If you’re thinking about moving to Tasmania, or stopping down south for a working holiday, then this guide should give you a great head start on figuring out who’s who in the community and where the local focal points of startup activity are. The startup ecosystem in Tasmania is still small, but it’s growing, and there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on all around the state.
This guide will focus on Hobart and Launceston as the primary focal points of startup activity in the state.
Where can I find out more about the startup scene in Tasmania online?
The best place to start your exploration is the Startup Tasmania website. Startup Tasmania acts as a peak body for the startup ecosystem in Tassie, so most startup focused events and news will wind up coming through Startup Tasmania channels at some point. Once you get off the website and onto their social media channels, you’ll find that Startup Tasmania also boosts a lot of events that are being run by other organisations, so it’s generally a pretty good clearing house for things you might be interested in attending or learning about.
There’s also an active Facebook group (search for Startup Tasmania Community), which is a great place to jump in and introduce yourself to other people who are working as startup founders, working for startups, or involved in startup education in Tasmania. That group is also a great place to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the local ecosystem and what’s coming up.
What sorts of events should I attend?
There are quite a few events that you should keep an eye out for and try to attend in Tasmania. Startup Tasmania runs regular startup networking drinks in Hobart and Launceston, those tend to roll around every month or so. Those events are a great place to start meeting people from the local scene.
There’s also a statewide event series called Tech & Tapas, which is run by the local ICT peak body, TasICT, and the local chapter of the Australian Computer Society (ACS) runs regular networking events as well.
If you’re in Hobart and working in tech, a great event to go to is Web Developer 42 (WD42) which happens every month at the Factoryfloor coworking space.
And finally, if you’re into game development or interested in meeting some people from that industry, the Tasmanian Game Development Society (TasGDS) runs regular meetups as well. On top of all of these, all of the organisations mentioned here are running other events regularly, but these networking events are often the best place to get started in getting to know people in the community.
Who are some key people that I should try to connect with?
Because Startup Tasmania works as a volunteer organisation to support the startup ecosystem in Tasmania, probably the best thing to do initially would be to reach out to the Startup Tasmania board and let them know what you’re looking for. Often, someone on that board will be a good first person to speak to, but even in cases where they’re not, they’ll often be able to point you in the direction of key people in the ecosystem that you should be talking to.
Tasmania is a fairly small and relaxed place, so getting access to decision makers and busy people is often a bit easier than it would be in a bigger city. So, if you’d like to get in touch with someone, start asking around, chances are you’ll be surprised by how quickly you wind up chatting to them at a café or bar.
What are the co-working spaces like in Tasmania?
There’s a bit of a co-working scene in Tasmania, with a few cool spaces to choose from between Hobart and Launceston. In Hobart, take a look at Factoryfloor (previously the Typewriter Factory) in the Old Mercury Building in the CBD and Parliament Coworking in The Mill Building in Salamanca. In Launceston, a great place to start is Cowork Launceston in the Old Post Office.
There’s also a pair of innovation hubs in Tasmania, Enterprize Hobart and Enterprize Launceston, which cater to early stage startups and entrepreneurs in the ideation phase. These spaces provide coworking desks and run a packed events calendar, with the hubs also frequently being the venue for events run by other members of the startup community in the state. To learn more about the Enterprize project, visit their website or check out their Facebook page.
How should I go about trying to find developers?
There aren’t a lot of well-established formal channels for finding new hires in Tasmania, so you often need to take the old fashioned route of getting involved in the community and getting a feel for who’s around and who’s looking for what sorts of opportunities. The best things to do initially would be to get involved with the WD42 community in Hobart, and become an active participant in Startup Tasmania, TasICT, TasGDS and ACS events.
If you’re looking for recent graduates, there are some active student societies based in the computing schools at UTAS in both Hobart and Launceston. There’s also quite an active hackerspace and hackathon scene in Tasmania, which can be a good way to meet technically minded people. In Hobart, you can visit the Hobart Hackerspace, in Launceston, you can stop by the Battery Shed, and in Burnie you can visit the CollabLab. You should also keep an eye out for hackathons (such as GovHack) and game jams (particularly the Tasjam series), as getting involved with those events can be a great way to meet interesting people.
If you’re looking for something very specific, contacting TasICT and Startup Tasmania with what you’re looking for is often a good idea, those organisations are active in the community and might have some suggestions for people you should talk to.
How can I raise money in Tasmania?
We’ll come right out and say it, raising money in Tasmania is still a pretty difficult journey. We’ve had some recent success stories (such as Biteable raising a $1.4m seed round and Tasmanet raising a $5.6m Series A), but as a general rule, fund raising within Tasmania is still a fairly ad-hoc process that involves working with individual investors and often working with funding bodies that are based in Sydney, Melbourne, or elsewhere.
There are some promising projects in the works in Tasmania which are focusing on establishing local funds, however these are still in fairly early stages of development.
So, ultimately, if you’re looking to raise capital for your startup, you should anticipate that if you’re based in Tasmania, you’ll probably still need to spend a fair bit of time in Melbourne and Sydney to spend time with potential investors. As things change in the local scene, we’ll make sure to update this post.