What I’ll be doing in 2018

I finished up my recent post on the heart problem which nearly killed me in 2017 with these questions:

How much of what I’ve been doing has been because I feel obligated to keep doing it? If I had only five more years to live, what would I want to drop and what would I want to focus on?

I’ll live longer if I’m doing what I love. What I love is:

  • Mentoring early-stage startup founders;
  • Investing in the best of their startup ideas at the very early stage; and
  • Working on things that make Australia a more inclusive, diverse community, caring about the common good as much as the individual.

Here’s what I’m going to do in 2018 and why.

Keep working with BlueChilli

BlueChilli, the corporate-backed startup accelerator operator, product development team and seed fund, has been my primary focus since they acquired my previous business The New Agency in 2013.

Some of the BlueChilli team. Love them.

I still care very much about the outcomes for BlueChilli because I’m an investor in many of their startups, but even more so because I believe in the importance of BlueChilli’s model.

BlueChilli can break down the barriers that prevent non-technical entrepreneurs with a great idea from building a successful startup, raising capital and finding early customers.

Australia needs programs like BlueChilli’s to accelerate the rate of growth of the local startup industry or it will still be tiny in a decade’s time.

…and I fucking love the people in the BlueChilli team.

That said, I need time for new adventures, so I’m dialling my commitment down a little. My focus will be advising founders in BlueChilli’s accelerator programs.

Joined KPMG’s High Growth Ventures team as Entrepreneur-in-Residence

In the early days, if your startup needs something done, the right decision is usually to learn how to do it yourselves and do the best you can.

But there are important inflection points in the growth of a startup where trying to do it yourselves can kill your startup if you get it wrong, and at these times it may be better to pay an expert to help you.

There’s such an incredible depth of capacity, research and skills in the ‘Big Four’ consulting firms and if it can be structured and priced to assist all stages of startup growth it can make a meaningful difference to the success rate of Aussie tech startups.

The High Growth Ventures team at KPMG has been doing a great job of that for the past year and I’m stoked that I’ve joined them as an entrepreneur-in-residence, two days per week. I’m helping them connect with the local founder community and structure a great service offering.

My preferred meeting location at KPMG High Growth Ventures. Come check it out.

A three month stint with the QUT CEA Collider creative accelerator

I began my startup career in ‘creative tech’ and love applying what I know to startups targeting customers in content creation, media, marketing, advertising and other creative industries.

Last year I loved the few days I spent mentoring and pitch training with the QUT CEA’s Collider creative accelerator. I was blown away by the quality of the program delivery, the resources it can bring to bear and the standard of the Creative3 conference they produce each year.

When I was offered the opportunity to be their Expert-in-Residence for the 2018 program I had to say yes. I’m relishing the opportunity to deliver a program as part of the Collider team with an impressive roster of local and international experts and give Australia’s best creative tech startups. This year’s program has just finished accepting applications and finalists for a March Boot Camp will soon be announced.

An accelerator Q&A session with Brisbane startup founders at QUT CEA Collider

M8 Ventures

Inspired by my good mate Alan Downie on an idea for a new kind of tech venture fund (at least, new in Australia and NZ) I’m working with venture partner and technical cofounder Emily Rich on M8 Ventures. We are raising a venture fund run, not by fund managers and lawyers, but by two startup founders with a technical and product focus.

It’s not a coincidence that we have 50/50 gender diversity among the venture partners. We intend to exploit the selection biases that have led other VC firms to pass on or undervalue female-founded startups. And it’s not a coincidence that we don’t yet have any finance or business school grads in our team — great companies are made by customers who love products, and products customers love are made by great product and technical teams. We want to be the best at finding and evaluating great startup product teams.

We are raising AUD10-20 million to invest in about 20 great startups, from pre-seed stage to Series A. We have a particular focus on doing pre-seed and pre-seed rounds more efficiently and quickly than any other VC fund in Australia. I’ll expand on the motivation and the plans soon. If you’d like to see the investor deck, you can ask for it here. If you’re a startup and would like to know when we’re ready to start making investments, you can do so here.

(We’re not sure whether it should be pronounced “Em-eight ventures” or “Mate ventures” but let us know what you prefer.)

But what about?…

Catalysr? Absolutely! We are proving to Australia that migrants and refugees are a net gain to the Australian economy because they make great entrepreneurs. That mission continues. And a day with the Catalysr team , including Pratibha Rai, Tom Bass, Usman Iftikhar, Jacob Muller, Natasha Hanna, Andrew Perry, Eric Tjoeng and Jeremy Kwong-Law, is a privilege.

Awesome Catalysr “migrapreneurs”

Hide and Seek? Yes, certainly. We have to go back a second time and win the world championships!

This is me, slowing down