Jessica Gardner Reporter

Jessica covers Australia's technology start-up scene, writing on breaking news and trends in entrepreneurialism, media and marketing. She was previously named Australia's best New IT Journalist for 2011.

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Co-working spaces

Published 09 May 2012 16:39, Updated 09 May 2012 17:04

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There’s another angle to all of this. The accelerators and incubators push a start-up to be market ready (or at least investor-ready) in three months by working on product development, marketing, customer acquisition and getting the story right. Wrapped up in this is funding office space, legal and travel costs for pitching in the US and sometimes a little bit of seed money (well, enough to keep an entrepreneur in ramen and ironic T-shirts). Probably the most invaluable experience is access to mentors but there’s another intangible that entrepreneurs can’t get elsewhere and that is collaboration. Sitting with other entrepreneurs struggling with similar start-up challenges provides a hot bed of problem solving. Being involved in an accelerator or incubator portfolio will certainly offer collaborative opportunities but co-working spaces can offer this without the need to give up equity.

Businesses can get desk space, basic services (internet, meeting rooms and video-conferencing) for pretty cheap rent (about $300 a month).

No one denies the generous intentions of the incubator and accelerator founders but there is another group of former (and some still current) entrepreneurs and angels giving back in a more strictly philanthropic way by funding the creation of the spaces (although there's no doubt they have their investor eyes wide open in case the next Facebook pulls up a chair at the community desk).

Former PIPE Networks co-founder Steve Baxter has set up River City Labs in Brisbane. Stuart Richardson and Darcy Naunton of Adventure Capital are funding The York Butter Factory in Melbourne. Peter Davison, who was a seed investor in PayPal, has ploughed cash into Fishburners in Sydney (which has upgraded more than three times since opening just over a year ago).

Local councils are getting in on the act, too, with Sydney City Council supporting a Fishburners offshoot for creative businesses and Wollongong getting it’s own space subsidised by the council – Startpad – earlier this year.

There's not the urgency like that programmed in at the accelerators and incubators – and in the fast-moving technology sector this could be a great idea’s downfall – but there’s plenty of competitive spirit amongst the young go-getters.

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