I had lunch with an aspiring entrepreneur from Ballarat yesterday. He mentioned in passing that he thought Sydney’s startup ecosystem was distinctly larger than Melbourne’s.
I don’t think that is true. Common sense, personal observation, and some data all suggest to me that melbourne and sydney startup ecosystems are similarly sized.
How might this mistaken impression have arisen? Mainstream media.
The startup stories currently running on theage.com.au and smh.com.au:
- Silicon Valley: Asleep at the wheel in the valley of dreams
- Sydney: Smart money in dumb phones (biNu)
- Sydney and Melbourne: ‘Ignored’ men now in fashion online (InStitchu and Vinspi)
- Sydney: From Napster punk to music prodigy (Jai Al-Attas)
- Sydney: Hidden gem: sound design gives Aussie a winning edge (John van den Nieuwenhuizen and Vitor Santa Maria)
- Sydney: Facebook’s first investor bets big on Aussie ‘corporate refugees’ (ScriptRock)
- Sydney: Pub brainwave puts Aussies in the game (Pinion)
- Melbourne: Some start-ups not in tune on anti-government rhetoric (Adioso, Rome2Rio and CultureAmp)
- Silicon Valley: Cant drink, cant vote - but this teenager is hot property in Silicon Valley (Lachy Groom)
- Sydney: Look who’s laughing now: Aussie start-up raises $1 million (Ninja Blocks)
Sydney: 7, Silicon Valley: 2, Melbourne: 2.
The reference count doesn’t exactly match the story count because the relationship isn’t one-to-one — but it’s pretty close.
I was worried the top-10 sample might be biased. The score across all 33 stories currently listed:
Sydney: 21, Silicon Valley: 7, Melbourne: 2, Germany: 1, Britain: 1.
My conclusion: sydney-based media is mainly engaged in staring at its own navel. It keeps an eye on San Francisco.
If you’re based in Melbourne, don’t stress. Sydney is getting the headlines but Melbourne has all the highly profitable category-dominant marketplace businesses: seek.com.au, realestate.com.au, carsales.com.au. Sensis too. These businesses feed talent and money into a healthy local ecosystem.
Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth all have fantastic local online success stories and vibrant communities. I don’t know much about Canberra, Darwin or Hobart but I’m sure there is lots happening.
In short, Australia’s startup ecosystem isn’t concentrated in Sydney. Don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper.