W hat does the future hold for Australian Startups? Before answering that question lets pause for a second and reflect on the last 24 hours. Two significant events have happened today that as we look back many years from now have irreversibly transformed the Australian early stage technology sector;
- Firstly Blackbird ventures announced a $200 million fund. This is by and far the largest tech fund in Australia and allows for Australian funding for Australian startups in a larger capacity than was previously possible. Importantly it begins to unlock one of the most significant investment pools in Australia, Superannuation.
- Secondly and potentially most importantly we now have a technology friendly prime minister in Malcolm Turnbull.
So why are these events significant? The most common complaints that are heard from Australian entrepreneurs is;
- There is a lack of funding
- There is a lack of government support
- There is a lack of skills (particularly STEM).
The first will hopefully start to solve itself. No doubt other Australian VC funds such as Airtree, OneVentures and SquarePeg will have an opportunity to match or exceed the current Blackbird fund over the coming few years. It is official Corporate Australia is interested in startups and superannuation money is available!
On the second having heard Malcolm Turnball speak two years ago I was impressed and encouraged by the things he had to say. He is not yet (formally) Prime Minister yet has already dropped the terms “embrace disruption” and focus on “technology and innovation”. These are wins! As the startup conversation is brought from the obscure to the mainstream it can only have a positive effect.
On the last point, “lack of skills” I want to leave the ‘educational piece’ for another time but rather just focus on “Lack of Skills” as meaning a lack of an Australian “Paypal Mafia“. The Paypal Mafia for those that don’t know is a group of former Paypal employees who have gone on to successfully found other amazing businesses. Included in this group are Elon Musk (SpaceX / Tesla), Reid Hoffman (Linkedin) and Peter Thiel (Palantier).
We have some truly amazing technology success stories in Australia. So let me finish by making a bold prediction. Our version of the ‘Paypal Mafia’ will come from the current crop of great Australian technology success stories!
So what does the future hold for Australian Startups? Well I would say it is looking very bright. So let’s all sit back, grab a beer and allow ourselves to celebrate a little. Yes, there is still bucket-loads to do but I am feeling confident, and you should too!