Startup Motivation and the Triple-Helix of Entrepreneurial Success

Yesterday was ground zero for the eight teams selected to participate in the Summer 2012 intake of Incubate, the student incubator at The University of Sydney.

I will be Entrepreneur Coach to the teams for the duration of the program. I got to spend some time with them at lunch time and I shared with them my thoughts on the what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and building a meaningful startup. My talk was predicated on my Triple-Helix of Entrepreneurial Success thesis.

I used the analogy of a space shuttle (a rocket doesn’t quite work because it breaks up into various parts and only the top module re-enters the atmosphere). The key motivators, the WHY, is represented by the engine of the shuttle and these are what drive the individuals and the team to take on the challenge of building a new business. When things go pear-shaped, when they are having those inevitable moments of doubt, that is when they should draw on their motivations, which will help them build resilience.

The shuttle’s fuel consist of the core ingredients needed for any startup to be a success – capability, team, market, need and finances. These are what keep the shuttle powering ahead and it is important to achieve the right mix of ingredients to ensure the engine works efficiently and effectively.

The real differentiator is the triple-helix – the operating system of the space shuttle. This is what can put a startup on the path to success. Having all three parts of the helix at work: FOCUS, ACCOUNTABILITY & BALANCE, will ensure the shuttle has an optimized journey and successfully achieves its mission.

Later on in the day I spent a few hours one on one with the teams and was excited to see them working through a range of the inevitable startup decision points already.

Congrats to the teams and I wish them all the best for the summer.

The teams are:

WeSit: A high-tech version of the Babysitters Club that connects a trusted networks of parents with babysitters.

TheBestDay: The Best Day is a social planning tool for the web and phone that makes it easy for a group to agree on a time and place for an activity.

VIC: We have designed a robotic kit that is controlled through common interfaces that we believe will revolutionise the toy market in Australia

Muro: Muro is a context-based photography platform that allows people at the same event to connect with each other through image sharing.

SnapDisco: We’ve built a visual search engine for shoes — shoppers find local stores selling their perfect shoe, businesses pay for analytics.

Don’t Panic Watch co: A watch that watches you. An automatic panic button built into a watch to detect medical emergencies such as falls and heart attacks.

Feedback: Our startup is a smartphone application that allows users to raise money for charity by completing market research surveys on the go

CloudHerd: CloudHerd will be a business that offers value for livestock sellers and producers by providing advanced inventorying systems and auctions that interface with current legal requirements, such as the NLIS in Australia. It will provide the in depth features necessary to move a lot of the inspections and other typical livestock transaction business tasks online.

Crane Fire in Sydney

I was sitting at my desk on Tuesday morning and as I like to do when on a call, looking out my office window. It was something of a dark sky and I noticed a spark of light on one of the cranes in the city. This caught my attention and the spark quickly turned into a growing flame.

At first I thought it looked odd, but as the flame engulfed the platform myself and a number of colleagues looked on in horror. We held our breath that no-one would get hurt. Looking across at the other building sites nearby I was amazed to see that work had all but stopped and on every floor of the buildings were construction workers in their bright orange and yellow vests dotted across the skyline. We were all fascinated by the fire.

The highlight was when the jib collapsed. It seemed to melt like a straw in a flame and smashed down onto one of the nearby buildings. Thankfully it didn’t land on the very busy roads below and no-one was hurt.

I managed to shoot this footage:

 


 

Further coverage of this incident can be found here:

CFMEU

ABC

Herald Sun

Sydney Morning Herald

 

Students Embrace Entrepreneurship at The University of Sydney



This article on The University of Sydney website covers a number of activities I am involved in including Incubate and the Commonwealth Bank’s Unleashing Innovation Program.

My favorite quote:

We want to make sure aspiring entrepreneurs at the University have every possible advantage moving forward into their future careers.

Smart Enterprise: The Next Wave

The Australian tech and startup blog, From Little Things, has an interesting post on Why enterprise startups are the place to be.

It includes some quotes from me on why I see this to be an interesting area:

The next big technology wave looks like it will be an extension of the enterprise software market. Leeb-Du Toit thinks Australia is well placed to be at the forefront of smart enterprise: the development of incredibly fast systems which can process large swathes of data, to drive decisions in real time.

