This fortnight, our Community Ambassador, Lisa Fox (CEO and cofounder of OpenShed) chats to Peter Bradd about coworking, startups, entrepreneurial support and the Fishburners space.

Name: Peter Bradd


Twitter handle: @peterbradd

Works: CEO and Founder at ScribblePics and all things Fishburners

What is Fishburners? How did you become involved?

Fishburners is a not-for-profit coworking space run by volunteers. It was founded by the managers of recruitment startup GradConnect and investor Pete Davison in March 2011. Although there’s been a huge number of individuals and corporates who contributed to make Fishburners what it is today. The original office space (55 desks) filled up within two months and now we can fit about 150 people. Our constitutional purpose is to foster tech entrepreneurship in Australia and we currently do that through the coworking space and an event space.When I first came to Fishburners there were about five desks (and no internet on) but I was just excited to get out of bedroom and work collaboratively! I was just amazed to be having conversations with other entrepreneurs who understood the issues and challenges I was facing. I love being here – I’ve seen companies that would have failed if they hadn’t been here and that’s really rewarding. Any advice that you need can be accessed. When you’re a startup, momentum is really important and this environment helps you get over any problems quickly. Besides working in your bedroom by yourself is pretty lonely! I pretty quickly became involved in the organisation of the space and I was asked to be a Founding Director. Basically, I believed in the community and I had the skillset that could help make a difference.

Can people come and try out Fishburners?

Sure can. We offer a three-day pass, so you can try before you buy. You can try out our Ultimo or Darlinghust office. We do this because working in a coworking space can seem a little daunting and it isn’t for everyone, so we definitely want you to try it out first. You can apply here

Then we have two membership options:

  1. Full time – you get a permanent desk and have 24 hour access to the building ($300 a month)
  2. Part-time – up to three days a week access to a hot desk ($200 a month)

Why do you think we are seeing the grow of coworking spaces in Australia at the moment?

The barriers to doing a startup are falling. Cheaper startup costs equal more startups. Everything is pay as you use these days. Starting up a business now can be done without any significant investment. Lean startup methodology is taking hold. There is huge growth in software as a service software (SaaS) and Platform as a service (PaaS). This combined with very cheap and high quality outsourced labour, and a steady flow of new and cool APIs means you no longer have to build and run every part of your operation yourself. This means you can experiment with less risk. However, running a business from home isn’t the ideal environment for a startup. Coworking spaces address this issue. Australia isn’t an isolated example, it’s happening all over the world. [Ed’s note: we agree! Check out our Coworking in Australia directory.]

What is next for Fishburners?

We would like to take out another level of the building in Harris Street. Startups normally do one of two things – they either fail or succeed. We want to do more to help reduce failure by providing better education and support, while it’s not necessarily our official role because we are not an incubator or an accelerator, we do see it as important and perhaps as an informal part of our role. We’d like more corporate support in this area. If a start up does really well their team starts to grow and expand and we can’t really accommodate teams bigger than five here, so we would like to take an extra floor to accommodate them. This will also create a better ecosystem as those trying to build a business for the first time can have access to people who are achieving three to four steps ahead of them. It’s really valuable to be able to observe what successful people are doing and also tap into their skills and knowledge. We are also starting to work with a number of corporates, such as Optus, Google, Ninefold and Deloitte. We welcome the support from corporates as they accelerate what we can achieve and the growth of the ecosystem. The bigger and better the ecosystem, the more successful startups we’ll see coming out of Australia. Startups are great for an economy.

Check out this video of a recent StartupWeekend Sydney at Fishburners below:

Tell us about ScribblePics

We make software that enables people to turn pictures into real postcards. We distribute our software through travel businesses. I’m really excited about is the growth of mobile and camera on phones are becoming a lot better. The way that people are taking photos has changed a lot, you are using your phone as a default point and click camera. You can now more easily capture moments and share them – ScribblePics is just another way of sharing that moment with the people in your life.

What are some upcoming events you would recommend to the Sydney Fetch community?

I’m a huge fan of Stump the Strategist by Step Change Marketing. Fishburners holds a number of events and meetups in our new event space, which holds 150 people standing or 100 sitting. General Assembly are holding a series of events in June at Fishburners. Fishburners is please to accommodate the Google I/O conference live streaming on 29-30 June.

About our Ambassador // Lisa Fox is a recovering a Government Lawyer and the Co Founder and Director of the peer-to-peer rental site, Open Shed.  Lisa is passionate about spreading the word about the Australian Collaborative Consumption movement and helping Australians access what they need when they need it! Connect with Lisa via @_lisafox or @openshed.