Dream big and leave home- an Australian startup in Silicon Valley
From the Silicon Valley based (for the moment) muru-D alumni – Rob Quinn, all round good guy and Co-founder of Patchd
“When you start a company to save your own life, you do some crazy sh**” I said, looking across the table. Yep, it was dramatic, and maybe unnecessary, but it definitely got the point across. Welcome to America baby, where you stand out, or die. Later that day, that person conducted a handshake deal and became the first American check in our company (yes, I said check – read: cheque).
This isn’t a dream, this is Silicon Valley. I started Patchd 1 year ago with one of my best friends Wei. We joined muru-D as bright eyed, fresh faced graduates with a dream bigger than ourselves, a shitload of energy, and a bundle of wires we called a prototype (something airport security mistook numerous times as a bomb, and something that would look entirely different 12 months later).
After having a liver transplant 5 years earlier, I had faced my mortality at that point, 18 times. I knew that if I didn’t do something, others would suffer a similar fate and so my only goal at that point, was to make sure that didn’t happen to anyone else. I had no idea this journey would put me here in the United States, at Y Combinator, working alongside 140 of the world’s best companies to make that dream a reality… and yet, here I am.
Australia and America are remarkably different places; especially when it comes to building a business to change the world. As Aussies, we see so much American TV that we assume it must be pretty similar. It could be nothing further from the truth. In Australia, we are easy going, honest and reliable, but here in the US, you have to be bold, unashamed and aggressive so you can manifest your destiny. Both systems have pros and cons.
From a company perspective, (in my opinion) America is the best place to scale growth. You’ve got access to 350 million people where English is the primary language, as well as 25% of the world’s GDP (not to mention everyone is super friendly).
At its core though, Australia is a great place to prove out technology, as we have access to some phenomenal resources in our own tucked away pocket of the world. I firmly believe that without starting in Australia, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Interestingly, as Aussies, we have a very unique take on the world. We see the world from a perspective that is almost one step removed because we are so far away. We are hyper-genuine, and share intense national pride for our diverse country, a direct result of our countries humble beginnings as a convict colony and our commitment to multiculturalism. When it comes to building a multi-billion dollar business though, this is a double edged sword, as being humble means we frequently undersell what we do and this makes it difficult to foster a culture of innovation and compete internationally.
Ultimately though, if we can cherry pick certain elements of American culture, and infuse them into the Australia startup ecosystem, we could have something truly phenomenal on a global scale. We could even have our own Silicon Valley of sorts (maybe the “Electronic Outback”, anyone?).
Imagine what would be possible if we took Australian ingenuity, intelligence and resourcefulness and infused it with the American intensity, ability to sell aggressively and capacity to think and act globally. Companies that could do this would be able to ship their products around the world and I think we would see a whole lot more incredible Australian inventions hitting the shelves abroad.
Imagine what an impact this would have on the world.
I guess my point here, is that if you’re an Aussie who is dreaming big, haul ass over to Silicon Valley for a while. Be Bold and Unafraid and get into the American market. Teach yourself to move fast, sell hard and unashamedly back yourself, because by doing this, we can bring that knowledge back and help the Aussie ecosystem explode.