As many of you will have noticed Ed and I have recently moved to Queensland, Australia (Brisbane specifically). Of course we’re always moving country so this change may not have even caught your eye as unusual…. but it is! We have moved there as part of the HotDesQ entrepreneurial acceleration program run by the Advance Queensland Government group. It’s a six month program and we are already (!) halfway through so I thought it was the perfect time for a review.
What is HotDesQ?
As well as getting an equity free grant (i.e. they don’t take shares in your company but you do get money to invest in growing your business) you also get free access to awesome co-work spaces (we chose River City Labs), and of course an instant connection into the whole startup community. We’ve been really impressed with how well networked the HotDesQ team are and it seems like they can get you an intro to pretty much anyone. Australia seems to have a very flat hierarchy which makes reaching the “top dogs” really easy if that’s what you need. Of course the final (and biggest) benefit to us is being on the program with so many other interesting and successful entrepreneurs. Startups have come from all over the world and with a huge range of backgrounds so conversations never run dry!
What to spend the money on?
You’re free to spend it however you like on growing your business, but we are allocating most of ours to hiring locally. We have already found one new employee and we actually have 3 people who we are keen to take on! Finding talent has been REALLY easy which is very refreshing – we just need to work out how best to use it now.
As well as moving to Queensland for the six month period (not a problem!!) you are also required to acquire a certain number of “points” per month. To be honest these have become a bit of an internal competition and everyone is trying to out perform each other! Classic entrepreneurs. You get points by doing a range of things from hosting events, networking, sitting on panels and sharing the exciting news online (like this!). Mentoring is also a compulsory element and so I’ve found myself three local mentees who I meet with every two weeks. It’s my absolutely favourite part of the programme and I love hearing how far they’ve progressed and how much time I’m saving them.
— Louise Croft (@diginomadgirl) November 1, 2017
Who else is there?
About 30 other companies, and some from the last generation who have stayed too! The teams are from literally all over the world and a very impressive calibre. To be honest I got some major imposter syndrome vibes on pitch day as everyone had an amazing story! It’s so refreshing to be around such inspirational people and everyone is totally on the crazy same life missions as us.
— Louise Croft (@diginomadgirl) October 13, 2017
Best thing so far?
Of course the people (including the HotDesQ organisers themselves who are really innovative and take on a lot of feedback from us participants). Plus Brisbane in general has absolutely stolen our hearts. There is loads of healthy and delicious food, and tonnes of options for staying fit (I’ve joined a yoga studio, olympic pool, gym, and a dance school). Plus we haven’t seen anything totally deadly yet #winning
How does it compare to Start Up Chile?
HotDesQ is inspired by Start Up Chile (which you may remember we were also on earlier this year). Start Up Chile is the original and biggest equity free accelerator of this kind and we had an amazing time on it, but HotDesQ feels very different. It’s similar in that you get a grant, are required to move to the country, are helped to get established with a local business/network, but HotDesQ is a lot smaller. There’s only 30 companies instead of 100 and it’s only the second generation instead of the 18th! Of course those things come with pros and cons – I’d say HotDesQ is for companies which are more developed (everyone has some kind of customers or viable business rather than being in Beta or research stage) but of course it’s also a smaller pond.
Live close to co-work: This is more of a general life priority from me, but we live about a 5 minute walk from the office and 8 minutes from the gym/pool. It’s an area with a lot of shops, restaurants and buzz and personally we love it. We are major commute-phobes!
Get stuck in: As I mentioned HotDesQ seem to know everyone so if there’s someone would could make a huge difference to your business then this is the place to get that. We work from the cowork every day and attend multiple events per week. You definitely get back what you put in with things like this.
Find your niche to meet local people: It’s easy to get caught up in the accelerator buzz and only hang out with other people on the programme. But the reason the government have brought us is to “infect” the community with innovative global-sized thinking. Our job is to get people excitd about startups and think beyond just starting a local company. As usual I’ve found my nice in thrifting and dancing and have already met loads of people through that. Whatever your passion is seek out people online or IRL who love it too and you’ll soon find yourself fully immersed in the local life.
Apply! The application process is really straightforward and anyone who doesn’t already have a business registered in Queensland is eligible. You might just be coming out to join us in sunny Australia.