Matt Barrie

SydStart 2014 Live

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We are on the edge of a monumental opportunity for out nation and ourselves

State of the StartClover Moore

Clover Moore



Alex Greenwich Independent Member

Great to see local government looking to support business of the future rather than propping up industries of the past.

Wow a politician that gets it!!

Alex Greenwich

Alex Greenwich

Immigration reform

Attract Talent

Visas for Startup Entrepreneurs


Matt Barrie

Everything going to software

Matt Barrie

Matt Barrie


Need a scalable business, one that customers gorw fater than costs.

Incremental cost of introducing a customer is approaching zero for software

Not scalable – Human Services


Max number of students or customers, limited to the number of people you have on payroll.


A scalable business on the other hand might be software that powers a services business.


Looking for markets the size of Texas

If you had choice of Team, Market and Product you have to choose Market and Team first, product

No Problem

No Product

No Market


Secrets that no one knows about, what do you believe that no one else does?

Big uncomfortable secrets

How do you create products that change a million peoples lives.

Back of the Napkin Sanity Check


How do I sell $1m in revenue?

How do I make $1m in profit?

How do I avoid a one hit wonder?

What is the Sustainable Advantage?


Announced Freelancer had purchase Warrior Forum

Warrior Forum

Warrior Forum


Ric Richardson

Demonstrated a new invention that was a shutter over the top of the Google Glass camera window.


Ric Richardson


Melanie Perkins – Canva – Startup Myths


  • Myth 1 The best place to start is with a cool idea –
  • Big Problem is more important
  • Solve a problem that people care about
  • Myth 2 Successful companies are born overnight – Took 7 tears to get Canva started, 3 years in parents living room
  • Myth 3 The Goal is to raise investment ASAP – Lie, raising money is a time bomb, very dangerous position unless you have massive growth sooner or later your company will explode –
  • Dont raise investment prematurely
  • Myth 4 Getting Investment is quick and easy – Not true it takes a long time and many attempts – Lessons – Build relationships with investors early



Melanie Perkins-Canva

  • Myth 5 – Startup can be built in a weekend, if not successful just pivot – Startups take long time to get established

Mike Cannon-Brookes

Just ordered a Tesla –

Mike Cannon-Brookes-SydStart

Mike Cannon-Brookes @SydStart

Doing 300,000 builds a week, 10,000,000 users a week.

50% of new customers on SAAS systems, the rest are behind the firewall, 3x trials come from downloads behind the corporate firewall.

<30% of Revenue is SAAS, the rest is behind the firewall, IT Admins want control, they don’t want to lose control.

Got Accel Partners (VCs) on board for $50m, when you get bigger you end up with much bigger problems to solve that the original team cant deal with. In order to grow you need to start employing much better professional management and teams.

Money keeps you alive, but the contacts and the right investor and their network is what helps you grow and move through the problems you experience when you grow massively.

The feeling of meeting a major celebrity and realising they are just like you and that they were just as excited to see you.

Everyone is just making it up, everyone is feeling like they all are making it up and wonder why they made it (classic imposter syndrome) You live in fear that someone will show up one day and say you have been faking it for 10 years you are under arrest.

You will become legacy at some point, someone will try to replace you.

Some days it feels like you are checking every single box to make sure you have screwed up in every possible way.

If you can’t smell the fire burning you havent been looking hard enough, because in a growth company its happening somewhere.

Are we producing enough engineers in Australia? Mike: Not enough, its not even a real question, we have to be producing more engineers

We have no option to but to massively increase our engineering capability.

Hard for the Government to help, they can’t force people to do CompSci, however we could change school curriculum, Computer Science & engineering needs to be part of school from a young age.

When asked about regional startup programs, Mike mentioned that he thought most of the regional programs was bunkum, there isn’t sufficient critical mass, not even sure we have critical mass in Sydney but its getting there, so its just not possible to get the density in the regional people.

Tech industry needs a lot of radical atoms based in one area that are bouncing off each other and networking, this doesn’t work in a regional or remote setting.



Niki Scevak from Startmate+ Blackbird + Lauren from Lightfox

Needed a really good startup accelerator that could get people to the US, Blackbird came after getting runs on the board with Startmate.

Funding Situation: Now possible to raise $500k here, and very possible to get $5-10m but not much in between. Not enough depth in the market to do this.

