Start-up State’s Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

By Jessica Steiger-Thorpe

In NSW schools when kids share what they want to be when they grow up, what do they say? A fireman, a doctor or a zookeeper are popular options. What a contrast then, with ‘Start-up’ states like Israel where a high density of new businesses characterise the ecosystem in which kids grow up. Children there answer the same question aiming to become an entrepreneur, a VC or an inventor.

We shared such learnings at the recent event on 'Innovation and collaboration - lessons from the Start-up nation.' While the next generation growing up in Sydney may call an Uber instead of a taxi, or book an AirBNB instead of a hotel – how can we bring about a shift where children grow up aiming to launch the world’s next global economic disruptor?

Speakers at the event found it telling that of all the ideas from recent forums on promoting the Innovation Economy it was ‘National Lemonade Day’ that got a start. Now with Lucy Turnball as its patron, the organisation DICE seeks to promote entrepreneurialism from an early age.

If we look where the young talent goes from NSW universities, we still see the ‘established salary’ model as more attractive to young graduates than the start-up sector. ‘Innovation and Collaboration’ panellist Dean McEvoy from techsydney answered an audience question, as to whether a new venture is a good starting point for a career? Dean pointed out that you get a range of skills from a start-up that you’d not necessarily be exposed to in a traditional, salaried job.

But are we missing something here that the next generation also cares about, with the ‘higher reward for greater risk’ advocacy for an entrepreneurial path? A participant at the event put us on the right path when she joked that the job title ‘Chief Disruptor’ is very apt, not least for anyone who has had a toddler!

What we have for growing the Start up State in NSW is a talented, hungry workforce who also look for flexibility. They care about weaving family life into the mould of the working day. They may be online until late at night to work across time zones, but there for the school assembly or to coach a child’s sports team.

At the recent Start-up Launchpad, Austrade and the NSW government sponsored for firms to get a leg-up with their business in Tel Aviv, start-up FlashFX packed the laptops, business cards and a 7-year old. The children of entrepreneurs are seeing their parents in collaborative work spaces like the Tel Aviv Landing Pad. These kids will again completely re-imagine their future workplace from what we once knew in government departments or trading floors.

When a new business takes flight, many family meals can be interspersed with Skype calls and WhatsApp message pings. This may be the downside of an 8-day per week operation. But the model of economic disruption for the Start up State also creates an upside of flexibility and broader horizons for young families engaged in launching a new business. Its a progressive and satisfying place to be.

Tagged in: innovation, international education, technology, ripple, digital currency

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