I landed in Sydney coming from Dubai just two days before the end of its annual festival Vivid Sydney – a great and lightful welcome and also fun way to explore the city. I surely enjoyed the music and stunning lights and visual animations at the Opera House but as a new Sydneysider I was also interested in exploring the city through its “ideas” and future talks.
Luckily, there was a still one interesting event in the festival agenda: Code in the Park.
I thought it would be an opportunity to start mingling with the tech community in the city, so I signed up.
On Saturday early afternoon, when I reached level 3 on Central Park – where the event venue (aMBUSH Project Gallery) is I was surprised by the long lineup of attendees outside the gallery door. When signed in, i found a the huge room was packed with hundreds of participants– I was really surprised and amused and also wondered if all those people were coders.
I myself not a coder (though I used to be) but an entrepreneur who to use code to create stuff with value to people.
— Ibrahim Elbadawi (@iBadawi) June 18, 2016
Over the following couple of hours and as we were listening to and interacting with the interesting mix of speakers/coders, I noticed that the organizers managed to bring a good mix of speakers that covered a good portion of the tech spectrum in Sydney: founders, big companies, startups, and coders – of course! This mix procured a cool mashup of topics, from the opening bold visionary talk about making Sydney one of the top 10 startup ecosystems in the world to the amusing live music coding at the end.
As a new tech guy in the city, I was hungry (and still!) to learn about this ecosystem so I took a lot of notes (and pictures!).. here are my key 5 takeaways from the event:
1- Sydney wants to rise again: Currently, Sydney ranks 16th in The Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking but Dean McEvoy believes that his has to change and Sydney deserves to be among the top 10 (it was 12th in previous index). He co-founded and leads TechSydney to achieve this goal – the group is open for any one to join – I just did and I think you should do too. Dean said something very important about the role of the government, he said that the government put innovation on the agenda but they won’t drive the change. He think that’s our mission, couldn’t agree more.
2- Sydney got a big and growing tech community: the data says that the city is “home to 1,500 to 2,300 active tech startups and half of Australia’s 500 largest companies”*, this confirms what I’ve seen in the event and also makes me understand how Dean and other speakers were confident that we – as tech community – can lead the change to achieve the bold goal above. I saw a really good number of diversified startups in one event and also interesting products. I herd several good stories – one was about Spreets.
3- The community has good chance to be more gender balanced: Only 14%* of founders in Sydney are female (as compared to 24% in Silicon Valley). However, the “Entrepreneurs Panel” and the insightful comments from panelists Annie Parker, Sarah Moran and Jessica Glenn made me believe that this will change and we can build a more balanced community here.
— Ibrahim Elbadawi (@iBadawi) June 18, 2016
4- Code on Canvas is crating cool stuff!: on a more practical note, I really liked the products demonstrated by Code on Canvas. Their mix of design, coding, music, animation was really amusing and innovative. They got my attention also because they are aligned with we our Innovation Studio activity in Dubai.
5- I landed in perfect timing: all the points above in addition to the very positive spirit and vibes I captured in the room made me feel that I moved to Sydney just in perfect time. As an entrepreneur, I’m driven by my passion to contribute to the growth of my society, my desire to make an impact and my need to continuously keep learning. What I saw in the event made me confident that Sydney is the place to peruse my passion and make things happen.
I’m happy to connect and make friends here, so please feel free to contact via my social media contacts below or my email : firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m also on Snapchat (ibadawi) where I covered the events to my audience (in Arabic).
Thank you Sydney for the Vivid welcome – and thank you General Assembly for the opportunity to attend this gathering. If I would make one suggestion for the next version of the event, I would recommend to have some group activities to offer the audience a better chance to network.
*The Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking 2015