Niki + Mike went to UNSW together and dropped out to start their first business together.

Good VCs often come from journalism backgrounds because they constantly have to assess new businesses.

Niki: Atlassian was the 100th bug tracker, Campaign Monitor was the 100th email, nothing new with any of them they just changed the existing model.

Niki: Looking for first time founders who look like a joke, looking for unique insights that no one else believes.

Lauren McCloud Flightfox- been through Startmate and YCombinator access to 30 or 40 different advisors.

Niki: Thinks location will become irrelevant, Silicon Valley is not the default choice anymore until after you have started to get traction.

Flightfox is a marketplace of genuine flight experts. These experts have an extraordinarily deep understanding of flight routing, loyalty programs and airfare pricing.

You can use Flightfox by launching a trip request for any of our experts. Your chosen expert will review your trip details, ask any necessary questions, and work as hard as they can to find you the absolute best flights.

Our most loyal customers use Flightfox because they want to travel father, wider, better and cheaper. They also save a planeload of money by leaving it to the professionals.

Mike: The Valley doesn’t do everything right, almost no successful e-commerce companies have come from Silicon Valley, thinks that we have per capita Centurions ($100m) or Unicorns ($1 billion) equal or better than the US.

Matt: Hears about companies everyday from AU that he has never heard of with $10-50 million revenue.

Niki: Thinks Envato is a $ Billion company that no one knows about, but along with a lot of other companies unless they do a financing round you dont have an external valuation or validation. Pepperstone FX $70b in Forex transactions a year.

Niki: is a new conference organised by Niki that has 9 founders of big growth companies talking about very early years.

Pete: What do you guys read or follow everyday?

Mike: Stratechery is a one man band

Niki: QUIB



Adir Shiffman Catapult

Every team and player in the AFL and ARL, half the NFL, Hockey League.

Whats the most interesting use case, the Judiciary in the AFL using it work out if an athlete has committed a foul from the deceleration data.

Around 500 customers worldwide. Next competitor 10% of that. Marketshare of 80-90% but still a very small market.

However still staying in Headquartered in Australia, engineers are better to work with her and less .

Mark Cuban invested alongside others total $6m. Great PR,

VC market is not developed enough, Super Angels are more common.

However there is a lot of Institutional Money that most people don’t know about, family funds and very quite funds which

None of their raise came from US or AU VCs, it was all private money.

If you want your pants down around your ankles go pubic, if you want to keep the business a little private then stay private.

Hates being number 1 in market, always have number 2 over your shoulder but you cant look behind you need to keep running and new innovation, however its the most rewarding position.

If you are starting a sports startup then you should do it, even though its probably going to fail, you should do it anyway if you are very passionate. You cant keep Australia as your market, needs to be global.

How did they get their first customer, lied and begged :).

3-5 Year Vision – 3-5% Global penetration. Market should be 100x in 5 years, its only execution risk, we want to stay the largest player in the sports market.

Dean McEvoy

You are not as good or bad as your idea, if some one says you are great, you shouldn’t take it to seriously, if someone thinks you are shit, same thing.

Matt Symon

If you have a great idea and are working on it, eventually investors will find you, when you need it you are going to struggle, nothing more desperate than an entrepreneurs hunting for cash.

Found that telling a personal story about his experience getting a loan when he came back to Australia and what a terrible customer experience it was the investors really understood the problem being solved.


Muru-D – Annie Parker & Charlotte Yarkoni & Mick Liubinskas

Mick Liubinskas

Mick Liubinskas

Charlotte – Telstra wasn’t sure what the journey was, brought over from the West Coast USA to look at new startup models.

More good Australian startups wandering the streets of the Valley than Sydney and Telstra felt that they needed to do something to drive the creation of new startups and to help Australia become a great place for entrepreneurs.

Annie ran seven different accelerator programs in Europe.



Annie – We give Startup capital to pay for noodles, a great workspace, 6 months of incubation to help you get from startup to first funding.

All 9 of the first round made it through, and all of them have a path to funding or already have funding, customers or some way to fund themselves.

Mike: Day one Global Businesses, with a focus on sales revenue from day one.

James Windon –

Worked at Facebook Causes with Sean Parker of Napster

20,000 non profits

2 billion tranasctions

James Windon -Bridgade

James Windon -Bridgade

A year ago teamed with Sean Parker to form a not for profit to address connecting citizens to the the mechanics of politics.


