Marshy’s Guide to the Startup Scene in Melbourne

Marshy’s Guide to the Startup Scene in Melbourne

In the last five years, I’ve worked with over a dozen local startups. Either employed within them, working on my own short-lived venture, or servicing the Melbourne community.

I’ve now gone back to agency life, and while the knowledge is still fresh I wanted to put together a rough guide with the lay of the land in these parts.

You can read how it all came to be below, or simply skip to the guide here.

My first taste of startups in Melbourne

It was literally an elevator pitch.

I didn’t stumble.
My hands weren’t sweaty.
There was definitely some hustle, and I was standing in a lift.

It was late 2012 and I was close to leaving Google Sydney. I was sick of working for the man. I’d had some bad experiences with a manager, and was ready to try something else. I’d heard of this startup thing, and I was sure I could make something of it.

So I did what any naive, hot-headed and over-confident wantrepreneur would do…

  1. I quit my high-paying job at one of the most successful tech companies in the world
  2. Sold some company stock to allay my debt
  3. Registered the URL: HackDigital.net; and
  4. Moved back to Traralgon to live with my Mum

…it was the stuff dreams were made of.

My dreams.
My problems.
My aspirations.
But it sure was something.

I started blogging (on what is now this blog) and punched out some words about “digital marketing for startups“.

I sort of broke all my own rules around marketing – be specific, find a target you can service, and repeatedly find ways you can generate value.

Instead, I created business cards, bought a Traktor S2 for Christmas, and started running sorties into Melbourne to network and and find some customers.

I’d try and line-up meetings in the same day to make the 2 hour train ride from Traralgon a bit more worthwhile. I’d then stay at a friend’s house, hit the pavement, and meet people to learn about what they were up to, and determine if I could help. Cancellations (which did happen) were brutal.

Obligatory Facebook check-in 6 days into the hustle

There wasn’t a method to the madness. I was playing at business, meeting with people, and banking on serendipity. Around this time I reconnected with Alan @ Pozible – a gentleman I’d met at an event in Sydney, who I happened to stumble into while doing a tour of Hub Melbourne (ie. scouting a workplace I couldn’t afford). I had a couple of follow-up meetings with him and co-founder Rick, and I agreed to contract with the guys to help set up their digital advertising strategy.

Literally working at a startup in a warehouse

This was fun. I did everything I could to set up their conversion tags, AdWords, remarketing, Facebook, ads, Google Analytics and Tag Manager, and train the team. We moved to a warehouse which meant on one fateful day I was doing a pitch in an elevator.

“Hi, I’m Luke!”
“Hi, I’m Morgan”
“You deliver our fruit!”
“Yeah”
“What’s that all about?”
“Well we’re this startup called YourGrocer…”

And it was on. I mentioned something about helping Morgan and then followed up on email, which led to a couple of coffees, and I did a small amount of consulting with them too.

I still giggle at “Marshmentum”

It was a hell of a lot fun over six months. But I’d started the business with little savings, some credit card debt, and had run out of runway. An opportunity to work with Facebook Melbourne appeared, I jumped at it, and that was the end of my first foray into the startup scene in Melbourne.

My second dip into scene

“You’re right. This isn’t an easy conversation.”

I was chatting to my manager. She was in the US. I’d just told her I was leaving Facebook Melbourne after two years. I’d really, really enjoyed my time there, but I had this startup itch I had to scratch, and had been offered an amazing opportunity to lead a business unit at creative agency CHE Proximity that serviced the local startup community.

“So it’s biz dev, working with startups, and within a creative agency?”
“Yep”
“This was made for you Marshy!”

And off we went again. This time leading a business unit called Spotfires.

I’d always wanted to work in a creative agency. Getting to do this while playing within the startup community seemed like a dream gig.

We helped Startup Victoria on their Unpitch initiative. It was a great event. My friend Rohit did an awesome write-up about how Startup Victoria went about setting it up, we hosted at CHE Proximity, I met some interesting people, and I followed-up with a lot of the connections we made.

Some of these connections were VCs, angel investors, incubator operators, and startup founders in the Melbourne scene. They all had differing bits of wisdom, and they were generous with their time and their advice during the follow-up. A lot of the advice they gave me was around what we were trying to do and why it wouldn’t work.

