Is San Francisco the New Epicenter of Silicon Valley?

September 6, 2010

For years it’s been an open secret – young entrepreneurs and tech-savvy folks who work for the big Silicon Valley conglomerates have been living in San Francisco while commuting to Silicon Valley. After all, does anyone really relocate to northern California to live in Mountain View?

Now it appears that many of these people also did not move to the Bay Area to commute. They’ve started companies in San Francisco proper – not 30 or 40 miles south on the 101 freeway in Palo Alto or San Jose, traditional epicenters of what’s typically considered Silicon Valley.

According to the San Francisco Sunday Examiner, San Francisco has been “beating out South Bay cities for venture capital, boosting key sectors and creating a hotbed of growing firms.” Software companies, social media, gaming, green tech and biotech are leading the pack of industry sectors attracting the VC dollars.

Good news for the entire innovative tech industry in the Bay Area (which includes Silicon Valley and San Francisco): “investors poured nearly $3 billion into Bay Area companies in the past three months – a 100 percent increase from the first quarter.” More than $283 million went to companies located in San Francisco. (Read more)


Why Australian Entrepreneurs Should Give Silicon Valley a Try

August 10, 2010

Guest post by Elias Bizannes, chairman of the DataPortability Project and a promoter of Australian technology through Silicon Beach

Last year I took a position with Vast.com in San Francisco. As a passionate supporter of Australian technology and its place on the global stage, I’ve also come to the realization that we can’t begin to conquer the world from Australia. We need to take advantage of the open door policy Silicon Valley affords Australian entrepreneurs. Why? Let’s start with the talent concentration. Two examples to illustrate:

    1) Language: In Silicon Valley people operate on a different level. It is the technology capital of the world and the people here live and breathe tech – 24/7. They talk about run rates and burn in a way that demonstrates the way they innately know the industry average, like how people know the weather during different times of the year.
    2) It’s a magnet: The Valley draws from around the world a certain personality type. The Aussies who come here are no exception. The Bay Area has one of the highest concentrations of university graduates in America, and the world. The people are smart here, they are competitive and they are hungry. Immersing yourself in this culture, simply through osmosis you start evolving your own abilities. Within a short time, you find yourself talking about how to start a business to talking about building a billion dollar business.

A year later, I’m more convinced than ever that the best way we are going to move Australia forward into having its own Silicon Valley-like ecosystem is by having our best brightest people move here for a few years. After a generation, we’ll have the talent concentration we talk about in Australia. And the Americans won’t mind how much we’ve borrowed from them.


Gateway to the US Webinars – Now Available On-Demand

August 1, 2010

The 2010 ANZA Gateway to the US program kicked off with a series of free webinars in July. Each of our three 60-minute webinars addressed specific concerns Australian entrepreneurs have about commercialization options in the US market, based on a recent survey of ANZA TechNet members. More than 600 Australian entrepreneurs and CEOs took part – which speaks volumes to the number of innovators out there getting ready to bring Australian technology to the world.

The webinars addressed the “myths and realities” surrounding establishing a presence in the US market, the “facts and fears” of doing business in the US and the funding options and opportunities available to Aussie businesses looking to expand overseas. The webinars are available to view on-demand at this link (brief registration required).

ANZA TechNet again extends our thanks to our network members who donated their time and expertise to share valuable information and insight on these webinars – David Evans, CEO Starplayit; Susan Hailey, Partner, CTPartners; Dr. Larry Marshall, Managing Director, Southern Cross Venture Partners; Sidney Minassian, Co-Founder and Chief Liaison, Liaise, Inc.; Doron Ben-Meir, CEO, Commercialisation Australia; Max Shapiro, angel investor, Keiretsu Forum; and Jennifer Zanich, General Manager, Xumii Services. It is the contribution of our network members throughout the year and across the platforms of our programs that is the underlying value and core strength of the ANZA Technology Network. It is why we are the leading independent organization connecting the Australian and American innovative tech sectors.

Our membership is free and you can sign up here to join today.

We’ve also got a great early bird discount of 25% off for our Gateway to the US Introductory Workshops in Australia later this month with Guidewire Group’s Chris Shipley. Chris will be bringing her exclusive G/Score assessment tool for startups Down Under for the first and only time in 2010 as part of these workshops. We encourage any entrepreneur or CEO serious about the US market to sign up for the Gateway workshops today. Spaces are limited and already filling up fast.


Should Australia Build a Great Technology Sector?

July 18, 2010

by Viki Forrest, CEO ANZA Technology Network

First, I’d like to go on record and congratulate two recent Australian technology success stories – Atlassian and its co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar and Tapulous co-founder Andrew Lacy. For all who have been following Aussie tech news this month, Atlassian’s closing on a $60 million (USD) round of funding from Accel Partners here in Silicon Valley and Tapulous’ multi-million dollar sale to Disney prove yet again that America looks to Australia’s innovative tech sector for fresh ideas that are well executed.

