River Metropolis Labs founder Steve Baxter seems again on the teachings and reminiscences of a decade of the Brisbane innovation hub


It’s laborious to suppose it has been 10 years since River Metropolis Labs was arrange. How far has Australia are available these 10 years.

I look ahead to having a quiet chat and drink to replicate on the ten years which have handed this week in Brisbane.

The River Metropolis Labs journey over the 7-or-so years I owned it had all components of startup.

We needed to elevate cash (my household’s capital however none the much less there was a deliberate dialog concerning the funding), then discover income, then gather cash, continuously change the plan, measure, pivot and hold going.

In the top I exited River Labs by way of a commerce sale to Australian Pc Society (ACS), ACS had an incredible imaginative and prescient to take the River Metropolis Labs to extra cities in an effort to impression greater than.

The RCL group in 2016

I wished to take time to checklist the some issues I realized on that journey and a few of ‘Better of’ moments in addition to the checklist of issues we achieved.

I exited RCL as a result of I used to be out of concepts, the time was proper and there have been individuals with brisker concepts than me. It’s fantastic that in the federal government over response to COVID during the last two years that River Metropolis Labs has come out stronger than ever, certainly a testomony to these now on the helm as a lot as the bottom of the neighborhood it discovered itself planted in.

The teachings

Simply begin. I say this so much and was not too long ago advised that’s was trite recommendation… so what ! Except you begin simply have no idea. RCL was began by throwing warning to the wind and doing it anyhow, we modified tons, continuously, we needed to, most startups do. Except you begin to you don’t get to succeed.

The client is all the time proper. The one one who will get a sound say is the one which pulls out their pockets and turns into a buyer. As soon as you’re in enterprise or doing something one can find no finish of free recommendation, it’s useful to pay attention however simply bear in mind who you’re employed for – individuals paying you !

You want the talents.  A number of my approaches to startups and investing have modified through the years because of RCL however one factor has not – you want the talents to do what you’re pitching. Your core founding group wants to have the ability to construct and ship model one among your startup on the very least, with out that you’re useless within the water.River City Labs

Strive a number of issues. At River Metropolis Labs we tried so many alternative issues, we began by considering we have been a coworking house and ended up being a membership home for startups, a gathering place for individuals doing and other people wanting to assist.

We discovered that the grease of wheels of this motion have been occasions, the brining collectively of a number of individuals and attempt to generate serendipitous collisions.

A type of collisions ended up turning into the group that’s now CohortGo (a enterprise within the monetary and different providers to inbound worldwide college students, coincidentally additionally the primary member of RCL) fashioned from a gathering of founders on the ground at RCL, this typified what RCL was about, bringing collectively individuals and information for higher outcomes.


Finest reminiscence during the last 10 years

Essentially the most vitality I ever noticed within the Labs was when Prime Minister Turnbull visited throughout an election marketing campaign.

We had a whole bunch of individuals crammed into the labs, protestors exterior and safety inside.

It was memorable for me as a result of earlier that morning one of many Fortitude Valley celebration goers the night time earlier than had expelled their cheese burger and fries throughout our entrance door and it needed to be cleaned… there was hesitancy throughout… I ended up doing it – because the boss you’re by no means too essential to not scrub vomit off the entrance door !

The opposite memorable factor was that we acquired to current Prime Minister Turnbull with a Queensland State of Origin jersey.


Finest occasion at River Metropolis Labs

The second startup weekend in 2015 was an incredible occasion. 3 firms have been fashioned from that occasion that went on to greater issues – Enjoyable Captcha (now Arkose Labs), a cyber safety firm that has since been exceptionally nicely funded and has superior traction; Advvy, an Promoting tech firm now exited and Amity, a social media firm that ended up getting funding from international media gamers while not being finally profitable.

Again at the beginning 10 years in the past

Not solely was the weekend a smashing success for all concerned however our particular visitor was Prime Minister Tony Abbot who spent extra time than programmed (to the ire of his aides) speaking to the groups and actually understanding what was taking place.

Later than day at a celebration convention he stated some significantly insightful issues – (phrases to the impact of) “…that he had simply come from an occasion the place the way forward for Australia was being written by the deeds and efforts of entrepreneurs….”.

