Headed to Toronto. Going to dev school.

Apologies for not updating for awhile. It’s been a busy last six months for me debating what skills I want to gain, where I want to work, and what continent I should reside on.

I’ve been accepted into Toronto’s dev bootcamp, Bitmaker Labs, and will be leaving Sydney for Seattle then Toronto in late May. I’ve realized I’ll regret not giving web development a full go since I’ve never been able to help ramp up a product as a non-technical member of a team.

Many of my thoughts the last six months have revolved around my next professional step. This in turn led to me realizing I’ve enjoyed my time working at tech startups before arriving Sydney. Although I’ve never been technical, contributing to the non-tech end has still provided me satisfaction to these teams.

When I look back though, I’ve had many opportunities to learn how to code. From our college startup Weutt I invested 2 years of college for, to working at Retronyms and Grubwithus, I’ve been able to provide marketing, user acquisition, and pitching value, but never anything on the technical side.

Some may say I should stick to my strengths and experiences, which I feel is a valid point, but in today’s technically evolving world, I believe having a base knowledge of how to code is like being able to read and write. It’s tough to understand the feasibility of product ideas, contribute during the development phase, and have empathy for the tough dev work unless you’ve experiencing it with everyone.

My long-term goal may not be to be the best programmer in the world (don’t know yet until I go through the course). I’ve realized I enjoy the project management side of technology, which this course would allow me to do with my non-technical experience in this space.

I’m 24 years old, which is a great age to be. It’s a time where you can invest in yourself and reap the benefits down the line. This is exactly what I plan to do. So if I don’t post between June and August, know that it’s because I’m working hard to gain the skills of a web developer.

A young, business minded entrepreneur with has gained relevant experience on the non-technical end. On top of that, he’s a full stack web developer. That’s what I’m working toward.

If you have any tips or thoughts on becoming a dev, let me know! @drew_sing.

Cheers,
Drew

Sick of Silicon Valley Startups? Moving to Chile isn’t as crazy as it sounds.

I like startups and I like to travel. But after I ran the numbers, booking a one way ticket to Santiago to pursue startups isn’t as crazy as I initially thought.

For devs looking for a change of pace and who have a bit of South American adventure in them, booking a one way ticket to Santiago isn’t as illogical as it sounds. I’m not arguing that Santiago has the same opportunities as Silicon Valley. I’m just shedding light on an adventurous startup route for those who want to brush up on their high school Spanish.

If you’re interested, please connect with me @drew_sing. It is something I am considering in mid 2013 and would love to get in touch with anyone else interested.

Startup Chile

If you haven’t heard, Startup Chile is a government funded program that plans to give out $40,000 to 1,000 startups from around the world at no equity whatsoever. That’s $40 million in free funding for companies willing to move to Santiago for at least six months.

Let’s do some basic math to prove it wouldn’t be absolutely crazy to move to Santiago.

For the 2013 batch, 105 startups out of 1400 applicants have been selected for Startup Chile. 24% of accepted startups are from the U.S. and 28% hail from Chile and Argentina. This brings the total amount of Startup Chile companies up to 216 (24 2010 and 87 in 2011).

Because the tech ecosystem is being jump-started by the government, there will be holes for talent since Santiago’s tech community hasn’t had time to develop its skilled infrastructure to this level yet. You could equate it to building a world class baseball training facility in a country that has been playing baseball, but not at an all-star level yet. I’m not discrediting the tech scene in Santiago. From what I’ve read, it’s arguably the most innovative hub in South America. More so I’m highlighting Startup Chile because these investments represent Chile’s desire to be an international leader in innovation, putting its money where its mouth is to eventually be on the same playing field as Silicon Valley in the future if all goes well.

This means there’s a window of opportunity for seasoned entrepreneurs looking to join a startup as a co-founder or 1st employee.

But how would you join a startup at a co-founder level?

Paul Graham stated about 25% of YC startups lose a founder, so based on his math there will be 250 startups in need of a co-founder in Santiago. Yes, they may hire out of their home country, but it’s always easier for teams to work from the same location initially.

