For the typical Aussie tech startup, Silicon Valley is Hollywood.
Ripe with talent, education, money, and experience – Silicon Valley startups have a colossal market on their doorstep, and community of investors actively hunting the next big thing.
A veteran of the tech startup scene in Australia, Ian Gardiner is the founder of Innovation Bay, a not-for-profit group which aims to grow the technology investment sector through education and networking events. He believes that in order for Australia to grow its tech investment scene, educating potential investors is fundamental.
In the 10 years of its existence, the group has facilitated some 300 pitches from tech startups at its ‘Angel Dinners’ and helped raise over $10 million in seed capital, ranging in investment size from $100,000 to $500,000.
“Education is very important, as well as changing and improving Government policy – but we can improve the environment for entrepreneurs to talk to potential investors about their business, whether they need money, and what they’re going to use it for, and that’s a function of what we’re doing,” Gardiner said.
While the ability for an entrepreneur to get out of their bedroom and start an idea is arguable easier than ever before, linking entrepreneurs with investors is easier said than done.
“It’s not so easy for a potential investor to understand how, or to know where to go, to invest money in a technology startup. And that’s really what we’re trying to solve here.”
Gardiner uses a construction analogy to describe what it takes to build a thriving technology startup ecosystem.
“My feeling is that the entrepreneur pillar is probably a bit higher than the investment pillar at the moment, so we need to pour a bit more concrete onto that investment pillar. And that’s what we’re trying to achieve – we’ve been running Angel Dinners for four years now, and we’ve definitely got people coming through the door. They know how they want to invest, and we’re just trying to encourage more of that.”
Gardiner said that in appealing to potential angel investors, an important step is educating why it’s important to choose this sector over other more traditional classes. He says it’s a new investment class where there is money to be made, whilst building the economy.
“That’s why we decided to start running events where you’re actually laying the foundation and the context of what that actually means, because this is an asset class that is begging people to participate,” he said.