Needed to work how to get people to get involved in good causes, rather than make them feel like they had to do something, they managed to get them to work out how to make them want to get involved in supporting good causes.

Everyone knows they need to eat their Broccoli but everyone really just wants to feel good eating Bacon.

1. Make it something people want to do, not what the should do

2. Focus on end uses and networks to create leverage

3. Focus on creating a social effect – mutual reciprocity obligation feedback


Hugh O’Brien- Undaunted – A Life in Training

Fear struggle,

The only easy day was yesterday.

There is something innate in the attempt to do something difficult, without the prospect of award.

The Value Lies in the Attempt

Max Kraynov – JetRadar

Just raised $10m

Advice to help you secure an A Round financing.

Started with a $400 W0rdpress Blog

Startup Bus

Elias Bizannes. 46 buses Globally. Reason he runs the bus is that he sees engineers like Brando who started Instacart who has turned from a nervous engineer to running a $500 million business.

This weeks startups –

404 pages as a service to create a good experience from a 404 error page. Allows to you create a custom 404 page to to engage, monetise and capture customers that otherwise would have closed the browser on your site.

8 Customers since launching a few days ago, aiming at 100 by the end of the week.


Diner Companion

App to to geolocate and book a dining companion. Trying to eradicate loneliness.

Mick: Tinder for Business or Diner companion, how is the problem, depression, whats it worth.



Personalised Shopping and ordering service


People of the Sun

Bringing Investors together to invest in Solar Power on other peoples roofs. Allows Already has 3200 SQM of roof space committed. 30,000 Watts Solar Array ready to go, 100 investors ready to commit and have raised $20k in 4 days. Great

Custom 3D Printed Glasses

Ed: Love it



SydStart 2014 Agenda Announced – Awesome Lineup

Time is running out. Go into the draw to win two tickets to Sydstart or purchase here with 25% discount use the code S88MATES

Opening with Coffee/Tea on Arrival 8-9

  • 0800 Expo Open on Levels 3 and 4
  • 0800 Meetups Open on Levels 2 and 4 (rooms) and Level 3 (casual)
  • 0900 Conference Open

Conference Plenary Commencement

Morning Tea Break in Expo Levels 3 and 4 [11-11:30]

  • L3 MA 1130 James Windon Brigade CEO & Co-founder – US. Recent raise. Previously
  • L3 MA 1155 Matt Symonds Society One CEO & Founder – Raised $8.5m. Peer to Peer Lending.LinkedIn
  • L2BR6 1200 Masterclass: Alex North Building Your Engineering Team
  • L3 MA 1210 Max Kraynov JetRadar CEO – Raised $10m. International Travel. Linkedin
  • L3 MA 1220 ArleneWherrettBlueWolf CEO – Top Talent Management for Startups
    • 1100 Ric Richardson (aka the $400m man) on planning and protecting your startup (patents, intellectual property & other techniques) – from Uniloc – confirmed
    • 1100 Kevin Lippy from Fishburners on growing very large Facebook communities fast – from Mumbership – confirmed
    • 1100 Rob Wood from Fishburners on growing a huge special interest community online with ~ 500K followers – from LightStalking – confirmed
    • 1100 Mike Zammit – Shelston IP – on strategic intellectual property management – from a leading firm TBA – confirmed
  • 1140 Speaker/Panel – Funding Insight
    • Stuart Fox – Artesian Capital/Venture Crowd – Director/Founder – Australia’s first equity crowd funding platform – confirmed
    • Anna Maguire – Crowd Fund It – Author – has researched over 300 crowd funding and related platforms for her book – confirmed
    • Bill Bartee – SXVP / Blackbird Ventures – To be confirmed
  • 1200 Sebastian Eckersley-Maslin – Blue Chilli Group – CEO & Founder – Just raised $9.5m for startup incubator accelerator – confirmed
  • 1230 Bosco Tan & Alvin Singh – Pocketbook – Co-founders – Just raised 500K after SydStart launch and growing rapidly – confirmed
  • 1235 Benjamin Chong – Founder Institute – Director (Sydney) – One of the largest mentoring and accelerator organisations globally has produced over 1,000 companies. An update and call for their May 12th intake class. Ben is also Director and co-founder of his own VC firm Right Click Capital.
  • 1245 Murray Hurps General Manager Leading Co-working space- One of Sydney’s largest startup co-working spaces is getting a makeover
  • 1255 Lunch [12:55 – 2:00]
  • 1400 Charlotte Yarkoni, Annie Parker, Mick Liubinskas Co-Founders Muru-D Accelerator – Major Telstra sponsored incubator program
  • 1415 Speaker/Panel
  • 1425 Speaker/Panel
  • 1430 TBA
  • 1445 Sebastian Eckersley-Maslin CEO of BlueChilli on innovation
  • 1500 Afternoon Tea in Expo – Confirmed – Catering by SEC
    • 1520 Surprise Speaker and 6 lightning pitches
    • 1500 Speaker

