The Melbourne startup ecosystem is smaller than Sydney, but I’d be willing to put money on the fact that it’s home to some of the biggest and most vibrant startup gatherings. Every month a group of over 400 enthusiasts (with an inevitable waiting list) cram into Inspire9 for the Lean Startup meeting. But that’s only the beginning, when you scratch the surface, you find the there’s a lot happening. Melbourne is also home to some of Australia’s great startup success stories, like Envato, 99 Designs and Sitepoint. Here we take a look at the Melbourne startup scene, as part of a series we’ve been doing on the Pollenizer blog. This post was helped by a presentation Scott Handsaker gave at the January Lean Startup meetings, looking at the Melbourne ecosystem.
Where Melbourne stands
In Australia, Sydney is the biggest startup hub, 55% larger than Melbourne, six times bigger than Brisbane and nearly eight times the size of the Perth ecosystem. Globally, Melbourne is ranked 22nd of the world’s top 25 ecosystems (just behind Sydney).
Melbourne-based (and born) blogs/media that startups should follow
- Startup Blog is run by Melbourne man Steve Sammartino, the man who famously brought the life-sized lego car to Melbourne. Sammartino has also run and advised a number of start-ups and the blog is a good mix of his own expertise on all things startup related.
- Startup Smart is the closest thing we have to a dedicated startup news site. It’s based in Melbourne as part of Private Media. While not quite TechCrunch or Pando Daily, the site is the best local resource in startup coverage focussing on everything from business advice to emerging Melbourne startups.
- Elto is the new name for Melbourne-born startup Tweaky, but they get a mention here for their blog with brilliant practical advice on growing online businesses. Written mostly by Ivan Lim (head of marketing) and Ned Dwyer (Founder) they’ve got content marketing nailed down, and a ton of great advice for startups because of it.
- The Fetch was born in Melbourne, bringing curated weekly emails of what’s happening in your city. If you haven’t signed up, you’re missing the best guide to Melbourne meetups around tech. Their blog is worth reading, as it has some great content aimed at the entrepreneurial and inspirational side of startups. Posts also include regular startup jobs.
- Anthill Online is based in Melbourne and is Australia’s largest online community for business builders, innovators and entrepreneurs, featuring over 5000 articles, webinars, seminars and tutorials. Founded by James Tuckerman, it’s been running since 2003, making it one of the original Australian startup media.
- Startup Melbourne provides news, events and blog posts regarding the Melbourne startup ecosystem.
- Queens Collective is based in Melbourne and posts blog posts along with many other things such as events and co-working spaces. Queens Collective offers a multitude of services, ideal for startup entrepreneurs.
For more suggestions of blogs around startups, our piece on the Sydney Startup system lists some more.
Melbourne startup events/groups
- muru-D’s Get Started presented by Pollenizer, takes place 24 November, this is a great opportunity to take time out to explore your business concept while being guided through Pollenizer’s lean startup tools. This session is dedicated to early stage startups at the beginning of their journey.
- Lean Startup Melbourne, with close to 3000 members this is probably the biggest startup group in Melbourne. Monthly events with guest speakers are often full and happen at Inspire 9.
- Silicon Beach Drinks, is the next biggest group and pulls in a decent monthly crowd who gather to network and have informal chats about startups.
- Startup Grind Melbourne , part of global startup grind community designed to educate, inspire, and connect entrepreneurs. It is powered by Google for Entrepreneur and has regular speaker events.
- Melbourne Cocoaheads, a monthly gathering to hear presentations on a diverse range of topics related to designing, developing and shipping applications for Apple’s iOS and Mac OSX platforms
- Mobile Monday Melbourne, typically held on the second Monday evening each month from February to November as a networking event for the local mobile industry.
- Churchill Club, runs open forums on a roughly fortnightly basis on Thursday nights, these consist of roughly 3 panellists sharing their experiences.
- Melbourne Geek Night, an informal get-together for people who work in the web industry around Melbourne to catch-up, have a yarn, share ideas and talk about new techniques and technologies.
- Tedx Melbourne, in the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.
- Startup HealthTech, a meetup to Cultivate a digital health ecosystem and provide a platform to advance knowledge, provide inspiration, and build relationships between people interested in and leveraging digital tools to create a new paradigm for healthcare in Australian and beyond.
- Queens Collective also holds events ranging from web development and lean startup workshops to mentoring nights and VR meetups. In addition, they also hold pitch nights for new startups.
