Australian start ups exporting and seeking talent


The New South Wales government is planning to establish a new supersized start-up hub in Sydney to rival similar venues around the world in an attempt to boost growth. But start-ups around the country have some other pressing concerns.

All levels of government are hoping Australian start ups will press the button on economic growth and job creation.

Startup Muster says for the first time the most common industry for start ups is FinTech followed by retail and content.

One third of all start up founders are born overseas.

And despite its youthful reputation, most start up founders are aged between 30 and 45.

David Soutar, who says he is eternally 42 years of age, has developed a device which can better manage power usage and costs.

"The hardware product has a little sensor that sticks on the front of any electricity meter," he said.

He said his software component can send notifications when energy is being wasted.

"So we're able to calculate in real dollars and cents, what it is costing you right now because there are some horrible complex tariffs and pricing structure," Mr Soutar said.

His idea has generated success.

"We've won a number of competitions," he said.

"We quite recently won the Asia Pacific App competition where we represented Australia against seven other countries and 3500 start ups."

Now he needs to generate income after four years in development with his product set to be released this year.

Startup Muster says in the past 12 months most start ups saw no revenue, but about 17 per cent reported up to $1 million in sales.

Eddie Cranswick co-founded a relaxation virtual reality app RelaxVR and despite being out for just nine months already has 100,000 users globally.

"I actually traveled to Japan and China last year to look at the markets there and we saw definitely a big opportunity over there," he said.

Karen Borg, Jobs for NSW chief executive, says Australian start ups are being encouraged to think about their export potential from the onset.

"Nearly 61 per cent of the world's population sits in Asia, we are obviously sitting right beneath that massive population, a growing middle class, the stats are all there," she said.

"You'd be crazy not to target that. I mean we live in a fabulous country but 24 million people is just not a significant enough market for building something big."

Ms Borg says that accellerating growth plans can lead to job creation.

"Start ups and small to medium enterprises that are scaling are the foundation of job creation in Australia and certainly in NSW," she said.

"Over the last six years nearly a million jobs have come out of that area and one obviously feeds into the next, one incubates and obviously goes into the next layer."

But current start up entrepreneurs, like Mr Cranswick, say finding talent is a big issue.

"One of the challenges that we have is finding very good talent in this space, currently our team has grown from two to four or five at the moment - two extra people full-time and one part-time and we've had to source some of our talent from overseas," he said.

Monica Wulff, Startup Muster chief executive says that's on trend.

"Sixteen per cent of start ups have employees that are on work visas, so we're seeing skilled migrants coming here working for start ups," she said.

Seventy-two per cent of start ups are using co-working spaces, like Mr Soutar, putting them in contact with help.

"We've been very focused on that we should do all the development here in Australia we haven't outsourced any, so being in a co-working space like Fishburners gives us the opportunity to come into contact with a lot of people that we want to work with us," he said.

"We've had about 28 people working with us on this project over four years. At the moment we have a team of four full time and about eight contractors working on the job with us and when we release the product that will expand quite rapidly."

Mr Soutar plans to manufacture here in Australia to keeping jobs local.

Start ups seeking assistance, especially with export opportunities, can contact Austrade, EFIC or Jobs for NSW.

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