Five years on, the Startup Muster gets a 2023 reboot


James Riley
Editorial Director

Five years after its last report, the Startup Muster has been given a massive reboot with new funding support from the NSW government and the Atlassian Foundation to deliver the nation’s largest independent survey of the startup ecosystem in Australia.

From 2014 to 2018, the Startup Muster was an annual fixture on the Australian innovation calendar, providing rich data on the fortunes of startups in this country. It provided benchmark data about the health of the ecosystem across the heady days just prior to, and following, the Malcolm Turnbull ‘Ideas Boom’ that was the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

The Startup Muster provided a direct channel into the startup companies across Australia and across industries – from fintech’s to agritech’s and everything in between. It was, in the absence of other government formalised metrics, an annual snapshot of the health of how the ecosystem was performing.

Founder Murray Hurps, an entrepreneur, former Fishburners chieftain, and most recently the University of Technology Sydney’s director of entrepreneurship, says the rebooted 2023 Startup Muster report will shine a light on the progress of the startup community.

Startup Muster founder and UTS director of entrepreneurship Murray Hurps

In 2023, Mr Hurps has secured matched funding of $145,000 from the NSW government and from Atlassian to conduct another snapshot.

He is hopeful that the national survey will paint a picture of what is happening in the wake of the COVID-19 interruptions, and to highlight what’s working in the ecosystem, and where more attention needs to be applied.

The funding is modest. The survey is national. The Startup Muster has been most successful in mobilising the many parts of the national system to provide feedback – from universities to private accelerators to VCs to cooperative research centres to institutional researchers.

Mr Hurps has engaged as survey coordinator for 2023 Adam Spencer, the producer of the History of the Aussie Startup Ecosystem podcast series.

The 2023 report launches on October 30th and its organisers hope to answer questions ranging from how the experience of a startup founder today compares to 2018, and where startups are most active today compared to five years ago.

It will seek to understand how the challenges today differ, and what’s different about the supporting organisations and funding sources they use. Like previous surveys, it will hone-in on what skills are most important to them today and which are hardest to hire.

InnovationAus is a big supporter of this program and hugely impressed that it has scratched out enough funding to make a return. (Congratulations to both the NSW government and the Atlassian Foundation for taking the plunge.)

This is a community driven survey. And in the absence of any real effort from the government to build metrics that can help inform policy and funding decisions, it is a hugely important resource.

The Startup Muster does not work without active community support, specifically in encouraging local startups and ecosystem supporters to participate in its survey. The data will lead the way, but it needs the input of participants.

Mr Hurps has been doing this too long to pre-empt the data. He is just looking forward to whatever surprises it delivers. Then action can be taken on whatever the survey reveals.

“On October 30, it will be exactly five years since the 2018 report came out,” Mr Hurps said. “Good data is both surprising and actionable – and if I could tell you now what we will see, then it probably wouldn’t be worth running the survey.”

“I am mostly looking forward to the surprises. I can assume that the pandemic was terrible to many founders because they have told me it has been terrible,” he said.

“And I assume it has been terrible for accelerators and for incubators and everyone else that the pandemic has affected.

“But wouldn’t it be nice to hear from people how things have changed? I am really hoping that there will be things in [the survey] that finds we are doing surprisingly well in this area, or we are surprisingly good at this.”

“That would be great,” Mr Hurps said. The point, he says, is that it is a national survey – but no-one will get the benefit unless everyone gets involved.

As the survey is designed, the Startup Muster team is looking for input. If you have ideas about what questions should be asked, go to Startupmuster.com.

Get involved. This is an opportunity. You can visit the Startup Muster website for details.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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