9 startup communities and programs to join in 2024

Isabelle Comber5 mins
Start-ups
9 startup communities and programs to join in 2024
In this article

Have you ever wondered why some startups skyrocket to success while others struggle? The key often lies in the power of their community.

Whether your business is in the early stages or scaling up, joining a startup community can arm you with invaluable resources, connections, and guidance to help accelerate your growth. As a startup-turned-Aussie unicorn, we understand the power of community and are here to share the best startup programs and communities that can transform your business.

In this article, we highlight the benefits of joining a startup community or program, the opportunities available in 2024, and tips on how to get the most out of your involvement so you can supercharge your entrepreneurial journey.

Why should I join a startup community or program?

Starting your own business and bringing your ideas to life can be one of the most exciting experiences of your life - but it can also be lonely and overwhelming. You have to be willing to take risks, make tough decisions, and juggle multiple roles daily, all while knowing there's no set formula for success.

Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals can provide the support and encouragement you need to help you through the rollercoaster ride of entrepreneurship.

Here are some of the key benefits of joining a startup community or program:

Mentorship and guidance

Many startup programs give you access to seasoned entrepreneurs who can offer guidance and support to help grow your business. They’ve been through the startup journey, learned lessons along the way, and can provide a unique external perspective on your business plans. 

“Although challenging to quantify, the access to a network of founders and experienced, relevant mentors is invaluable.” - The State of Australian Startup Funding Report 2023

Networking opportunities

Being part of a community can give you access to regular networking events and workshops to help build founders, experts, and partners like you. This can open doors to new collaborations, partnerships, and business opportunities. 

Opportunities for innovation

According to a study by StartupMuster in 2023, almost one-third of Australian startups surveyed are part of an innovation precinct or cluster. Startups in innovation clusters are more likely to introduce new products and services because of the collaborative environment that encourages creativity and idea sharing. Being exposed to diverse perspectives and feedback can spark innovative solutions and drive business growth.

Access to funding

Startups in established programs and communities often have better access to funding opportunities. Being part of a community can connect you with investors and venture capitalists actively looking to fund promising startups, providing the financial support needed to grow your business.

Not sure where to start with securing funding? Learn more about the art of startup fundraising, including the different types of funding available and how you can access them.

Startup communities and programs to join in 2024

To find the best-fit startup community and program for your business, we’ve put together a list of the top options for you to consider joining this year.

1. Airwallex for Startups

Type: Program

Location: Australia-wide

Of course, we’ll start by highlighting our very own startups program!

The free Airwallex for Startups program helps promising startups achieve rapid growth with exclusive business support. This includes education, funding, community, brand-building media opportunities, and exclusive access to Airwallex’s dynamic network of partners. You'll also get access to a members-only Airwallex package to help manage payments in your business. 

With over 1,000 members already onboard, jump on this rocketship today and sign up now.

2. Startupbootcamp

Type: Program

Location: Melbourne

Startupbootcamp is a global network of industry-focused startup accelerators that provides mentorship, office space, funding, and access to a global network of investors. The program focuses on energy and smart technology, supporting startups with a rigorous three-month accelerator program. Notable alumni include successful startups like Hubble and Onboard. 

Simply join their Facebook group to get started. 

3. Startup Grind

Type: Community

Location: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane (coming soon), and globally

Startup Grind is the world's largest community of startups, founders, innovators, and creators. It hosts regular events, workshops, and conferences to educate, inspire, and connect entrepreneurs. With a presence in over 600 cities worldwide and 3.5 million members, Startup Grind offers global networking opportunities and a variety of resources for growth. 

To join, follow the link to the chapter in your city and create an account.

4. Techstars Startup Digest

Type: Community

Location: Global, including major Australian cities

Techstars Startup Digest offers locally curated content for entrepreneurs to help founders stay informed about upcoming events, opportunities, and insights in their local startup ecosystem. Follow the sign-up page to subscribe to the Australia and New Zealand newsletter.

5. Startmate

Type: Program and community

Location: Sydney and Melbourne 

Over the past decade, Startmate has invested in 170+ startups, with a collective portfolio value of over $2 billion. They offer two Accelerator cohorts each year and have a world-class community of VCs, mentors, and alumni. Successful alumni include Edrolo and Morse Micro.

6. Sydney Startups 

Type: Community

Location: Online and in Sydney

Founded in 2010, Sydney Startups is Australia’s largest online community for startup entrepreneurs and investors. This active Facebook group is a hub of activity with over 60,000 members who share advice, give feedback, and provide encouragement. The group also hosts regular in-person events where you learn and mingle with like-minded people.

7. Fishburners

Type: Community and programs

Location: Sydney

Fishburners is a diverse startup community of entrepreneurs, founders, and freelancers. They provide flexible coworking spaces (in Sydney), an online community, pitching opportunities, mentorship, events, and resources designed to accelerate the growth of your startup or scale-up. 

Well-known success stories include Koala and GoCatch. Check out their pricing page for details on different membership options.

8. State government-sponsored startup hubs

Each state government has its own startup hub designed to support the startup ecosystem in that state. See below for details in your state: 

NSW - Sydney Startup Hub

VIC - LaunchVic

QLD - The Precinct

SA - Lot Fourteen

WA - Various hubs dedicated to different sectors. 

TAS - Enterprise

NT - Darwin Innovation Hub

ACT - Canberra Innovation Network

9. University-sponsored startup hubs

Several leading Australian universities have startup accelerators and incubators supporting our startup scene. See what your local university offers, or check out the list of university startup hubs across Australia.

Getting the most of your involvement in startup communities

To truly benefit from startup communities and programs, active engagement is key. Here are some creative ways you can get involved and make the most of your membership: 

  • Dive into hands-on learning - Don’t just attend workshops and seminars—join hackathons, startup weekends, and innovation challenges. These hands-on experiences provide practical knowledge and real-world problem-solving skills you can apply to your business. 

  • Connect beyond organised events - Genuine connections often arise in unexpected places, so don’t forget to engage in less formal settings such as casual meetups, community coffee hours, or online forums. 

  • Create a personal advisory board - Instead of relying on a single mentor, consider putting together a diverse advisory board that can offer varied expertise and viewpoints. Regularly meet with your advisory board to discuss progress, challenges, and strategies.

  • Host your own events - Take initiative by organising your own events, such as workshops, panel discussions, or informal meetups. Hosting events also helps position you as a leader within the community. 

  • Participate in social impact projects - Contributing to projects that aim to solve societal challenges can build your startup’s reputation, provide a sense of purpose, and attract partners who share similar values. 

Remember, startup communities are full of other founders looking to get noticed and grow their businesses. By finding ways to engage with these communities in creative and non-traditional ways, you can access the support, resources, and connections needed to drive your startup's success.

Next stop, unicorn status.

Are you ready to get the support you need to grow your startup? Join Airwallex for Startups today and start unlocking our exclusive member-only benefits!

Disclaimer: This information doesn’t take into account your objectives, financial situation, or needs. If you are a customer of Airwallex Pty Ltd (AFSL No. 487221) it is important for you to read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for the Direct Services, which is available here.

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Isabelle Comber
Business Finance Writer

Izzy is a business finance writer for Airwallex. She specialises in thought leadership that empowers businesses to grow without boundaries.

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