York Butter Factory lands $500,000 in government funding: Minister says a culture shift is required for Aussie startups to succeed

Craig Laundy

Minister for small business Craig Laundy, in 2016. Source: AAP/Paul Miller

Melbourne’s York Butter Factory (YBF) Ventures startup hub is getting an additional $500,000 in funding from the federal government, with small business minister Craig Laundy calling on the startup scene to take some lessons from the US, to collaborate more to learn to celebrate failure.

Announcing the investment this morning to an audience of startup founders, Laundy said, while the funding is officially categorised as a grant, he considers it more of an investment and is “after a return”.

He’s looking for increased company tax receipts, increased numbers of employees  and therefore PAYE tax receipts  and is investing in “hope that you will avoid the valley of death, and live a long life as a business”, he said.

“I hope you all make squillions,” he added.

“I’m from the government and I’m going to shove my hand in your pocket and take something.”

This investment is intended to expand the YBF’s innovation hub, to focus on ‘Web 3.0’ technology, changing web architecture to connect decentralised technologies. The funding will allow YBF to support 10 startups through its web 3.0-focused YBF Mesh Hub.

“This hub has a real focus in that particular space and we found that a very interesting proposition when considering to back it.”

However, one challenge Australian startups have always struggled with is “that collaboration piece”, Laundy said.

Spaces like YBF can solve that problem “in one fell swoop”, he added. Rather than competing, companies can sit side by side and collaborate with one another.

Laundy put the challenge around collaboration down to a “cultural issue” of business owners “wanting to do everything themselves” and therefore reap all of the benefits.

“That lack of collaboration just slows things down, and can in fact lead to failure ultimately.”

Tall poppy syndrome an issue

Speaking to StartupSmart at the announcement, Laundy pointed to another cultural issue that could be holding Australian startups back.

“Failure is seen as something to criticise and success is seen as something to criticise,” he said, explaining Australia’s “tall poppy syndrome”.

“Whereas in the US, failure is something that people applaud, for having a go. And if you achieve success in the US, who knows, you ultimately could be elected president.”

However, it’s those who take the risk that will be providing the jobs of the future, Laundy says.

“Don’t be scared to try and fail, and if you do try and fail, don’t let it dishearten you,” he said.

“Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, collaborate with those around you in workplaces like [YBF] and have another crack, because entrepreneurial flair is something, sadly, that we don’t have enough of in this country.

“And let’s face it, at the end of the day, it’s risk takers prepared to take on bank debt, back themselves and employ people that will generate jobs.

“That’s the way it’s always been, that’s the way it will be moving forward,” he said.

NOW READ: Stone & Chalk chief says new innovation hub will unite Sydney and Melbourne against Singapore and Silicon Valley

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