“We are 15 years into the biggest wealth creation and social impact wave to ever hit humanity – driven by the Internet and mobile.”

Pete Cooper, the founder of The Start Society, iCentral and Sydstart had a lot to say about disruptive innovation. 

Pete cited a few companies that have disrupted existing markets and established competitors, like iTunes in the music industry and Google Docs to the Microsoft Office. Pete said that any good product-driven startup should follow along the same path of disruptive innovation, and he encouraged them by presenting just how big in value the internet mobile tech industry is worldwide: three to four trillion dollars!

Pete presented an even bigger picture by pointing out that the top 8 to 100 people in the world in terms of affluence have the same amount of wealth as the bottom three to four billion people. The disparity has been getting more distinct with an increasing concentration of riches at the top and things getting worse at the bottom. Pete said we can now turn things around with equal access to information, mobile technology, and the Internet.                                                              

“It’s not just about wealth creation but also about social impact. And I hope you’ll think about that as an enduring aspect you can build into your startup.”

Being an advocate of Sydney’s technology startup ecosystem, Pete expounded on the current state of Sydney’s tech startup community.  


Unicorns is a term that Pete admits he isn’t a fan of but he can see the economical value. Unicorn equals a privately held tech startups that values one billion dollars or more, and it is called such because of rarity. For something that’s rare, Pete said, the unicorns are accelerating fast. There were 23 new unicorns in the financial quarter April-June 2015. In that same quarter the cumulative growth of unicorns reached 58 billion US dollars, which is half the value of Commonwealth Bank of Australia. “CommBank did it in 90 years. The unicorns did it in 90 days. That’s how big the opportunity is you’ve all got,” said Pete. “It’s more about whether you grab it or not.”


Different industry bodies are reporting that the startup ecosystem is somewhere between 1,500 and 5000 startups, with Sydney being the focal point. Pete’s advice when it comes to data is, “Listen carefully to the data you’re getting and then question it. And then ask the motives of the people behind those saying it.”


After giving a quick rundown of startups opening in cities, Pete pointed out that startups should be taking over the city. “I really think if you want to change culture in our country and genuinely see people talking about you at their barbecues and how you are going to be the next logical place for their children to go and work, and how Australia is innovating, and how Australia is exporting products around the world, and how Australia is leading, and how Australia is using unique assets like diversity, we need to grab our biggest city and move into the CBD.” said Pete. “You will change the industry by being closer to the customers and the resources, you chance the whole attitude and culture of the economy, and we can no longer be ignored.”


Pete encouraged startups to find their vertical or like-minded soul to stay connected and eventually grow the community. He especially wanted Startups to find themselves a relevant mentor.  


Before wrapping up his presentation, Pete reminded the audience that “Asia is not just China. Indonesia’s got one-hundred million people online. By 2020, nearly half of them are going to be under 30… You can access those people.”    

Pete ended his talk by encouraging startups to get connected to the community and not just learn from books. “The deeper your connections will be, the better the quality of learning,” explained Pete.