- Startup Founder 101 is a weekly scheduled event for aspiring and experienced tech entrepreneurs to network and collaborate to build startups in Melbourne.
- The Entrepreneur Club (Melbourne) is a supportive environment for motivated entrepreneurs where they hold monthly events to talk about everything about entrepreneurial things.
- Melbourne Silicon Beach is an informal group for those who are interested in startups, dev/design in web/mobile technology, Internet of Things, freelance work, investing or just collaborating with like-minded people. They have monthly drinks meetups, busienss pitch segments, ad hoc meetups and so on.
- Disruptive Startups is a free monthly event for established or potential founders looking to learn from investors, entrepreneurs and industry leaders.They hold events in Melbourne as well as San Francisco, Sydney and Brisbane.
- For full monthly listings, it’s worth subscribing to The Fetch.
Melbourne co-working spaces
(There are many more, but we’ve limited this to those with a startup focus.)
- Inspire 9, my advice for anyone new to Melbourne and in the startup scene, is to organise a days working at Inspire9 as one of their first port of calls.
- HUB Melbourne, part of the global HUB family, a great environment for startups too. They also have a newly minted startup club.
- York Butter Factory, is entrepreneurial central and also very startup focused.
- The Cluster, provides professional and upbeat work spaces for entrepreneurs from all industries
- Hive studio, less open plan than other options, members receive access to a reliable office space within a unique modern community.
- Depo8, Co-working for small business and creative.
- Open Hub, a workspace where creative professionals and business owners can come and work in the City of Melbourne at an affordable price.
- 1derground, one of the smaller co-working spaces for those who find the bigger ones a little too, um, big.
- Nest Coworking offers co-working space in Melbourne and has private office suit up for rent if you seek privacy.
- Queens Collective also offers flexible co-working spaces in the heart of Melbourne CBD with highly-named businesses such as Uber and Startup Grind using their spaces.
- The Commons offers flexible access to workspaces in central Collingwood, Melbourne as well as multiple benefits from parking spaces to gardens.
- Honourable Society is located adjacent to the historic Queen Victoria Market and provide workspaces such as boardrooms, desks, collaborative as well as even procrastination areas.
The Melbourne investor scene isn’t as large as the network in Sydney. It’s probably the one main disadvantage the scene here has in relation to Sydney. There have been some exciting recent additions to the scene, including the launch of Scale featured below.
- Scale is a female focused angel investor network, founded in Melbourne in March 2013 inspired by the US based organisation Golden Seeds.
- Melbourne Angels is an inclusive group of Angel investors aiming to realise high returns from investing in high growth, entrepreneurial Australian businesses.
- SquarePeg Capital is aspiring to be the leading Asia Pacific based investor in venture and growth stage online and technology companies.
- Starfish ventures is an experienced venture capital manager that looks for those building and high growth technology businesses.
- Adventure Capital is an early-stage technology venture fund, focused on the digital and online technology ecosystem.
- Aurelias Digital is an invitation only angel investment network held quarterly in Melbourne and Perth.
- Rampersand A new $6 million investment fund launched to provide funding to Australian start-ups seeking capital following the early-seed stage.
- BlueChilli provides seed investments, angel investments, BlueChilli capital and BlueChilli Venture Fund for startups with investments starting from $50,000 and up.
- Slingshot runs the Slingshot Accelerator program where you receive seed capital along with a 12 week mentor driven program and support for your startup. This also includes co-working spaces, events, PR and various support services.
- Melbourne Accelerator Program is an initiative of University of Melbourne and offers incubator and accelerator programs for any students, staffs or alumni from any year from certain participating faculties.
- BlueChilli selects successful business pitches and accelerates their startup growth through intensive phases spanning one to two years.
- As a brand new initiative and unique to Melbourne, this gets a special mention. This not-for-profit (currently funded by a mix of private and public funding) with a directive to grow Melbourne’s startup ecosystem is hopeful in becoming the hub of knowledge for all things happening in Victorian startups.
Also, here’s a panel from Lean Startup Melbourne that recently looked at Melbourne’s startup ecosystem.
And, for some additional pointers have a look at Scott’s presentation on at the ecosystem in Melbourne in memes.
If you’re new to Melbourne and want to break into the scene, my advice is to co-work from either Inspire9 or York Butter Factory and subscribe to The Fetch.
There’s probably a thousand pointers to add, including who people should meet (if that’s you, add your details in the comments) and we’d love it if you added it all below. Feel free to mention your Melbourne-based startups too.