Startup Barcamp Sydney Nov 2009

Startup Barcamp Sydney was on yesterday and I managed to drop in. It was held at one of my favourite venues for unconferences – ATP Innovations– and it might possibly be the first barcamp to feature fresh coconut juice in the shell.

GE_WEEK.pngThis event was part of Global Entrepreneurship Week (which was hosted nationally by Matt Jones from Social Alchemy) and it provided a chance for the local startup community to get together & share ideas.

Due to other commitments I was only able to stay for the morning sessions – but saw some really good quality presentations from Brian Menzies (@BrianMenzies); Joseph Renzi (@josephrenzi) and Matt Jones (@socialalchemy).

Major kudos to the un-organisers – including @davidsoul & @ryancross – it was a good event. Reading through the Twitter stream made me wish I’d been able to stay for the afternoon sessions.

I also gave a little talk about Trade offs, balance, support and Startups. It came about through a realisation that most of my friends are startup junkies. Also I had come to notice the sheer number of broken relationships (across families, friendships and partnerships) in the startup community. Upon consideration, it seemed to me that startups are not so much about technology or the ideas – they are about people and relationships.

The slides are up on Slideshare. The key message was that startups don’t leave much room for work life balance & that people really need to weigh this up before they decide to undertake the startup journey.



7 thoughts on “Startup Barcamp Sydney Nov 2009

  1. I’m intrigued by this observation:

    Startups don’t leave much room for work life balance & that people really need to weigh this up before they decide to undertake the startup journey.

    I question whether it really needs to be that way.

    This “startup culture” seems to be about a very specific kind of new business, one which is about high-risk extreme growth before making extreme profits from a float on the share market. About becoming the next batch of billionaires by creating the Next Big Thing.

    While there’s nothing wrong with that goal in and of itself, it does assume a certain definition of success — and about which other aspects of being human it’s OK to trash along the way.

    That you referred to startup “junkies” is revealing, Kate, because pursuing a dream to the neglect of others does mirror the behaviour of an addict.

    Now I reckon it’s also possible to build solid long-lasting businesses and still become rich without grinding yourself and everyone around you into the ground at the same time. The folks at 37signals have done just that while maintaining healthy lives and relationships — and, indeed, moving to a 4-day work week. Yet some in the startup culture have derided them for creating a “lifestyle business”, as if it’s some sort of unprofitable weekend hobby. As if anyone not pursuing this relentless growth at malignant-cancer speeds is somehow lazy.

    I have of course written about this before, comparing startup culture to an evil cult — an essay which proved one of my most popular from 2008 and much of which I still agree with.


    1. Stil – I take your points re startup culture & agree that the organisational culture does not need to be that way. I was rather more thinking about the passion (nay even obsession) that grips some startup founders and how that can impact upon the rest of their lives. For a sustainable business I agree that it needs a sustainable organisational culture & folks would do well to read you Calacanis is evil post.


  2. Oh. My linkage is geb0rken ‘cos I didn’t close the 37signals link properly and it runs through to the end of the Evil Cult link. Dearest Kate, can this be ungeb0rkenerated?


  3. Hi Kate,

    I don’t think the broken relationship problem is just a feature of startups. I suspect long, relationship unfriendly hours are true across the business community; whether the businesses are tech startups, plumbers, or a doughnut franchise.


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