Hope for Aussie startups Down Under: Salesforce

Local startups don't have to flee to Silicon Valley to find success, according to Salesforce executive vice-president for platform, Mike Rosenbaum.
Written by Spandas Lui, Contributor on

Australian startups are extremely under-financed, so is it still possible for them to thrive Down Under? For those working in the apps industry, the answer is yes, according to Salesforce executive vice-president for platform, Mike Rosenbaum.

The startup scene in the US has been blossoming, contributing to the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs just through app development alone, according to technology lobbying group TechNet (PDF).

But in Australia, the picture isn't so rosy.

Late last year, Deloitte came out with a study that showed the reality facing Australian startups: Only 4.7 percent of them across Sydney and Melbourne are successful in scaling up. They live in a smaller ecosystem and receive less funding, as well.

One of the country's most successful startups, Atlassian, criticised the federal government for not doing more to help the startup scene in Australia.

However, according to Rosenbaum, technologies like cloud computing have really broken down the barriers for Australian startups that are making apps and want to stay in the country.

"The expertise necessary to start your own company used to be very concentrated," he told ZDNet. Through its enterprise apps platform, AppExchange, Salesforce has seen a number of app creators thrive without having to move to the US, according to Rosenbaum.

"People talk a lot about these hubs of innovation, and they're certainly appealing in terms of people wanting to share best practices and being able to incubate those early stage companies," he said. "But more and more, we're seeing these entrepreneurs being able to create these companies that are not necessarily based in Silicon Valley."

While Rosenbaum couldn't comment on whether the Australian government is doing enough to facilitate a successful startup scene, he said this is an issue that is still being explored in the US.

"Innovative companies that are startups are really what drives productivity and creates jobs," he said. "Even in the US, in Silicon Valley, we are constantly asking ourselves these questions; about how we can do more."

For enterprise app developers, partnering up with big guns like Salesforce can be helpful in fostering a community where participants can share ideas and fuel creativity, according to Rosenbaum.

"Sharing success stories and best practices across the enterprise apps ecosystems, across the community of entrepreneurs, helps," he said. "That's really the secret behind our AppExchange's success — we don't think so much about focusing on Silicon Valley at all.

"What we try to do is create a culture and community of sharing best practices and innovative ideas, so we can grow the ecosystem overall. Those things can be applied locally, as well."

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