Two female Sydney-based startup owners, Fiona Anson and Alli Baker, say they have had nothing short of a mind-blowing experience in Silicon Valley attending TiECON, one of the world's biggest gatherings for global investors, venture capitalists and tech startups.
Two weeks after winning TiE Australia's Women's Pitching competition, Anson and Baker found themselves on a plane to Santa Clara, California, and the heart of Silicon Valley to promote their business, HireMeUp, to the global market. Anson's trip was courtesy of TiE and the Commonwealth Bank's Women in Focus, the competition's sponsor, and Baker went in support of her partner and to help fly the HireMeUp flag.
Anson and Baker say that the trip to Silicon Valley has changed their perspective, opened up huge opportunities and forged exciting relationships.
"As a startup in Australia there are limited resources - both financial and otherwise - to help you grow," says Anson. "In Silicon Valley both capital and expertise are plentiful and the investors there are actively looking for businesses to get involved with."
HireMeUp has already had interest from investors in Australia who see the viability of a job board that caters specifically for the fast-growing part-time workforce. But while both co-founders are in agreement that they are open to all opportunities to grow their business, they are also reluctant to "sell their souls" and shortchange their business' potential.
"Our experience in Australia is that venture capitalists tend to want to give you the minimum but take the maximum which can be a tough pill to swallow when you can see the vision of your company going places quickly with the right kind of capital," says Baker. "In Silicon Valley, however, the VCs are more likely to see your vision and be prepared to throw you what is required to make the huge impact that's possible with adequate funding."
Anson and Baker already had one offer on the table after their four-day stay in Silicon Valley but they're not signing anything just yet.
"We don't want to jump into anything too quickly. One of the other benefits of the trip is the contacts we've made," says Baker. "One of which looks like it will result in an alliance that will allow us to do something no other job board has done before - and we can't tell you how exciting that is."
"HireMeUp is already making waves with our world-first search facility but with our next moves, we'll be taking our revolution of the way people find work even further and it's so exciting to be in front of that wave," says Anson.
With global expansion now firmly in their sights, the pair will be headed back to Silicon Valley in a couple of months with the aim to bed down the first round of funding.
HireMeUp is already successful and profitable in its own right in Australia and growing monthly but Anson and Baker are planning to launch internationally in stages over the next few years with New Zealand slated for later this year with California then the rest of the US in 2013.