NOTE: Since this post was published Techboard has broadened its focus to the whole of Australia and has launched its Startup Ranking in New South Wales. (Jan 2017)
The Startup Scene in Perth is currently experiencing a surge of activity. We are also experiencing increased interest in startups and technology companies, from a general and an investment perspective, with greater press coverage for Local WA Startups and Tech companies in both local and national startup and general press. It however remains difficult for startups from WA to get noticed locally, on the national stage and internationally. It has also been hard for people to find information on startups from Western Australia. In response to these issues Peter van Bruchem has established Techboard.com.au, a startup to help WA’s startups and tech companies grow their crowd.
I have been on the edges of or involved with what has evolved into the startup scene in Perth since the late 90s before tech companies were called startups. I have been noticing that the reports reviews and surveys conducted both locally and nationally appear to have understated the level of activity locally. Sure we know that the level of activity could and probably should be higher but I couldn’t help but thinking that if the real level of activity were known, there would be greater support for Startups from government, from investors and the general population and our kids would be more interested in pursuing relevant studies and career paths.
So I started off by creating my own list of startups and tech companies born, located, founded from or strongly connected to WA. That list is now well over 700 companies or projects pre-launch, post launch, unlisted, ASX listed, alive and dead. These were found through trawling through the internet, various industry databases, my contacts and many Google, Twitter and Linkedin searches.
I thought a list by itself is informative but not all that useful plus how do I keep it alive and relevant? I also looked at those studies and surveys and wondered why WA was so under-represented. Sometimes it was definitional, sometimes because the reach of the researchers was limited by their contacts and time and also because (I believe) that many companies others would regard as startups or tech startups don’t call themselves startups. I think some companies who know about these projects choose not to get involved as they lack the time or interest in participating, perhaps because they see little benefit in getting involved.
I looked around at Linkedin, Angel List, Crunchbase, Venturebeat as well as other local startup community sites and saw that nobody was quite doing what I thought might work here in WA. I was also astounded to find hardly anyone globally was pushing the ‘Support your local startup … buy using or buying their stuff” message…. The focus if at all was on investment… but we all know investors want to see traction (note: the biggest problem identified by startups as reported in the last Startup Muster report compiled by Murray Hurps of Fishburners in Sydney was customer acquisition).
So the plan was hatched to create a platform that companies could use to increase their profile – my thinking was that companies might get involved because they see that it is in their interest to do so. It could be an active platform that companies could use to raise their own profile with potential users, customers, team members or investors. It was increasingly looking like my project needed to become a startup to try to become sustainable, viable and hopefully eventually profitable.
I started looking for a tech co-founder to help to build it… but it wasn’t that well defined a the time so I looked around to see what I could do myself… and discovered you can achieve heaps with WordPress, some free and cheap plugins, custom development from Plugin vendors and some help from my Friendly local UI/UX guy, Gui Passotti.. thanks Gui (oh and Gui is short for Guillame not Graphical User Interface).
What to call it? … Well the focus is tech… it is a notice or bulletin board and I wanted to evoke ideas of a listing board (we may move towards an investment platform later) so the name “Techboard” was picked and domains secured.
So Techboard was born and was quietly turned on back in early June. So far we have over 450 company profiles on the Techboard. Companies have started to claim their profiles (50 so far) including some high profile startups such as Healthengine, Virtualiis, Geomoby, SwitchMyLoan, GoPC, Prezentt and Today We Learned and companies are starting to make announcements.
So what companies are included on Techboard?
Users will find a large range of startups on Techboard and can explore by company type. They will also find pre-launch startups, and grownup tech companies that once were startups. The Techboard also includes some startups that have moved from WA or have a strong connection to WA even if they are not based here. We also include some companies that are no longer operational, to provide users with a historical context. This is because we feel that including a broader range of startups and tech companies is consistent with our objective to raise the profile of the scene generally. So far we have an emphasis on operational companies but will add more historical data as we go along. We also list startup hubs and enable linking of companies to hubs.
Is it more than just a directory?
Once companies have claimed their profiles they can use the announcements platform to celebrate their big and little wins to their Techboard audience. At Techboard we believe startup fans are often interested in a company’s small steps and incremental progress – as well as the more ‘newsworthy’ big wins.
Think of Techboard as user-generated micro-news for a local audience. If anything is happening that gets a startup company’s founders or staff excited… they can share it with the Techboard crowd. The Techboard announcements platform provides a place where companies can effectively host all key company updates, for people interested in tracking their progress, rather than having to do this on their own website or those updates getting lost in their social media streams. Any announcements a company makes on Techboard can of course be easily shared via a company’s social media streams. Announcements made on Techboard are connected to company profiles, and can be explored by categories including, team, product launch/update, merger/acquisition, investment made, contract/partnership and special offer.
The Techboard Team and supporters
Techboard was too big a project to push just by myself so I have brought Rafael Kimberley-Bowen (who will be known to //Startup News readers as a regular contributor) on to the team as a co-founder to help drive Techboard’s growth. Techboard will be generating heaps of data and we also intend to enrich the profiles with data from external sources so we are looking for a developer to bring on to the team.
We have some interesting developments in the pipeline to accelerate our take-up which we will be bringing on line soon. We will be introducing Twitter-style following feature, so a company’s fans don’t miss out on any important updates or announcements. We will be introducing increased ability to filter companies and make it easier for users to find what they are looking for. We will also be releasing a Startup Ranking system based on a range of metrics including the views of Techboard’s Panel of Experts, which comprises the key players in Perth’s startup and tech company space.
So far we are getting some great support from the likes of Beacham Group, the E-group and Startup Scene stalwarts including Patrick and Marcus at //Startup News, Rob Nathan, Jeff Broun, Jamie Lyford and Greg Reibe who has said “Techboard will be the go-to place for startups that need to build a following be that for customer validation, investment, or even prospective team-members”.
Why should I focus on local when my startup is going global?
Local support can be very valuable for startups before they reach their global aspirations. Local consumers are more forgiving, often give more useful feedback and are certainly more accessible. Early stage investors are almost always local – living no more than 100km from the investee business and they do sometimes come from the company’s user base.
Why not just use platforms like Angel-list and Crunchbase?
I believe Crunchbase and Angel List are both great but they don’t have the local focus, the local user or investor audience… they are great when the company is big enough to be of interest to overseas investors but until then they have few benefits to offer.
Why don’t I just use twitter or facebook and build my own crowd?
Sure use social media platforms but you need to build your own audience Techboard is building an audience interested in Perth Startups, such as yours, we are also developing a variety of partnerships to help get increase the visibility of WA’s Startups and Tech Companies. The initial focus of our efforts will be a push to get Western Australian individuals and businesses to support their local startups by trying their wares, buying their stuff and telling their friends. A company’s messages on Social media also easily get lost whereas all the announcements you make on Techboard are connected to your company profile, categorised and easy to find.
Startup community members can also get on board by adding companies and using our convenient sharing tools to evangelise about their favourite local startups – and raise their own profile in the process.
Get on Board
Techboard is building a community of users who are interested in startups from Western Australia that all local startups can tap into to expand their reach. We are also developing tools that allow those startups to connect with local users, customers, fans, potential team members and investors. For Techboard to work in helping WA’s startups become more visible it needs the startup community to get on board so we can show the depth breadth and diversity and potential of Western Australia’s startups.
Startups should check that they are listed on Techboard, and claim or create their profiles (it’s FREE!) and then use the announcements platform to raise their profile and build their crowd. Companies that get in and secure their profile now will be rewarded with preferred access to special new platform features.
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