And after six months the challenges of learning the ways of a creative agency, winning new startup business, servicing that business within the parameters the creative agency allowed, and managing a P&L proved insurmountable for me.

To compound things further, my soon-to-be wife broke her ankle and we had to postpone our wedding, so I quit the challenge, did some self-discovery, played some computer games, and looked for another startup job.

A third bite of the cherry

I felt like I’d done my research. I waited three months. I had a lot of coffees, and ended up netting a job with a global startup called 90 Seconds.

This was well truly a startup on its way. I was in a coworking space. It was funded by Sequoia Capital. And somebody needed to grow the business in Melbourne. That person was me. I tapped my network, adjusted my style, and learned a hell of a lot about business development with an emerging technology that requires landing enterprise customers to hit ambitious sales targets.

90 Seconds Video

I’d done sales before, sure, but this was sales at the pointy-end. Kicking down doors, scrambling for meetings, and trying to close quickly were skills I had to learn, but couldn’t learn quickly enough. After 5 months, I determined the role wasn’t the right fit, and hung up my boots.

90 Seconds is a killer product and I’m convinced they’ll hit unicorn status one day – but I won’t be in that rodeo.

Why I’m writing a guide about the startup scene in Melbourne

As you can probably tell, I’m no big-shot. All three of my startup endeavours have lasted less than 6 months, and none of them have gone much beyond networking opportunities and expensive lessons in life, career, and business.

I’m back working at an agency, managing a team, and enjoying a steady pay cheque not contingent on commission, depleting my savings, or abandoning my sense of balance.

I’ve had a few people reach out to me lately to ask questions about my experiences. So I thought it would be worth writing a guide for startup land in Melbourne.

This guide seeks to give you my ideas of what you can expect, highlight some resources that can help you, and point you in the direction of some ways you can connect with the community.

It covers off:

Let’s get started!

 

Resources

Startup Victoria

I think there’s no finer way to begin your startup experience in Melbourne than by tapping into this organisation and its resources. During my time at CHE Proximity we worked with the team closely, and I was nothing short of impressed with:

  • the acumen of the board
  • the events they put out
  • their desire to do what’s right for the community
    …and help where ever they could

Now led by the talented Georgia Beattie, the organisation continues to provide resources for founders and aspiring founders to get involved and associated with the local community.

Aside from the events and pitch nights they regularly put on, there are a number of other resources that I found useful during my time in Melbourne.

The Slack Channel

-> This is where day-to-day discussions and debates happen around what’s happening in the local ecosystem. It’s all fairly intuitive, with sections including intros, job opps, general discussion and of course #startupselfies! I’ve always found the discussion in there to be spirited, and most newbies get their questions answered by people who have walked that road before. Currently rocking 1,700+ members too!

Snapshot of the Startup Vic Slack channel

The Office Hours

-> This is one Melbourne’s best kept secrets. A good score of locals have very kindly offered their time to founders to help with specific project advice. For those of you that don’t know, “Office Hours” is simply a term meaning a regular blocked out period of time that people can “drop into” and meet a founder, an investor, teacher, or friendly face. There’s even my ugly mug in there (that needs updating) – so if you’re keen to connect you can find me here.

I love meeting and helping peeps!

The Newsletter

-> The newsletter is a hot little resource that taps into the Melbourne startup network and spits out information around key people, events, training, courses, opportunities, and other startup-related news. It’s an essential for keeping up-to-date with what’s happening around the traps.

A sample of the newsletter

Podcasts

The Startup Playbook

Run by my friend Rohit, this podcast series has been running now for over a year. It’s a great series and has a blend of both international and local guests, and really gives you a snapshot of who’s who in Melbourne and the world stage.

You can find the podcast here, some of my favourite episodes have been:

I really enjoyed chatting next to a microphone

Open the Pod Doors

Is another Aussie startup podcast that I got wind of via Ian Gardiner. It’s startup focused as well and is eight episodes in with some great interviewees already. Keep an ear out.