Now, to the Tim Ferris inspired section of this article.

You can live in Santiago for less than $1000/month (yes, that’s including rent. Take that SF).

• A lunch meal costs around $4.50 AUD
• 3 course dinner meal with wine costs around $17.00 AUD
• Rent for an apartment room around $350.00 AUD
• When you need a break, there is world class skiing 55 kilometers east of the city at Valle Nevado. Four ski resorts are within 160 kilometers of Santiago (I’ve been missing snowboarding since moving to Sydney so had to put in this plug).

Conclusion

Chile is not the answer to joining or starting a successful company, but for a semi-vacation/short term move, Santiago will be a great adventure. To jumpstart your creative juices or get a bolt of inspiration, sometimes you simply need a change of scenery. So if you’re getting complacent with riding the Cal Train to Mountain View while you’re reading Hacker News, why not pick up Rosetta Stone and get cracking on some Spanish. Gracias por leer mi artículo!

Applied to Startmate and Incubate Sydney University

This month, we decided to apply to two incubator programs here in Sydney: Startmate and Incubate Sydney University of Sydney Union. A lot of progress has been made the last few months in terms of our team, which is the main reason I’m so excited.

Adam, Mitch, and I have been the core team, but we’ve picked up two key pieces it looks like. Keith Broughton, a backend wizard, and Mia Price, an essential piece for helping us create university events.
There’s something about piecing together a group of people for a common goal that I love. It’s the same feeling as drafting the perfect fantasy football team, or getting the puzzle pieces to fit to bring together the cliché windmill in the forest with colorful flowers dotting the creek.
We’re a long way from finishing the puzzle, but it’s awesome to have the right pieces in the right spots that, with time, can hopefully fit like a grove.

Ideas are important, but I’m a true believer that your team is your strongest (or weakest asset). Ideas are a dime a dozen, but execution is what separates the talkers from the ones who do.

Recess Vibe organizes hassle-free social experiences for students and young professionals. From group dinners to nightlife events, we believe nights out shouldn’t be restricted to the weekends. We believe travelling is about the people you’re with, not just the places you go, which is why we organize day trips and even full-fledged group vacations for our members. As people who enjoy a good time ourselves, our goal is to provide the best experiences ever for 18-25’s.

Recess Vibe utilizes a social booking platform for group events that give members visibility to others who have booked. There’s no planning, coordinating with friends, or extra hassles that come with getting your friends together. Just book online and you’re good to go.

International Students in Sydney: The Economic Driver it is.

It isn’t until I started working in Boston University’s Sydney study abroad program that I realized education is Australia’s biggest service export. Like most people, I never thought of education as being such a big player in a country’s economy. Education services accounts for $16.3 billion in exports for Australia.

I live in Chippendale right across from UTS, so I see the impact of internationals on the streets every day. The UTS- USYD area depends on these students for growth, which allows big residential complexes to be put up. I got word that the Central Park project is funded by Singaporean investors. Two building away from my apartment is a residence hall designed specifically for Chinese students and their living habits (individual apartments).

 

We all know how Asians have begun gentrifying this sector of Sydney, which is why it’s so fascinating to think what Broadway will look like in 15-20 years. I imagine it to have a look and feel similar to Singapore, if it doesn’t already.

Another stat I found interesting was the proportion of Chinese and Indian students who are contributing to Australia’s economy.  $4.1 billion (25.1%) is related to China, $2 billion (12.3%) to India, and $.9 billion (12.3%) to Korea.

One point to note though is that 2010-2011 was the first year education exports decreased from $18.6 billion to $16.3 billion. My guess is that this is due to the global recession. It will be interesting to see where the numbers stand for 2011-2012.

Source: http://www.aei.gov.au/research/Research-Snapshots/Documents/Export%20Income%202010-11.pdf

Documents needed for a 457 Visa (August 2012)

I’ve recently had to go through the 457 visa process for Australia, which was a bit of a pain when it came to documentation. I thought it would be useful to let people know what docs I needed to complete my application and get approved.

