Perth curator Justin Strharsky learns a bit about starting a business in 54 hours from Perth local Sam Birmingham.

Sam Birmingham

Name: Sam Birmingham


Twitter: @sambirmingham

Works at: Making it all happen.

You’ve been a fixture in Perth’s entrepreneurial community for a while – what would you say are our unique challenges here?

Disconnection. Perth is the most isolated capital city in the world, yet we can all do so much more to find out what is going on in our own backyard. With challenge comes opportunity though — it fills me with optimism every time I meet a new person or hear about a new venture starting up here.

Do you see any unique advantages or opportunities to starting a new venture here?

Absolutely! Beyond the obvious answers like servicing the mining boom, access to Asian markets and tapping Perth’s entrepreneurial spirit, starting a new venture in a (relatively) small and (very) isolated city gives you the chance to test and refine your service amongst a receptive local audience. Then when the time comes to scale up, hopefully you’ll already have a lot of the gremlins out of your system!

Oh, it is doesn’t hurt to have great weather and an amazing coastline — sometimes you’ve got to reward yourself with a break and there aren’t many better places to do that than here!

You are currently organising a Startup Weekend for Perth .  Can you give us a three sentence explanation and pitch?

Startup Weekend is an intense 54 hour event which brings together people with diverse skills sets — from software developers and designers, to marketers and hustlers — to build applications and develop a credible business around them. As well as meeting a bunch of interesting people, you’ll learn a lot about yourself and how to give life to the hundred and one ideas that all of us have swirling around our heads each day.

There is no better way to test your ideas and skills than put them into action, and what better place to do it than in an environment where you’ve got nothing to lose?!

Why does Perth need a Startup Weekend?

To address that disconnection issue that I talked about earlier… By its very nature, Startup Weekend brings a bunch of otherwise disconnected people into the same room, to work on solving a bunch of problems together. By the end of the weekend, not only will everyone have learned a lot and had a heap of fun, hopefully we’ll be more aware of the countless others who are doing awesome things all around us.

You recently returned from seeing Startup Weekend in Wellington. What excited you about what you saw there? Were there any disappointments?

For sure! I had high expectations before Startup Weekend Wellington and left even more excited and optimistic by the end of the weekend. Perhaps the most exciting thing was seeing such a diverse group of people (almost all of whom had never met) form teams organically, and so openly share the journey with their teammates and everyone else who participated.

I wouldn’t say there were any disappointments. There were certainly some reality checks for a few people, though, but that’s what happens when you condense the entire ideation, validation and business creation process into 54 hours!

Any tips for those who are going to participate in Perth Startup Weekend?

First and foremost, get involved — JFDI!

Embrace new perspectives; learn, learn, learn; focus on solving problems; and whatever you end up building, keep it lean!