Future Sandwich

My old colleague Tommy also does a future-focused podcast around issues and trends in tech. Amazon, Skippable ads, Artificial intelligence… you name it.

The best kind-of sandwich

Coworking spaces

I’ve seen coworking as a trend explode over the last few years in Melbourne. I think there’s good and bad reasons for entering a coworking space, so here’s my lowdown.

They’re great for:

  • businesses that are on their way – if you’re getting traction, outgrowing your bedroom, and need a more professional space, coworking spaces can be awesome. They’ve got Internet, a steady ‘thrum‘ that comes from being around busy people, and are great for having a more professional address than your home.
  • meeting rooms and conference calls – at some stage, virtually every business needs a quiet room to either hash out a phone call, host a webinar, to have real actual clients in a space. Having access to a coworking space that provides all of this is not only convenient, but essential for businesses that are on their way.
  • networking events and meeting people – provided you’ve got the first two needs ticked, this is another good reason for participating in a coworking space. Most of them put on additional events, host workshops, or have lunch events where you can get to know the people that work around you and their contacts.

Keep in mind though, they’re not built exclusively for the last point. Before I started working at the Hub Melbourne and got an understanding of what coworking was like – I assumed it’d be a bit like a campus vibe – people sitting around, sipping red beer cups, playing table tennis, and shooting the shit – and while all of those things do happen, it’s much less than I imagined.

People are there to work more than socialise, which is why they’re paying for a cost-effective office space. For an older list of coworking spaces – check out this article from Pollenizer blog.

Spaces I’ve rocked include:

Inspire9 – a great space that includes a free day visit if you’re travelling or curious. A lot of startup events are hosted there, and they’ve expanded their footprint to Footscray as well
York Butter Factory – a space in the city on King Street that I’ve attended a few events for, including a weekend hackathon. The more central location lends itself well to public transport (and is very close to Gami fried chicken and beer – preach!)

Not even joking… Gami is the effing best

Nest Coworking – is a space in Thornbury on the north side of Melbourne. I rocked this spot for a while trying to get an after-hours side-hustle off the ground. Jay (the founder) is a top guy, and the space has a more subdued atmosphere that’s a welcome change from the busyness of some of the other spaces.
Exchange Workspaces – I resided in the South Yarra digs during my time at 90 Seconds. A great bunch of people, smaller, and close to some delicious cafe and bar action along Chapel St

There are heaps more than what I’ve listed above, and the best advice I can give you is be sure why you’re needing a space, try a few out, be social, and go with one that gives you a good feeling.

Startup events and where to find them

When I first moved back to Melbourne, I couldn’t get enough of these things. (Usually) free beer and pizza, a room full of similar-minded people, some great speakers, and a chance for an extrovert like me to get excited and gabble.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped going to events in favour of one-on-ones, and before I get into why, I thought I’d share how you find out about startup events.

The Startup Vic Newsletter does a great job of summing up various events around Melbourne, and usually contains a some helpful links:

Meetup

Is a pretty great way for sleuthing events and things you’re interested in around Melbourne. It’s no different for the startup scene. A search for “startup” events will always reveal some interesting shindigs.

Some rules of thumb to follow when looking for events are:

  • Look for groups that have been established for some time – this means they’re generally better organised and will have stronger attendance and flow
  • Look for recency in the events that have been held – some large groups might not have had any recent events
  • Look at the comments around the events – while sometimes the comments are trite or promotional, the commentary can give you clues about what the event is like
  • Beware of “network marketing” or “free” workshops – the former because you’re going to be sold to, and the latter for the very same reason

 

Eventbrite

Another resource where you can find open events that you might not have otherwise heard of, Eventbrite can be handy for throwing the net wider.

General Assembly

While the goal of General Assembly (GA) is to promote and sell their paid courses and grow their email list, they’ve done an amazing job of supporting and hosting startup-specific events in Melbourne. There are some high quality events put on and I’ve found them to be super worthwhile. I remember hearing the founder of Starward whisky (which is homegrown in Melbourne) speak about innovation in their craft and it was one of the most engaging talks I’ve ever been to.

