Tuesday, October 27, 2015

This is an event worth coming to!

What do the whales need to do to survive?

The big, slow-moving slow-learning bureaucracies of the 20thCentury will be no match for the agile teams, networks and vast ecosystems that are emerging in 21st Century firms.

For whales to survive....
  • lifelong learning - create scalable learning vs scalable efficiency 
  • employees treated as assets and intellectual capital vs liabilities
  • create agile teams within organisations , networks and connected networks of collaboration between people 
  • create an ability for innovators to access their infrastructure and collaborate - apple with app developers creating value for the consumer -  app developers are part of the ecosystem.  They have no idea whether an app is worth a damn so they  let the producer put it in the app store.  If it succeeds, they get a rev share. If it fails, it goes away.

Efficiency vs adding value is key 

Creative Economy firms like Apple [APPL], Amazon [AMZN], Salesforce [CRM], Zara [BMAD:ITX] and Whole Foods [WFM], give more attention to competing on the basis of the value they add to customers than to simply how efficient they are.

Ikigai - the reason for being

Very relevant to a new paradigm 

Thank you David Nordfors and I 4 J 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Building our Future - Nurturing our Innovators

1n 2002 BSI identified a need to support innovators.... 13 years on, with innovation squarely on the agenda, and 13 years of blood , sweat and tears, helping entrepreneurs and innovators grow, we are looking forward, together with the Superannuation and Investment community,  being a contributor to Australia's future, supporting and nurturing innovation!

Are public companies dinosaurs? Is it better to invest your super in startups and the new economy ? Can the 2 paradigms work together to create a win win win?

Ownership and management
Managers deal with anonymous owners, represented by fund managers who buy and sell shares listed on a stock exchange with no emotion. By trying to align management with stock options aligned to financial returns - short term decisions are made, innovation stifled (you can't go wrong by hiring IBM) and profits tend to be manipulated to manage shareholders expectations (HIH in Australia, Enron, the 2008 banking crisis, what's next?)

Ownership and management of a startup however, is aligned . Founders, staff and backers exert control directly. 

The new way

Young entrepreneurs are creating new firms in shared spaces and collaboration, fuelled by  beer, pizza coffe and dreams- turning dreams into business.

Startups are in every facet of business -  
  • spectacles (Warby Parker) 
  • finance (Symphony and XERO).
  • fashion (BCNU adn Lulu Lemon) 
  • Airbnb put up nearly 17m guests over the summer 
  • Uber drives millions of people every day. 
  • WeWork, an American outfit that provides accommodation for startups, has 8,000 companies with 30,000 workers in 56 locations in 17 cities.
and the list goes on
  • Startups exploit new technology, enabling them to go global without being big themselves. They expand  fast and efficiently by outsourcing. 
  • They can incorporate online for a few hundred dollars, 
  • raise money from crowdsourcing sites such as Kickstarter, 
  • hire programmers from Upwork, 
  • rent computer-processing power from Amazon, 
  • find manufacturers on Alibaba, 
  • find designers on 99 designs,  
  • arrange payments systems at Square, 
  • build their CRms on Zoho and 
  • manage their accounting on the phone with Xero, 
and immediately set about conquering the world.

Vizio was the bestselling brand of television in America in 2010 with just 200 employees. WhatsApp was sold to  Facebook for $19 billion with fewer than 60 employees and revenues of $20m.

In Australia ......
Xero , Redbubble. Dimension data,  Rhype, Spectrum Health, 99 designs. Spreets, Canva, Referron, incubation places such as Fishburners and muru-d.

How can ordinary people invest in startups directly through platforms?
There are organisations  who invest in startups such as SeedInvest .

The Australian Government is putting  out a paper in December to encourage this type of investment. WIll let you know... watch this space!

  • Is Crowdsourcing sourcing the future? 
  • SMSF Investment?
  • The ASX and public company can be a brilliant efficient way for startups to scale and give public a chance to share ..... But they will be investing in the people not the machine.
What needs to be done for this to happen?

