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The Birth of a Startup Machine: Pollenizer Turns 56

By Joanne Jacobs

Working in a startup is like working in dog years. The accelerated learning that takes place crams seven years worth of life into the span of a single year. So that startup that you ran for three years effectively exposes you experiences that would usually take decades to accumulate.

Now imagine that you take your own learnings and experiences and find a way to use that to help others follow your path.

Eight years ago, Phil Morle and Mick Liubinskas emerged from the wreckage of media disruption that was Kazaa – the peer to peer network – to found Pollenizer, a firm that would invest advisory and technical services into startups. It has grown from there to become one of the leading incubators in Australia. Earlier this morning, Mick shared a capture of the early Pollenizer website. He often talks about the minimum viable product, and this is a great example. Sure it was 2008. But at a time when companies were spending $1 million+ on scoping and building websites, the simple focus is clear – “let’s do business”.


If we take Pollenizer’s eight years of “startup experience” and use the accelerated model, it’s easy to parlay that into 56 years of experience. But I would wager, coaching, coaxing and driving many cohorts of new startups through the Pollenizer program over the years has accelerated the accelerator itself. Perhaps Phil and Mick could add a zero to their startup years.

In an economy that needs to shift to increasingly agile and disruptive business models, a 560 year history of startup capability is an important foundation. But we need more of this. We need to “10x” the entire ecosystem’s capability. It’s not just the startup ecosystem that will benefit in this. It’s to the benefit of us all.

Happy birthday Pollenizer.

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