Some practical tips on networking at events

As I mentioned, I stopped going to events after a while as I found I wasn’t getting as much out of them as I would a one-on-one chat. The quality varied from event-to-event, and there would be a lot of cliques, awkward conversations, or clueless people. There’s still a lot of merit to them with the right attitude and mindset, and I found I learned a lot.

Here’s a few tips I’d impart if you’re going to go an event.

  1. Be prepared – it can be nerve-racking attending these things, and one thing that will help is having a story prepped before going. This doesn’t have to be a dossier about your life story, but it helps to be equipped with a sentence or two that neatly sums up why you’re there.

    Good answers to “what brings you here?” could be:

    • “I’m new to (the area/this event) but I’ve been recently reading up on (subject) and hear good things”
    • “I’ve been working on a side project in (topic) and looking to meet like-minded people”
    • “I’m completely new to this, maybe you could tell me something you’ve learned at one of these events?”

      Bad answers include:
    • “I’m working on a startup but can’t tell you what it is”
  2. Don’t sell – I can still remember the day. I was at depo8 Prahran and attending an event around building a profile and writing. I bounced around the room and met one lady who exchanged minimum pleasantries, told me she was working on her fitness business, swiped my business card, and – sure enough – followed up with a phone call a few days later to sell godknowswhat. Don’t be transactional, and don’t be this kind of person. It stinks.
  3. Don’t skive the conversation looking for a better one – this happens. You’ll meet someone, exchange what you’re interested in, and then the recipient already starts looking elsewhere. It’s very obvious and makes you look like a thoughtless dick. Sometimes the best conversations come with a bit of elicitation and cajoling. There’s no need to be rude because somebody hasn’t hit it out of the park on first answer. One of the best conversations I’ve ever had with somebody was on a plane with an elderly hat professor, I wouldn’t have even found out there’s such a thing as a “hat professor” if I had accepted her initial banter about travelling at face value.

    Boring people get bored by answers, interested people take delight in uncovering a story.

  4. At the same time, don’t linger – once a conversation starts drifting, it’s okay to move on.
    Segues can be as simple as:

    • Time for another drink!
    • Well, have a good night!
    • Enjoy your evening
    • I’ll keep an eye out for anybody that can help you 😉
  5. Do more listening than talking – I don’t know if this is the same for everybody, but be self-aware of the amount you’re talking. As an extrovert, I’ll quite happily fill silence with my life-story and thoughts, yet I know that the best value comes from learning from other people. Open-ended questions, then follow-up questions are your friend here.

Some practical tips on one-on-ones

My favoured kind of networking is the one-on-one. Meeting with someone in person gives you an opportunity to have a deeper conversation, learn more, and find new ways to help people. They’re a great follow-up to a networking event, and Melbourne is a city that has a lot of awesome meeting spots for coffee and/or beers.

Here are some of my favourites in the CBD:

  • Journal Cafe, 253 Flinders Lane – a great morning spot, easy to hear each other speak, awesome atmosphere and close to Flinders Street station
  • Trunk Bar & Restaurant275 Exhibition St – comes into its own in Summer – the sun beats down and it’s lovely
  • Mr Tulk328 Swanston St – near the library and easy to find
  • Lounge Bar1/243 Swanston St – great for a cheeky beer, a bit of an institution and usually very easy to find a seat in the normal hours (it functions as a club too)
  • The Moat176 Little Lonsdale St – a nook next to the museum, very cosy, and is very Melbourne

The way I like to approach a one-on-one is to take a giver attitude. Depending on the context, I’ll either probe to find ways to help, suggest ways to help, offer ways to help, and simply get creative with ways I can help. It really is a lot of fun.

If I’m the one seeking advice, I’ll bring a notepad and pen, and note down anything that sounds valuable or that should be followed up on. I’m respectful of the person’s time (30 mins tops for 1st-time meeting, and if it’s a follow-up at least check with the other person after 30). I’m also mindful of balance. If I gabbled through my story too much I’ll throw it the other person’s way to ensure they have a chance to speak and seek their own help.

A really good way to continue a connection is to ask permission to update them on your progress (after following their advice) either via email or another meeting. Then, depending on the context, dropping them an email after the catch-up with what you intend to do, or make a reminder note to update them in a few months time once you’ve done the thing they’ve advised you on.

