The New Ecosystem Metrics
We might be turning a corner.
There is no doubt we are at least 15 years into a macro wave that is seeing internet enabled businesses disrupt industry after industry globally. Many are cooked before they even realise it.
But personally I think there are a few less obvious local Australian indicators that are typical of global trends in all major startup centres. These are visible only to locals who ‘know’ – the industry insiders.
Each Category Has a New Twist.
- The New ‘Co-working’ spaces – this is probably the most obvious, the explosion globally is widely recognised BUT the new wave is curated communities of experts who peer learn from each other. Building a global business is hard, doing it with tech is harder, doing it with cutting edge tech, design and hustling techniques while all the tools and enabling platforms are changing daily is *really* hard. You need an ecosystem to help you and the best introduction is via a quality community you can peer learn with every day.
- The New Accelerators – these are also a very visible and have been around for a few years. But the real trend is vertical accelerators and proprietary corporate ones targeting strategic mission critical goals. These are typically led and controlled by industry majors and are powerful players. From Fintech to food and health to hardware and insurance to IoT. Very few industries will not have an obvious accelerator or five.
- The New Mentors – these are less visible but more influential than ever because the complexity of the industry is growing and the rate of change is increasing. So timely insight is more important than ever. These mentors are increasingly veterans of dozens of businesses with global experience. Tech is mandatory – real tech down to architecture and trend insight skill that is *current*. Best of all they are free of MNC bias and conflicts of interest which was a previous hallmark.
- The Federations – existing communities are going national and globally. Rather than hovering in the low rent districts many are now ‘taking the city’ (as I called for in my SydStart keynote last year) and getting CBD locations in order to compete head to head with other segments for talent, customers and credibility. Despite only 4% vacancy rates in some cities for commercial premises there have been dozens of new partnerships, offshore branches and city moves in the last 18 months.
- Regulatory Engagement – even the outgoing RBA Governor speaking at a recent fintech hub meet and greet with tech entrepreneurs sees the traditional values of engaging with this non-traditional segment. Fintech sandboxes, income tax offsets and capital gains reductions – these are just the start. From Consumer Health to Cyber Security we are seeing across the board recognition that regulators must engage with the new core engine of our economy or change their teams.
- Equality – the tech startup segment in Australia has always been culturally diverse, with languages and countries of origin way more akin to a league of nations than any other industry. This last 12-18 months though has finally seen gender and age join the long list of barriers smashed by innovation culture.
- Born Global – We see 5-10 new approaches a day for new business models seeking investment, mentoring, connections etc. Increasing execution quality and vision are once again in vogue and most are going global from the outset.
Watch this space for more to come.
All of these metrics are materially increased from previous years. The future for tech startups is bright indeed. Now … if we can just maintain focus on the areas that are changing the fastest where we can compete best.
If the world is actually about to enter a period of major downturn and volatility this is only going to underline the progress. Disruptors tend to thrive while traditional models are busy merely surviving.
Pete Cooper is Founder of The Start Society (@startsoc) and a long term industry advocate for tech startups based in Sydney.