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The Documentary

221215 - Timeline - History of the Australian Startup Ecosystem

About The Series

In 'The History of the Australian Startup Ecosystem' podcast, join host Adam Spencer as he delves into the fascinating history of the Australian startup ecosystem. From the earliest tech companies to the success stories of today, this series covers it all.

Each episode will feature interviews with industry pioneers, entrepreneurs, and experts, as well as a deep dive into the events and cultural shifts that have shaped the Australian startup scene. From the dot-com boom to the rise of fintech, this podcast will provide a unique and informative look at the past, present, and future of the Australian startup ecosystem.

Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out in the world of startups, this podcast is sure to provide valuable insights and inspiration. Tune in to 'The History of the Australian Startup Ecosystem' to learn more about the trailblazers who have paved the way for today's innovators.

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Part 1

Trailer

Summary

In this episode, we explore the seed phase of the Australian startup ecosystem, tracing its roots to some of the earliest catalysts to what we see today. Australian pioneers started innovating well before anything resembled an ecosystem and before the term “startup” was used. We tell the story of trailblazers like the Nucleus Group in 1964, Fairlight in 1975, Computershare in 1978 and much more. 

We look at how the macroeconomic conditions in the late 70s and early 80s encouraged the “first great wave” of Australian startups, only for global capital markets to collapse suddenly in 1987. As the new millennium approached, we highlight how the mainstream adoption of the internet gave rise to some of our most recognisable dot com juggernauts, the likes of Seek, REA and Carsales, leading up to the dot com boom.

Featured Guests

Listen to their full interviews by clicking the images below. 

PROMO_Malcolm Turnbull_00aa
PROMO_Rachael Neumann_00aa
PROMO_James Alexander_00aa
PROMO_Alan Jones_00aa
PROMO_Matt Barrie_00aa
PROMO_Tim Fung_00aa
PROMO_Cameron Adams_00aa
PROMO_Maxine Sherrin_00aa
PROMO_Paul Bassat_00aa
PROMO_Hamish Hawthorn_00aa
PROMO_Kate Cornick_00aa
PROMO_Alfred Lo_00aa
PROMO_Pete Lead_00aa
PROMO_Peter Davison_00aa
PROMO_Evan Thornley_00aa

Part 2

Trailer

Summary

Episode 2 begins in the aftermath of the dot com bust. We explore the story of LookSmart through the lens of its co-founder, Evan Thornley and the tough choices he had to make. Up until this point, founders largely worked in isolation, however, they began to meet up more frequently after the bust, often in pubs or cafes, thanks to community groups like Innovation Bay. Conferences such as TinSHED and Web Directions would shine a spotlight on the fledgling startup ecosystem. We tell the story of some of Australia’s first high growth startups in the early 2000s. The likes of Atlassian in 2003, Campaign Monitor in 2004, Red Bubble in 2006 and many more. Startup infrastructure followed shortly after and we saw the country’s first incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces emerge. 

Just as things were finally looking up, another economic crisis had gripped the world once again. The Global Financial Crisis in 2008 undoubtedly caused a lot of grief, however, Australia was spared the worst of it. We highlight how the GFC held some unexpected benefits for Australian startups. As the end of the decade approached, new inventions like smartphones and social media and the mainstream adoption of Wi-Fi would come to touch every aspect of our lives, laying the foundation for a new wave of Australian startups – some of the most disruptive that Australia and the world would come to see.

Featured Guests

Listen to their full interviews by clicking the images below. 

PROMO_Yasmin Grigaliunas_00a
PROMO_Phil Morle_00a
PROMO_Jodie Fox_00a
PROMO_Dean McEvoy_00a
PROMO_Simon Thomsen_00a
PROMO_Niki Scevak_00a
PROMO_Ian Gardiner_00a
PROMO_Mick Liubinskas_00a
PROMO_Silvia Pfeiffer_00a
PROMO_John Allsopp_00a
PROMO_Alan Noble_00a
PROMO_Phil Hayes-St Clair_00a

Part 3

Trailer

Summary

In episode 3, we take a deep dive into the birth of the Australian startup ecosystem. Although everyone may have a different perspective on what caused this “cambrian explosion”, we discuss 7 key catalysts in this episode.