Everyone’s got their own style – but one last tip I’ll impart is asking for a book recommendation if the catch-up went well. I love reading, and if I do end up reading their recommendation it’s another reason to maintain the connection to thank them for their tip.

Finding a job in a startup (for non-tech people)

So you want to work at a startup?

I did it thrice in different capacities. I think they’re a really fun places to work, you get exposure to a whole raft of exciting business opportunities, and the preference for quick action over meetings is addictive and makes you feel more involved.

The benefit of working at one instead of starting your own business is felt too – you’ve got less mental anguish, you’re more likely to have a steady income, and can learn from a founder who is blazing a path in front of you.

I’m going to breakdown how I would go about securing a job for different disciplines and experience levels.

As an intern…

If I was studying or coming out of high-school today, getting an internship at a startup would be one of the smartest moves you could possibly make. On top of the reasons mentioned above, you’ve got nothing to lose, everything to gain and learn, and a raw opportunity to focus on generating value. If you’re going to go for an internship, figure out ways you’ve created value ahead of meeting the startup. When we were at Pozible, there was one young man who had something like 300k followers on one of the Facebook pages he managed. How on earth did he even do that? I don’t know. But it made putting him on and giving him experience a very easy decision.

As a marketer…

There are a range of jobs out there related to marketing in startup land. Terms and titles that get thrown around are:

  • Growth marketer, Head of Growth, growth hacker
  • Digital marketing specialist
  • Optimisation, conversion rate, funnel specialist
  • Traffic Ninja (okay, I made this one up)

In my experience, this is a very ripe area to get into. Most of the founders I’ve met have their head around the importance of marketing and data, but when it comes to getting into the weeds and making things work, there’s a bit less wherewithal. There’s a whole spectrum of roles available for people who have a 1-2 years experience, all the way through to 8+ years and beyond.

Some old analysis I put together for Pozible

The problem with marketing isn’t the lack of information out there about how to do things, it’s the information abundance. There’s so many things you can do that trying to find out what you should be doing can be like drinking from a firehose. I also think that adaptability and learning ability are much better traits to have than hard skills.

The tools that can deliver users and growth will change over time, but the strategy and mindset don’t.

Areas I think a startup marketer needs to have under control are:

  • Digital data and report building – learning to scry Google Analytics and other tools is a must-have. As is being able to assemble data from other touchpoints and weave them together into a cohesive story that informs the team’s decision making
  • Some level of website savvy – you don’t need to be able to code, but being able to navigate a WordPress theme, talk to a developer, understand web standards, and other little nuances will be super helpful. Of course if you can code then you’re off to the races
  • An arsenal of tactics around growth – I’m not just talking about online advertising. In fact, in most instances advertising won’t work as a user acquisition strategy until you’ve got your other user-gathering approaches in order. PR, influencers, guest posting, email dripfeeds, blogging, flyer dropping, cold-calling, user testing, referral schemes, are just a few – the more knowledge you have around ways of getting people to your website/product the better
  • Writing copy – being able to craft compelling words is a marvellous skill to have, and absolutely critical within a startup where each word that hits a customer’s eyes is critical

I would also follow 1-2 online marketers doing things well, rather than drink from the firehose and follow too many.

Neil Patel has a hustle-ethic that’s very infectious, and the learnings he got from his $100,000 challenge make good foundational reading. His series of guides – an online MBA – are also very good.

The other person I’d get familiar with Avinash Kaushik. Touted as a Data Evangelist for Google, Avinash is the real deal. It’s a bit more advanced if you’re new to data, the stories behind data, and digital metrics – but his no bullshit filter shines through and I always learn something from one of his posts. It’s one of the only regular email newsletters I’m subscribed to.

As a salesman…

Sales are the lifeblood of a startup. Without customers you’re just faffing around on the sidelines pretending to business. Every startup needs salespeople and if you’re good at it, you can do well in Melbourne. A quick search on AngelList reveals a raft of jobs available within the local scene.

While I’ve sold for Facebook, Google, and my own consultancy – selling with a startup that’s trying to get quick runs on the board is hard. You live and die by your numbers and so does the company.

