Last week I was privileged to have been part of the filming of the first episode of That Startup Show, alongside host Dan Ilic and fellow panelists Bronwen Clune (StartupSmart) and Alan Noble (Google). That Startup Show promises to be a fun and entertaining look in to the Australian Startup culture and ecosystem and is modelled on The Gruen Transfer. In short, it’s The Gruen Transfer for startups.

Filming the show was awesome fun, I’ve never had my face “airbrushed” for real before and being part of a large professional production certainly differed from my usual self-made videos in front of an iPhone.

The first episode was titled “what the bleep is a startup” and is aimed to address the uniquely Australian confusion around what actually is a startup.

The general consensus within the ecosystem is that a startup is a business that is yet to find its monetisation strategy and uses technology to achieve rapid scale and growth. Using this definition, Twitter is technically a startup as it is yet to return a profit. But your friend’s baby-couture business isn’t. On the show, the panellists all agreed that there is a clear difference between a startup and an SME (Small to Medium Enterprise).

This difference isn’t that well understood outside of the ecosystem however. The Government unfortunately loops in telcos and ICT companies with startups and confuses the term with SMEs. This reduces our ability to get the support and attention we require. Case in point is the extraordinary length of time that the government has promised ESOP reform, where young tech companies are unable to attract and retain talent due to our backwards looking share tax laws, as the same laws are applied to large corporate ICTs where it makes some sense. (And whilst there is speculation that this will be addressed soon, I’m not the only person who will “believe it when they see it”.)

The government however, is merely a reflection on the broader Australian understanding. Outside of our ecosystem the term startup means everything from Facebook to your neighbour who just opened a coffee shop last week. We as a community need to address this so there is a clear understanding on what we’re trying to achieve if we have any hope of changing policy.

Fortunately, That Startup Show goes a long way to address this. Dan Ilic uses humour to transcend the niche ecosystem boundary, just as Will Andersen does in The Gruen Transfer – a show which is ultimately about the advertising industry. That Startup Show is just the start and taking the broader vision for the show aside, it’s friggen hilarious and I’m looking forward to the next five episodes in this inaugural season.

That Startup Show can be watched on YouTube, subscribe to the channel here. BlueChilli is a proud sponsor and episode 1 should be online early next week.


Photo credit to Scott Daniel Cooper

Filed under:   auspol   definition   esop   startup   tsushow