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As the Australian startup scene booms, digitally capable companies find a golden opportunity

The Australian startup scene is often characterised by its Unicorns, the likes of Canva, Airwallex and Rokt capturing headlines globally with record raises and valuations.

These success stories, with their extraordinary founders, are providing the catalyst for huge capital inflows, inspiration for founders to follow their dream to disrupt, and the emergence of new ecosystem players to support that dream. 

The startup ecosystem has been growing and energised like never before, even in the midst of a pandemic. Despite some recent market volatility complete with valuation downgrades, investment continues to flow into funds as evidenced by OIF Ventures raising $50 million in 24 hours last month. In the words of a prominent Australian Venture Partner, “these are the good old days.”

In 2021, the equity deployed into Australian startups more than tripled from a year ago, surpassing $10 billion, according to a recent report by Cut Through Venture and Folklore.

In November 2021, Google unveiled a $1 billion investment in Australia over five years. The Digital Future Initiative will help develop digital economy infrastructure, grow Google’s R&D footprint in Australia, and build up local tech talent.

And in January 2022, Google Cloud launched the Google for Startups Cloud Program allowing equity funded startups up to and including Series A to have their first year of Cloud costs fully covered (up to US$100k), and 20% covered up to US$100k in the second year. 

This is important because building and scaling a startup is hard and founders need all the help they can get. They need to move fast, keep costs under control, and be able to pivot the business without technology getting in the way.

From plan to prototype

From a plan on a piece of paper to a prototype to MVP, the speed at which startups operate needs to match the disruption that is at the heart of everything they do.

The complexity is balancing between getting the infrastructure up and running quickly, and building a robust scalable architecture that can support a rapidly growing business. And herein lies the beauty of the cloud and indeed its simplicity and scalability of it. 

For example, with Google Cloud’s developer tools, such as GKE and Cloud Run, startups can get from code to production in record time, without worrying about infrastructure capacity. And managed services can further reduce the DevOps workload.  

Cost is of course a key consideration for early-stage startups. Startups should prioritise Cloud platforms that come with the ability to forecast and optimise spending with AI-powered recommendations, so a startup can scale down when resources are not needed, and better manage its expenses. 

With the tech foundation in place, founders can concentrate on bringing their concept to life. 

Empowering the data expert within

Data analytics is another area that founders are thinking about from the start. Whether it’s getting a better understanding of their customers, tracking user journeys, or seeing how products and features are being used, real-time analytics tools are essential to keep the startup moving in the right direction. 

Most founders know the importance of data, but many are worried about the cost and expertise needed. Getting started today, however, doesn’t require hiring a data scientist because tools such as Google Cloud’s BigQuery can quickly provide real-time insights with embedded machine learning. My key piece of advice here: start thinking about how to store and leverage data from day one. 

A better shot at success

One thing we hear a lot from founders is the desire to be connected to and learn from other founders. The thriving community of hubs, accelerators and incubators, and investors in Australia are all providing a platform to enable these connections. We are looking to build on this through a C2C platform for any startups joining the Google for Startups Cloud Program, along with introducing startup focused events and mentoring programs to connect Google specialists into the ecosystem.

Our mission is to support this thriving ecosystem, to help enable a new generation of founders to follow in the footsteps of today’s unicorns. There has never been a better time. 

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Michael Langford

Michael Langford

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