I didn’t join in on the dust up over at the Delimiter blog, when blogger Renai LeMay chose to call out the Atlassian founders for taking American VC, rather than trying to raise such money in Australia. As the CEO of the ANZA Technology Network it’s our business to link the Australian and American tech communities. Since 2002, when ANZA was founded, that link has been one-way – Aussie innovation toward American dollars and customers.

While ANZA strives to accelerate Australian entrepreneurs getting a foothold in the US market, while reducing costs and risks – it is also our goal to see Australian companies succeed here in the US. It’s not about Australian companies coming to America and creating jobs for Americans. It is about Australian companies taking advantage of the welcoming climate for their innovations in Silicon Valley – and ultimately, to see those who are as successful as Mike and Scott and Andrew to “give back” to Aussie innovative technology by working with – and maybe someday investing in – the next generation of entrepreneurs.

I have met with Mike and I have very recently corresponded with Andrew and I can assure you that both men are eager to work with Aussie entrepreneurs. Not to create a “brain drain”, but rather to help get some top-class Aussie innovation to the world stage. From there anything is possible – including more jobs for Australians in R&D and engineering (these positions tend to stay in Australia when a company expands into the US) and reinvestment back into the community (not necessarily as VC, but into the universities, the incubators, the industry organizations).

So – to answer Renai’s blog post question, “How Can Australia Build a Great Technology Sector?”, by which presumably he means one that is its own ecosystem including funding, I have to ask the question “Why does it need to?”

I need to look no further than a webinar ANZA is hosting tomorrow called “Sizing Up the US Market” and the words on my own website. The US market is 15 times the size of Australia’s. Stop. In a webinar we’ve scheduled for next week on funding – we note that less than 1% of companies – worldwide – ever even receive venture capital. Case closed. Australia needs to continue to do what it does best – innovate. The US market demands it.


ANZA’s 1st Gateway to US Webinar on US Business Opportunities a Hit with Aussie Entrepreneurs

July 13, 2010

Over 100 Australian entrepreneurs and CEOs of growing companies seeking US market commercialization advice attended ANZA’s first Gateway to the US webinar yesterday.

“Expanding Your Business to the US: Myths and Realities” took into consideration that most Australian entrepreneurs have some idea about US market opportunities, but the ability to explore and execute them from across the Pacific is difficult.

Susan Hailey, a veteran Silicon Valley insider with more than 20 years in elite recruitment for some of the Valley’s biggest tech companies – and most promising startups – talked about the culture of networking in Silicon Valley and how newcomers to the area can begin to immerse themselves in the unique Valley ecosystem. The front-page story from the San Jose Mercury News that she referenced, “Buck’s Café serves up venture capital with the granola” can be found here.

David Evans, CEO and Founder of Starplayit, an Adelaide startup now focusing on a US exit strategy from Silicon Valley, talked about the global opportunity the US offers in contrast with being based in Australia. For several years, David “commuted” between Australia and America, but even his presence in the States for considerable periods every few months was not enough for him to build and maintain the connections he will need for his successful exit. When asked how soon an Australian entrepreneur serious about the US market should relocate to America, David advised, “No reason you can’t start tomorrow.”

The webinar is the first in a 3-part series. There is still time to register for the next two free 1-hour webinars:

Companies interested in exploring their US market opportunities in full are encouraged to sign up for ANZA’s Gateway to the US One-Day Introductory Workshops held in Australia, 23 August – 1 September. Early bird pricing is now available. Click here to register.


America’s Most Innovative Cities

June 16, 2010

Forbes.com has named America’s top 20 most innovative cities. Of course, San Jose, CA – epicenter of Silicon Valley – ranks first, but the others are up-and-coming hotbeds of innovation, particularly the number 2 city on the list – Austin, TX. Australian entrepreneurs looking to expand into the US to be close to their customers should take a look at these alternatives to Silicon Valley. Click here for the snapshot (in pictures). Click here to read the story in full.

In a related story about being close to your customers, Brad Howarth reports on Australian companies that have opened offices in New York City in a piece for the Age.com, “Aussies in NY Empire Building Quest”.


How to Nail the 5-Minute Pitch

May 27, 2010

Some helpful pointers from Chuck Dietrich, chief executive of online presentation startup SlideRocket, writing the Entrepreneur Corner in VentureBeat. Chuck sees thousands of these classic 5-minute pitches a year and is “surprised by how many presentations don’t convey a clear story.”

A great “company pitch” presentation leaves venture capitalists, prospects, and judges inspired. The audience should walk away with the ability to restate your company’s vision, a clear picture of how you will achieve that vision, and the economic ramifications of attaining it. If the audience is inspired and can accurately re-tell your story, then your presentation was effective.

He highlights three main points every startup CEO should remember and gives a good, basic pitch outline worthy of review. Click here to read these short, but effective steps for nailing your 5-minute pitch opportunities.