Australia’s startup community is full of bright ideas and vibrant people with big dreams.
Speaking at Vivid Ideas in Sydney, Google Australia engineering director and StartupAUS board member Alan Noble said Australia’s startup sector can leverage its proximity to Asia and the culture of having a go to create an industry that has global impact.
“Yes we’re not a Silicon Valley but the startup community is much more vibrant today then it was five years ago,” he said.
Here’s his three point plan to grow the country’s startup sector.
1. Increase the number of entrepreneurs
The single best thing that can be done to support startups, Noble argues, is to ensure there’s a huge available talent pool in Australia.
“We need many more entrepreneurs in Australia,” Noble said.
Boosting the number of entrepreneurs, Noble said will take education, awareness and a culture change.
Noble suggests scholarships for young entrepreneurs be created, entrepreneur skills courses be introduced into universities and changing the “fear of failure” culture.
“We need to increase the quantity of entrepreneurs but we need to increase the quality as well,” he said. “Teaching entrepreneurship is much more than formal education, it’s also about culture.”
In Silicon Valley failing fast and learning from that failure, a process Noble called “flearning”, is a badge of honour rather than something to be ashamed of.
“Holding back many entrepreneurs [in Australia] is fear of failure,” he said. “Failure doesn’t have to be expensive and slow, it can be cheap and fast.”
He said Australia needs to not be afraid to “go big”, because if you’ve failed ethically there’s no shame in that.
“We need to improve our risk tolerance,” he said.
2. Boost computer science student enrolment
If you want your startup to succeed the evidence points towards having a computer science background helps.
A recent PWC report found more founders have computer science degrees compared to any other discipline.
“We need to encourage more students to study computer science at university,” he said.
He said taking computer science and applying it to real world problems is the way to lure students into the discipline, Noble argued.
For example making it a combined degree with a subject that matches the student’s passion.
3. Foreign entrepreneurial visas
Making it easier for skilled foreign entrepreneurs to come to Australia, work and share their experiences will be good for the sector’s growth and fill skill gaps, Noble said.
“We do need to relax restrictions on 457 visas.” he said.
“I’m not talking about 457s for hairdressers, I’m talking about 457 visas for software engineers, product managers.
“We desperately need to be able to tap into global talent.”