How Melbourne’s coffee culture is fuelling startup growth (with more than caffeine)
Thursday, December 6, 2018/
More and more startups are basing themselves out of Melbourne, but it’s not primarily because of the infrastructure or facilities. It’s for the coffee, according to Michelle Fitzgerald, chief digital officer and smart city office manager for the City of Melbourne.
Speaking at LaunchVic’s Thrive Conference yesterday, Fitzgerald said when she was working on Melbourne’s Startup Action Plan, which was released in June last year, she took the opportunity to ask as many startups as possible about the city.
The action plan is a “vision for Melbourne to be recognised as the number one destination for startups and entrepreneurs to start to grow and go global across Australia and Asia,” she said.
During the research period, Fitzgerald and her team worked out of 10 co-working spaces and canvassed the opinions of some 400 startups to try to understand what brought them to Melbourne in the first place.
“Of course, the starting point was less about some of the mechanics you would expect with the economy,” Fitzgerald said.
“It was all about the city,” she said.
Melbourne is “just so liveable”, she noted. Although the city lost its number-one spot for the most liveable city in the world earlier this year, it’s still in second place, behind Vienna, Austria.
Startup founders and employees in particular love a café culture, Fitzgerald said, but that’s about more than just fuelling late nights and weekend workathons.
“If you look at any innovation ecosystem around the globe, not surprisingly, the quality and accessibility of the coffee is really important,” she said.
“Coffee and cafes and open spaces … encourage people to connect,” she added.
Another common reason for being based in Melbourne was access to talent. There are about 226,000 students in Melbourne at any given time, Fitzgerald said — one of the highest concentrations of students in any city in the world.
The café culture means students are interacting with startup founders, while founders can connect easily with potential customers or investors.
“That city environment is really important,” she said.
A cultural war: What Hayne's report means for fintechs, accountants and small-business lending Charlotte Petris Timelio founder
In a perfect world: Canva's Melanie Perkins dreams about the future of Australian startups Melanie Perkins Canva co-founder
Swipe right for (data) validation: What dating apps can teach us about data security Leah Callon-Butler intimate.io co-founder
How do Australian startups tap into the $140 billion of dry powder sitting in the US? Andrea Kowalski Bailador partner
No silver bullet: Four steps to find the perfect sales and marketing channel for your startup Vinne Schifferstein Vidal Botown founder
Buzinga to Appster: An insider's theory on why the app giants keep falling Joseph Russell DreamWalk Apps co-founder
Got brand goals? The four most marketable sports of 2019 Andrew Montesi Pickstar head of marketing
What founders can do now to prepare for a possible 2019 recession Les Szekely EVP co-founder