The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) is a not-for-profit organisation of volunteers who have decided that they want to put something back into the start-up community. TiE was started in 1992 in Silicon Valley and has 12,000 members around the world covering 18 countries with 61 chapters – 2 in Australia in Sydney and Melbourne. TiE Members can benefit from connections across the world. There are two levels of membership – Regular and Charter Members. The Sydney Chapter is organised by a small group of Charter members who co-ordinate events for both Regular and Charter Members. While TiECon is the flagship event each year there are additional specific events organised to. For example, a dinner hosted by the British Consulate (for companies seeking to expand in to the UK), Create-a-Thon (a two day workshop for female non-tech founders), Workshops (Funding, Pitching, etc.) and regular mentoring sessions (both group and 1-to-1).
The theme of TiE’s flagship event for 2015 was “Go global” – getting your company’s products or services out of Australia and into the bigger world market. The format of the day was three keynote speakers, case studies, panel discussions and pitches to win a trip to TiECon in Silicon Valley followed by evening drinks. Over 200 people attended the conference although, given the calibre of the speakers, I feel that it should have been standing room only!
Paul Clitheroe was the first keynote speaker. Paul’s credentials come from the finance industry where he is a director of ipac securities, the chairman of the Australian Government’s Financial Literacy Board and Professor with the School of Business and Economics. As a leading journalist he hosts the Money programme on Channel Nine and is chairman of the Money Magazine. Paul spoke about his lifetime experience and how things have changed in the personal finance industry especially where giving advice to clients is concerned. He tip is that the next big thing will be Robots giving financial advice.
Brand Hoff provided insight into the creation and running of TOWER Software – a pioneer in the records management industry. He introduced the concept of two types of entrepreneurs: Dinosaurs and Dolphins. Dinosaurs are “slow and steady” entrepreneurs who slowly and steadily build a profit making enterprise taking time to consider the best decisions along the way. Dolphins are “fast and high risk” entrepreneurs who develop a concept, test the market and pivot if things don’t look good and repeat the process hoping to find a market before they run out of money. Which strategy would you choose?
David Koch is the well-known television presenter and financial commentator on the Seven Network currently co-hosting Sunrise breakfast programme. Although he has written several practical books on family and business financial management it became clear that he was an entrepreneur in his own right. His own company, PINStripe Media, makes pod casts and shops for Yahoo and Channel Seven and is now looking towards Asia and Hong Kong where there is a rising middle class interested in money management. When looking for good examples of start up, David Koch highlighted SocietyOne, GoWeb and Shoes of Prey.
The two case studies were Meastrano (presented by founder Stephan Ibos) and eServGlobal (presented by founded Ian Buddery) and the panel discussions were about selecting the right international markets, building a global high performance team and Raising capital from overseas Angel Investors. The key message out of this section of the conference was to get the product out there and start selling it even if the product was only “50% complete”. Let the customers tell you what the remaining 50% should look like.
The last part of the day was the pitching competition and the prize was a flight and entrance to TiECon in Silicon Valley. Each presenter had three minutes to pitch followed by questions from the judges who were Dr Jana Matthews, Mathias Kopp and Robyn Selge. Rhett Sampson of GT Systems won the ticket to Silicon Valley and TieCon SV plus $120,000 hosting credits from Softlayer. Selera Labs won the second prize of hosting credits and Barry Rahme won the third prize stall at CeBIT Startup in May 2015. Softlayer provided all seven finalists with $10,000 hosting credits.
Over all an excellent day which (incidentally) echoed many of the themes of Lean Commercialsiation. It is certainly a day that should be in every aspiring start-up’s calendar each year.