I thought I had things under control until I joined 90 Seconds and ate a big fat dose of humble pie. If you can do it, you’re in for a fun ride. The thrill of closing a sale with a new business is second-to-none, and the long-term rewards are immense. Selling is an amazing skill to build on and one you never stop learning. If you’ve got the experience already, you know how to get a gig.

If you don’t, I’m going to share three of my favourite resources on sales:

There are a lot of good groups around Melbourne talking about sales also, I’ve come across Sales Hacker and their content is spot on.

Find this section interesting? I’m thinking of writing a more in-depth guide around getting a job in tech (for non-technical people) soon. Give me a shout at hello@lukemarshall.net if you’re interested.

Cool people in Melbourne I’ve met

I’ve met a number of awesome people during my time in Melbourne around the startup scene. Everyone is very friendly and have great origin stories too.

Here’s just a snapshot of some of the people you might come across:

Rohit, The Startup Playbook

I first met Rohit during my time working at CHE Proximity and Spotfires. We’ve since kept in touch and he’s done an amazing job of contributing to the community, producing his podcast, and lighting the way around Melbourne. He recently did a write-up about his lessons learned podcasting, and what I love about his approach is that he’s always seeking  ways to give back. You can find Rohit in the Startup Victoria Office Hours or work with him via Playbook Media.

Rob, Annex Products

I was introduced to Rob via a mate, and the guy is a champion. He co-founded Annex Products, and has quite a journey from a Kickstarter campaign, to a Shopify Build-a-Business winner, meeting Seth Godin, to building a world-dominating ecommerce business. You’ve probably seen one of their products in a Facebook ad if you’re in the fitness space, because he helped create QuadLock phone cases.

I’m a proud owner of one of their cases

He also shared one of the most memorable things I’ve ever heard about starting something:

The trick is convincing people to actually give a shit.

Lisy, Girl Geek Academy

I interviewed and hired Lisy during our time at Pozible, and knew she would go far. In amongst her Tweets, awesome day job at a games company, and travels, she helped co-found Girl Geek Academy.

GGA is an awesome initiative that sets out to increase the number of women in STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and math).

I love what they are doing and the organisation recently secured $1.3m in funding to continue prospering. They host regular hackathons and other programs – and if you’re a female interested in getting into the startup space – I highly recommend getting to one of their events.

Jump on Twitter to find more cool people

While you’ll often see debates in the news around Twitter’s demise, I’ve found a good number of Melbourne startup peeps who actively contribute and post interesting things on this network.

I’m more of a lurker who posts infrequently – find me @marshwah – there are a number of other contributors that I thought are worthy of a follow (mostly based in Melbourne – apologies to those I’ve missed or linked and you didn’t want me to).

  • @OphelieLechat – web nerd with posts that are always on-point
  • @hughstephens – runs @schedugram and posts some awesome Tweetstorms and strong opinions about startup land
  • @digitalGeek_au – a founder running the small business finance startup Dragonbill
  • @shandsaker – switched on operator, cofounder and board member of Startup Vic, and CEO of the new venture accelerator for cyber-security: Cyrise
  • @nedwin – former Melb guy carving it up in SF, has sold and exited, is up to something new, and worth watching for what happens next
  • @gbeattie – CEO of Startup Vic, and a great person to follow for all the happenings around our great state!
  • @frankarr – a great techie who does a lot of evangelism and innovation-y stuff in and around Telstra
  • @thegyppo – bootstrappin’ founder of Gleam – posts great links and content
  • @RohitBhargava7 – active on Twitter and regularly churning out Startup Playbook Podcast updates
  • @SmallTimeVC – active Angel investor who imparts a lot of nuggets on Twitter and generously shares his office hours
  • @lants – while not based in Melbourne, her Tweets are lightning witty and insightful, and is one of the VCs for Blue Sky that’s quite active online
  • @StoneAdam – founder of Speedlancer – pumps out some great Tweets
  • @glenngillen – recently joined AWS and is an active Tweep and investor
  • @rampersand_fund – venture fund account for Rampersand, I follow it to keep up with what they think is interesting
  • @HughCameron – founder of button, and sometimes Tweeter
  • @mattallen– very active on startup commentary, angel investor and recently joined AWS too

While not an exhaustive list, I definitely find it a fun way to keep an ear to the grindstone and keep tabs on what’s going on in locally.

