20 Years of Tech Startup Experiences in One Hour

I’ve just returned to Australia to live, after a decade as an entrepreneur in San Francisco. For my first in-person talk in Australia, I shared my thoughts on how to build a successful tech startup nearly anywhere in the world. I spent nearly three months researching and preparing for this talk, interviewing dozens of entrepreneurs, investors, and academics. I also drew from my 20+ years of experience as an entrepreneur — ten years in Australia, and ten years in the US.

Creating a tech startup in the San Francisco Bay Area (i.e. San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Oakland) is easier than most other parts of the world (except, perhaps, for a couple of startup hubs such as Israel). When I got to San Francisco I found myself in the midst of a bustling ecosystem of technically sophisticated cashed-up investors, bold founders with big ambitions and a real desire to help each other, entrepreneurial academics who often had multiple startups they were advising and were common destinations for their students for internships and employment, and big forward-thinking customers with innovation labs in the heart of San Francisco.

In Australia, things couldn’t be more different. More is invested in tech startups in a day in the US than in a year in Australia. Short-termism is rife at all levels. Entrepreneurs have to deal with pointless roadblocks put in their way by bureaucratic institutions.

And yet, Australia is full of brilliant talent, just waiting to be unleashed on the world. I believe that there are ways for potential Aussie founders to create successful global startups. And I believe that these lessons are equally valuable for founders in many other parts of the world, where the startup ecosystem is weak, and industry is conservative and slow moving.

For more, see my talk:

Or alternatively, read this summary of my talk from Aman Arora, who flew all the way from Sydney to Brisbane to attend, and was kind enough to write up his takeaways in a thoughtful article.