It's a new year, and I have been doing some musing about Adelaide's startup community; where it is and where it's going. I realised that one element missing from all the startup community rhetoric was the discussion about culture. Culture in this context is the simply defined as the customs, behaviour and symbols of the startup community. I've used the hashtag #startuplife to explain random events in my daily life that only people in a startup could appreciate; it made me realise that there is more to the startup subculture than what we see on the surface. This blog is intended as a guide for newbies to the startup scene in Adelaide.

Clothing: Spotted anyone wearing a Majoran Distillery hoodie or an Internode shirt lately? Adelaide's startup folk can be identified by their swag. These clothes are often freebies from local startup events and companies and usually have some nerdy reference that only startup people will understand. The Adelaide startupper will preference free clothes as this is conducive to their lean existence.

Laptop Stickers: You know you're in a startup when you have a tonne of stickers on your laptop. I'm not sure why we have stickers, on our laptops, we just do. These stickers range from the "motivational" #JFDI or stickers from a local startup. They serve no real purpose other than "marking" your laptop and identifying yourself as a member of this subculture.

Language: Lean, bootstrapped, pivot, validation, MVP are almost worn-out terms in the startup vernacular. It goes without saying, that people from outside this subculture pretty much have NFI what you're talking about.

Food: While many startup folk live on a shoestring, they do not compromise on caffeine; the drinks of choice are Redbull and good coffee, which is never hard to find in the city. So far as food is concerned; pizza is the go when you've got money and Mi Goreng noodles when you don't have money. When going out, you will spot the startup people in our local small bars, restaurants and food trucks; usually because the proprietors are loosely affiliated with the startup space themselves.

Sports: Most startup folk I know aren't big on sport, but a reasonable proportion of them are into keeping fit.  

Music: This cultural element is not big in the startup space. Community members listen to what ever they used to listen to before they were indoctrinated into this subculture, but many of them use Spotify. Most importantly, the only thing you need to know about music is that when someone has headphones in, do not disturb them.

Study:  In the industrial revolution, equipment was power; in the information revolution, knowledge is power. It should come as no surprise then, that startup people are big into learning. While some pursue formal roads of education, many are self studying by reading books, watching videos and enrolling into MOOCs (If you don't know what a MOOC is, you're not a startup person). Also on a social level, startup people are big on sharing knowledge, resources and connections.

Local Pride: One thing very unique about the Adelaide startup community is the sense of solidarity. For startup folk in Adelaide, it's not just about starting a business, it's about starting a business in Adelaide! I feel like there seems to be this benevolent element of creating jobs and wealth in Adelaide, the economic underdog. Events like SouthStart and Startup Weekend have been great at building a sense of pride in the local community.

Channels: Adelaide startup people communicate through a number of channels both online and offline. Online conversations take place across the Private Facebook group, the #StartupADL Twitter channel and more recently Reddit. IRL participants communicate in coworking spaces and the various meetup events held weekly across the city. No matter what the channel, news travels fast in Startup Adelaide.

Give Before You Get: The easiest way to get the most value out of this community is by giving of your time (and occasionally your money). In its simplest form, if someone has a question that you know the answer to or know someone who may, you owe it to the community to point them in the right direction. When others see you doing this, next time you have a question, you will likely get people helping you in the same fashion. The same can be said about volunteering for community events or even simply attending said events. Essentially, the more you put in, the more you will get out.

Pay it Forward: An unspoken, yet critical element of global startup culture is the principle of "Pay it forward." I also think it is the most powerful cultural element we have. The principle simply goes along the lines of, if you were helped in your startup, then you have a moral obligation to come back and help others within that community be it through mentoring, investment or both. 
 

A special thank you to John Baxter for his contribution to this article.

Have I missed any elements of startup life in Adelaide? Feel free to comment below.


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