In between bites of flaky Aussie meat pie with mince gravy, navigating a new city and connecting with some of the top players in the Australian entrepreneurial tech scene, Mary Brannock has had a jam-packed schedule during her first stop of her international advocacy tour for Women’s eHealth. Melbourne has not disappointed. She has kicked off her trip in a perfect locale to discover a thriving landscape for early-stage technology entrepreneurs, to meet members of Melbourne’s passionate startup community and glean rich insight from lively tech discussions. There is a myriad of tech events, co-working spaces and hackathons to participate in in Melbourne—it’s amazing Mary culled it down to just a few events on her “can’t miss” list. Here’s her highlights.
Melbourne as destination for innovative startups
First stop: the York Butter Factory, a community hub and coworking space for entrepreneurs and startups of all sizes, housed behind a signature red door in an iconic 1855-era former factory on King St. in the central business district. She was led on her personal tour of the buzzing multi-use space by Alexander Valente, an analyst at YBF, and also took the opportunity to tap his thoughts on what makes YBF the “destination point for australia’s most innovative startups.”
The space is impressive: It’s massive at over 6,000 sq. ft., spanning two floors. The olde-school factory feel is intact, but has been beautifully renovated. The amenities feature five meeting rooms, a café area and an oversized event venue. More than 50 startups, largely in the B2B and enterprise space, powered by over 33 pounds of coffee per month, call the York Butter Factory home.
Don’t let the tricked-out historic digs fool you. Mary learns that YPF, since opening in 2011, has positioned themselves at the center of Melbourne’s rapidly growing startup ecosystem. They have tirelessly worked to create a versatile & robust community of entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors all under one roof. YPF’s call to action as a tech community is to share their ideas and hard-earned experience to “ultimately to put Australian startups on the global map and provide a platform for our startups to succeed.”
How to stamp out city rivalry: a primer
In fact, YPF sights are set on making a splash first in Melbourne, then in their “rival” city Sydney, as they have recent plans to expand their incubator/coworking enterprise by signing a lease at Sydney’s Australian Technology Park. This is a bold move to start to assuage the fierce competition between Melbourne and Sydney as the premier destination for aspiring technology start-ups. Bradley Delamare, CEO of Tank Stream Labs, Sydney-based incubator/co-working space, sets the record straight by taking the high road in The Australian. “The competition shouldn’t be between cities, it should be between Australia and the rest of the world.”
Nevertheless, this rift may be one of many roadblocks to successfully put Australian startups on the global map. If this rivalry isn’t enough to put a damper on the fertile ground for technology innovation, Mary’s anecdotal insights from her meetings inform her that Melbourne and most of Australia are still in the business of property and coal—they tend to invest in markets where there has always been growth, and not so keen to invest in health startups, especially women’s health. She reflects that tech entrepreneurs are beginning to disrupt this balance, so there is optimism for early-startups piggy-backing on emerging technologies.
Women’s eHealth sparks lively conversation on “Tampon Tax”
Mary notes a glimmer of hope through the oppressive grey cloud of coal. Women’s eHealth as an industry, an initiative, a movement—is a fresh idea to YSL. They are interested, they just simply haven’t thought of it. Here’s to planting the seed. Further, her lively discussion with some residents continued, touching on issues such as a pesky “tampon tax” that is added to feminine hygienic products, thus condoning tampons and maxi pads as a “luxury item.” This gender injustice still exists in the States, and various forces are actively fighting this “unjust” tax, such as California assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who is committed to educate and empower her constituents to join the movement to say No tax on tampons! Period.
Like YSL, we at tekMountain Women’s eHealth also believe in a culture of collaboration and sharing resources, and to have those dynamic conversations about relevant challenges for women. We are confident that this opportunity to broaden our global perspective will aid in better understanding population health and access—and in turn be able to create innovative solutions to incite positive change for women’s healthcare.
Mary Brannock with co-founder and Director of Hatch Quarter, Aiman Hamdouna
Mary rounded out her Melbourne experience by attending a meetup event celebrating Hatch Quarter’s Business Ecosystem, which brought together partners, startups in-residence and friends to share successes, future plans and reflect back on this past year since HQ’s inception. The primary purpose of the event was to unveil phase two of HQ’s vision: their business ecosystem and accelerator programs for startups.
Like YSL, Hatch Quarter is a hub for entrepreneurs, mentors, partners, and specialists. In addition to a consultancy and a coworking space, HQ also offers training with hands-on workshops on ideation, creation and preparation—the primary goal upon completion is a “hatched” business, prepped and polished for it’s debut out in the world.
Enhance the global reputation of Melbourne as home for startups
Mary reported that the Hatch Quarter Business Ecosystem event was teeming with many like-minded individuals who want to see growth in health tech in Australia—as well as in women’s health tech. A new contact shared with her that his experience as a father of three young girls has made him more interested in women’s health, and that this is a space he is interested in exploring. She connected with many more members of Melbourne’s passionate creative, tech and startup communities and added great insight to this discussion.
Mary reflects that “even in another country, people are just people and no matter the distance or differences, I feel connected to the people of Melbourne.”
Here’s to never truly being alone.
Mary on Great Ocean Road
We at tekMountain Women’s eHealth are dedicated to contributing to the dynamic conversation serving the wider women’s health community and the ehealth landscape. United, we have the power to truly change the world by connecting with other advocates across the globe. We invite you to join us on our website, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Stay tuned for updates on this blog on Mary’s experiences, informed insight and hope for the future of women’s health.