Back in March this year we announced we’d be producing another version of the startup community map we call Startrail this year, our first since 2013. Sorry it’s been such a long project — we know startup founders, incubators, accelerators, investors and local and state governments are waiting eagerly to see it because you kept telling us so!
As we said back in March, it’s been a long time between maps because what was effectively a small Sydney startup community back then has become a much larger Australia-wide startup community. This was how we mapped the Sydney community in 2013:
Crazy how tiny our industry was in 2013!
This year, we go from one to many maps
For 2015 we knew we couldn’t get away with a map of just Sydney, and nor could we fit the whole Australian startup ecosystem on one legible map. So we’ve made the call to produce an ecosystem map for each startup community that registers at least 50 or more viable, valid tech startups.
Doing separate maps for each community also allows us to release maps progressively, which helps us blend the data-verifying and design work needed to produce maps in-between our ‘day job’ hours (which is building an awesome portfolio of new tech startups).
It’s been months! What took so long?
The Startrail map is for tech startups. But because it was an open, public form, anybody could complete the form, and anybody did — people considered their dog grooming ecommerce store or their idea-for-a-startup-that-doesn’t-even-have-a-domain-name-yet a tech startup, and fact-checking the entries we received has taken a while.
We also needed to work on resolving what to do about how to show relationships: we try to make the Startrail map show how the startups in the community are related to organisations which have fostered their growth (universities, investment funds, incubators, accelerators, etc). Some startups have received no help from anybody — that’s easily illustrated — we just plot you as a point without any connecting line to an organisation. But what if you started out in a hackathon, got accepted by an incubator, and then took investment from a VC fund?
After some debate, in cases of multiple affiliations we’ve settled on showing your most recent or most significant affiliation (which takes a little email dialogue back and forth to confirm).
The final challenge was managing requests from incubators, accelerators and investment funds to add all their startups. Without checking to see if those startups had already added themselves. And in many cases without actually doing any of the data input on those startups themselves, just asking BlueChilli to research and do it for them. Thanks so much for that 😉
So who’s “on first”?
Melbourne’s on first. We expect to complete a set of downloadable, print- and screen-resolution versions of the Melbourne Startrail map by Monday 10 August. Melbourne is first because it’s a good size data set to allow us to discover and iron-out kinks in the design process and it’s not Sydney (which has a much larger data set to wrangle).
Sydney’s up next, mainly because we’ve been asked by the City of Sydney and the NSW Government to allow them to publish the Sydney Startrail map in important reports they’re producing for their stakeholders, and they’re holding back publishing until we can get the new map to them. Sorry Sydney, sorry New South Wales, we’re working really hard to get you the Sydney map by Wednesday 12 August.
After Melbourne and Sydney, who’s next?
Well, here’s the disappointing thing, not just for us but probably also for you outside Melbourne or Sydney: no map for you. We thought/hoped/dreamed that not just the other state capital cities but also all the startups in places like Newcastle, Wollongong, Geelong, Gold Coast and others would have more than 50 tech startups submitted, ‘unlocking’ the right to their own Startrail map.
But no: either they heard about Startrail and they failed to enter their data, or we failed to reach them and they’ve missed out. Because outside of Sydney and Melbourne we don’t have any startup community which submitted more than 30 startups.
What? Only 502 total responses?
Yes, only 502 startups responded. Crazy, right? The best guess we’ve seen so far is that there might be as many as 2,500 tech startups in Australia. Take five minutes to answer 10 brief questions and get your startup free publicity on a map of the Australian startup ecosystem. Not a big ask, we thought.
But whatever we thought, it wasn’t a great response rate. We’ve got to take our fair share of the blame — we worked our social media channels hard, but weren’t able to spend any hard cash advertising it (we don’t have any to advertise BlueChilli either).
Our completion rate wasn’t fantastic — only 21% of visitors to the landing page completed the survey. Mind you, there were only nine questions, of which two were “What is your startup called?” and “What is the URL?” — this was not War and Peace.
Of the startup-focused media and industry bodies, only Startup Daily, Canberra Business News, StartupAus and Startup Victoria helped us get the word out this time. Thanks to those media who helped spread the word and #wave at those media who didn’t — could you help us out next time?
Is 500 a representative sample?
Short answer: no, not really. But people have been waiting for the Startrail map too long as it is, so we’ve decided to produce the Melbourne and Sydney maps now, with the data we have, and in the weeks to come, we’ll reopen the online survey form to allow you to add more startups.
We’d really like to produce maps for all the startup regions of Australia, and most communities contributed 10-20 startups so they’re not far off hitting 50 and unlocking their Startrail map. And every time we get an additional 50 valid, unduplicated tech startups submitted that should be added to the Melbourne and Sydney maps, we’ll produce another edition of those too.
Please help us map more startups!
We’ll send a copy of the Startrail map to everyone in Sydney and Melbourne who submitted their data first, within a few more days. For taking the time to submit your information, we’d like to thank you by giving you get 24 hours ‘exclusive VIP time’ to print it out and hang it, blog and tweet about it, or laugh and point at where your competitors should be on the map but aren’t. (Note that we will also send the Sydney map to the NSW government and City of Sydney immediately because they need it urgently for their reports).
Following the ‘exclusive VIP’ period we’ll send official copies to all the media (even those who didn’t promote it, because you can’t afford to make enemies in the media, right?) and make the map available in print and screen resolution on the BlueChilli blog. We’ll also switch the survey form back on at Startrail2015.com.
When we do that (or even before, go nuts) it would be super, super cool if you could take but a moment out from your busy day building a billion dollar startup to forward some info to a few other startup founders you know and ask them to complete the Startrail survey. Remember: 10 questions, five minutes maximum, in return for a year’s free publicity, awareness, government attention and satisfaction of being included.
Which, if you’re not yet on the maps being published next week, might start to really mean something…