With applications currently open for the Sydney Founder Institute, we sat down with FI Sydney Co-Director Chris Clark to get the inside scoop on the latest happenings from across the Australian startup ecosystem, as well as to learn about Clark’s own background as a local entrepreneurial leader.
Check out the full interview video below, or scroll down to see some of the Q&A highlights from the conversation.
Today, the Sydney startup ecosystem is really heating up, producing unicorns like Canva, and attracting the attention of investors from across the region, as well as international capital from around the world. FI Sydney Co-Director Chris Clark is one of the key entrepreneurial leaders in the New South Wales capital, actively helping to build the momentum and foster the key relationships that allow a relatively large local ecosystem like Sydney to continually nurture startups with the resources and connections they need to grow and thrive.
In addition to being the Founder and Chairman of his own most recent venture Fusesport, Chris Clark is also the Founder of Spark Festival, the largest startup festival in Australia, which last year registered over 13k attendees at 165 startup events across 2 weeks.
We asked Clark about the various roles he has played within entrepreneurial communities over his career; about the latest happenings in Sydney and the broader Australian startup ecosystem; and about his advice for Founders just getting started.
What motivated you to transition from being an entrepreneur yourself, towards taking on a larger leadership role within the Sydney startup ecosystem?
When my focus was back in Australia, that translated into wanting to help individuals, like myself many years prior, to effectively shortcut their journey - to understand what those critical steps were, that it really took me years and years to figure out: raising capital, building high growth companies, connecting with individuals.
What's some of the latest news from across the Sydney or broader Australian startup ecosystems?
Within Australia now, we’re really seeing the first generation of big success stories coming through over the last few years - Atlassian, Canvas, and now the groups like Airtasker, who have become those unicorns and are inspiring the next generation.
But more than just the emergence of an inspiring first Australian cohort unicorn-scale startups, Clark emphasized that startup culture is key across Australia.
An amazing startup culture has permeated in Australia, and certainly Spark Festival is a group that is championing this culture of everyone helping each other and a give-first mentality.
What are the required attributes for being an effective startup community leader?
Having lived the journey is key, so that having done that, you can speak to people with a degree of authenticity of understanding what’s really required to be a startup founder, and also what’s required to unlock the potential that exists thinking in Australia beyond the local market and getting into the overseas markets.
What’s your general advice for first-time entrepreneurs?
1. Go find individuals who can be your mentor or be your advisor. Might sound a bit formal, but establishing an advisory board is super powerful.
2. Create accountability. What I mean by that is making commitments to others as to what you’ll get done by when, and helping others help you to be accountable for those actions.
3. And absolutely talk to your customers, as much as possible and as early as possible.
If you're an Australian entrepreneur building a business towards achieving traction or funding, then apply to join the Sydney Founder Institute today!
Graduates of the Founder Institute are creating some of the world's fastest growing startups, having raised over $800M in funding, and building products people love across over 180 cities worldwide.
See the most recent news from our Grads at FI.co/news, or learn more about their stories at FI.co/journey.