It's open season on entrepreneurs

Start-up hunters have set their traps — networking events, accelerators, and hobby weekends. They wait for their eager and naive prey to take the juicy bait: to ditch their dreary lives for the fame and riches that only a start-up can offer.
Written by Mahesh Sharma, Correspondent

Last month, the SydStart conference in Sydney drew hundreds of entrepreneurs to learn the tools — and pitch their own ideas — to turn a vision into a multimillion-dollar business.

The coming months will see opportunistic creatures migrate to where the grass is greenest; while investors compete to capture the start-up hunting season's prize hog: the next Google.

StartMate has just opened applications for its 2013 accelerator program, and in October, there is Tech23 and TiECon Sydney. November will see a number of local events for Global Entrepreneurship Week and Startup Weekend Sydney.

These events are valuable. Entrepreneurs are fuelled by the inspiration and knowledge of their peers, while networking uncovers the contacts to provide the manpower required to launch an idea.

However, once you've tasted the bait, it is very easy to be caught in the downward cycle of the "start-up junkie": indulging your ego to feed your addiction. This is when the vulnerable enthusiasts are picked off by the more dangerous predators in the start-up ecosystem.

The signs that the winds were changing was keenly observed by Tyson Lundbech, who brought the Startup Weekend to Australia and also graduated from the inaugural AngelCube accelerator program. Tyson single-handedly established Startup Weekend as the country's premier prototype-building event, spending his time and seemingly boundless energies to use the simple concept to rally the community — creating a cash cow for Optus and Singtel.

Lundbech questioned the "get rich quick" motives of virgin entrepreneurs that are swept up by the excitement of the event and "the scene"; and he bemoaned the "Startup Weekend hangover," when "wannapreneurs" failed to convert their short-lived enthusiasm into long-term action. Lundbech read the writing on the wall when the various companies, organisations, and experts swooped in for a slice of the action, and has moved on to greener pastures.

This start-up hunting season — please innovate with care.

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