A change of mindset in the investment community and an ease up on regulations. 

Personally, I am looking forward to the next 10 years to 2025!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Why Oil Companies are a good bet

Below is a summary of a you tube video sent by Zurich - justifying their long term position in Oil Stocks - interesting read!

1.  Demand exceeds supply - 
75pc usage of oil on transport - and massive shift of people in BRIC countries from lower class to middle class - is seeing them increase their demand for motorbikes and cars - and hence oil (watch out environment!)

2. Producers are more efficient - oil companies are more profitable at $50 than 3 years ago when oil was $85 a barrel

2. USA now supplying as much oil as Saudi Arabia, whose markets are now threatened - they reduced prices to get USA companies out the market - but this didn't work - USA companies actually came to the party and increased production .

3. There are many factors that will potentially make oil price go back to $100 per barrel and more ! Political instability,  government intervention, scarcity to name a few 

Short term oil price - low
Long term - they think will increase 


Friday, October 09, 2015

Bootstrapped and Counting - 18 Months In The Life Of a Tech Startup

Written by

nFlate was founded in January, 2014, although the seeds were planted about 6 months earlier. About 60 days ago, we released our beta product. nFlate is a recommendation science as a service self-serve data science platform for eCommerce companies. Here's how we survived and thrived for almost two years in a funding-challenged environment.
The Paper Napkin is Dead. Unless your name is Chad Hurley or Elon Musk, no one is getting funded today on a brilliant idea. In fact, no one is getting a cash-injection without a high-quality team, product & traction. This is the reality that set late in 2013. In spite of a string of reasonable successes with previous startups, the bar for raising capital had changed dramatically from pre-2010 days. And I was faced with the prospect of trying to find a way to make it happen (ASAP, BTW) with no external funding and limited cash resources. Picked a hell of time try to launch "my" 1st startup.
If you do not have friends and family cash, or reasonable personal wealth, you need to devise a plan to keep the lights on and "low-burn". My strategy was to try to put together a "part-time" team of hungry young engineers that were looking, like I was once-upon-a-time, to be part of something they helped create.

Turn Over Rocks, Find RockStars

I have to say that I am still amazed at the breadth of young & motivated talent that hovers around the Bay Area. Our initial team came from a Google Startup Weekend, where I met 3 rock stars that I believe crossed my path like some blood-moon eclipse alignment.
In one weekend, I somehow convinced a web, cloud and data architect to follow me blindly in an attempt to disrupt the eCommerce world with a SaaS data science platform similar to what Amazon has and probably spent $50M dollars to develop.
Each had a full-time "job". Each wanted something more - something theirs. Three complementary skillsets, minimal overlap. Each willing to put in 5-15 hours per week of their time to ultimately be an owner, not a worker. Finding the right people that are willing and able to commit to a dream and take partial, obsessive ownership of it (emotionally) proved to be the most critical and important thing that happened while starting nFlate.

Easy, Peasy...

So... great team, well received concept, huge markets (eCommerce - $1.5T growing at double digits + Data Science), Bay Area-based, serial founder with an IPO and an Intel M&A - should be a slam dunk, right? As Lee Corso would say,
"Not so fast my over-confident friend."
Solid Executive Summary - no takers. Compelling deck - nothing. Well thought out business model and financials - nope. Respected advisor introductions - still no buyers. Applications to incubators and accelerators - no takers. Large network outreach - sorry, Charlie. AngelList and Gust postings - nada. Prototype- pass, for now.
This is what stands in front of entrepreneurs today - it's basically an obstacle course of rejections. And for some reason, we still knew in our hearts that we had to keep going. During the process, I sold my house to keep things floating personally for awhile and I fortunately have a spouse whose income covers about 1/2 of our expenses and is very supportive of my apparent insanity.

What's That Light at the End of the Tunnel?

