What is it about Melbourne that makes it so awesome?
It’s hot and it’s cold, up and down, the weather is never the same two days in a row, and the debate over who’s footy team is the best can usually be heard at every pub. But whatever your thing, we all love Melbourne. It’s a city thriving with opportunity. There’s an abundance of events and culture festivals. Expos and conventions are a highlight, hackathons are a growing phenomenon, and business is expanding. Big companies are setting up their HQs here, and we’re still sitting as the most liveable city in the world. Everyone knows I love it, even talked about it in my previous post, so what have we got that makes us special?
Melbourne is connected. Not just physically, but intellectually, and professionally. Physically, it is right on the bay, a fantastic place for some ocean-scenery. Unlike Sydney, Melbourne is physically whole. It doesn’t have a huge river running through the middle cutting the city in two. Instead, everything converges into the centre, the CBD. Events or business run in the city can easily be accessed by the huge public transport network that snakes its way across suburbs and outer country towns. This world-class transit system brings the whole of Melbourne, and Victoria more broadly, together. Not only that, but PTV runs all night Friday and Saturday, allowing people to converge together to celebrate, attend events, and form relationships with people.
It’s arguably the business capital of Australia (along with Sydney of course). Our massive international airport allows easy access to other Australian capital cities, and the rest of the world. It’s the only major Australian airport open 24/7, with 7 million international trips and 23 million domestic flights taken each year* and more trips opening each year.
Speaking of business, there a number of big companies setting up headquarters in Melbourne.
Who’s here? Slack, ZenDesk, Envato, Xero, and more, have started either headquarters here in Melbourne. They have recognised the growing culture and want to be a part of it. I’ve already spoken about the awesome coffee culture in a previous post. It seems like this was a huge tick for Slack, who decided to setup HQ in Melbourne. The Business Insider spoke to Slack when they first setup the new office in Carlton and found that “the coffee and the nightlife in Melbourne were big drawcards for Slack when it was deciding whether the APAC HQ would be there or in Singapore”.
Now this is pretty big right? A huge startup company just decided to setup in Melbourne, as opposed to Singapore. They must have seen something amazing here. Not just in the huge number of events run here, but also the culture that this city has taken on. Slack is a startup and they wanted to tap into the growing startup scene here.
I mentioned in the coffee article that the startup culture is helped along by the coffee culture, that the two go hand in hand. We know that this culture drew Slack to Melbourne, but it seems they like the startup culture too. Stewart Butterfield, the co-founder of Slack, said it was this startup scene that was the tipping point for setting up HQ in Melbourne: “The startup scene (in Melbourne) was definitely a factor. A big difference between here and Singapore was the type of people we could hire, it’s a better workforce here.”
Why though? Why do we have a better workforce here? Melbourne has one of the highest population percentages (or possibly the highest) in the world, for student population. This massive student body ensures a number of things. Firstly, there’s a tonne of support for these students; Centrelink (for domestic students), and companies are very willing to take on young people for work-experience and internships. This drives a culture where people are learning the ways of business early in their careers.
Young people are learning to navigate the business world early, and they are encouraged (through their university courses, groups, and peers) to pursue their own ideas. Startups are growing in sheer numbers. They are popping up all over Melbourne, giving reason for accelerators, incubators, and co-working spaces to grow alongside to meet their needs. Melbourne already has the Melbourne Accelerator Program, LaunchPad, BlueChilli, AngelCube and more. Word on the street is a few new accelerators are starting too! And it’s not all about the accelerators/incubators. Co-working spaces have grown in abundance, allowing people to collaborate in relaxed environments, share ideas, and create business opportunities where they wouldn’t otherwise have arisen. I’d start naming all the co-working spaces, but you can find a great list in Innovation Melbourne by Taylor Tran. Combine this with all the awesome research in Melbourne and you have a hub of activity, invention, and innovation.
And how can I forget all the hackathons? From community groups, startups, big companies, and organisations, everyone is running a hackathon! I won’t talk about them all now. That’d take up some of my new posts I have coming up 😉 Just know that it’s a huge thing in Melbourne, and they really do work.
All these things converging together, have made Melbourne the most liveable city… six years in a row! I want to leave it there as I will be talking more about this at Nerd Nite in Melbourne tonight. Grab a ticket and come along and hear more about this awesome city.
* in 2013 according to Melbourne airport corporate travel information.