Wave Two – Pitching Competition – People Who Are Trying To Do Stuff – Intro

  • 1535 Startup Trophy – Shortlisted from 220 applicants to 80 semi-finalists and 30 finalists. Would the Judges please assemble. Battle for prizes decided by judging criteria
    • 1540 Pitch 1 – BLRT
    • 1550 Pitch 2 – GoFar
    • 1600 Pitch 3 – YouChews
    • 1610 Pitch 4 – Thinkable
    • 1620 Pitch 5 – CoalFacer
    • 1630 Pitch 6 – UrbanOutsource
    • 1640 Pitch 7 – StockSpot
    • 1650 Pitch 8 – Rbutr
    • 1700 Pitch 9 – NextForSale
    • 1710 Pitch 10 – Touch Payment

Judging and AwardsStartup Trophy – Would all judges and major sponsors and finalists please be available.

  • MA 1720 Thank you to our sponsors and supporters
  • MA 1730 Oversight of the judging process with thanks to our supporters PwC
  • MA 1730 Subject to available time we may also see a pitch from some others that just missed the short list. TBA
  • MA 1730 Thank you to sponsors, volunteers, supporters, speakers, community and exhibitors

After Party – Nearby venue/s are being arranged

Overall Event Statistics

  • 1,000+ delegates from 8am to 6pm at Sydney Hilton opposite QVB Level 3 registration
  • 120+ exhibitors, most with table, stool, free standing sign, laptop phone and support staff x1 or 2
  • 50+ speakers/panellists
  • 20+ volunteers
  • 4 break out rooms (2 on L2 and 2 on L4)
  • 2 expo areas (L3, L4) totalling 120 exhibitors
  • 2 stages (L3 main, L4 expo)
  • 6 streams (4 breakouts with masterclasses, 2 stages)
  • One speaker prep room (L3 corner)
  • Catering on L3 and L4 plus espresso coffee all levels (cafe on L3, machines on L2 and L4)
  • 35 Journalists
  • 30 Pitches (top 10 on main stage in afternoon, next 20 on expo stage spread throughout the day)

Updated – Sydstart 2014 Agenda released – tickets now on sale

Arguably Australia’s best and largest startup event Sydstart 2014 is set for May 2nd 2014 at Sydney Entertainment Center.

Combining successful international and local entrepreneurs and investors with pitch sessions from new startups Sydstart is the best place in Australia to launch your new startup or find your next startup investment.

Sydstart Discussion Panels

Sydstart Discussion Panels

Agenda and speakers are still  being finalised, you can find updates here

  • 0800 Expo Open
  • 0900 Conference Open –  Plenary in Auditorium –  Community Welcome and structure of the day – Opening by VIPs
  • Wave One Speakers – People Who Have Done Stuff – Personal Journeys. Inspiration. First hand insight.
  • 0905 Pete Cooper – SydStart Founder – State of the Startup Keynote – Confirmed
  • 0925 Pitch Rush – Confirmed
  • 0930 Official Opening by the Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore – City of Sydney – Confirmed
  • 0940 Keynote/Panel
  • 1000 Keynote/Panel – Matt Barrie – – CEO & Founder – Recent  IPO ASX:FLN – TBC
  • 1020 International Keynote/Panel
  • 1040 International Keynote/Panel
  • 1100 Morning Break in Expo
  • 1100 Breakout for Masterclass  – Ric Richardson on planning and protecting your startup (patents, intellectual property & other techniques) – from Uniloc – confirmed
  • 1100 Breakout for Masterclass – Kevin Lippy from Fishburners on growing very large Facebook communities fast – from Mumbership – confirmed
  • 1100 Breakout for Masterclass – Rob Wood from Fishburners on growing a huge special interest community online – from LightStalking – confirmed
  • 1100 Breakout for Masterclass – Shelston IP –  Mike Zammit on strategic intellectual property management – from a leading firm TBA – confirmed
  • 1120 Speaker/Panel
  • 1140 Speaker/Panel – Investments

