Perth Startup Ecosystem Report 2013

Data mining in Australia’s mining capital. A report on the people, groups and companies involved in developing Perth’s startup ecosystem.

Last year we completed some research on the Perth startup ecosystem. The report and associated infographic are the first time Perth’s startup community has been comprehensively researched, and shows the growing vitality of Perth’s early stage digital ecosystem including recent funding rounds.

We partnered with the City of Perth and had superb help from the community to map early stage technology companies, founders, angel investors, venture capital (VC) funds, support organisations and fund flows through the Perth community. We gathered the data via interviews, a community workshop, some old school web research and collected public data from Linkedin and Meetup.

There are several definitions of a technology startups but for this project we defined a ‘startup’ as a company primarily focused on developing software, with a scalable business model, capable of rapid growth, and under five years in age.

A simplified network map with key members of the ecosystem highlighted.

The report aims to help entrepreneurs, investors, policy makers and industry leaders understand what factors contribute to creating a healthy tech ecosystem and who the key people and organisations are within the community. It includes a range of network maps highlighting fund flows, participation in education programs and key statistics.

Key Findings
The report captures key metrics on the ecosystem along with network maps of key relationships. A few of the key findings:

  1. The per capita venture capital and private equity funding (excluding government grants) of tech startups for Western Australia is $2.69, compared to $4.09 for Australia, and per capita betting on the Melbourne Cup of $9.09
  2. The average investment in tech startups in Perth over the past five years was $14 million per year, and the total funding pool available is approx. $70 million.
  3. There are an estimated 100 plus startup technology companies within Perth, and ~2,500 people involved in startup companies.
  4. Most of the community building activities such as meetup groups, events and incubators happen within the central business district, with 52% of meetup groups happening with the CBD, Northbridge and West Perth.
  5. The 18 month old co-working space Spacecubed has played a vital role in bringing the community together with over 10,000 visits, 150 events and 30% of tech groups meeting there.
  6. Commercialisation Australia and the Innovation Investment Fund have both played a critical role in attracting co-investment into the ecosystem.
  7. Commercialisation Australia’s $12.6m in grants (18% of the total available fund pool of $70m) helped to attract an additional $12.6m of private and venture capital funding.
  8. 8 of the top 10 raises attracted government funding.
  9. Based on several measures (funding, participant numbers and centrality) the report identifies key people and organisations within the ecosystem including: Sam Birmingham (founder of Startup Weekend), Claire Roberston and Dash Dhakshinamoorthy (co-founders of Founders Institute), Matt MacFarlane (founder of Yuuwa Capital), Marcus Tan (founder of Health Engine), Larry Lopez (founder of the OzApp Awards), and Brodie McCulloch (founder of Spacecubed).

This report follows on from our previous work on the ‘Startup Nation’ mapping project launched last year which shows the location of more than 350 startups, VCs and incubators from across the country.

With the latest report we wanted to establish a baseline for the startup community in Perth so we can track our progress over time, and identify key players within the community, both startup founders and community builders.

The ecosystem is young and fragile.
Developing the cultural fabric and community of the city, establishing seed accelerators and funds that de-risk startup investment, funnelling angel money from the resource sector to startups, and promoting the heroes within this sector, are all critical factors at this early stage of the community.

If the local community doesn’t back this sector over the next few years we’ll see more local startups and their talented founders become east-coast firms like Canva who moved their office to Sydney to help them raise $3m from US and east-coast VCs.

While the resource boom has brought tremendous prosperity to the city, other industries need to be supported if Perth is to be a vibrant, innovative and economically stable city in the long term.

The research was a real pleasure to do and we hope it will help the local community get a clearer picture of how the community is connected and what is needed to create an environment in which the next Freelancer could flourish. We’re keen to do more of this work so if the response is good we’ll do another next year, or for other cities.

To download a PDF copy of the report and infographic click here:
Perth Startup Ecosystem 2013 – Report
Perth Startup Ecosystem 2013 – Infographic