We shine a spotlight on the who, what, when, where and why of this critical event that formed much of what we see around us today. But underneath all this growth and excitement, we highlight that the ecosystem may perhaps still be far from perfect.

Featured Guests

Listen to their full interviews by clicking the images below. 

PROMO_Malcolm Turnbull_00aa
PROMO_Rachael Neumann_00aa
PROMO_James Alexander_00aa
PROMO_Matt Barrie_00aa
PROMO_Sarah Pearson_00aa
PROMO_Mark Pesce_01a
PROMO_Cameron Adams_00aa
PROMO_Hamish Hawthorn_00aa
PROMO_Lauren Capelin_00aa
PROMO_Peta Ellis_00aa
PROMO_Kate Cornick_00aa
PROMO_Evan Thornley_00aa
PROMO_Rachel Yang_00a
PROMO_Melissa Widner_00aa
PROMO_Cheryl Mack_00aa

Part 4

Trailer

Summary

This episode kicks off in September 2015, when Malcolm Turnbull was elected as the 29th Prime Minister of Australia. Unveiling the National Innovation and Science Agenda as the cornerstone of his “Ideas Boom”, we unpack the contents of this policy and explore the myriad of ways it impacted the startup ecosystem.

The Australian startup ecosystem continued to enjoy significant growth in the second half of the 2010’s. We look at the increasing visibility of startups during this time, the establishment of prominent diversity and impact-focused organisations, startup conferences and many more.

Featured Guests

Listen to their full interviews by clicking the images below. 

PROMO_Aaron Birkby_00b
PROMO_Blake Wilson_00b
PROMO_Colette Grgic_01b
PROMO_Hamish Hawthorn_01a
PROMO_Simon Thomsen_00a
PROMO_Alex Scandurra_00a
PROMO_Bruce Tulloch_00b
PROMO_Craig Swann_00b
PROMO_Joshua Flannery_00b
PROMO_Tim Boyle_01b
PROMO_Annie Parker_01b
PROMO_Cheryl Mack_00b
PROMO_David Burt_01a
PROMO_Maxine Sherrin_01b
PROMO_Wyatt Roy_01b

Part 5

Trailer

Summary

Episode 5 begins during the onset of the Coronavirus Pandemic which disrupted every facet of life as we knew it. As lockdowns and other measures were enacted throughout the country, different markets and industries were affected in different, and sometimes unexpected ways.

We explore the good, the bad and the ugly, looking at the unprecedented ways in which the Australian startup ecosystem grapples with the global pandemic. From frozen immigration and talent, to remote working and digitisation, to impacts on diversity and much more, finally bringing our story to the present day. We briefly look at the identity of our startup ecosystem and current, ongoing events.

Featured Guests

Listen to their full interviews by clicking the images below. 

PROMO_Melissa Widner_00aa
PROMO_Annie Parker_00aa
PROMO_Peter Devine_00aa
PROMO_Tim Fung_00aa
PROMO_Trevor Folsom_00a
PROMO_Colin Kinner_00aa
PROMO_Lauren Capelin_00aa
PROMO_Cheryl Mack_00aa
PROMO_Sarah Pearson_00aa
PROMO_Samantha Finnegan_00a
PROMO_Peter Bradd_00aa
PROMO_Rachel Yang_00a
PROMO_Wayne Gerard_00aa
PROMO_Steve Grace_00a
PROMO_Moira Were_00b

Part 6

Trailer

Summary

What does the future hold for the Australian startup ecosystem? After five episodes focused on the past, this episode will finally be tackling that question and look towards the future. What are our unique strengths and weaknesses as a country? What are the key challenges and opportunities we face?

From investors, to academics, to government, to corporates and finally, to entrepreneurs – we highlight a variety of perspectives, looking at the individual roles each of us can play. Regardless of what seat we occupy on the bus, there is a place for people of all backgrounds in Australia’s startup community.

Featured Guests

Listen to their full interviews by clicking the images below. 

PROMO_Jodie Fox_00a
PROMO_Yolanda Redrup_01
PROMO_Niki Scevak_00a
PROMO_Susan Oliver_00a
PROMO_Silvia Pfeiffer_00a
PROMO_Phil Hayes-St Clair_00a

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