    • Stuart Fox – Artesian Capital/Venture Crowd – Director/Founder – Australia’s first equity crowd funding platform – confirmed
    • Anna Maguire – Crowd Fund It – Author – has researched over 300 crowd funding and related platforms for her book – confirmed
    • Niki Scevak – StartMate/BlackBird Ventures – Co-Founder – Arguably Australia’s premier accelerator and most innovative and well connected venture capital groups – confirmed
    • Bill Bartee – SXVP / Blackbird Ventures – To be confirmed
    • Susan Wu – Panel Moderator – Stripe Payments ($1.75 billion valuation) / Charles River Ventures (Boston Venture Capital) / Apache Software Foundation / Obvious (aka Medium) – to be confirmed
  • 1155 Speaker/Panel
  • 1200 Breakout for Masterclass
  • 1200 Sebastian Eckersley-Maslin – Blue Chilli Group – CEO & Founder – Just raised $9.5m for startup incubator accelerator – confirmed
  • 1220 Matt Symons  – Society One – CEO & Founder – Just raised $8.5m for p2p lending platform – tbc
  • 1230 Bosco Tan & Alvin Singh – Pocketbook – Co-founders – Just raised 500K after SydStart launch and growing rapidly – confirmed
  • 1235 Benjamin Chong – Founder Institute – Director (Sydney) – One of the largest mentoring and accelerator organisations globally has produced over 1,000 companies. An update and call for their May 12th intake class. Ben is also Director and co-founder of his own VC firm Right Click Capital.
  • 1245 Daniel Noble – Fishburners – General Manager – One of Sydney’s largest startup co-working spaces is getting a makeover, Fishburners 2.0 update from Dan who is a serial entrepreneur is his own right
  • 1255 Lunch
  • 1400 Speaker/Panel
  • 1415 Speaker/Panel
  • 1425 Speaker/Panel
  • 1430 Mike Cannon-Brookes co-founder and CEO of Atlassian on disrupting enterprise and building a multi-billion dollar multi-national startup (MNS)
  • 1445 Sebastian Eckersley-Maslin CEO of BlueChilli on innovation
  • 1500 Afternoon Tea in Expo – Confirmed – Catering by SEC
  • 1520 Speaker
  • 1500 Speaker
  • 1530 – Wave Two – Pitching Competition – People Who Are Trying To Do Stuff – Intro
  • 1535 Startup Trophy Competition – Shortlisted from 180 applicants – Judges assemble – Battle for Prizes decided by Judging Panel
    • 1540 Pitch 1
    • 1550 Pitch 2
    • 1600 Pitch 3
    • 1610 Pitch 4
    • 1620 Pitch 5
    • 1630 Pitch 6
    • 1640 Pitch 7
    • 1650 Pitch 8
    • 1700 Pitch 9
    • 1710 Pitch 10
  • Oversight of the judging process is with thanks to our supporters PwC
  • 1730 – Subject to available time we may also see a pitch from some others that just missed the short list. TBA
  • 1730 Judging and Awards – Startup Trophy
  • 1730 Thank you to sponsors, volunteers, supporters, speakers, community and exhibitors
  • 1730 Drinks
  • 1900 After Parties – Nearby venues

Early Bird Tickets are on Sale now at Eventbrite

Past SydStart Pitchfest Companies

Past SydStart Pitchfest Companies



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Freelancer’s ASX Debut – Share Price soars 5x on a listing PE of 463 – under or overpriced?

Freelancer made its debut on the ASX last week. Initially listing at $0.50 the company’s share price skyrocketed to $2.60 and finally closed at $1.60.

Matt Barrie Freelancer

Matt Barrie – Credit:

Matt Barrie, the company’s CEO and founder, had announced Freelancer’s intention to list at the Startup Spring Entrepreneurship event.

