Victoria is Australia’s ‘startup state’ and Melbourne is the heartbeat. If you’re new to the Melbourne startup scene, it can be tricky to know where to begin.

What are all the different parts of the ecosystem? How do I get involved? We get it. Consider this your go-to guide.

From mingling with Melbourne’s movers and shakers through to finding, growing and scaling your startup idea, we’ve got you covered.

An overview 

Victoria has a diverse and booming startup ecosystem. With an estimated over 2,950 startups from seed stage to high-growth enterprises, there is a thriving community of passionate and talented entrepreneurs waiting for you to connect with.

Victoria boasts over 50 accelerators and nearly 500 VC investors deploying over $2b in 2022 alone. It’s the home to some of Australia’s most successful startups (and certified unicorns), including REA Group, CarSales, MECCA, Mr Yum, SEEK, Lord of the Fries, Judo Bank, VinoMofo, Kester Black, and Red Bubble, among many others.

The state even has its own startup agency – LaunchVic. Established by the Victorian Government as an independent agency and governing body responsible for developing Victoria’s startup ecosystem, it’s a go-to for funding, events and research in the local startup and entrepreneurship space. LaunchVic support our investor education program VC Catalyst and in 2021, launched the Alice Anderson Fund supercharging female-led Victorian startups with funding and support.

There’s a lot of startup love and support here in Victoria – it’s like one big community. Startup Victoria is a not-for-profit, member-based organisation also has great resources, and many events and meetups to connect Melbourne’s startup founders (many virtual too!). You could say Victoria’s the state where startups start!

Meetups & networking communities  

Victoria reportedly has 190 meetup groups centring around startups and entrepreneurship, with another 460 tech-specific groups. These casual networking events are great spaces to meet like-minded people at all stages of the startup journey. Some meetups have themes and others are general interest.

Large community meetups include Melbourne Silicon Beach and Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hub. Search in Melbourne for more.

More communities worth checking out:

Finding your people is a great first step. Look up your next local meetup and book in.

Collaboration spaces

According to LaunchVic, there are over 150 co-working spaces in Victoria. Melbourne co-working spaces often house entrepreneurs as well as freelancers and creatives. They become collaborative hubs where many startups are based and born and so these are just the kinds of communities you should have on your radar.

Here’s just a few of many:

Need to prototype or make a physical product? Check out FAB9, a purpose-built collaborative makerspace in Footscray.

So book a hot desk for a day. Do some brainstorming. You never know who you might meet!

Incubators and accelerator programs

If you’re working on a startup idea and want to take it to the next level, incubators and accelerators are intensive programs you can undertake to fast-track your development.

Some are industry specific while others are general, and lengths of time and requirements vary. These programs offer invaluable mentorship, networks and funding opportunities and are often the pathways trodden by many well-known, successful startups. This is why they are often highly competitive with rigorous application processes.

LaunchVic reports there are over 25 accelerator programs in Victoria, with new programs being developed regularly.

It’s important to do your research as there are lots of different variables. Here’s a few you can look into:

Is it time to supercharge your startup? If there’s an accelerator program that’s right for you, apply! You’ve got nothing to lose.

Funding & investment

As a starting point, and depending on where your startup is based, local councils and the City of Melbourne can be great resources for grants and other funding options. 

There are many different firms and investor networks offering private equity and other funding opportunities at all stages of the startup journey. It’s good to familiarise yourself with some of the local players early on, even though national and international funding opportunities can be just as significant to your market.

To kick off your research:

Also look at:

Crowdfunding is one way to fund getting your ideas off the ground. Check out Pozible, or StartSomeGood for social enterprises/non-for-profits.

Heard of Equity Crowdfunding? Customers can become shareholders and buy equity in startups thanks to new legislation and online platforms like Birchal.

Find out more about equity crowdfunding from Birchal Founder Alan Crabbe and his visit to Wade Institute. 

If raising capital is the next goal in your sights, get out there and explore your options.

Education & Training

There are a range of Victorian universities and training centres which offer entrepreneurial education options across a spectrum of accreditation. Many also have strong startup communities, with networking events and accelerator programs for new students and/or alumni.

We’re one of those! The Wade Institute of Entrepreneurship is a leading centre for entrepreneurial training delivering a range of programs to help you learn, create and connect. Learn more about us, our programs and events, or talk to us about your ideas.

For short courses or up-skilling, check out General Assembly
and Academy Xi. Other ones to look at: Fitzroy Academy and Unbound.

Interested in coding? Meeum is a local, independent startup focused on broadening access to coding education, especially for entrepreneurs and female founders.

If you’re part of a university community, look into how you can tap into its networks.

Further resources and inspiration

  • Startup Melbourne is a great place to explore all things entrepreneurship
  • TEDX Melbourne is our local movement for “ideas worth spreading” in tech, education and design
  • Master Series by WeTeachMe is a program of excellent learning events designed for founders and aspiring entrepreneurs
  • Startup Creative is an online resource hub and quarterly print magazine for makers and doers all over Australia
  • 2at Startup is a creative agency supporting startups with digital and design
  • The Startup Playbook is a great weekly podcast interviewing successful entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts
  • That Startup Show is a live/online TV series about startup culture
  • Hackathon Queen is Michelle Mannering’s fantastic online resource hub for all things  Melbourne’s hackathons.
  • Humans of Purpose podcast for conversations with inspiring, purpose-driven leaders.

So, that’s our great city in a nutshell. The Melbourne startup scene is ready for you. Time to get out there!