Co-founder of daily deals site Spreets has said that the Australia investment community doesn't adequately support the start-up community down under and doesn't move fast enough to capitalise on "the next big thing".
"The thing I say to people is that doing a start-up in Australia is [that it's] a little bit like trying to grow a plant in a dark cupboard. There's not the nutrients or the resources you need to grow," said Dean McEvoy at the launch of Digital Sydney last night.
McEvoy developed his daily deals site in partnership with start-up incubator Pollenizer. Over the last 12 months the business has grown from two staff to 76 and has been snapped up by Yahoo!7 for $40 million. McEvoy said that he didn't build Spreets using Australian investment, despite pitching the business idea to multiple angel investors here. Instead, several European angel investors leaped at the chance to invest.
"They saw the opportunity. From the first phone call to them to the money in the banks was two weeks. So it's a good lesson for the investors in the room: in order to seize the opportunities, you've got to move fast. The overseas guys know it, and we've got to learn that to become better at it here," he said.
"It would be great if we could build ... expertise here in Australia too, and if we could embrace more early stage start-ups [in the] investment community," McEvoy added.
McEvoy was speaking at the launch of the Digital Sydney strategy at the Sydney Opera House last night, which saw Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner announce 20 new ICT projects to be funded by the government.
"Digital Sydney is about enabling, facilitating and supporting activities that can create and sustain new economy jobs," said Stoner.
"The focus of Digital Sydney will be threefold: to market and present Sydney and NSW as a hub for digital companies. Secondly, to promote collaborations between the ICT and creative sectors to realise the full potential of convergence, and thirdly to expand the digital marketplace here in NSW," he added.
Stoner said that the Digital Sydney strategy is designed to seek the lion's share of Australia's digital media and developer market.