Sydney is no Silicon Valley, but that doesn’t mean the bustling business centre of Australia isn’t fit for innovative startups. The startup culture is incredible in this city, and to support those startups in their early days, startup accelerator and incubators have a great foothold in the area. Listed below, in alphabetical order, are the best accelerators and incubators in Sydney.
Founded in 2013, 25fifteen is a group of successful entrepreneurs (Luke Carruthers alone has had five exits from his eight startups) and industry veterans who use their execution experience, capital and relationships to build startups that can reach a profitable exit.
As a startup studio, the majority of their projects are internally founded with external entrepreneurs brought in when the business has traction and needs someone to manage it full-time. From time to time the company will work with external founders who share our philosophy of how to build successful startups.
“We’re very focused on building successful businesses in way that makes sense within the Australian context,” shared Kim Heras, founding partner at 25fifteen. “Whether those startups are locally or globally focussed is not the point. The main issue for 25Fifteen is how do we apply our processes to large markets where there are real problems that aren’t being adequately solved in order to create businesses of value.
“As a startup that builds startups we’re very heavily aligned with the co-founders we work with. We might bring those co-founders in to help us with our projects, or we might join them on their projects. Either way everything we do is about putting in whatever is necessary to the startup to help get it closer to exit.”
What does it take to be Australia’s leading startup accelerator? Working with over 80 businesses over the last several years to help them raise over $121 million. “We don’t just incubate growth,” the website reads, “we multiply your successes and help transform technology businesses into high value companies.”
The accelerator has other impressive stats: over 350 people employed by their technology businesses; $28 million has been awarded in competitive government grants; over 100 products and services have launched every year; and 25 percent of ATP Innovations’ client companies have more than doubled in size.
The management team at ATP Innovations are highly experienced business builders. With expertise across a broad range of disciplines, they are able to quickly and effectively add value to your venture. Over the last five years we have worked with more than 80 businesses on capital raising, building teams, accessing grants, developing new products, growing revenue and selling businesses.
BlueChilli works with non-technical entrepreneurs, investors and corporate customers to build, grow and invest in great new tech startup ventures. The company is well on its way to “smashing" its ambitious goal of creating 100 awesome startups by 2016. Headquartered in Sydney with portfolio startups in most Australian capitals, the US and Canada, BlueChilli will open new startup incubator premises in Melbourne, Asia and the US in 2015. BlueChilli invests technology IP, expert skills and early-stage funding in the startups it creates via a rigorous accelerator program curriculum, a dedicated product development team and the AUD10M BlueChilli Venture Fund, one of only 10 funds to gain ESVCLP status in Australia.
Founder and CEO Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, who proudly shares that he was state Lego building champion at age 8, knows that Sydney is not the Australian version of Silicon Valley. That doesn’t mean the startup game here can’t be successful, he said.
“Australia has no shortage of entrepreneurs, but our experience in commercialising new technology is lacking, and we don’t have ready access to Silicon Valley’s large community of experienced technology engineers and developers. BlueChilli’s focus is to empower non-technical entrepreneurs with great ideas, acting as their technical and advisory partner, and taking a minority equity position to align ourselves with their success. Our experience with lean startup methodology is now in demand in corporate strategy, as large brands seek to learn how to identify, validate and develop innovations cheaply and rapidly, like a startup does.”
As Fishburners’ website states: “Fishburners is more than just a coworking space, we’re a passionate community of startups.” And that’s exactly what Fishburners’ business wants: a community. By offering a space for startups to well, start up, Fishburners is filling a need that all fledgling businesses have: a place to work. What’s so unique about this space is that it integrates so many different individuals and businesses, creating a network of skill sharing and experience.
Have questions about your accounting? A bookkeeper only works a few desks down from yours. Want a consultation with someone who works in marketing? Down the hall and to your left, please.
“I believe the true value in Fishburners is our members,” shared Murray Hurps, GM. “Currently there are 185 talented, motivated and experienced people sharing expertise, networks and energy. Wins from the community often set the bar for the other companies as well, which helps maintain motivation. It's a buzzing, exciting community and I've honestly learned more in three years here than I have in the 15 years of running software companies previously.”
With full-time, part-time or daily options for space, Fishburners is the startups’ solution to the where? question.
“In over 18 months, I have come to appreciate the community, collaboration and creativity of the members in this amazing space,” said Michael Correa, founder of Earwerm. “Talent, openness, encouragement and experience, more than I anticipated when I first decided to look for a tech co-working office.”
The Founder Institute operates all over the world and has a dedicated arm of the company in Sydney, Australia. It’s the world’s largest entrepreneur training and startup launch program, helping aspiring founders across the globe build enduring technology companies.
The program offered is four months and part-time, allowing participating startups to learn by doing, and launch a company through structured training course, practical business building assignments and expert feedback... and you don’t even have to quit your current day job to participate!
The Founder Institute's vision is to “Globalize Silicon Valley” and help entrepreneurs across the globe launch meaningful and enduring technology companies. Over 30,000 people have applied, and although there is a cost to become a part of the program, participating companies find it worth their while.
