The Australian startup scene may have been dubbed Silicon Beach, but when you're in the CBD with no shoreline in sight, you make do with what you've got — that's what entrepreneurs do best, right?
A number of innovation-encouraging powerhouses came together to hold a co-working event in a small, but busy, park in Sydney's CBD. There was a little bit of everything, depending on what your work style was like. Shaded tables, if you're the outdoor cafe type; a community of tables and chairs, if you're keen to sit next to someone else in an open-office style; and beanbags, if you're the type who really doesn't care how you sit, as long as you can.
There was also an exercise bike hooked up to a mini generator for those who, despite being in an open park, decided that they needed to work for the power to charge their mobile device. Or they could just plug it into one of the various outlets.
The event was put on at no charge by Hub Sydney, and attracted the support of the City of Sydney and Telstra to help make it happen. Aside from graciously allowing laptop- and tablet-toting entrepreneurs to take over a public park, the City of Sydney allowed the Agape Food Truck to serve the area, and helped with providing power. Lord Mayor Clover Moore dropped in to give her support to Hub Sydney, which is due to open in April.
With coffee and power taken care of, Telstra provided the other lifeblood of startups — internet connectivity — supplying a number of wireless hotspots so that entrepreneurs could get online. The connection was a bit sketchy, as demand sometimes outstripped supply, but no one was about to start arguing for fibre to the park or a cost-benefit analysis on doing so.
A number of members from the various co-working spaces in Sydney also showed up, answering the crowd's questions. While that might sound like a repeated sales pitch, the spaces are actually very different in culture, if not location.
For most of the early part of the day, people were chatty, bouncing ideas off each other and making new connections.
For some co-workers, it was a chance to work with their regular colleagues in the warmth of the sun. Others were working on ideas that they had in mind, but hadn't yet executed. A few other sneaky characters had managed to quietly escape their day job, and were enjoying the change. But most people were getting on with their work, or at least improving their ideas.
A number of talks were also on later in the day, providing entrepreneurs with a late afternoon boost of inspiration.
Steve Hopkins probably knows social media in the business better than most, as he works for Yammer. He talked about lean startups, borrowing the old adage, "You are what you eat" and giving it a twist by saying, "You make what you are".
Chris Petersilge, on the other hand, could be likened more to fictitious Up in the Air character Ryan Bing. Petersilge lifted his backback and asked the crowd what was weighing them down, before discussing what a minimalist lifestyle is really about, drawing on his experiences at AirBnB.
Of course, co-working is not just for tech startups. Clayton Ilolahia is a unique character, better known as a blogger who writes about what men should smell like. Although fragrance isn't necessarily the main market for most startups, the lesson of being the best in your niche was certainly relevant.