After 18+ months of effort, we launched our platform on Shopify. Full analytics stack, just like GA. Big AWS scalable backend. Complex data ETL pipeline. A dozen algorithms to deliver all the same types of product recommendations that Amazon delivers. A paradigm-shifting 60 second data science install. Perfect site-matching product recommendation carousels. With 1 full-time architect, 3 part-time magicians.
A work of art (ok, maybe a Picasso painting:).
And without any promotion (by us or Shopify), somehow, for some reason, someone downloaded it. And we discovered a few bugs. And we fixed them. And then 2 more customers downloaded it and immediately uninstalled it. And we tweaked the UX/CX and fixed a few more bugs. And then 3 more customers installed the app and only one uninstalled! And then, something amazing happened - we got our first 5-star review! Seemed this whole "site-matching" thing was not such a bad idea after all. We all had a Mimosa (w/o the champagne) and went back to work.

So What's Your Point, Dude?

So...to make a long story longer, we now have about 15 customers, a few more "Awesome!" comments and we're out of beta. Still bootstrapping, but now by design. We know we have a winning hand and we're waiting for the River card to show up.
And I think that's the secret to an ultimately successful "venture". Getting to the point (after a week, a month or 18 of them) where you know you're going to make it and it's going to be on your terms and not somebody else's.
If you don't love it, don't do it. If you love it, and you're (fairly) sure it's not a train at the end of the tunnel, keep doing it. If it was easy...well, u get the point. Be patient. Be committed. Lead by example and with compassion. Laugh at the insanity occasionally.
Watch a demo of the nFlate "Picaso"

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Creating more entrepreneurs and innovators in Australia

 Australia’s new prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has announced what he calls a “21st century government”. This article is part of The Conversation’s series focusing on what such a government should look like.
Perhaps it’s because spring has arrived, but the change of government seems to have brought new life and more optimism to Australians. Many people – from university colleagues and taxi drivers to wait staff and cleaners – have remarked that they are tired of doom and gloom, and are heartened to hear from our new prime minister that “there’s never been a better time to be an Australian".
They may not understand how to be innovative, but they definitely want to be. They may not know how to get better jobs, but they want them. They may debate the merits of a commonwealth vs a republic, but they definitely want to maintain Australia’s place in the world.
There are three business imperatives for our government leaders to consider as they set out to fix and grow the economy.

1. Balance “strategic vision” with execution

Leaders, whether in business or government, are required to articulate a vision and engender confidence that it’s possible to achieve that vision. Painting a clear picture is necessary but not sufficient. With it must come strategies, goals, tactics and actions for achieving that vision within a reasonable time frame.
Once the plan is developed, the team needs to execute and achieve results. And if the outcomes are better – or worse – than expected, they need to talk about why, and about what they have learned.

