JUST GET ON THE PLANE: Advice For Australian Start-Ups Hoping To Expand Overseas


If you’re an Australian start-up with hopes to expand overseas, then just get on a plane and go, said CultureAmp’s Co-founder, Didier Elzinga.

With a list of clients that sounds like a Silicon Valley roll call, the Melbourne-based human resources analytics software provider is proof the plunge is well worth taking.

CultureAmp, which makes a product that is like Google Analytics for HR departments called Murmur, was started without any venture capital investment and just made its first US hire.

It counts among its clients Ubank, Pinterest, Square Space, and a major, global software developer who can’t be named as the their deal requires confidentiality. Being located in Australia just hadn’t been an issue in the past with tools like Skype meaning that the tyranny of distance is dead.

“There are some nights where we don’t get much sleep,” Elzinga said. “People are used to working with companies at a distance.”

Basically, companies won’t be taken aback if you ask to work with them over the phone and internet, Elzinga explained. Executives are also more prepared to work flexible hours, and as long as you are as well, you can manage time differences.

And while Silicon Valley is a hub for innovation, working from Australia can actually be a major advantage.

Elzinga said start-ups need to remember the world is a much bigger marketplace than the United States, although he notes: “I am not naive enough to say I am going to march into China and sell a lot of software [straight away].”

“There’s not a bigger market in the United States, there is a bigger market in the world,” and Australia is geographically poised to take advantage of advancements in Asia.

As there is so much competition for talent in Silicon Valley, it would also be “sheer folly” to try and put together a development team from scratch over in the states, when there’s enough capable people in Australia, he said.

“Go, just go. All the planning in the world won’t make up for getting on a plane and talking to people.

“If there’s a client that wants to see me, if I just go I know I will find five more [to meet with],” he said.

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