An introduction to Melbourne’s startup scene - Wade Institute

An introduction to Melbourne’s startup scene

20th January 2020

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 healthy startup ecosystem. With an estimate of over 2000 startups from seed stage to high growth enterprises, there is a thriving community of passionate and talented entrepreneurs waiting for you to connect with.

Some local startup successes include CarSales, Culture Amp, Envato, Lord of the Fries, VinoMofo and Red Bubble, among many others.

For more details on where Victoria is at, check out LaunchVic. It was 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.

Startup Victoria is a not-for-profit, member-based organisation which also has great resources, and many events and meetups to connect Melbourne’s startup founders. Membership starts at $99. They also have a great newsletter for keeping up with events. Sign up here.

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 in Footscray, a purpose-built collaborative makerspace set to open in Feb 2019.

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:

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.

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

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

Help us grow this list: If we’re missing something you’d like to see listed here, please get in touch.

Wade Institute of Entrepreneurship is a leading centre for entrepreneurial education. We deliver programs to accelerate learning, creation and connection.


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