And if you’re finding Twitter a pain in the bum to use, I highly recommend Tweetdeck – it’s the only way to desktop Tweet.

Until Twitter shuts it down at least…

Startups doing cool shit that I like

There’s a lot to like about Melbourne. In the last few years it feels like things have really taken off. We’ve had the LaunchVic wave of funding, Slack open their APAC HQ in Melbourne, and enthusiasm and buzz around tech press, people I speak with, and emerging businesses has taken off. Not to mention – Melbourne has punched above its weight for some time – Carsales, SEEK, and RealEstate.com.au are some of the originals. RedBubble, 99Designs, and Vinomofo haven’t faffed around. And rapid upstarts like Unlockd are making a name for themselves too.

I freaking love RedBubble – this is part of an old job application I put in for a role I wasn’t qualified for 

There’s heaps to like about the scene in fact, but instead of wax lyrical about some of the more well-known startups around Melbourne, I want to talk about the ones that have been on my radar and I think are interesting as an observer.

Button

-> Run by my mate Hugh, it’s a Slack integration that assists workflow. What I like about it is that Hugh learned some coding skills on the side, and has been through the BlueChilli program to help get him there.

Foundr

-> Run out of Melbourne by Nathan, this platform churns out high quality entrepreneurial content. It answers all the typical questions that come from people like me, and is packed with courses and guides too. I also got to connect with the dude while hustling for 90 Seconds, and he was nothing but warm and friendly.

TigerPistol

-> Started out of Melbourne in 2011, I’ve enjoyed watching the company expand. Having worked at Facebook, I can empathise with the challenges the company faces adapting to the constant iterations of the world’s largest social network, but as a Facebook Marketing Partner, TigerPistol has done a bang-up job of keeping up-to-date and expanding globally. I also saw Steve (the co-founder) talk at a local event and enjoyed what he had to say.

YourGrocer

-> A Melbourne institution, one of my old clients, and a startup disrupting the brick and mortar grocery superstore oligopoly. Have recently expanded into every Melbourne suburb, and run by a steadily growing team that’s led by some smart operators.

Havas Ventures

-> A really smart initiative from an agency offering something similar to my experiences with Spotfires/CHE proximity. One of the differences with their operation is the team. From my understanding, there’s a strong layer of selectivity to the startups they’re working with, and it’s led by an ex-VC. Watch this space.

Peazie

-> A conversion-focused service offering that excels at promotions. Peazie have been building up a solid offering for a while. A growing client-base with data smarts that grow in sophistication with each campaign, Peazie are on their way.

Anthill and Not So Freaky University

-> Both run by James Tuckerman, the man’s been curating and generating content online since 2003. A very animated speaker and a great example of someone doing everything he can to help the community by teaching what he knows.

Linkfluencer

-> Run by Alex Pirouz, I’ve been keeping tabs on this business since I heard Mark Middo joined. Mark’s an interesting guy who has written a great little book called the 5 Minute Business and has a colourful background (he used to do digital marketing for the F1).

Onestack

-> I met Gavin and JJ while looking for work in the startup space before joining 90 Seconds. JJ was a super-smart operator and got very hands-on with his advice and wisdom around the startup space both locally and globally.

Summary

Picture me hustlin’

I got writing this and then it became a bit of a labour of love. Now that I’m a couple of steps removed from the scene and focusing on other things, I thought it was prudent to get it all out while it’s still fresh.

If you’ve read the guide and want to chat, I’ve got the goal of 1 coffee meeting per week that I’d like to stick to – you can reach me at hello@lukemarshall.net or find out more about me here or give me a shout-out on Twitter.

Melbourne’s a great city, with a bright future, and heaps of ways you can get involved in the startup and tech space.

It’s certainly been fun from a career perspective, and while things never quite landed for me, the people I’ve met, beers I’ve consumed, and lessons learned along the way have been invaluable. Get out there and make something!