Startup Catalyst’s recent journey to the States gave a handful of young programmers a crash-course in entrepreneurship, from the funding big leads of 500 Startups, to Startup Weekend San Francisco to three of the biggest startups ever, Facebook, Google and Twitter.
A QUT student and consultant with local groups SendMe3 and Pitcher Partners, David Hooper was introduced to a range of different business practices. On top of the obvious funding whiplash, he admired the speed at which American companies ran (Facebook rolls new coding twice a day), and stressed that their emphasis on employee welfare and relaxed atmospheres help foster more loyal and passionate working relationships.
“Companies will actually feed their employees, and I think that makes a big difference,” Hooper says. “That and the fact that over here a lot of the startups don’t want to give employees any portion of the company.”
“To be fair it is to do with our laws, but it’s a totally different way to how businesses are run,” he says. “The people working at that [American] company really really want to make it successful, whereas over here, what are you really working for?”
Hooper, a part of the winning Startup Weekend Brisbane team Car Values Co, also pitched at SW San Fransisco during the Global Startup Battle. There, he met computer science students from local universities, such as the University of California, Berkley, and found their technical skills refreshingly similar to his own.
“Sure they study at really awesome universities with a prestigious background, but they’re really no different to developers over here, especially the ones that go to QUT, Grififth, and UQ,” Hooper says. “They’re all the same, and that kind of blew me away, that we compete really well with engineers over there.”
Finally, on a personal note, Hooper hopes to return to the country post-graduation, and points to his trip’s networking opportunities as a highlight.
“I’m still emailing the Facebook engineers everyday,” Hooper says. “That was probably one of the biggest things I took away from it, a great network of people I could talk to over there and see what’s going on.”
“Especially with the Facebook ones, we chat about coding and whatnot for hours,” he laughs.