With more than 21,000 miles of coastline, the Great Barrier Reef just offshore, a wide variety of landscapes including tropical rainforests, desert, and mountain ranges, the island continent of Australia is a popular destination. But its virtues as a place to conduct business are also worth considering, especially if venturing into the Asia Pacific is part of your growth strategy.
Melbourne, in particular, is where you should set up shop. That's according to Jeff Schmidt, GM of enterprise for cloud file sharing service Hightail, which recently established its new Asia Pacific headquarters there. Here's why after previously launching WebEx and Coremetrics satellites in Melbourne he did it again with Hightail.
Melbourne is teeming with young, creative, and multi-cultural talent.
Australia's second most populous city is also the country's artistic and cultural capital. Every year it attracts around 150,000 international students, most of whom come from Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia, with 30 percent emigrating from China, 17 percent coming from India and another 7 percent from Vietnam.
Schmidt describes these people as having an "aggressive youthful spirit" and says the fact that they're also multilingual enables them to help companies more easily springboard into Asian countries.
"We felt like we could get really solid capable technical talent and also address other language requirements that we'll need over time in other markets, China being a good example," he says.
Talent is affordable.
It's true India still trumps most other regions when it comes to affordably sourcing engineering talent.
"But for general market operations, sales, services, support, financial operations, etc., we felt like Australia was a great place to be, Melbourne in particular," Schmidt says. "And we thought that the cost of the employees and talent level that you could get was pretty attractive."
The people you'll hire are mobile- and device-savvy.
Because Melbourne is brimming with folks who come from other places across Asia companies hiring there will have access to lots of people who are comfortable with devices.
"Because they are say so mobile- and device-friendly I think the mindset in pan-Asiatic countries is lot more open to technology," Schmidt says.
The Australian government is a helpful partner.
Hightail is on the brink of hiring a sales intern it found through an apprenticeship program sponsored by the government. Instead of only lasting a few months, like a typical internship might in the U.S., the Australian government co-funds two-year-long internships with the hope that they morph into long-term jobs.
Schmidt says even though the Hightail team in Melbourne is only a handful of people the government also has been particularly helpful when it comes to networking.
"The Victorian government took the time to understand Hightail's target market and make introductions to key people," Schmidt says.
It's an easy place to assimilate into.
In Hightail's case, 60 percent of its traffic comes from outside North America with 600,000 customers in Australia alone so it made sense to set up shop there. But Schmidt says even if it didn't have such a strong customer base there the culture and language similarities it shares with the U.S. make it perfect as a launching pad into the Asia Pacific region.
"It's a very outdoor active kind of culture, the spirit of the people is very friendly and reasonably progressive, which from a technology perspective makes it interesting for us," Schmidt says. "And in particular interest to us is a fairly strong thread around incubating, cultivating, and helping technology based companies grow and expand."
In addition to Hightail, San Francisco-based Eventbrite recently announced plans to open its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Melbourne.