 

Note: This is what I had to submit. You may be asked to provide additional documents.

– Submit your 457 Visa online: http://www.immi.gov.au/e_visa/employer-sponsored.htm

– You need to find a job code that correlates with your role: http://www.immi.gov.au/asri/a-z.htm.

Things you need to submit after the online application:

  • Proof of Health Insurance in Australia (Can be an international health insurance plan). I’m from the U.S. and got my health insurance through ehealthinsurance.com
  • Official College Transcript from your University.
  • Resume or CV.
  • Certified Passport Copy.
  • Letter of Offer from your employer which includes your role and such.
  • Competitive Salary Proof – This consists of screenshots of various job posting sites and their rates for the same position. This is to prove that you are being paid a competitive salary with the market.
  • Copy of employment references.

Your company needs to submit:

1196N: This is a request to sponsor you from the company.

  • Hiring rationale – A doc that explains, from the company, their reasons for hiring you over an Australian.
  • Organizational Structure- A doc/image that shows where you stand within a the organization’s structure.
  • Letter of Offer with both the employer and employee’s signature.

Co-Founder Speed Date Review

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend Co-Founder Speed Date here in Sydney.

Overall, it was a very quality experience. Of about 15 developers, there were a couple standouts that I felt who who were compatible guys that would be fun to build something with. It definitely sparked the startup entrepreneur in me, which is my real passion I’d say as a professional. During the session, I realized something interesting. Every job I’ve taken, It’s been because I have wanted to gain knowledge or learn from others on how to co-found my own company.

Things move fast sometimes. Update on everything.

Since my last post, I have:

– Taken a full time job
– Am considering sponsorship to stay in Australia
– 1st potential technical co-founder and I broke up (*emotional tears*)

Basically, a 360 from where what my goals were a few weeks ago.

Tomorrow morning I start working at Zambrero, the 3rd fastest growing franchise in Australia. Zambrero makes awesome burritos, sort of like the Chipotle of Australia.

When I told my tech partner last week about the job, he was a bit nervous, but thought we could still execute the project. Within a few days I got a message from him stating he thought this job would occupy me too much, as well as his need to make more money and put extra hours into his job. And just like that, I’m back at square one. Bummer. He was a decent guy, but I think it was the right move for both of us.

So here I am again, with everything planned out to the T for an alpha and on the search again for a driven technical co-founder. I plan on still contributing time to the project in the evenings and weekends, and since the alpha isn’t a ton of work, a hacker could probably bust something out in a weekend.

So what caused me to take the job at Zambrero? I’ve been lucky enough to work at some awesome startups with great execution, as well as abysmal early stage companies with no chance in hell of going anywhere. Zambrero, from what I’ve seen, seems to be the former.

I read an insightful book awhile ago called Tribal Leadership. It discusses natural groups and how to build a thriving organization:

The image above shows the different tiers that organizations can be put in. 1 is the worst, 5 is best. Zambrero is a 4, and maybe even a 5, which is one of the reasons why I think this is an opportunity that cannot be passed up. It just seems like a really fun place to work. When an unpaid intern says, “I don’t know if I’m ready to leave, I want to keep living in Sydney and working here a bit longer”, you know that the company has got to be doing something right.

Startup Update: Looking for Slick Front End Developer

So it’s been a week and I’m now on the hunt for a front end developer. I’m now “dating” a technical co-founder, which chemistry wise has been going great. We both understand the vision of our startup and now just need to execute steps toward an alpha.

After discussions, we’re possibly looking for a front end developer (which we would pay) for an easy project with us, but with the hopes of possibly finding a keeper in terms of joining our team.

With my self-taught design skills, I’ve mocked up one page that we’re looking to get sliced and CSSed. My technical co-founder is focused on the back end, so we’re looking for someone will killer CSS skills who can also polish off cross browser compatibility and such.