When Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister, Salesforce executive, and former White House chief information officer Vivek Kundra praised him for understanding the challenges facing Australia’s economy in the 21st century.
Now Salesforce has launched its own program to help Australia tackle one of those challenges: the need to move away from a reliance on the mining industry and encourage more innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Silicon Valley giant has partnered with Melbourne co-working space York Butter Factory in an effort to drive “open innovation” between corporates, governments and start-ups in Australia.
Grant Thomson, Salesforce’s Australia and New Zealand area vice president, says it’s a response to a “clear narrative from all sectors” that the nation needs to focus on building a knowledge-based economy.
“This knowledge economy should combine the best of both worlds: the entrepreneurial spirit of start-ups and the wisdom and experience of enterprise,” Thomson said.
Salesforce’s partnership with York Butter Factory will give start-ups based in the co-working space access to Salesforce expertise, and bring Salesforce’s corporate clients in contact with start-ups. The co-working space will also become home to Salesforce workshops, product demos, meet-ups, mentoring sessions and coding events.“There is a lot that enterprise and start-ups can learn from each other.”
“York Butter Factory has had phenomenal success in the local market,” Thomson said. “Stuart Richardson and the guys started back in 2011 and we share common values. They’re really focused on driving the knowledge economy and growing the start-up ecosystem.
“The partnership gives us phenomenal access to corporates, start-ups, and in turn we give them phenomenal access to Salesforce and other customers that we have.”
It continues Salesforce’s push into Australia, which Thomson describes as a key growth market for the company. In March it partnered with lobby group StartupAUS to help champion the start-up sector in Australia, and launched its Salesforce for Startups program here.
Salesforce for Startups aims to encourage start-ups to start using Salesforce products which have traditionally been viewed as a better fit for enterprise. It does that by offering discounts and free trials to Salesforce services like Heroku, Desk.com and its Sales Cloud customer-relationship management software.
It’s a tactic common amongst the big cloud software and service providers. Amazon Web Services offers start-ups free credits, and Google does the same for start-ups in approved accelerator, incubator or venture capital funds.
While Salesforce for Startups helps get early-stage businesses off the ground, the company’s partnership with York Butter Factory, a pilot program of sorts, brings corporates and start-ups together to learn from one another.
Thomson says the program, combined with Salesforce’s other efforts, is the company’s way of helping the Australian economy adapt to the 21st century.
“The partnership with York Butter Factory is creating a melting pot, by which we can help create future innovations for Australia and drive the economy forward,” he said.
“There is a lot that enterprise and start-ups can learn from each other. We believe the exchange between the two groups is critical to the long-term development of a prosperous knowledge economy in Australia.
“The work we’ve done with StartupAUS around policy guidelines has shown in the narrative changes. So I think that’s been a valuable piece too.”
York Butter Factory co-founder Stuart Richardson, who’s also the co-founder of Melbourne-based venture capital firm Adventure Capital, says Australia is steadily improving the quantity and quality of entrepreneurs it produces. Richardson says that’s essential for Australia to continue to compete in the global economy.
It’s a sentiment common in the start-up industry, and set out in the 2015 StartupAUS Crossroads Report, and PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 2013 report The Startup Economy. The latter estimates the tech start-up sector has the potential to contribute $109 billion or 4% of Australia’s GDP and 540,000 jobs by 2033.
According to PwC, in order to reach that goal Australia needs to produce more entrepreneurs, strengthen the relationship between start-ups and corporates, and build a culture that supports innovation — all of which Salesforce is hoping to help address.
“Entrepreneurs risk everything on their journeys to create something from nothing — anything we can do to help them navigate their paths toward success makes the world of difference,” Richardson said.