Current Startup Victoria chief executive Georgia Beattie has been snaffled by Australian property advertising company REA Group to head up its co-working directory startup Spacely.
Beattie was appointed as the chief executive of the government-run, not-for-profit Startup Victoria’s in July 2016 after a “highly competitive” search for applicants. Prior to that, she was the co-founder of Lupe and Beattie Wines, and approached the new role with excitement, saying she was keen to start “getting into it”.
And now, just under 18 months later, Beattie tells StartupStart her role as chief executive was a fantastic career break while she decided what to “hurl” herself into next, before landing on her newest role as executive manager of Spacely.
“Running a startup then a not-for-profit has been a bit of a recalibration out of the beverage space. I knew I wanted to jump in a helicopter and look at the startup ecosystem, and REA will help me do that,” Beattie says.
“It was an easy decision. I always wanted to get into the tech space and I’ve been working out how best to do that with my skills. This will let me use my entrepreneurial skills within a small startup, supported by a bigger tech company.”
Spacely works similarly to REA Group’s flagship products such as realestate.com.au, allowing individuals or businesses to list available co-working space and have people rent them. The business launched in beta in May last year and has been headed up so far by REA’s executive general manager of commercial and developer Joseph Lyons, who Beattie will report to.
“The volume of co-working space continues to grow at a phenomenal rate. So Spacely needs a leader who understands the needs of startups and embodies the creativity, focus and entrepreneurial spirit that exists in the shared workspace environment,” Lyons said in a statement.
Despite the fanfare associated with her appointment at Startup Victoria, Beattie says she know from the start the role would only go for two years.
She believes a fresh set of talent every 18 months or so is perfect for organisations such as Startup Victoria to bring in a fresh set of eyes and keep “the energy high”.
“No regrets” with Startup Victoria
Looking back at her time with Startup Victoria, Beattie remembers it fondly with no regrets.
“When I first got to Startup Victoria we had between 200 to 300 people attending pitch nights, and now we get a constant 2000 because the space is going absolutely nuts at the moment,” she says.
“Entrepreneurism is mainstream and it has been so fantastic working with the community from a non-profit perspective with no bias. We’re just there to help people and put all the things in place we can.”
“It’s been an absolute dream, we have such a lovely community in Victoria. I don’t have any regrets, which is funny because if you asked me the same thing in my previous job I would have been able to give you a 10-page list.”
Despite REA being one of Australia’s larger companies, founded in 1995 with a revenue of $629.8 million in 2016, Beattie says Spacely is being run as a startup and has gone through all the hurdles typical startups would prior to investment.
She says the idea for Spacely came out of a hack day at the company, and REA is “walking the walk” when it comes to a startup-like and entrepreneurial approach.
“It’s an entrepreneur’s dream: run like a startup but with the resources and learnings of REA,” she says.
She says she’ll be leading Spacely through any future investments (which she notes are on the company’s roadmap) and is keen to look at overseas expansion (“once we get the model right”).
As for Startup Victoria, the applications for a new chief executive go out today, says Beattie, who invites any “entrepreneurially-minded” people to apply.
“We’ll be looking for people who understand what happens in the early days of a startup, people who have been there and can help put in place all the things entrepreneurs need to grow,” she says.