Hello and welcome. Perth has a vibrant, growing startup scene and we’re really happy to welcome new people into it. We hope you’ll create something amazing here and share your story with us.
Perth’s scene is unusual, as Perth is unusual, because of our position as the most remote city in the world. We have a tiny domestic market, which is further distorted because of the mining boom, and we have an unusually high level of creative and technical aptitude, which is also evident in our music and arts scenes too. We tend to punch far above our weight in numbers, possibly because our remoteness engenders a self-reliance that makes us more willing to roll up our sleeves and get the job done ourselves.
So, time to roll up your sleeves, quit your job, find a real problem to solve, and make your dreams come true.
Things you need to know:
- Generally speaking, Eric Ries’s Lean Startup is the bible that the startup community follows. There are other ways of creating a startup, and there are arguments for and against those, but you can reasonably assume that everyone you meet in the scene is using the Lean Startup methodology for their projects. If you don’t like the Lean approach, then that’s fine (and you’ll probably find people who secretly agree with you) but you can safely assume that everyone else does.
- We’re not in competition with each other. If a Perth startup succeeds, that makes it easier for other Perth startups to succeed. So this is not a race or competition, it’s a collaborative effort to get as many of us up the ladder as we can. There’s an understanding that the ones who make it to the top will reach down and pull some others up after them. Helping other people to get their idea working will ultimately help you to get yours working.
- This is a social scene, but the objective is to do business with each other, so it can get strange at times. Especially when the business relationship turns a little sour but you’ve still got to be amicable in public. As a hard-and-fast rule: if you’re doing business with someone else in the scene then go the extra mile to play nicely with them. Getting a reputation for not paying your bills or not delivering what you said you would can be hard to shake off.
- Your idea is not going to be stolen. There are a number of reasons (see here) for this. Feel free to talk to anyone in the community about your idea, and you’ll get open, honest feedback and usually offers to help.
- For the same reasons, NDA’s and confidentiality agreements are usually frowned upon, and most people in the scene will either politely decline to sign one or charge money to sign one.
- However, having said all of that, if your idea is patentable be cautious about publishing anything about it, and get legal advice early. There are patent experts in the community, ask around and you’ll get directed to them.
- You will make mistakes, lots of mistakes. Be open about them, because others can learn from your mistakes. You’ll be amazed how supportive people are about your mistakes. On the other side of this; be supportive about other people’s mistakes. Thank them for the free education they just gave you.
- In general, Perth is a hard place to get funding for an idea. Almost all the startups in the community are “bootstrapping” – surviving on minimal income while they attempt to build customer revenue. If you’re expecting to meet an investor who will invest in your idea after a 10-minute pitch then you’re about to be disappointed. Plan for an average of two years of hard graft with no cash before seeing some returns.
If you’re a developer/designer:
- The big problem that everyone else has is getting their MVP (Minimum Viable Product – think “working prototype”) built. You will therefore be welcomed with open arms, and invitations to build their product.
- Everyone will assume that you can build websites and mobile apps. If your background is in commercial/desktop coding, then you may want to start learning web and mobile development before telling people you can code.
- Similarly, if you’re a designer then everyone will assume you can build websites and know all about User Experience. If your experience is in commercial graphic design or similar, then you may want to learn some web design.
- Try not to agree to a co-founder deal with someone who has no money or relevant skills. You’ll do it once, we all do, but learn fast. If you’re writing code that you won’t own, you need to be paid for it.
- The temptation to build something by yourself is strong, but teams are more successful. You almost certainly don’t have all the skills necessary to build a viable startup by yourself, and if you do then you definitely won’t have the time required.
- Attend a few events (Startup Weekend especially) and hackathons to get a feel for the development practice; it’s very different from commercial coding. Less emphasis on quality and maintainability, more emphasis on speed and style.
If you’re the “ideas person”:
- Everyone has ideas. Yours are not special. I know you think they are, but trust me, they’re not. This doesn’t mean you’re not welcome, though, so come on in and tell us all about your amazing ideas.
- Ideas are not enough. Even the most fantastic and original idea is completely worthless without a team to build it. Your participation in the team is not bought by the idea, but by your contribution to the team.
- Identify the skills you have that can be used to build your idea. If you don’t have any solid skills then you probably need to get some. The best way is to postpone your idea and work for another startup for a couple of years.
