In case you missed it, SydStart Autumn was held last week to the jubilation of entrepreneurs from all areas of the New South Wales start-up scene. Here are five (and a half) lessons gained from the event:
1. Sydney is not Silicon Valley
Most of the speakers have experienced the world of Silicon Valley. And while they agree there is nothing like the Valley, it was also agreed that Sydney is not Silicon Valley.
Sydney simply does not have the investment, talent base or wealth of experience to support the environment that thrives so well in Silicon Valley. In fact, the city shouldn’t even try.
Instead, Sydney should focus on creating a community of tech entrepreneurs. It should focus on having the most connected community to promote and guides startup, shaping an environment based on high quality connection.
2. Start Outsourcing (or at least get on the Cloud)
With an event partner that is one of the world’s largest providers of Cloud services and with BRW’s inaugural Entrepreneur of the Year, Matt Barrie, presenting, it was inevitable that the event would feature some information on outsourcing and the benefits of cloud computing. However, what was unexpected was the high number of people in the audience who had used the services of both providers.
The benefits of outsourcing are many and affect every area of a business’s needs. Recently, using Freelancer, someone outsourced an algorithm for cancer research to PhDs in Asia. Not only can outsourcing save money in the short term but, as was pointed out by AWS Technology Evangelist Simone Brunozzi, by using cloud computing you only pay for what you need and there is no initial capex.
3. ‘Always be marketing.’ (Atlassian Co-founder Mike Cannon-Brooks)
Sounds simple, but this piece of advice is not always easy in practice.
The key to this lesson is to never stop with traditional marketing but also be unique — be the Purple Cow using every area of the business to market. To this day, Atlassian uses its hiring process to follow this rule.
With limited budgets, startups must be creative. They must think of new ways to get as much bang for as little buck. In the early days of Atlassian, the company did not have enough money to sponsor any events; instead it bought cases of beer, put a sticker on each bottle and handed one to every person who walked in the door.
As the event began everyone, was drinking Atlassian beer; who could forget that?
4. Pass until you find the right idea
Let’s face it, not all ideas are made equal. Some ideas will grow wings, while many ideas will either cost time or money with little to no returns. The key to success is making the decision which ideas to follow and which to pass on.
Peter Davidson is most well-known for his early investment into PayPal. As a Silicon Valley VC, Davidson was offered deals which, on exit, would have resulted in sizable profits. He turned almost all of them down, before settling on PayPal.
A key lesson we can take from Peter Davison is that even if you have an idea, unless you find one which you just click with, one for which you have incredible passion, maybe you should be aware and realise this one is not for you.
5. Know your business
Before you can truly take a start-up to success you MUST know: your numbers, what your business does, your KPIs, your customers, why you do it… Most importantly, you must know all of this from day one — even better, have it written down.
While this piece of advice may seem blatantly obvious, it is surprising how few founders could give a succinct and complete rundown of their business when asked.
5.5 Register for SydStart Spring
Yes, I know I promised 5.5 lessons and have only delivered 5. Here goes.
Successful startups know the value of education and networks. So, don’t forget to register for SydStart Spring, to be held in late September. You can buy your tickets here.
Scott Cowley is an 18-year-old Sydney-based entrepreneur, writer and student.