% of the world’s people live outside of the United States.
It’s awesome that thanks to technology, many successful startups (think Atlassian and Canva) are able to drive global businesses from Australia. Another myth busted!
5. Founder exits are slower
In the early days of the startup ecosystem, there was a sense that startup founders had failed if they didn’t create an exit opportunity within three years.
This was largely driven by investment interests and the need to pay back investors quickly.
As the community globally recognised the best outcomes are achieved over a longer time frame, with growth and sustainable profitability holding equal importance, founders are staying with their startups for much longer and working with longer (and more realistic) timelines for growth and success.
This is good news for everyone, enabling founders to build companies in a more robust way. Hopefully, it will also improve the success odds for many startups.
6. More integration and support from corporates
The ‘us’ and ‘them’ attitude that prevailed between established corporate brands and disruptive startups has changed a lot in recent years. Startups are more of a learning, partnership or acquisition opportunity for larger companies — particularly in Australia as our companies need to scale-up to take on world markets.
And from the startup perspective, there is greater recognition that corporates and enterprise brands are more likely to be the customer or the investor than the enemy.