One reminiscence is of him speaking to 1 group that was proposing a platform to help journalists in some vogue, he ended up giving the group his card together with his private quantity (later verified by one among them 😊) and adopted by way of by getting the native head of the Courier Mail in Brisbane to achieve out and make contact with the group to see how they could possibly be of service – now that’s networking !


Most impactful customer 

Tyler Crowley (2013). This journey was organized on the behest of Colin Kinner and the Brisbane Metropolis Council ‘Brisbane Advertising’ funding attraction arm. If one particular person was answerable for altering, for the higher, the way in which that entrepreneurs in Brisbane pitched, it was Tyler. This softly spoken American, recognized for his on-line present This Week in Startups, got here to city for every week and had an amazingly optimistic impression. 


Finest program – StartUp Catalyst 

This program was born of the frustration of seeing actually good younger technical individuals end their formal schooling after which go and get a job in a giant financial institution or the general public service.

I used to be annoyed as a result of our younger individuals have been simply pretty much as good as anyone else on the planet however their horizons gave the impression to be too close to – that wanted to vary.

Addressing the gang in 2015

The primary program took 20 below 21 years olds to Silicon Valley for two weeks (in hindsight not an ideal thought given the authorized ingesting age within the US, we modified it to 25 for the twond mission) and we went on excursions of all the tech giants, attended a StartUp Weekend and normally we tried to make them unemployable again residence by exhibiting what others have been doing. We wanted them beginning issues, not doing issues for others.

StartUp Catalyst was not the unique identify, its first identify was StartUp Ebola !

I wished to get some extent throughout that I wished these individuals contaminated with entrepreneurship and that they might come again and infect others.

I’m not positive how the StartUp Ebola t-shirts would have been acquired at USA customs 8 weeks after Ebola broke out within the US so we shelved the identify and went with the higher identify of StartUp Catalyst.

StartUp Catalyst has achieved tech future founder missions, eco system leaders missions, investor missions and extra. We now have gone to the US, England, Europe and Israel. It has been an incredible program that’s nonetheless having optimistic impacts for people who participated.


The numbers

RCL was an incredible journey, over the 7 years we did fairly a bit :

  • 459 entrepreneurs turned members of RCL previous to ACS taking on;
  • We hosted over 480 Occasions open to the general public since 2012;
  • Our occasions have attracted over 16,000 visitors by way of the doorways at RCL;
  • We hosted 4 Worldwide Delegations from related Innovation/Tech/ Startup teams from Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Israel and Nevada;
  • RiverPitch (the RCL funding pitching occasion sequence) facilitated the introduction of 47 completely different Startups firms to over 600 traders throughout 9 completely different funding occasions;
  • We launched 1 world class accelerator program in partnership with Telstra/muru-D that ran 4 cohorts;
  • Our work with youth concerned: supporting the KidPreneur program ; Construct My Robotic and Lemonade Stand occasions and supplied mentors for the favored CoderDojo Program;
  • Our work with Universities included Griffith, Bond, QUT, UQ and QSQ, supporting their Pupil Startup pitch occasions as Sponsors, Judges and Mentors in addition to offering varied talks and keynotes to their college students on entrepreneurship, startups, capital elevating and pitching;
  • We supported and hosted 2 World Worldwide Youth Conferences 2014/2015 seeing over 200 worldwide college students take part in a week-long experiential Entrepreneurial journey to Brisbane;
  • We hosted and facilitated 7 Startup Weekend occasions every with 100+ attendees launching a complete of 75 companies inbuilt 54 hours;
  • We supported Girls within the Tech sector by internet hosting and facilitating 4 Rails Ladies and a couple of Django Ladies occasions collectively instructing 320 girls to code. Our Startup Weekend Girls noticed over 90 girls in attendance launching 15 companies in a single weekend; 
  • RCL was residence to 12 trade meetup teams who hosted common month-to-month occasions. The collective membership and attain of these teams was over 9,500 individuals. 

That may appear to be so much but it surely was by no means sufficient. There’s a race on to seize the way forward for the related financial system around the globe and locations like RCL will assist present the assist to these taking dangers to win that race. 

I want RCL all the finest for the subsequent 10 years and look ahead to backing a few of the firms it helps with funding capital in future years.


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