His decision to not sell the company to the Japanese recruiting firm Recruit Co. at $430 Million earlier this year may have paid off when the companies market cap rose to $697 Million on its first day of trading 5x the $218 Million that it expected to achieve with $0.50 IPO price.

The stock market analysts credit the enormous response to the company’s shares to their limited availability and a company that has significant traction in a global market that is growing rapidly.

The majority of the company’s shares are owned by Matt, who has a 46% stake in the company. Other directors including Chief Technology Officer Darren Williams and Non Executive Director Simon Clausen also own major stakes.


Darren Williams Freelancer

Darren Williams

Freelancer has emerged as one of the top outsourcing platforms, outsourcing various data entry, writing and/or coding jobs around the world. Increasing in number by seconds, the website is used by more than 9 Million users. The company has serviced around 5.1 Million projects worth a total of $1.2 Billion.

We use Freelancer for various jobs and in our opinion it is a very slick operation.

The company earns most of its revenue by taking a cut out of the freelancers’ fee paid by their hirers. Barrie founded the company in 2009 after buying it from a Swedish Entrepreneur. Freelancer has received numerous acquisition offers since then.

It seems that the decision to not sell might have been a good one, as the company received a valuation of $730 Million from the Australian stock market. Barrie announced that the funds received by the company’s ASX stint will be used to fuel growth.


Simon Clausen Freelancer

Simon Clausen
Credit –

Freelancer is forecasting $18 Million in revenues and a profit of $470,000 after listing costs this year.

Congratulations to the team, quite an amazing feat for a business that didn’t exist four years ago.

However there are a few things to think about, the offer only raised $15 million so only a small % of the company is in public hands so volatility is likely to be high, but given the recent rejection of a $430 million offer for outright purchase it seems like the market might have been able to handle a higher valuation and its probably fair to say whoever advised Freelancer probably got the numbers wrong and left some money on the table.

Given we are not in a boom a 5x rise in the value of the company on listing appears to be a pretty significant under pricing of the offer.


Freelancer Users online (this morning) and live projects

Freelancer Users online (this morning) and live projects

Having said that at a listing price of $.50 a share the PE was an amazing 463 times.

Clearly this listing was not for the founders and investors to cashout, they obviously have big plans for the company going forward, the offer document lists the acquisition of a domain name for $1.2m as part of those plans.

You have to admire Matt Barrie’s vision and conviction in rejecting an offer that would have put $430 millions cash into the shareholders pockets (assuming there was no earnout in the Japanese offer), this listing will give them the ability to buy competitors easily and quickly and help them grow.

What do you think, was the offer over or under priced? Given the evidence I still can’t work it out.


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My experiences launching – Alex Stamp – Student Entrepreneur


This is the first article in a series of articles from entrepreneurs that have been through Incubate, the University of Sydney Incubator program. Alex Stamp launched along with Mike Titchen and Luke Fries in 2012 as the first group of businesses in the Incubate program. Cloudherd is trying to solve the problems that farmers face when trying to sell their cattle, it’s a very inefficient market that seems to be stuck in the 1900s and Cloudherd is trying to drag it into 2013 with an online Auction system and cattle inventory application.

Cloudherd Team left to right - Luke Fries, Mike Titchen, Alex Stamp

Cloudherd Team left to right – Luke Fries, Mike Titchen, Alex Stamp


Hi, my name is Alex and I’m an entrepreneur. Sounds like something from Alcoholics Anonymous doesn’t it? Well let’s face it, entrepreneurship and start-up culture can be downright crazy sometimes, especially if you’ve just starting out in your professional or working life. There’s a lot to learn and not everyone is so fortunate to have the learning experiences that can transform people’s way of thinking about business and technology. That’s why I’m writing this short series of articles, to help the young entrepreneurs and even aspiring entrepreneurs save a lot of time, grief and heartache. I’ve been very fortunate myself to learn from some top quality mentors, especially through Incubate, (the student business incubator launched by the University of Sydney Student Union), whilst I’ve been working on my start-up CloudHerd but there were still many things that I wish I had learnt beforehand.



This post is mainly about the first stage an entrepreneur goes through, the ideas stage. The next posts will cover the execution of the idea and finally not what to do. I hope you find it informative.


