'You can be a multimillionaire': Tech festival hopes to inspire the next Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates
Could Australia have a Mark Zuckerberg in its ranks? Photo: Bloomberg
Australia's first technology start-up festival hopes to inspire entrepreneurs to become the next Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs or Larry Page.
Starting Wednesday, the three-week, Australia-wide Startup Spring festival – co-ordinated by non-profit group StartupAUS – will hold more than 100 events and activities to celebrate and promote the local start-up community.
It aims to showcase the existing start-up community, build interest in the sector in the wider community and encourage entrepreneurialism.
Stephen Baxter of River City Labs. Photo: Glenn Hunt
The festival will feature gatherings in NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia and the ACT. In Sydney there will be a pub meeting for start-ups to talk face-to-face, a barbecue, an entrepreneurs' day at Google's office, a "walkabout" day during which start-ups will open their doors to visitors, and a day for people to learn how to pitch ideas.
The festival came to fruition after more than 50 members of Australia’s start-up community met in March to work out how they could ensure Australia had a "vibrant tech ecosystem".
"The idea is to celebrate entrepreneurship in the mobile and internet space with the hope that it will lead to great companies being developed and raised here," said Stephen Baxter, of Brisbane based start-up incubator River City Labs, who recently joined StartupAUS as a board member.
"You can be a multimillionaire," Mr Baxter said. "Just get out there and try [a start-up] for a couple of years."
"Understand if it works. If not you’ll probably be even more valuable afterwards, with your skills in your trade back in the corporate world."
"But before you sentence yourself to corporate life forever, why don’t you give that start-up idea a go?"
Mr Baxter said Startup Spring was about trying to get as much interest in the tech sector as possible so people could see what was available to them.
"There’s nothing worse in life than living with regrets. If you’re sitting on this idea forever and you grow into an old and bitter person because you haven’t tried then I think you’d have to admit to yourself that you haven’t had the best existence."
Founding members of StartupAus include Google Australia director of engineering Alan Noble, founder of outsourcing website Freelancer.com Matt Barrie, co-founder of designer shoe start-up Shoes of Prey Michael Fox, Peter Bradd from tech co-working space Fishburners, Bill Bartee of venture capital firm Southern Cross Ventures, and Niki Scevak of tech start-up incubator Startmate.
The festival comes as the number of NSW students studying IT and software design for the HSC shrinks rapidly, prompting fears of a shortfall of workers in the sector.
Last year, 3334 year 12 students studied information processes and technology, a third of the cohort of 10 years earlier. Over the same period, the number of students taking software design and development dropped from 3730 to 1829.
Mr Baxter said the drop was disappointing.
"I've heard similar statistics from almost every jurisdiction in Australia. We have a very similar issue up here [in Brisbane] as well, so I don’t deny the trend at all. I’m disappointed with the trend."
with Amy McNeilage