by David Lee
On the 26th of May, David Lee went up to Melbourne to see Steve Baxter - Shark Tank (Founder of ASX- listed PIPE Networks) at Start-up Grind Melbourne.
Quick Bio for Steve
I’ve been to some similar events hosted by Start-up Tasmania but was happy to see such a vibrant and diverse Melbourne scene. The event was scheduled in 3 stages, the first being getting to know people/networking, followed by Steve recounting his journey from soldier to Shark Tank judge and finally a Q & A session from the floor.
The event was held at Zendesk in the CBD and everyone was friendly so it was easy to fit in. I arrived early and had a quick chat with Steve which was really great as he seemed like an honest, down to earth guy, and funnily enough was a lot nicer in person then on T.V.
For the main segment, I was seated next to some guys who had an energy business and upon learning the size of their business, I asked them why they were here as their business had developed well beyond the start-up point. To which they replied: “An alternate view is never a bad thing” which I thought was an awesome way to look at the world.
Lastly I got to try out some really cool gear from ALPAKA bags who have raised $ 160,000 from crowdfunding alone, though priced at $180 a pop, is slightly out of my budget at this period in my life.
Steve’s talk was great and I got a lot of great insights and tips in the world of start-ups, the first and foremost being: “Now is the best time to launch.”
Steve Baxter – Fireside chat Highlights
“I joined the army at 15, and served for nine years. It was good at the time, but yes, there is a reason they don’t let 15-year-old’s join the army anymore”.
“Yes, It is a bit amusing that people know me for appearing on a T.V show rather than my businesses but at the end of the day, I’m really happy to have been involved with both.”
Q. Why do Silicon Valley Start-ups get more support and investment then Australian ones?
A. Because our ideas are crap. If an idea’s good enough the money will come. Business people aren’t stupid and will pay a premium amount for a premium start up.
Q. Do you invest in the idea or people?
A. People, always. The quality of the idea doesn’t really matter if I don’t like the person. It’s just a shame that good people often have shitty ideas.
Q. Do you read business books?
A. No, I hate them. I believe results speak for themselves and I much prefer someone who is going and who is building and creating a business then someone who reads books all day.
Q. What is your biggest failure?
A. Not safeguarding well enough against the GFC. At PIPE Networks, we were building a submarine cable from South Asia to Australia and at the time our sales methods weren’t solid when the GFC hit.
The effect was devastating and we were days away from insolvency. We told our suppliers of the situation and they agreed to dramatically alter our repayment deal, which gave us breathing space to solve our cashflow problems which was literally a lifesaver for us. The take home point, is that you can use your supplier as a bank once, so make sure it’s worth it when you do!
Though it’s great to hear insights live from a person of note, I think being able to network with peers has more benefit.
As business people, we need to communicate so we can share experiences, solutions and experiences and there is simply no better way to do this than in an open and friendly environment.
Events such as these bring people together from a wide range of professions. Chief technical officers, start-up founders and even management consultants all find themselves sharing successes, failures and even simple hints for business or even their daily lives.
I’d highly encourage anyone to come to these types of events whether in Melbourne, Hobart or anywhere where ideas can spread.
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