Most Aussie Startups in the US Are Like Matthew Dellavedova...

"Australian players, they say, tend to be the opposites of most American players. They don’t seek superstardom. They actively avoid attention. They excel in the egoless roles that most players reject.

American coaches have found that the stereotype of Australians as relaxed and fun to be around isn’t that far off. “Almost every one of them is like that,” Bennett said. “They seem friendly and likable. And they pretty much are.”

The only time they aren’t, Bogut said, is when they’re on the court. “We’re very laid-back in Australia,” he said, “but when it’s time for work and time to get after it, I think people don’t mind putting their hard hat on.”

Something I read today lead me to draw a parallel between basketballers in the US and Aussie startups in the US.

Andressen Horowitz released some compelling data that deflates the argument of there being a tech bubble in Silicon Valley.

The key take away's are that:

  • Yes Valuations are rising but so are earnings if you look at the P/E ratios of tech companies they are not increasing
  • Markets are real now not theoretical. E commerce and Ad Spending is big but still a small % of total retail spending or advertising $. Large numbers of people are online now but again still lots of room to grow.
  • The huge dollars being invested in the Unicorns are mostly being invested in the very later stage by investors with similar risk profiles as those that used to invest in tech IPO's. Its just a shift from public market investment to private.
  • The dollars invested in early stage companies has stayed pretty flat, whilst the number of investments has increased. In effect reducing the risk of that portfolio of money as its distributed amongst a greater number of companies.

U.S. Technology Funding -- What's Going On?

from

a16z

The other conclusion I drew out of this is that the Unicorns of the future need to learn how to get to success with less initial investment at the same time when the Unicorns of today are sucking all the talent out of Silicon Valley and inflating the cost of hiring great teams.

This creates a great opportunity for Australian startups. We have an ingrained or forced culture of bootstrapping. So the fact that the average dollar investment is declining, means that those who will win have to get to success with less. None of us in Australia have had the $1 million investment to build an MVP. We arent hooked on the crack cocaine that is early stage VC funding as we never had it and we arent hooked on raising the next biggest round and getting on Techcrunch. We just want to get our hard hat on. With declining round sizes US entrepreneurs who have grown up with the culture of big early stage investment or maybe even have failed at 1 startup and now will be expected to succeed with less will be at a disadvantage.

Australia also has talented engineers and an increasing number of folks who are bored to tears working for corporates and willing to trade cash for equity to get into something more meaningful. The government subsidises this engineering team through the R & D tax credits so you can build a great team in Australia easier and we know how to be thrifty.

But and there is a big BUT. The Australian company must want to be the BEST in the world. Do you want to play in the NBL or the NBA?

In order to be with the best some of your team are going to have to mix with the best and have the balls to know they can beat them. Its hard to be a world champion if you aren't playing next to other potential world champions. You can argue that you could compete remotely. I think it's bullshit (Don't regurgitate the exceptions Atlassian, Big Commerce, Campaign Monitor etc etc), You can only be the best by being close to your biggest markets and customers and even the exceptions mentioned above were either in the market for a long time and hence knew a lot about what it took to compete or were on planes a lot. Most of the Startmate companies when asked about their experience in Silicon Valley realise how awesome and smart the people are in Silicon Valley and they mostly either lift their game or fold. Its the NBA baby.

So. It means at least one of the founders needs to move to where your biggest market opportunity is and or where the best people are. If that is the US then it's there. If its Asia then it's there. BUT you can manage your engineering and product development in Australia and the benefits and opportunity are great to those that are willing to make that hard step.

So Unicorns of the future will be born in Australia but able to compete and fit in the US - After All we are both red white and blue.  US or International VC's who see this opportunity and capitalise on it (some already are)  will tap into a group of entrepreneurs who have built amazing companies by bootstrapping or at least operate on the smell of an oily rag but also who like our legendary ambassador Aussie Matt Dellavedova have the balls to compete and win globally.

@deanmcevoy is an technology founder, investor and advisor. He has started 4 startups, is a founding mentor of startmate.com.au and investor in various global internet startups that just happen to be born in Australia. 

PS when I say the "balls" to win I know it's not gender neutral but I would also say she's got balls as it means something totally different in my mind and I'm Australian we say balls all the time.