“In Australia, you can get an irrevocable grant of $ 25,000”: how Aliaksei Kuncevic advises startups in Australia

Aliaksei Kuncevic left for Australia in 2009, and he is not going to return yet. Now he works in Sydney. Aliaksei is engaged in IT consulting.

Ivan Vedenin and Sergey Lavrinenko, the hosts of ItStarts Podcast!, asked Aliaksei about life at the other side of the world, the startups' ecosystem, salaries, etc. TheHeroes editorial juices and publishes the most interesting.

To IT at the end of the world

In Belarus, I started from the bottom of the IT pyramid when I was a student at BSUIR. My career began in 2006 from the position of a developer in several outsourcing companies. Then the projects were uninteresting, the work was circumscribed.

In Australia, I was signed for three months. We had been developing a converse solution for the bookstore franchise that was killed by Amazon later. There were 20 stores in Sydney where you could buy paper books. And now there remains one main office, where 50 percent of books are sold, and the rest of items is gifts and souvenirs. Long story short, their business fell.

Then I got bored, and somehow I got into a startup environment, met various ideological people. And I thought it would be fun to offer IT solutions to people who are far from IT but have an idea.

There is an interesting issue in Australia: there are many ideological people who know and assume what is needed. But they cannot do something on their own.

So I got my head in startups helping people with their ideas. In about a week I found three clients and put myself in a situation where you need to work a lot, including on the weekend. The task was to launch a project and build a team. I was offered shares in the projects, but I refused them because at such early stages it was not clear what could happen to the company next. So I did it for the money.

Then I specialized and explored Angular, a new cool framework that Google developed (Angular is an open and free web application development platform written in TypeScript. — TheHeroes). I liked it then, I like it now, it helps me in my current career.

After some time, I found myself in a large comfort zone, working on a contract that I had signed for 6 months.

It was one of the oldest Australian IT firms developing a product for the pharmacy business.

Then I started a consulting services business and became an IT consultant. For example, I helped the University of Sydney. In one project we visualized the terabytes of student data.

The second project aimed to solve the problem that students often face when choosing a university and specialty — they generally don’t understand what will happen next, what subjects they will study. And to make a student better understands where he is going and what he will do, we have developed a technology by which students find a suitable specialty. You can clarify what subjects will be studied and how long it will last.

Along with these activities, for about three years I spoke at various events, talked about my experience with Angular. Recently I flew in Belarus and was surprised that there is no such Angular meetup in Minsk. My friend and I decided to organize it here, two meetings have already passed. I started to developing a course to teach Angular to junior and middle developers.

What is it like to launch a startup in Australia?

I would start with the Australian IT market. It can be divided into four segments: large enterprises, offices of global companies, state-owned companies, and startups. If you work in one of these segments, you will have a completely different experience. I would not say that people go back and forth. Usually, if they’ve already entered some company, then they don’t leave. I met specialists who have been working for 20-30 years.

The offices of global companies like Google or Microsoft pretend to be similar to startups last years. They want you to come early and leave late, you are expected almost to spend nights at work. There is already a kitchen with pizza and barista. And in spite of the field you work in, every Friday your teammates eat pizza and drink for free, play tennis in offices.

At the very first interview in Australia, I was asked which beer I like.

The second question was how many windows are there in Sydney! I answered, but it took 10 minutes.

Everything is flexible in startups, somewhere it is possible to work partially remotely. But everyone works very efficiently there.

If you want to work relaxed without any development, if you want a high income in the next many years and work 7 hours a day, then you should go to a state-owned enterprise. Yes, you will have a good salary there. There is such a strategy: we have a large budget, and we need to spend it as fast as possible.

This is a strategy, not my words!

Salaries in Australia

Salaries are above average in state-owned enterprises. But the concept of “average salary” is not entirely appropriate there. For example, a policeman’s salary is up to Australian $100,000 per year.

An office clerk earns enough to only make ends meet, but by Belarusian standards, he makes a buck.

The salaries of developers depend on the field. In a startup, you will go hard to maximize the impact. Middle-specialist will earn about $120 thousand per year, a specialist in the public sector — $130 thousand. Probably, lawyers' salaries are the biggest in Australia. A minute of their work may cost up to $1000.

Australian startups ecosystem

In Australia, the site https://www.meetup.com is very developed. It is a platform where people create a community and find interest clubs, organize events, etc.

The main IT action is in Sydney. There are a bunch of mitaps. If you need networking, then you go to the meetups. The second stage of networking is at different conferences.

Moreover, conferences can last for several weeks.

There are top 30 cities that are good for startups. Sydney is 23rd on this list. On the one hand, the city stews in its own juice, as it is isolated from the rest of the world; when the sun rises in Sydney, it is almost set in the others parts of the world. On the other hand, Australia is part of a common ecosystem.

There are very few IT specialists on the country’s market. In any product company, there will be about five Australians, and the rest are Indians, Europeans, and Chinese. Migrants are responsible for the questions “how?", and local — " why? what for?".

“Grants vary by the terms, but the main point is that startup should create a new local jobs”

My first hackathon was in 2013. At that time there was only one space for coworking in Sydney, it was on the sidelines. The team I participated in took second place. The first was taken by the team who performed the idea similar to Snapchat with an extra option of delay sending messages.

Which fate will a startup have? There are several options. One of the most painless in the sense that you will not be charged is to contact local and federal government agencies that are involved in the distribution of grants. They all differ in terms, but the general idea is that the state motivates to create jobs.

There is an irrevocable grant of $ 25,000. In the beginning, you are given 30-40%, and you will receive the rest later.

The scheme "come up with an idea and apply for a grant" does not work. It is necessary to show that part of the work is done independently, you need to move as far as possible.

“I got the impression that the capital of Australia is similar to Minsk”

I moved to Australia in 2009. I had a dream to move, I knew a lot about this country, there were some contacts. It was not difficult to migrate to Australia, so I did it.

Before leaving, I imagined a lot about this country. And when I arrived, it turned out that there was no such thing. For example, I thought kangaroos jump everywhere. But actually, they don’t. If you live in a big city, you must try to see them. But in central Australia, they themselves can jump to you.

To obtain residency in Australia you have to meet a lot of requirements that change almost every year. My skills and time I had spent there allowed me to get a residency. Now, this process is becoming more complicated.

I also was in the capital (Canberra. — TheHeroes). I visited my friend there, and it reminded Minsk to me.

There is also a large river along which you can ride a bike. Autumn is very European!

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