"If you're lucky enough to get accepted and graduate from the program, these costs are negligible. In fact, I would go as far as saying that this is the best money you'll ever spend on your business," shared Gary Herman, a Silicon Valley graduate.
The Founder’s Institute helps build the foundation of the founder so that when he or she is ready to establish the startup, they have the tools and know-how necessary to do so.
INCUBATE is new to the startup acceleration scene, but is doing some pretty cool things from the University of Sydney and two entrepreneurial students. Since then, the award-winning program has provided four batches of startups the unique opportunity to grow on a university campus.
Forty startups have come through the program since 2012 and over 70 percent of them are still actively working on their businesses. The company just recently announced its latest intake of startups, which are provided $5,000 in seed funding, co-working space on campus, Internet, printing and offices resources as well as the use of meeting rooms, advice from industry experts, as well as mentoring from some of Australia’s most experienced business minds and alumni..
INCUBATE looks for startups to join the program that are using technology to explore a broad range of applications. They are working on solutions to benefit business and society, while offering students the chance to develop their startup idea with the guidance of the best mentors and business advisors in Australia.
“The Incubate program demystifies entrepreneurship at university - it makes this career path accessible and real. It’s not easy, but that's the fun of inventing the future!” says Atomology Founder and CEO, Peter Liddicoat, one of the organisation’s newest startups.
"We're looking to further develop our offering in the future, which includes establishing a seed investment fund and we’re looking to speak with individual and companies that believe in supporting student entrepreneurship by partnering with Incubate to assist program growth” says Program Manager, James Alexander.
muru-D is the start-up accelerator backed by Telstra looking to support the very best digital talent that the Australasian region has to offer. The company offers investment, working space, acceleration services and networks for accelerating startups. This includes an intensive boot camp, a map of the startups milestones and what to do to reach further goals, as a custom matching with mentors from professionals within Telstra as well as external experts.
Involved startups receive some incredible perks, including over $150k in services for hosting, design and outsourcing, accounting, testing and analysis as well as marketing and PR services.
Pollenizer builds incubation and acceleration programs for big companies using 'startup science'. They combine lean startup discipline and an attitude of entrepreneurship. Their main belief and driving focus is creating new businesses which customers love.
“Sydney is a hotbed for entrepreneurship, with a growing number of individuals making the leap into business formation,” shared Phil Morle, co-founder. “Since starting Pollenizer seven years ago, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of people starting companies. There is an exploding culture of entrepreneurship here that is now infecting corporate Australia as blue chip companies look to startup methodologies to compete.”
Pollenizer incubates new startups with a focus on the transformation of an idea into a validated business model. The company provides a massive array of resources for entrepreneurs to incubate their own ideas, leading Pollenizer to design and operate incubation programs for corporations.
Trent Bagnall and Craig Lambert founded Slingshot in 2012; both are experienced entrepreneurs and tech investors as well as having substantial experience in corporate roles.
"We want to help entrepreneurs realise their vision of building great business here in Australia at the same time help corporate Australia develop new and innovative products and services,” said Craig Lambert, Slinghost co-founder. “Our business model is unique and evolving due to the rapid developments in technology and changes in consumer behaviour. It is not only a rewarding endeavour but enormous fun and we couldn't be happier with where our business is right now."
More corporates are looking to innovate and react to changes in their customers’ needs at the same time startup companies are looking to disrupt traditional businesses. There is a mutually beneficial outcome of both groups working together. By running six-month accelerator programs based on themes identified by their corporate partners Slingshot’s program builds business quickly with the advantage of an engaged corporate partner who provides access to customers to help validate the start-ups ideas and business models.
Slingshot current program is with the NRMA and Slingshot is supported by a Premium partnership group include UTS Business school, University of Newcastle, Sparke Helmore Lawyers, PwC, Mitchell Lake and IBM Softlayer.
“Slingshot delivers on its name,” said Mike McKiernan, founder and CEO of Deckee—one of the companies Slingshot worked with, "they provide a huge boost for early stage startups who are lacking the expert guidance you often need to take your idea to the next level. They place a big emphasis on finding product/market fit and they’ll give you honest and constructive feedback every step of the way.
"Post-program they open doors to many investment opportunities that just wouldn’t be possible without their help. Raising a seed round for Deckee last year would have been much more difficult without them.”
Springboard Enterprises (SB) Australia is an annual accelerator connecting Australia’s female entrepreneurs seeking capital and partnerships for growth to a global network of investors, businesses, domain experts and successful women business leaders. The company has a highly-vetted network of innovators, investors and influences who are dedicated to building high-growth tech-oriented companies led by women.
Since 2000, 573 women entrepreneurs leading enterprise software, digital media, life science and other technology facing companies have participated in the company’s accelerators. The annual program combines high-value in-person events with strategic connections to surround talented women business builders with a personal advisory team—the relevant expertise and connections they need to grow “Big Businesses Starting Small.”
“Australia’s business environment, the number of women running businesses, and Australian’s innovative approach to solving problems provided the right mix for our expansion of the Springboard Enterprises network to Australia, shared Kay Koplovitz, a chairman at Springboard Enterprises.