In this guest post, Startmate principal Lauren Capelin (main photo) says new technologies are about to prove a boon for young independent creators and that this could mean that traditional media companies are looking out. over their shoulders…
A decade ago, Australia’s fledgling startup ecosystem was almost on life support. In a market that had grown sluggish after the rise and fall of the previous dot-com tech bubble, most entrepreneurs struggled to access the talent, capital, and mainstream attention they needed to build a strong business on our shores. We’ve struggled to stop the leak in the bucket that has seen our brightest, brightest heads head to Silicon Valley, or the tech hubs of Europe to whet their appetites and pursue their ambitions for startup glory.
There were a few local successes we could start pointing to, like Atlassian, Campaign Monitor or Redbubble, leading the way and showing what was possible. Despite this, the reality was that of the thousand fledgling startups that emerged in the early 2010s, only 5% were intended for anything close to global scale.
2012: A turning point
But 2012 turned out to be a turning point. With the arrival of startup accelerators, venture capital funds and the return of experienced operators with new international experience, a real support ecosystem has emerged to enable high-growth startups to reach their potential, and we have not looked back.
Around the same time, another essential piece of the puzzle fell into place: media platforms emerged dedicated to telling stories of startups, in turn helping them gain more mainstream attention. . From StartupSmart (now merged with SmartCompany), for little things (2012-2014) founded by Pollenizer and Zach Kitchke (now CMO at Canva), for Daily start (founded by Mat Beeche in 2012, now owned by Pinstripe Media), for New Zealand entrepreneur magazine, these publications shed light on the successes and challenges of our startup ecosystem, especially where column inches were short for tech coverage in our daily newspapers. Daily start, SmartCompany, Aus innovation and New Zealand entrepreneur still fulfill that duty (and more) today — but there are more stories to tell.
Over the past decade, the growth of the Australian and New Zealand startup scene has been positively exponential, but media and industry coverage has not been resourced enough to maintain the same pace.
Since 2016, the economic contribution of the technology sector to the country has increased by 79%. In 2021, startup funding in Australia and New Zealand exceeded $10 billion, more than double the 2020 figure. We now have nearly 20,000 startups across the country, from early stage to pre- Initial Public Offering. While our mainstream media rose to the challenge as best they could, launching dedicated technology and kick-off coverage across all major mastheads to highlight the industry’s greatest achievements, the volume and diversity of stories waiting to be told could fill many more columns. That’s without even considering the challenges facing media companies in general, as they continue to seek more sustainable business models, push to retain audiences in a world of short attention spans and try to retain the most talented content creators.
2022: Increase in area
It may seem counter-intuitive at first glance, but increased coverage of startups in the Australian ecosystem will be a boon for existing and new media companies alike.
The adage “a rising tide lifts all boats” is often used in the context of startups and venture capitalists, and the same goes for startup media. In the simplest sense, increased coverage of startups will lead to better awareness of startups and growth in audience size to boot. An increase in content will allow journalists to cover more varied topics and stories, enabling them to conduct investigations and publish long-form stories alongside the usual stories about capital raises and investment trends. And ultimately, more players in the space will foster innovation, creativity, and push every business to new heights.
Why now, you ask? Content creators finally have the autonomy and freedom to play a role in the evolution of the startup ecosystem.
With the backdrop of the creator economy making it easier than ever to create and share content, there is an exciting opportunity for individual content creators and aspiring media startups to be responsible for scaling up. Platforms like Substack and mediums like podcasting are giving rise to a wave of new creative voices around the world, from Packy McCormick not boring newsletter to Li Jin’s Means of creation Podcast. Closer to home, Joan Westenberg, The Daily Aus, Letter of Intent and Cut businesses come to mind as examples of this change.
Blockchain technology is enabling the creator economy to grow at a scale and rate that was not possible before. NFTs allow creators to directly monetize their content and give their biggest fans a share of their success. DAOs offer budding media companies new ownership, financing and management structures. The rise of Web3 will allow new media companies to regain a sense of empowerment and sustainability that for so long has been at the mercy of click-throughs and eyeballs.
Content creators have a central role to play in the future of media. Whether it’s industry coverage that helps our health tech, deep tech and climate startups reach a wider audience, or deepening the operational discipline on which to build a startup fast-growing, corporate culture and the pursuit of a well-suited product market – setting up a go-to-market strategy. The next wave of content creators will increase the diversity of voices and stories, bringing even more depth and nuance to our industry coverage.
2033: Media 3.0 = creativity + commerce
Over the next decade, there is an incredible opportunity for the next generation of media companies to grow alongside the success of the region’s startups.
Media 3.0 is a rich content landscape of diverse creators who connect directly with their audience, unleashing new models of value creation and collaboration that we have only dreamed of on the social web. Consumers will invest in and contribute to the media platforms and creators that matter most to them. In turn, they will be rewarded with unique assets, access to the community, and the status that comes with it.
In this era, content creators will have more control over their earning potential, while the platforms they contribute to will have access to alternative paths to sustainability that don’t rely solely on ad dollars. It will be easier for more marginalized voices to build a platform and find their audience, and, in turn, the range of stories, viewpoints and issues that will be covered will be so much wider than enable our current media monopolies.
Media companies, new and old, must prepare for an injection of innovation, new audiences and an influx of talent in the coming years. A new generation of voices and stories is ready to be unleashed, as a wave of emerging content creators step up to tap into this opportunity. And it starts now.