2. Recognise that education is the key to our future on many fronts

There’s a growing recognition that we do not have enough students graduating in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
The problem cannot be fixed at the university or even the TAFE level. We need to change the way we educate our children and encourage them to be curious, to experiment and to ask “Why?” We need them to believe that STEM careers are exciting and rewarding.
Universities: To bring universities and business closer, why shouldn’t every student be enabled to have work experience in a company, or a shot at creating their own company? This is one approach being taken at the University of South Australia. The Innovation and Collaboration Centre co-funded by UniSA, Hewlett Packard and the South Australian government is another example.
Founders: Startups need to be taught how to scale up. Co-location facilities are places where people “test out” whether they really want to be in business, or set up business as a sole proprietor. Although it’s great to have a place to test one’s appetite for risk and the will to start a company, Australia will not be able to grow if we are a nation of sole proprietors. So we need to do a better job of teaching startup founders how to grow companies, and enable them to transition from founder to CEO and build companies that create jobs.
CEOs: Established CEOs also need to learn how to grow companies. Too many have grown to a certain size and aren’t sure what to do next, so they plateau and try to protect what they have. The good news is that CEOs can be taught how to grow. Case in point: after nine months in the UniSA Centre for Business Growth’s program, participating companies’ revenues increased 24%, profit by 29% and they created jobs.
Angels: We need to encourage and teach people to become angel investors. There’s a myth that US companies are successful because they get venture-funded. Actually, less than 1% of the companies in the US receive venture capital!
In 2013, while 548 active venture capital (VC) firms were investing not quite US$30 billion, nearly 300,000 angels were investing US$25 billion. Angels invested in 16 times as many deals as VCs (71,000 vs 4,050), including 300 times as many seed stage deals and over 20 times as many early stage investments. Educating and encouraging more people to be angels should have a very positive impact on the numbers of startups that are able to grow.
Australians who have money can choose to consume or invest. But it’s worth noting that in Silicon Valley it’s now more prestigious to have a successful seed investment than to drive a Ferrari. We need to make it “cool” to invest and mentor promising companies in Australia.
Venture capitalists: Assuming we want to create more venture funds in Australia, we need to educate more people to be venture capitalists. The Kauffman Fellows Program is an apprenticeship in venture capital. This program has created a new generation of venture capitalists, with Kauffman Fellows creating more than 100 new funds in the last six years alone. The program has been running for 24 years, but so far there is only one Kauffman Fellow from Australia. At the same time we are increasing the amount of venture capital available to Australians, we need to be sure that those who manage VC funds are effective venture capitalists.

3. Measure and communicate progress

Education is not a quick fix and unfortunately we don’t have much time. The rest of the world is running faster and we need to as well. We will need to prioritise, set goals, allocate resources, execute, measure and report progress.
Measure activity, productivity and outcomes: How many courses are being offered and how many students, CEOs or angels are enrolled in each of these? How many students transition to STEM-related university majors or jobs? Measuring outcomes or results entails looking at the numbers of STEM graduates, additional jobs created, increase in the numbers of growth companies, more university or CSIRO technologies commercialised by Australian companies, growth in angel investments and increase in numbers of companies receiving venture funding and growing. And when we have proof that we are growing, we need to be just as excited as our children are when they discover they have grown several inches since the last time we measured their height.
Communication: The media have an important role to play in amplifying the message, but everyone needs to understand that not all ventures will succeed – and that’s to be expected. The list of reasons why companies fail is very long, and the odds are high that many will fail. The fact that entrepreneurs continue to start companies is a testament to optimism. We need them to continue, and we need to celebrate and support “the man in the arena” who steps into the ring and gives it a try, and not take shots at him or her if or when they fall.
Australia is at a crossroads, a unique moment in time. We have the power to shape our future, but we must act. Balancing vision and execution, recognising the important role education plays in the knowledge economy and measuring and communicating progress are three imperatives for the new government to consider as it works on fixing the economy.
The Conversation
Jana Matthews, ANZ Chair in Business Growth, Director, Centre for Business Growth, University of South Australia
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Sydney based Canva raises $21m at a $165m val

Graphic design startup Canva (Founded in Sydney) has raised $US15 million ($21 million) in series A funding, just two months after launching its subscription product Canva for Work.


The round was led by Silicon Valley-based Felicis Ventures and values the startup at $US165 million. Felicis were joined by existing investors Blackbird Ventures, Matrix Partners and Vayner Capital. Actors Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson also participated in the round.


This latest raise, follows a $US6 million raise in May and brings the startup’s total funding to almost $US30 million.


It’s the second time this year Felicis has led an Australian startup’s series A round. The firm also led Melbourne-founded culture analytics startup Culture Amp’s $US6.3 million raise in March.


“We weren’t actually intending on raising money,” Canva CEO and co-founder Melanie Perkins says.


