2015 was a great year for Perth startups, when we finally got some acceleration going on. In hindsight we’ll think of this year as the year your gran heard about startups. The beginning of the mainstreaming of startup culture and philosophy.
You wait for years for an accelerator, then five come along at once. The first half of 2015 saw Amcom Upstart, KPMG Energise, Unearthed, Innovation Bay and Fusion Founders all starting. We covered the accelerator rush in our Funding Special.
It’s easy to trivialise this development, but the biggest thing we lacked before 2015 was accelerators. Having multiple accelerators is a great thing, and each of them are doing great work in their area of specialisation:
- Upstart is our first true accelerator program, with fantastic mentors attached to a decent funding model.
- Energise did a really good job of connecting startups with products to customers who could use them. The participants spoke of a step-change in their businesses. We didn’t see so many of the community members in this program, but that will change as the community matures.
- Innovation Bay is a great initiative – I’ll admit to being slightly skeptical when it started – a Sydney thing that charges people to attend speaker dinners? But the pitch nights have really helped connect startups with investors, and that’s a good thing.
- Unearthed is a monster. It went national this year, and is going global in 2016. That’s incredible. It’s going to put Perth on the map for sure.
The benefit to the community of these initiatives will take a couple of years to really be felt – there are a few startups who would not otherwise exist, but it’s going to take another year or two for them to get traction and really start making money and hiring people.
Talking of which, we had a few startups level up this year. Pin Payments and APE got decent investments and started hiring. AppBot gained product-market fit and started hiring. Inhouse won all the awards and continued hiring. And I’m sure I’ve missed some others as well. This is the biggest hope for the future of the startup community here, as those companies will continue growing, and hiring, and teach their employees the practical skills involved in creating a successful startup. Those employees will go on to become the next generation of founders. It’s the first year we’ve seen multiple startups who are part of the community level up like this, and it’s a great sign we’re doing something right.
The government finally woke up to the existence of startups this year. Turnbull started talking the innovation talk, and we finally got the state government to turn up to things. We got StartupWA, our peak body aimed at educating politicians about the community. Our newspapers started writing about startups and innovation. Triple J did some godawful features on Aussie startups. Your gran probably heard about startups this year and wondered what that was about. If 2011 was the year the Perth startup scene got going, then 2015 is the year it hit the mainstream.
The co-working scene has seen the rise and rise of Spacecubed, with their takeover of Sync Labs on April 1st, the success of Level 9, Bloom Labs, and now Flux opening in the new year. It’s a great achievement, and we hope Brodie and the team continue this meteoric growth.
Techboard started up this year, promoting Perth startups and documenting the scene (and writing a lot of content for //Startup News along the way, thanks chaps!). A welcome addition to the coverage of the community, filling a gap that definitely needs to be filled. We also got the @StartupPerth twitter feed, relentlessly retweeting all the things.
Just Start IT also grew significantly this year, with their second cohort of school startups making it through, some to investment and beyond. Apparently the plan is to go national in 2016, so we’ll definitely be hearing more from them. We should expect the first few founders who’ve been through the program to be leaving school next year, so that’ll be interesting – hopefully a younger generation who are pre-educated in Lean and know the score will start showing the rest of us up.
//Startup News predictions for 2016:
- Lots more people hitting the community. The mining downturn isn’t going away, and there’s going to be a bunch more folk who are driven to give this startup thing a try, especially with the increased media coverage. There’ll be the usual painful education period for a lot of them, and we’ll see the same ideas come around again.
- Shakeup in the RTO market. There’s a few “interesting” backdoor-listed businesses out there calling themselves startups and busy doing bad things. With the increased awareness around startup, investors are going to get a little more clued-up and there’ll be some karma. Not a major blood-letting, that’ll happen in 2017 or beyond, but some house-cleaning for sure.
- Innovation Consulting will suddenly be a thing that enterprises need, and there will be a sudden proliferation of Innovation Consultants who’ve been part of the startup community for years (but you’ve never heard of them).
- The steady growth in levelling-up of startups in the community will continue. Some of the idea-stage startups kicking around now, especially the ones that went through accelerators, will move up a level and start hiring. There probably won’t be a decent exit in 2016, it’s a bit too soon still.
- The shortage in tech talent will get acute. Experienced web developers with dev-ops experience will be in high demand and short supply, and permanently busy. The brain drain to Melbourne will finally stop, and maybe even reverse.
- We’ll get some more corporate co-working spaces open, hopefully in conjunction with the existing community and spaces, but some no doubt will want to do things on their own.
- We’ll get a couple more experienced Perth startup ex-pats exit and come home to breed, and become mentors and possibly co-founders in the community.
- //Startup News will finally acquire a business model. We can hope 😉