Australian Startup Ecosystem

Startup Muster released their 2017 annual survey results last week which highlight the developments in the Australian startup ecosystem. Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, The Honorable Craig Laundry MP says at the beginning of the report that “startups play a critically important role in Australia’s innovation ecosystem”. I agree.
For those who aren’t aware, Startup Muster produce an annual online survey for startup founders, people engaged in a startup or those looking to launch one. Startup Muster define a startup as an “early-stage business that has a large addressable market that utilises technology to capture that market quickly”.

The Australian Startup Community

Founding a startup can be a daunting and often lonely experience. When I began my entrepreneurial journey, almost two decades ago, the support systems available now were nowhere to be seen. Nowadays there are a bunch of incubators, mentor and accelerator programs and even support systems like my private business community The Huddle, which you can join for free.
From the 2214 survey respondents, Startup Muster revealed some interesting data that I wanted to share. All information below was collected from the report:
Who is starting startups?
This year, 21.7% of startup founders were between 35-40 years old. However, males are still three times more likely to found a startup. Since 2014, the number of women founders increased 10% — we still have a way to go but it’s a step in the right direction. Interestingly, a quarter of all founders who participated in the survey moved to Australia in the last 5-10 years. Interestingly, 35.7% of startup founders were born outside Australia and 16% of startups have employed an international worker on a visa.
What hinders startup founders?
The survey revealed that there are definite stop points founders face which include: needing a stable income, financial dependents, lack of technical skills, lack of confidence and the need to save money first.
In my book, Ready To Soar, I talk about the ‘first steps’ of entrepreneurship. You see, everyone’s startup journey is different. When I started RedBalloon, I continued to run my consulting business for 9 months before I said to myself “at some point this venture is going to need your full-time focus”.
For those worried about “needing a stable income” I would say this: it is true that some people have been able to develop a side business while also giving their all to full-time paid employment, but I don’t believe that this is sustainable long term. The point is to consider when is the right time to give up the security of a pay cheque and the community connection that being part of a business delivers. As I always say, working on your own at a startup can be a lonely enterprise. Identify your support network before going it alone.
Events that startups found critical to founding their business
StartupMuster reported that entrepreneurs found the following reasons critical to starting a business: identifying a compelling opportunity, solving a problem they were experiencing, having a supporting partner or spouse, experience from founding a startup previously and dissatisfaction with a previous job.
I know for me, an event that I found critical in founding RedBalloon was that I thought I’d get to spend more time with my kids after leaving the 9 to 5… ha! Fellow entrepreneurs will understand this, however, I always made sure to include my kids in my business and what I was getting up to.
What do founders enjoy most about running a startup?
The survey found that most founders enjoyed: the ownership of the value created, solving important problems, developing technology that excite them, developing new skills, being their own boss.
Skills founders consider themselves strong in:

  • Strategy
  • General Business Operations
  • Project Management
  • Sales/Business Development
  • Product Management

Interestingly, the report found that 47% of founders are still operating their last startup indicating a definite entrepreneurial mindset and as for location, the graphic says it all.

The startup journey is undeniably a long, winding, often treacherous path yet a thoroughly rewarding one. With 40% survey respondents recording $0 revenue in the past 12 months, it makes me recall my early days in business. I recall waiting two months and four days – hoping for my first customer to buy something – with $25,000 of hard-earned family savings invested. When that day finally came it was not just relief I felt, it was validation. Someone else could see the power of using experiences as gifts and in that moment, my world shifted.
So, I’d really like to acknowledge the bravery it takes to go off the beaten path and follow your dreams. On that note, I will leave you with the advice from the Australian Founders who participated in the survey…
Final advice from Australian Founders

Go for it

Do your research

Be passionate, persistent and committed

Prepare and plan before you begin

Get help.

Images from StartUp Muster report.
This article first appeared on LinkedIn.

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