Is it time for MitchelLake to Pivot? The Curious Case of Melbourne’s Startup Growth And The Great Table Tennis Ball Shortage of 2015. Posted at 0:00, Fri, 7 August 2015 in Industry Insights

It’s a great time to be living in Melbourne, with the continuously growing startup scene we are experiencing. Whilst this is exciting and bringing the city some deserved hype on being a great place for startups, it is posing one serious problem –it is nearly impossible to buy table tennis balls.

Whilst I could be jumping to conclusions, it is clear to me that the rise of startups and an increasing number of companies landing in Melbourne, are directly impacting the availability of table tennis balls. We recently stopped by Rebel Sport to pick up some for the office only to be met by a vast, empty rack where balls once stood. There was also a significant depletion in bats (another story altogether), which in my opinion can only be attributed to startup culture. Despite this setback there were two positive things that came out of this:

1. Upon tweeting @rebelsport I was quickly directed to their online store – a great use of Twitter by a brand and a sign that Australian retailers might finally be embracing the digital sales channel!
2. An idea for a new revenue stream for The MitchelLake Group.

Back at the office this caused an interesting discussion where one of the founders Jon Tanner suggested we pivot into supplying companies with a startup survival pack – an on demand end-to-end service of sorts. This spiralled into other ideas such as upon receipt of your startup pack, you play a round of table tennis with the person who delivered the goods, and if you beat them a discount would apply; if you lost you would incur an increase in price.

With debate now in full swing over this, talk then led to what other items we could be supplying as part of the package. Popular suggestions included a filter coffee brew kit (with optional brew bar construction service), bean bags and gaming consoles.

Jokes aside it has been really rewarding seeing a flow of recent investments, growth and hardworking people being rewarded for the continuous slog and efforts. The PR coverage tells one story but we are lucky to work at the coal face and see this for ourselves, hearing great stories and seeing innovation happen on our doorstep.

If an increased number of people in startups are taking well-earned breaks at table tennis tables across Melbourne means that our only struggle is purchasing table tennis balls, we’ll happily wear that.
And we invite and encourage you to hit us up for a game sometime!

What would be in your startup survival pack? We’d love to hear your ideas!


Matt Smith works in MitchelLake’s Melbourne office and leads the Australian team for MitchelLake Consulting, working with an awesome team of humans who source talent across emerging technology, experience and service design, product, digital marketing, growth, data science and analytics.

Matt’s domain expertise leans towards hiring senior roles in experience and design and he enjoys the balance of working with fast growth, early stage organisations and larger scale companies going through digital transformation and the unique challenges they both bring.

Originally from New Zealand, Matt spent time living in the UK before moving to Melbourne where he enjoys playing basketball, rearing indoor plants and incredible access to some of the world’s best coffee.