Before you think too hard about relocating your tech startup to Silicon Valley, think carefully about the unique benefits an Australian location provides.
2016 was a massive year for Australian startups, in all sorts of different sectors but especially the world of IT&T. There is more funding available than ever before, and the Turnbull government has invested heavily in new enterprises, unveiling a raft of incentives and new policies over the last year or so. This has all contributed to growth among startups, but what about the next big hurdle – heading overseas?
The global market can be tough to crack, but there are several Australian companies who are doing an exceptional job of cutting through. What can digital and IT companies in the industry learn from their example?
The challenges of going global
The biggest barricade to taking an Australian tech startup international might seem to be our country’s separation from the world’s biggest market. It can be tempting to simply relocate to Silicon Valley or Asia, but there may be a few benefits to staying put in the land Down Under.
Look at the example of Rome2rio, a Melbourne-based startup that specialises in transportation journey planning. By its very nature, such software is going to appeal most to densely populated cities in Europe or Asia, where the idea of owning a car isn’t as ingrained as in Australia. Rome2rio has therefore taken a global approach, largely eschewing the local market in favour of bigger and more lucrative user bases overseas. The strategy has paid off, with the company’s website and app receiving some 10 million hits every month.
Rome2rio’s CEO Rod Cuthbert told Tech Invest that they were initially worried about their location in Australia, but soon realised it wasn’t a problem.
“The web has shrunk those distances. We have the same access to foreign markets as our competitors who are based in Europe,” he said.
The story of Rome2rio shows that being slightly isolated from key markets can have its advantages. With a bit of distance, it’s possible to view each target market objectively. A U.S.-based startup may feel limited to their own country, but from Australia, the world is your oyster.
Rome2rio’s co-founder and COO Michael Cameron calls this the “tyranny of scale.”
“Companies based in large markets like the U.S., Europe or China are often unable to see beyond the demands, opportunities, quirks and requirements of their domestic market. Their view of the global market is blurry and they tend to build with an entirely domestic market in mind. Taking a product that is successful in your domestic market onto the world stage is a challenging proposition.”
In conjunction with the many talented IT&T professionals based in Australia, there is strong opportunity to take Australian startups into the global market. So think again before buying that plane ticket to San Francisco!