Entering the Hive for the First Time

By Rachel Youens on Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

The Hive, MelbourneLast night was my first time to attend a Hive event, and although I was primed for what to expect in a meeting earlier in the week with co-founder Ross Hill, I was still surprised by the amount of young braintrust that was gathered in one room at the Order of Melbourne. Which isn’t to say that The Hive is strictly for the under 30 set, because it’s a welcoming crowd where smarts and experience count more than age, but part of why Ross told me he helped found the group in the first place was that he didn’t feel there was an event that suited his young, entrepreneurial demographic. The Hive presently exists in Melbourne and Brisbane but, from what I’ve heard, plans to expand to Sydney in August. We’ll keep you updated.

For the July edition of The Hive, RedBubble founder Peter Styles (with cell phone in hand eagerly awaiting news of his wife’s impending delivery) took the stage to talk about his early experience with the art community site that has now come to be one of Australia’s big success stories. Peter was in good company with Paul Vanzella and Aconex veteran Martin Hosking when he started the site in 2007 that allows artists to upload their work and then sell it globally printed on shirts, canvas, postcards and other mediums. As of June, the site ranked 8th in Tech Nation’s list of most successful Australian tech startups.

Peter took his startup story all the way back to the beginning for the audience, with advice on hiring, philosophy and networking the globe. You can watch a few clips taken at the event, or visit The Hive website to find an audio podcast of the full speech. In short, he advised:

  • That startups be reluctant to hire their friends because it impairs your judgment and distance

  • That while networking events like The Hive are fruitful, it’s equally as important to have a global network in top tech cities like San Francisco

  • That startups must see themselves as bending reality because they are introducing new concepts, but that they cannot bend some of the realities of space and distance, which is why Australian startups need to take their geography into account

One notable thing Peter also said while answering questions from the audience was that Australian VCs are a “folly” for Australian tech startups and that angels are really the only way. As I’ve been speaking with people over the past few weeks I keep hearing different opinions on this topic, and it’s hard for me to entirely believe VC is a folly when you have firms like MAP Venture Capital who have such a focus on Australian mobile companies. Sure, you have to be really scalable and be able to prove you can turn high profit, but if you are the right tech company, it doesn’t seem VC should be entirely shut out. Chime in on the comments and let me hear some personal experiences.


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