- The reason we’re a bit negative on “ideas people” is that we get a lot of clueless newbies with no relevant skills turn up and talk about their amazing idea for a new startup in the expectation that we’ll all drop whatever crappy idea we’re working on and want to spend thousands of hours building this incredible opportunity in return for a small equity stake. Yes, some people actually think like that.
If you’re interested in startups, but not sure where to begin or what your skills are:
- Welcome! We love people who admit their ignorance. A large part of building a startup is saying “I don’t know, let’s find out”
- Talk (or more accurately: listen) to people. Getting people to talk about their startup is very very easy, and you’ll quickly get a feel for the community.
- Attend some events. Startup Weekend is an entire startup education in a weekend, aimed specifically at new members of the community, and a really good way of getting your network started.
If you’re female:
- Double Welcome! The startup community is a bit lopsided, and so we really treasure our lady entrepreneurs
- Yes, that means you will be in a minority at most of the meetups and community events. We’re sorry about that, we realise it’s a bit off-putting and we’re trying to correct it.
- If you’ve got any ideas to help correct this and attract more women to the community, please let us hear them.
- Morning Startup What Wednesday mornings were made for. The most popular of the startup meetups, if you can take the early morning wakeup
- Silicon Beach Alternate Friday evenings with alcohol and interesting chats
- Port80 If your idea is based on web technology, or you’re interested in the web development community, Port 80 is interesting. It’s not strictly a startup group, though – it’s the web professionals community
- eGroup Once you’ve got revenue, join eGroup to get together with other digital entrepreneurs to get to the next level
- FreoStartups – If you are not up for a trip to Perth, FreoStartups offers an alternative with down to earth startup discussions and presentations.
- Perth Starters meet weekly in South Perth to discuss all things startup
- Pulse run by Upwork (formerly oDesk/Elance) to encourage entrepreneurs to use their services. Tends to be a bit full-on with the networking.
Start-up and Local Media
- //Startup News if we’re a community then this is our newspaper. Since you’re reading this now we guess you know about it.
- Business News the wider business news in Perth, now with added digital/tech content
- Startup Weekend A frenzy of creative business activity. Pitch an idea on Friday and have a working business on Sunday.
- Ignition Once-a-year week-long intensive bootcamp for entrepreneurs
- OzApp awards An annual splurge of innovation in the mobile app space
- Unearthed Unearthed is a unique 54-hour long hackathon event focused on the mining sector.
- GovHack Not strictly startup-related, and they only really want developers/designers there, but interesting from a “let’s build a product in a weekend” point of view
- Startup West is the once-a-year party for the community.
- Spacecubed If we’re a community, then Spacecubed is our Town Hall. A co-working space that is friendly, open, and welcomes you.
- Sync Labs A little more hard to find, Sync Labs is another co-working space and frequent host to events
- Innovation Centre Down in the dark deeps of Bentley, the Innovation Centre is a government-funded co-working space that holds regular paid events, more angled towards academia and Curtin uni
- the Artifactory If your idea is hardware-based, then you need to know about this co-working factory/makerspace/engineering facility
- Tech Hub Northbridge’s very own co-working space – you need a membership though, this one’s not for drop-ins.
- fSpace is a creative, co-working, open-plan office space right in the heart of Fremantle.
- Sixty27 up in Joondalup at the West Coast Institute campus, very drop-in friendly
- Thinklab Coworking – Thinklab Coworking is a young and fast-growing co-working space in the heart of Fremantle on the busy and accessible Market street.
Startup accelerators and funding
- Seedspark is a collaboration between Spacecubed and the RAC, very new and shiny.
- Amcom Upstart, a once-yearly accelerator program
- Founder’s Institute Once-a-year 3-month-long nightmare journey through hell for entrepreneurs. Survive this and you can survive anything a startup can throw at you.
- Fusion Founders a 3-month program teaching the Lean Startup process and aimed at getting investment
- Innovation Bay an irregular pitch event for startups to pitch to angels.
- Unearthed a specialist accelerator for the resources industry.
- Atomic Sky are the people who run Tech Hub but they also invest in promising teams – sometimes with development time rather than money.
Startup Research Papers
- Boundlss produced this report on the Perth Startup Ecosystem.
- PWC did this national report in 2013 and is worthwhile reading.
- Startup Aus Crossroads report is always worth reading