Startup community Fishburners has launched a virtual membership program which provides access to its network of events, mentors and communities to people who aren’t able to visit its Sydney or Brisbane hubs.

Fishburners said new parents, people with disabilities, those living in rural areas or those who cannot afford to rent space are some of the people who can benefit from this new virtual membership.

These members are able to livestream the company’s Friday night pitches, get support from other members through online channels broken down by skills, geographical areas or topics of interests and access the same extensive collection of perks.

Since the soft launch last year, 100 people trialled the pilot program. From that more than 50 per cent of the virtual members are located in suburbs outside of a CBD, 35 per cent were in regional communities such as Alice Springs, Ipswitch, Wagga Wagga and Relbia in Tasmania.

A quarter of the participants were women, an area the company said it is keen to grow after seeing a rise in female memberships from 5 per cent to 30 per cent.

The virtual membership is the same as being a regular member or “burner”.

Pandora Shelley, CEO, Fishburners

The 2017 StartupAUS Crossroads report revealed that “more than 150 regional areas have higher than average rates of innovative capacity”.

Regional founders are finding this membership a breakthrough in startup development that takes place outside of main cities.

Fishburners said it is actively seeking to partner with regional startup hubs to extend the resources and communities that have helped startups flourish in their respective areas.

Pandora Shelley, CEO at Fishburners said, “The value of Fishburners is in the community. We want to help incredible ideas come to life and with the new virtual membership program, we can invite founders to connect, inspire and grow startup communities wherever they are.

“There are huge costs involved in setting up coworking spaces which can really sting in rural areas, so this is a huge step in cultivating a truly wholesome, Australian startup ecosystem.”

Anne-Marie Walton, Fishburners virtual member and founder of KidsWantu said “I became a virtual member to have access to top-quality workshops and presentations, become part of a genuine caring (online) community and to have the ability to access a physical co-working space once a month to tie in with my Brisbane work trips.”

Fishburners has also partnered with a new pre-accelerator for female founders – Atto – to give its access to the virtual platform after the program ends.

Atto is an online-driven, pre-accelerator program designed to help female founders launch tech companies in an independent, scalable, and sustainable manner. The inaugural program is currently running and will finish in May this year.

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