City Spotlight: Sydney


Sydney is much more than the beautiful skies and beaches, food, and vibrant population it offers visitors. According to Compass’ 2015 report, Sydney is ranked 16th among the top 20 global startup ecosystems. 

“Around two-thirds of Australia’s startup activity takes place in Sydney, and almost half of all employees have prior experience in a startup (only 4% below Silicon Valley).”

The startup scene in Sydney has evolved and seen substantial growth in recent years. While Sydney is home to some outstanding successes such as Freelancer.comAtlassian and OzForex, it is also seeing a surge of many new innovative startups set to take the world by storm.

Sydney’s ecosystem growth is primarily attributed to the increasing number of accelerators, incubators, co-working spaces and startup events. Thousands of tech startups have emerged from spaces such as Tank Stream LabsBlue ChilliMuru-D and Fishburners, proving that with the right resources and environment, Sydney is more than capable of producing successful businesses.

Often referred to as “Silicon Beach,” Sydney boasts several “pros” to those looking to join the startup scene.

  1. Lifestyle: Sydney draws potential entrepreneurs with its pristine beaches, great food, and virtually perfect climate. The population of the city is well-educated, multi cultural and law abiding, which makes it a much prized location.

  2. Neighbor to South East Asia: Sydney is in close proximity to the Southeast Asia Pacific region, home to many of the world’s most rapidly developing startup ecosystems.

  3. Timezone: Sydney’s timezone overlaps with both the US West Coast and major Asian capitals. 

  4. Coffee: In Sydney, coffee isn’t fuel—it’s a way of life. Pair it with a perfect slice of avo toast and you're in heaven.

At Sage Corps, we provide our Fellows with opportunities to work with a few of the emerging startups in Sydney. Working out of accelerators and incubators, Fellows have jumped into all aspects of the startup life cycle, from conception to rapid development to global scaling.

In his recent blog, Sage Corps Fellow Robert Durst explained his experience working with one of Sydney’s newer startups, “as a computer science and math major I had spent the last six weeks developing an iOS mobile application, mirroring our already developed Android application for our technology-driven, delivery service startup, Delivery Rocket. Every day consisted of discussions with my two bosses — Brett Higgins, MD and Co-Founder, and Brandon Grenier, CTO and Co-Founder — whom I sat between everyday, lunches with Brett, and many hours of coding. My role was usually well defined, but since we were a startup, I was sometimes asked to take on other roles.”

Adam Rawot, another Sage Corps Fellow, shared his insight about working at Dave’s Deals, a tech startup in Sydney, “We were working some weird hours, the expectations were high, and our career expectations of ourselves were higher still. But around that time something clicked, and we got so much clarity into why this was all happening. Maybe the companies we worked for wouldn’t exist in a few years, but at least the ideas we offered were our own. We were helping steer these companies and products. If being able to walk 5 minutes to a beach hadn’t convinced me Australia was the right place to work, feeling like I had made a meaningful impact in a couple of companies cemented it.”

In addition to the thriving startup scene, Sydney offers a wide variety of cultural and outdoor experiences. Durst explains, “the difference between my internship experience, living abroad for eight weeks, and a two-week vacation can be summed up in two words “cultural immersion.”  Throughout my eight week internship, I met Brett’s family, Brett’s friends, picked up Australian slang, and discovered local food delicacies, like Oporto and Salt, Meat, Cheese. I also went to local sporting events, almost learned the rules of Aussie Rules Rugby, and memorized my walk to work through the CBD (Central Business District). From the work week to the weekend excursions, in a short eight weeks, I fell in love with Australia. All in all, working in the Sydney CBD, immersing myself in Australian culture, avoiding the tourist bus, meeting locals, and exploring the backroads of Australia was not simply incredible; it was unreal.”

In Sydney there is an overwhelming sense that anything is possible. It is easy to get excited about business in Sydney, which in turn makes building a business there incredibly rewarding.