The old tired cliché is that ideas don’t matter. This is a meme propagated by various guilty parties, most notably investors looking for the most sweat equity out of you as possible, programmers who want to be free to reuse code in lots of different projects and rapacious industry giants looking to steal your idea and throw resources at it. The idea matters, the execution matters more, but the idea still matters. If you build a house on sand or if you don’t let a tree establish a solid root system then you will have an extremely poor root structure indeed. Lots of countries essentially monetise ideas through the patent system, so how can an idea not matter?

I spent a lot of time in Matt Barrie’s Technology Venture Creation class at University of Sydney thinking through a whole

Matt Barrie - Freelancer

Matt Barrie – Freelancer

range of ideas. Knowing what I know now, some of them were idiotic, some of them were too hard and some would never make money. So you probably have a great idea about now and you’re reading this article to figure out how to go forward with it. Just don’t. Stop and do some due diligence first, stop and prepare some documents and stop and canvas your idea with some relevant people.

Matt thought 2/3 of my initial ideas were terrible and I was one of the lucky ones, we all got hammered about stupid ideas in his class. You probably won’t be as lucky to have access to someone who can hammer you so hard as to refine your idea into pure, naked steel but you need to work out whether or not your idea has potential. I would recommend the following structured brainstorming process, in addition to the various lean business canvas propaganda that keeps floating around:

  • Does your idea solve a real problem? The corollary to this is that sometimes you have to lead the market a bit. Ideally you should have some first or at least second-hand experience in this area, otherwise you will have difficulty designing product features. Investors might also laugh you out of the room, despite the value of an outsider’s view.
  • Will your idea make enough money to cover its costs and support your team? This whole start-up business is too hard outside cushy fiefdoms like Silicon Valley, where the revolving door of big tech companies and venture capitalists makes entrepreneurship less risky, to slave away for nothing. The investor wants a return, make sure you get one.
  • Will the physical/software implementation of your product be within your capabilities within a time period that will not drive you over the edge? So it’s cool that you have an idea about a sonic based sensor network for rural applications…..but do you have any idea how to make this? Do you know if it is even going to work? What about software for it? This is something that we should have spent a lot more time on; if you can’t get information on this make sure you ask an expert.
  • Will you actually be able to make any money out of the first version of your product? When we finished our first release of the Cloudherd inventory system no one would use it, even for free. It just didn’t have enough features for our test users and as such we were really flogging a dead horse (Ed: or cow…) with our marketing and other business development activities. Make sure you can make money with version one of the product unless you have a big trust fund or some other form of support, see point below for more on this.
Cloudherd App

Cloudherd App

  • Will my financial resources stretch far enough to let me work on the project for as twice as long as I think it’ll take? No one cares about your product, you got fired from your part time job, you have no money in the bank and you have to pay the rent. What do you do? The project will take a lot longer than you’d think if you are a first time entrepreneur or relatively inexperienced developer and as such you need to have some fallback for life’s necessities.

Of course I could continue the list forever and waffle on about this subject for hours but I’m going to try and focus and bring the story back on track. Focus is something you, the baby entrepreneur, should be fanatical about.


You can have side interests, side projects, or spend time on a few dead ends but in the end you can’t spend too much time on side projects if you want your main project to succeed. You do need to preserve your mental health and retain some identity outside of your start-up so a few other interests are good. If you don’t, you’ll be depressed once demo day happens and no one wants to invest. This does happen, especially in Australia.

Indeed focus begins at the idea stage, don’t try to include every possible feature in an attempt to differentiate your product or you’ll fail at about month six or seven.

Focus on your team’s technical skills, if you have a team, and focus on what you can actually implement. Moonshots are not recommended for your first start-up, even though you should always have ambition. I’ll talk more about doing and the actual implementation in next weeks article, which has an expected arrival time of 7.5 days,(the 0.5 is wiggle room, you always need some wiggle room as a start-up).

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Matt Barrie “Think Big” @ Incubate Sydney University

As part of the first Technology Entrepreneurship Lecture Series, University of Sydney’s Incubate program is hosting Matt Barrie, Chief Executive of, who will be presenting the talk “Think Big!” – A Panorama of the technology industry & inspiring talk for budding entrepreneurs on 2 August, 2013.

Matt Barrie - Freelancer

Matt Barrie – Freelancer presenting at Incubate

Link here

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