Mike Cannon-Brookes, Co-Founder of Atlasssian, On Why He Believes Australia Has An Advantage In The Fintech Space

Mike Cannon-Brookes is arguably one of Australia’s most prominent startup founders. As co-founder of Atlassian, Mike brings a wealth of experience to the Australian startup ecosystem when it comes to scaling an organisation beyond our shores and achieving global success. There should be no surprise then that his fireside chat with Paul Bennett’s (co-founder of Spaceship) was one of the most anticipated and jam-packed sessions of the 2016 StartCon Conference.

While their discussion covered a number of areas the clear focus was on fintech and the potential of Australian startups in this space. Mike had a strong thesis on why Australia has so much potential in this sector and has backed his belief with investments in companies such as Tyro and Spaceship. In particular, Mike touched on three reasons on why he sees opportunity in the finance sector for Australian startups:

  1. Australia has historically done well in the finance industry. And this hopefully will bode well for startups that choose to play in this space.
  2. Australia has a hugely inefficient banking industry. Australia is ranked number 1, when it comes to the profit generated by banks on a per capita basis within the OECD.
  3. The current players in the banking industry provide an option to startups. You can either choose to compete with them or use them as a channel to a large customer base.

To compete against the big four banks directly is obviously a big ask. For that reason Mike says that startups shouldn’t be afraid to launch in other verticals within the finance industry. He used Spaceship, and what they are doing as a prime example.

The superannuation sector has a similar number of inefficiencies (and large incumbent players). However, recent regulation changes allow you to “port” your super from one provider to another, much like you can do with your mobile telephone number. Mike believes this should be standard practice for financial products like our bank accounts. As consumers we should own our data and be able to transfer that record of transactions and our account numbers from one bank to another.

Diving deeper on the superannuation space Mike went on to say that he liked what Spaceship are doing with super as the timeframes align so well. Superannuation is something that you won’t access for 20, 30 or 40 years. Therefore you can afford to be orientated to higher growth sectors (such as technology) because any short term volatility will be smoothed over time. Spaceship provides the ability for consumers to orientate their superannuation more heavily to the tech sector in a way that millennials and young Australians are demanding (through a mobile app).

In closing the discussion Paul also asked for some final insights on what excites Mike and how he chooses to invest his capital from Grok Ventures, his personal investment vehicle. For Mike it needs to be something he is personally passionate about. He has made investments all over the map and in a number of different sectors. From space companies (Fleet from Adelaide), to banking and superannuation. As a result his thesis isn’t industry specific. It just needs to generate a passionate response from him and his team.

Paul Towers is a 3 x Entrepreneur and current Founder & CEO of Task Pigeon, a simple solution to create, assign and manage the tasks you and your team work on each day. Paul also supports the startup community via his daily newsletter, Startup Soda and early stage startup advice via Startup Engine.

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