Featured Workplace: River City Labs

River City Labs (RCL) is one of Brisbane’s leading accelerator spaces for early-stage and startup businesses. Founded in 2012, the residence now houses 40 businesses from Queensland’s entrepreneurial scene. Here are the photos.

Image: Lifehacker

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RCL was founded by tech entrepreneur Steve Baxter who you may recall seeing on TV as one of the judges on Shark Tank Australia. Day to day operations are run by CEO Peta Ellis (pictured).

RCL provides much more than a workspace for hire. Members are given access to mentoring, regular networking events, seminars, workshops and one-on-one meetings with venture capitalists hand-picked by RCL management. The company’s goal is to get startups out the door towards bigger and better things within 12 months. If you’re still there after a year, it means they’ve failed you.

Each startup’s logo hangs on the ceiling above their desks: it’s a a nice touch that some co-working spaces conspicuously fail to provide.

In addition to the main work area, there’s also a semi-private office tucked in one corner and a few meeting rooms that can house up to five people. With space rapidly running out, RCL is looking to move into a larger premises to accommodate more startups and larger teams. It expects membership to double in size following the move.

There’s also an obligatory chill out area decked out with bean bags and consoles. Uh, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii? Time for an upgrade, fellas. Either that or go full retro with a SNES.

The geek chic is strong on this wall.

RCL’s coffee machine is a little modest compared to the ones in other shared work spaces we’ve seen. Doubtlessly this will be upgraded when the business moves into its new digs.


The left-hand side of the workplace is devoted to events and can host up to 120 people. The space is regularly hired by external clients in every conceivable industry, from fashion to 3D printing. At least three events are held per week. (Thankfully, most of these are held from 6pm so as not to disturb workflow.)

RCL’s main claim to fame is its mentorship program. When a startup is deemed ready, they are hooked up with industry experts for valuable one-on-one strategy meetings to help them expand to the next stage in their business. RCL has around 50 mentors who provide their time on a volunteer basis to help Queensland’s tech scene grow.

Blimey, could that clock be any more intimidating? Time is money, as they say. On a related note, RCL offers a range of accelerator programs which take an intensive approach to scaling up members’ business via hands-on, time-saving management.

The RCL hall of fame contains past residents who went on to greater success.

Yes, that really is a framed, vintage box copy of the original Doom video game from 1993. We also spotted Duke Nukem 3D. We’re not sure what classic FPS games have to do with Brisbane’s startup scene, but we approve.

In addition to geek ‘n’ gaming paraphernalia, the walls are adorned with wisdom-dispensing chalkboards. This one contains a list of local eateries. (Haven’t any of RLB’s tech-savvy entrepreneurs ever heard of Yelp?) There was also a board filled with motivational quotes and another that listed book recommendations. Judging by all the smudged chalk, the latter gets updated very frequently.

Outside of crunch time, developers need to find ways to unwind in the office. I wonder if anyone ever requests Free Love Freeway?

As you’d expect from a co-working space aimed at the mobile, internet, telecoms and technology sector, RCL is no slouch when it comes to online connectivity. The business is sponsored by TPG/PIPE Networks and provides ultra fast 100M broadband to all members. There’s 2.4G and 5G wireless coverage and an ethernet switch port.

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