It took more than 15 hours in a stinky plane, but I’ve arrived in Sydney to bright sunshine and a calendar full of meetings with startups, investors, and tech companies. I’ve got only four days in the city, but I figure I can use that time to get a whiff of what Australia’s gutsy, under-the-radar entrepreneurs are up to, and the challenges they face in reaching an international audience from such a remote corner of the world.
No story about Australia’s startup ecosystem could be written without diving into Atlassian, the software-as-a-service company that in 2011 brought in $100 million without a single salesperson and is touted as the next big enterprise software IPO. So, I’ll be talking to Atlassian’s founders, Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, and trying to figure out what makes them tick.
Beyond Atlassian, however, I’ll also be talking to other exciting companies, such as the stealthy collaborative design startup Canva, collectibles platform Curicon, which is plotting a path to Silicon Valley, and the makers of a cute app-toy that vomits and farts. I’ll drop into the co-working spaces that are incubating Sydney’s youngest startups, and I’ll ask the few venture capitalists in town why there aren’t more of their type around, especially now that the Aussie dollar is so strong.
I won’t mention the cricket, I will avoid Aussie Rules, and I will watch my home country, New Zealand, go down in defeat to Australia in a strange game called Rugby League, which is like American Football but with no pads, lower salaries, and a more serious drinking problem.
I will drink Little Creatures.
On the cultural side of things, I’ll attempt to explain how Australians’ love of sport, marsupials, and AC/DC translates into a business environment, and I’ll show that the country deserves to be known for more than just Steve Irwin, Crocodile Dundee, and the Outback Steakhouse (hopefully).
I seriously doubt, however, that I’ll be able to explain just why it is that Australians consider the song “Waltzing Matilda” their de facto national anthem.
Some mysteries can never be unlocked.