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Chat With The Owner of Tech Collective

Today I would like to introduce Josh Sharp from Melbourne, Founder of Tech Collective - a site that aggregates prominent and up-and-coming Australian bloggers who write about the new generation of the web and related technologies.
In a recent email-based chat with him, he explained his future plans and a new venture he is working on, named, Recursive Media

§ Please tell us about yourself, your background and your interests?
I'm a web developer in Melbourne, and up until now have been primarily focused on building web applications for SMEs. I'm interested in where the mobile and cloud computing spaces are going, and how having a 'persistent' link to the web is really going to change people's behaviour. I'm also keenly interested in helping the local startup community grow and develop.

§ Please tell us about your venture/company?
TechCollective is an aggregator of prominent local bloggers in the web startup space. Its aim is to foster the local community and spread awareness of it, by promoting those with good ideas and experience.

I've also started Recursive to help businesses looking to capitalise on that emerging market, as well as develop Software-as-a-Service and social-driven solutions. I think people are really only beginning to see what a persistent, location-aware web could be like, and I'd like to be there from the start. Mobile-wise, iPhone apps are just the beginning – imagine location-contextual advertising, augmented reality, and services that take advantage of social tools like Twitter to create personalised, persistent experiences. The integration of all these different, emerging services, and how people will leverage them, really interests me. I think the hype about the upcoming 'semantic web' is misplaced, and the next 'release' of the web will see a focus on data on the cloud, and always with you via your mobile device. The 'persistent' web if you like.

I have some initial ideas for products Recursive will be offering, but initially, I'm looking to partner with businesses who want to get in on the ground floor.

§ Getting back to techCollective - who are the people behind this and how it started?
I initially wanted to run a blog very similar to your own. Spreading awareness of the local community and the great ideas coming from it was my main aim – but ultimately I decided it wasn't something I had the time to do. Plus you're doing it so well that there's no need ;)

§ How long it took before it was up and running?
It literally only took me one weekend – it's a very basic site running on my framework, with an RSS feed parser to spit out each blog's latest headlines. The research into who should be a part of it probably took as long as the actual development. A quick note, too, that I'm always interested to hear from people who think they should be a part of it – they can contact me through the site.

§ What's your thought on being an entrepreneur? How tough it is to start a venture in Australia?
I think the local startup scene is healthy, but still not as supported as it could be. As with any current trend, it takes us a little longer to get into it here. Having said that, I think others have recognised this shortcoming as well and are working to address it – I'm quite interested to see what comes out of the Silicon Beach group, for example, which aims to "create a more unified, supportive Australian Information, Communications and Technology sector."

The increasingly lower costs of starting a venture are removing the main hurdles for entrepreneurs, which is great, but we will always be disadvantaged geographically and by the relatively small size of the local market. I think to succeed, entrepreneurs really have to address those disadvantages head-on.

However, the internet renders location largely irrelevant, so a great idea can succeed just the same.

§ What's your thought on the start-up culture and innovation coming out of Australia?
One thing that I've noticed is that there are a lot of Australian startups focusing on hyperlocal services. Everyone's started one, or has "this great idea for a community-based, location-aware service". It's as if, given our previously-mentioned geographical disadvantage, we are choosing not to overcome it but to focus even more intensely on ourselves – we're intensely aware of our isolation and so are concentrating on trying to help each other feel more of that 'community'. It's very interesting, and not necessarily a bad thing. I'm keen to see how it pans out. The problem is that the Australian public is going to choose quality over patriotism, so it's entirely likely a local leader in this space will lose out against, say, Loopt.

§ How do you see the mobile battle between iPhone, google (android) & rest of the players?
Firstly, let me say I'm definitely on the side of Android here. An open mobile OS is a dream come true. When you buy, say, an HP computer, why should you be stuck with a proprietary HP OS? As mobiles have finally become 'first class' computing devices, it will be great when they are treated as such – the distinction between desktop and mobile will blur. People will look back in wonder at a time when it was incredibly difficult to put your own applications, or even your own OS, on a mobile device that you owned.

Having said that, it's sad to see the latest turn of events with Android – it looks like it may not succeed as a venture after all, or at the very least it's been dealt a major blow. The battle just got more interesting, however, with Nokia announcing it would open-source Symbian. With that, I think we as the consumers have won either way – Google has forced mobile vendors to become open to compete. It's going to make the next few years very interesting, which is one of the reasons I've started Recursive.

§How often do you catch up with others trying similar things and where do you catch up? Do you have dedicated communities in your city?
I find Twitter an invaluable tool for networking and feeling a part of the local community. It brings everyone together, equally, on a platform where people can discuss ideas and learn from each other. It also helps with real-life networking – I attended my first MTUB last month and will be making a regular thing of it!

We also have groups like The Hive (run by that clever guy @rosshill) centred more specifically around entrepreneurs. The local community is really starting to thrive.

§ Do you have any advice for people who want to start their venture?
Ask me again when I'm successful :)

Thanks, Josh for sharing your thoughts with us. All the best for the future.

For coverage on other Australian startups, innovation,
analysis, and tech trends, check this out our coverage on interviews can be found here

Disclaimer: I'm also listed on this site with others. I am not paid/sponsored for bringing this to you all.


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