Since its launch in 2013 , it has more than 5 million users, 42% of which are based in the United States. Importantly 35,000 teams have signed up to use Canva for Work - a subscription based service that charges $10 per user, per month. That 35,000 figure includes anything from individual businesses owners to teams of over 100 people.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Wyatt Roy looks to unlock Superannuation Trillions for innovation

Unlocking superannuation for start-ups, a policy hackathon and digital secondments to government are some of the ideas floated by Wyatt Roy on Monday.

The Assistant Minister for Innovation was treated to a rock-star reception from the tech crowd at a summit in Melbourne, where Nitro entrepreneur Sam Chandler, director Peter Yates and venture capitalist Paul Bassat queued with dozens of others for a chat.

The minister’s buoyant spirits could not be flattened even by Monday’s news that Australian software giant Atlassian had filed the initial paperwork for a $3 billion initial public offering in the United States.

“I think this will act as a beacon to encourage the new generation of entrepreneurs, obviously we would have preferred a slightly different outcome but I don’t think we should say this is a bad thing for the ecosystem,” Mr Roy said.

“A lot of the executives in that company when they have success out of an exit will reinvest back into their own ecosystem, so a lot of that will come back into Australia,” he said.

Mr Roy floated the idea of digital secondments to government and said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had backed another idea for a Canberra policy hackathon – a digital brainstorming session.

“One of the first things … [we will do] will be holding a policy hackathon ... we will put the public servants in the room and in a hackathon style way which is a good way of disrupting the Canberra bureaucracy we are going to help establish some of the framework around this policy … the Prime Minister [Malcolm Turnbull] and [Innovation Minister] Christopher Pyne have got right behind this,” Mr Roy said.

“The other idea I want to float which is a little bit dangerous freelancing as a minister … I would actually like to see the public service really amplify a secondment style arrangement with the private sector … so bringing people into the public service to help deliver [policy] for three months, six months, three weeks, whatever.”

The founder of Nitro, which is the leading alternative to Adobe Acrobat, Sam Chandler moved his successful start-up from Melbourne to San Francisco and warned the conference that a key barrier was a lack of venture capital to scale up from a mid-sized to large company.

“The ability to scale a company fast in Silicon Valley is really like nowhere else,” Mr Chandler said.

“What is really choking Australia right now is the absence of mid-stage to late-stage venture capital support. Australia raised $120 million in new venture capital in 2014, in the US last year it was $30 billion. They are generating 250-times the amount of venture capital investment.”

Mr Roy said a key goal was to “unlock” capital from Australia’s superannuation system.

“We have a trillion dollars already sitting in capital in superannuation and without being prescriptive and without mandating anything, I think unlocking some of that capital to invest in Australian innovation is a very solid way of doing that.”

The love for Mr Roy even extended from Green’s state MP for Melbourne Ellen Sandell and Labor MP Clare O’Neil who were “very excited” about Mr Roy’s appointment.

Nab has $50m startup fund

Earlier this year, NAB announced it is establishing NAB Ventures, a $50 million fund to further accelerate the bank’s focus on customer-led innovation.

“We want our NAB team to be among the best global thinkers in the innovation space and give our customers access to the best ideas,” says Executive General Manager NAB Labs, Jon Davey 

National Australia Bank (NAB) has now become a major supporter of Fishburners - Australia’s largest startup space, home to 176 startups - an important step for NAB to learn and partner with organisations to help to deliver innovative solutions for customers. Says Davey 

“We see the digital environment changing significantly, and much of this change is being driven by smaller companies and startups,” Mr Davey said.

“It’s important for NAB to partner with companies that we can learn from, to help us meet evolving business and technology trends.

“Ultimately, this will help us to deliver better services to our customers"

“NAB aims to deliver the best possible experience for their customers, and is taking a refreshing and laudable approach by supporting startups who are developing these better experiences.

“They’ll be welcomed into our team of category leading partners including Google, News Corp, Optus, PwC, Dropbox, Amazon, Xero, Cisco and BigAir.” Says Fishburners Murray Hurps