Startup Spotlight: The Sydney Startup Ecosystem

This post is part of our Startup Spotlight series - an exploration of the worlds best startup ecosystems [5-minute read]

Endless sunshine, great coffee, and white sandy beaches – it’s hard to not love the Sydney lifestyle. If you work in tech, the Sydney startup ecosystem has even more to offer you. 

It takes a city to raise a startup, and in the last five years, Sydney has been leading from the front as one of the hottest startup cities globally. The 2019 StartupBlink report has revealed Sydney has moved an incredible 6 spots in the last 2 years to the 19th best startup ecosystem, helping to push Australia into the top 5 most startup-friendly countries.

When you look at the success of some of it’s giants like Canva, Atlassian and Airtasker over the past few years, it’s not hard to see why the sunshine city is becoming a mecca for global tech talent.   

We have been fortunate to spend a lot of time in Sydney working with a number of amazing tech companies and are excited to share some of our favourite insights into the Sydney startup ecosystem. But first, here are a few interesting facts about Sydney: 

  • The Population of Sydney is approximately 5.5 million.
  • Sydney experiences over 240 days of sunshine per year
  • Over 35 percent of the population were born overseas, making Sydney one of the most multicultural cities in the world.
  • Sydney is home to some of the best beaches in the world with over 100 different beaches across the city.
  • When the Sydney Harbour Bridge was built, it was painted grey because it was the only colour available in a large enough quantity to paint the bridge.
Sydney city header

 

Sydney’s top tech companies

Canva

Canva have come a long way since founder, Melanie Perkins came up with her vision for the future of publishing in her home town of Perth. The online design platform is now valued at over $3.6 billion, making it one of Australia’s most successful tech companies. Canva employees over 400 people in their Sydney HQ and in 2018 was voted as Australia’s best place to work. 

AirTasker 

Also founded in 2012, Airtasker provides an online and mobile marketplace enabling users to outsource everyday tasks. The gig economy platform has over 2,000,000 users, employees over 170 people and has recently secured a new funding round to help expand operations into London. 

Atlassian 

If you work in tech, you have definitely used an Attlassian product at some point in time. The enterprise software company is best known for its issue tracking application, Jira, and its team collaboration product, Confluence. Now with over 3000 employees, the company boasts a massive market cap of $50 billion.

Campaign Monitor 

Founded in 2004, Campaign Monitor has been leading the way in Sydney before there was even a glimmer of an ecosystem. The email marketing and automation platform is used by over 2M people and now has offices across London, Nashville and San Francisco.

Freelancer

Freelancer is a global crowdsourcing marketplace with over 36M users across 247 countries, which allows potential employers to post jobs that freelancers can then bid to complete. Founder, Matt Barrie, is also a regular face around the Sydney startup ecosystem, regularly attending conferences and events to share his wisdom. 

Up-and-coming Sydney startups

Expert 360

Expert360 is an online marketplace for matching independent business consultants with clients for short or long term project work. The startup was founded by former Bain consultants, after noticing the trend for people wanting more job flexibility but not knowing how to market themselves. Check out Expert360 here.

Lendi

Lendi is disrupting the home loan process by providing a completely online platform. This means customers can skip trips to the bank and reduce the cost of their loan. Lendi uses smart technology to match customers with loans from over 30 major lenders and helps them get approved in a quick online process.

Qwilr

Founded by former Google employees, Qwilr allows you to quickly create beautiful and intuitive proposals, sales and marketing documents. The team have their sights set on taking their fair share of the $20B document software that is dominated by the likes of Adobe and Microsoft. Qwilr is one of our favourite tools at Functionn HQ, be sure to check them out.

Man presenting at pitch event

Where to raise money

Blackbird 

With over $330m, Blackbird Ventures is one of Australia’s largest and most active venture capital funds. Their focus is on Australian companies with big ideas that are aiming to be the best in the world. They invest across the full spectrum from seed stage $250K right up to $25m.

Telstra Ventures

Telstra Ventures is the corporate venture capital arm of Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications company. Telstra Ventures has invested in more than 50 leading technology companies based in Australia, the US and Asia, typically invest between $5 and $50 million in Series B-D rounds into companies already doing significant revenue.

Airtree Ventures 

AirTree Ventures is an early and growth stage venture firm that invests in technology-enabled Australian and New Zealand companies. To date, they have invested in 54 companies and have had an incredible 18 exits.

 

Coworking spaces

Where to connect and collaborate

Fishburners 

Fishburner’s is a not-for-profit organisation that focuses on supporting and connecting early stage startups. They have played host to tens of thousands of meetups over the past decade offer a vibrant network of coworking spaces across Australia’s east coast. Be sure to check out their events calendar to stay up to date with what is happening in the Sydney startup ecosystem.

Tank Stream Labs 

Voted as one of Australia’s best coworking spaces, Tank Stream Labs offers it’s community a network of beautiful spaces across Sydney and hosts regular workshops, events and networking opportunities for the community. 

Stone & Chalk

Stone & Chalk is Australasia’s leading independent, not-for-profit innovation hub, with a strong focus on FinTech. They foster and accelerate the development of world-leading technology startups and act as a centre of gravity for the Sydney innovation ecosystem.

Sydney Tech Influencer

Who to follow on Twitter 

Peter Brad @peterbradd 

Peter is co-founder and CEO of The Beanstalk Factory, a founding Director of StartupAUS, a serial entrepreneur, and one of the most influential tech leaders in the Australian entrepreneurial community.

Alan Jones @bigyahu 

Prominent investor, entrepreneur and startup educator, Alan Jones is a common face around the Sydney tech ecosystem. Alan currently the EiR for muru-D Sydney and a General partner of M8 Ventures.

Mike Cannon-Brookes @mcannonbrookes

Atlassian cofounder, Mike Cannon-Brookes has played a huge role in growing the Sydney startup ecosystem to where it is today. Follow him on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest tech conversations. 

Tech conference

Events to attend

Startcon 

Startcon is Australia’s largest startup and growth conference and is the cornerstone event for the Sydney startup community.

Now in its 10th year, the 2 day conference always has an impressive lineup of international speakers. Be sure to mark this in your calendar early as the conference sells out each year.

Launch Festival 

Starting in Silicon Valley in 2009, Launch Festival is now one of Australia’s biggest tech conferences featuring tactical growth talks, investor/VC discussion panels and startup competitions. This festival runs over 3 days and usually happens around June each year.

If you’re a talented software engineer and Sydney sounds like an amazing place to live, be sure to check out our current job listings.

We specialise in sourcing and relocating the worlds best tech talent for companies like Canva and Airtasker.  We currently have a number of opportunities available in Sydney that include full relocation support. You can view the available jobs here, or you can reach out to us directly here.

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