“It will be driven beyond cloud through new computer architectures that can achieve greater man-machine symbiosis with computers doing far more heavy lifting, so that knowledge workers can transform data into action in real time,” he says.

Mapping The Startup Scene

We heard the stats from Google this week as they launched Google for Entrepreneurs – right now there are around 400 million entrepreneurs operating across 54 countries!

400 million entrepreneurs!

It is fantastic to hear that so many people out there are doing things their way, trying to solve problems they’ve encountered.

And programs like Google for Entrepreneurs are excellent tools for upskilling entrepreneurs. However, the entrepreneurial ecosystem globally is still not matrixed.

How do entrepreneurs find the right people to work or partner with?

Shaun Campbell and Adrian Randall are doing their bit to bring entrepreneurs together in a more transparent way. This week they launched OzFounded, a map of the Australian startup community aimed at connecting investors, incubators, co-working spaces and entrepreneurs.

Their aim is to created a greater sense of community and to facilitate networking amongst entrepreneurs and tech company who may be unaware of useful contacts working around the corner.

Anyone can add listings for activities within the startup ecosystem.

 

Incubate: Driving Campus-wide Entrepreneurship

I’ve been advising the Student Union at The University of Sydney on the setup of Incubate, a campus-wide startup development program. This initiative is designed to assist students get their ventures off the ground and will commence over the summer.

The launch event for Incubate is taking place at 5h30pm on the 20th September  in the foyer of the New Law Building on the Darlington campus. I’ll be chairing a panel on the innovation shift from Silicon Valley to other global centres. Panelists include Matt Barrie (Freelancer), Nikki Durkin (99dresses) and Matt Byrne (Curicon).

Come on over – it will be a fun event.

Silicon Valley Is The Ultimate Entrepreneur Coach

In response to Jess Gardner’s article in last week’s BRW magazine, I was invited to pen a Letter to the Editor. It was published today. Here it is in its entirety:

Silicon Valley is the ultimate entrepreneur coach. It is synonymous with two core tenets for entrepreneurial success: focus and accountability. Palo Alto’s adrenalin-filled atmosphere focuses the minds of entrepreneurs.

For those who get funded, their investors hold them absolutely accountable.

Silicon Valley is also a state of mind. Being an entrepreneur there garners immediate respect.

Palo Alto was ground zero for the hippie movement and this points to its transformational role. It has reinvented itself a multitude of times as technology trends have shifted.

Within this transformational state of mind, Steve Jobs created the world’s most valuable company. Check in, and be an entrepreneur.

Not too long ago, Australia transformed itself into a sporting nation. From paddock to Olympic podium, we stand proud as a nation.

Jessica Gardner’s article points to a country ready for another change.

A generation aspires to be entrepreneurial but is also asking itself hard questions. The start-up scene in Australia is shifting but still resembles a cottage industry.

It’s time we focused again. It’s time to hold ourselves accountable and to transform into a nation of entrepreneurs. One focus, one nation, working together we can do it.

Check in, and be an Australian entrepreneur.

 

Silicon Valley Beckons, But (Some) Aussies Prefer A Blended Approach

One of the most balanced articles I’ve read on the “should I stay, should I go – to Silicon Valley” debate was published today in Business Review Weekly.

Well done Jess Gardner – solid research.

This part of her article resonates most for me and it’s solid Cannon-Brookes advice:

Atlassian’s path shows it is possible to build a successful global operation from scratch in Australia but Cannon-Brookes says the company has also benefited from a blended approach. He has spent about two years in total, out of the past six, at Atlassian’s San Francisco digs (the company also has an office in The Netherlands and developers in Poland).

“I would definitely tell them [start-up founders] to spend time in the US,” he says. “It doesn’t need to be a pitchforks at 20 paces kind of a thing. We definitely gain as entrepreneurs, as a business, a tonne from having spent a lot of time there .?.?. I’ve learned a lot but that doesn’t mean that I don’t bring those learnings back and apply them down here and vice versa.”

Entrepreneurs: Be inspired, travel and do great things!

His point is that in the early stages, entrepreneurs shouldn’t regard the decision as a prerequisite step on the start-up path.