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Three-week-old start-up in the top 10 eCommerce options in the Global Startup Battle

12:56AM | Tuesday, 3 December

Kapcher, an online community marketplace for photographers and videographers launched just over two weeks ago, is in the running to take out top honours in the eCommerce category of the Global Startup Battle.   The Global Startup Battle is an international start-up competition of Startup Weekend graduates. Currently, start-ups are vying for popular votes to make it into the top 15 start-ups, which will then be assessed by a judging panel with the top three accessing prizes.   The eCommerce category is led by the founders of BigCommerce, and the overall winner will be able to be mentored by their team in the US for a month.   Kapcher founder and chief executive Thai Huynh pitched the idea at the recent Sydney Startup Weekend after realising he wanted to get involved in the start-up community.   “I realised that my start-up dreams required action. If I wanted to get into that world I needed to get involved. I went to the weekend in order to learn and network, but we got into the second round, and suddenly I had a team and we decided to go for it,” Huynh says.   Huynh is currently recruiting developers to build a minimum viable version of the outsourcing platform which he plans to launch within three months.   He adds a challenge will be differentiating between Freelancer.com and oDesk, which include photography offerings. The platform will include the functionality for photographers to showcase their portfolio.   “The main difference is these platforms don’t focus on photographers and videographers. We want to focus on a niche market,” Huynh says, adding the idea for the platform emerged from his own struggles to use the larger platforms effectively for his own photography practice.   Kapcher will trial a transaction fee as their primary revenue source when they launch. They’re currently recruiting the talent side of the marketplace, as Hunyh says getting this part right is critical to their chances of success in a crowded marketplace.   “Our strategy right now is to get in touch with as many photographers as possible as better suppliers are key to our success,” Hunyh says. “My first step is to reach the small to medium businesses and these are the ones with needs and a little bit of money. They need corporate shots and introductory visits but they’re not ready to fork out thousands.”   There are already two customers using the assembled freelance photographers. He adds they’re not counting on a win to make the start-up work.   “Our main purpose is to use the competition as leverage, to get ourselves out there and to test the idea and see how far we can go with it. Our goal right now is to get beta users signed up and to start contacting businesses to get our first users,” Huynh says.

New stats reveal creative freelancers are struggling: Are platforms such as 99designs and Freelancer.com to blame?

12:24AM | Tuesday, 3 December

Independent consultants hoping to earn a full-time livelihood from their creative talents are facing steep challenges sourcing demand and staying financially viable, according to new research.   Commissioned by The Loop, an online networking platform for professional creatives, and conducted by the Lonergan Research group, 1127 creative sector freelancers in Australia were interviewed earlier this year about their work challenges.   Almost all freelancers (97%) had worked more hours on a project than they costed for, and more than half (56%) have taken on more junior freelancing work in order to stay afloat.   Almost half (47%) have not been paid in full for their freelance work at one time, and for the average freelancer interviewed, incomplete payments occurred 11.5% of the time.   The co-founder of The Loop, Pip Jamieson, told StartupSmart they launched the research project after spotting a growing divide between businesses and freelancers.   “We noticed that there was a mismatch between what clients wanted and the freelancers they were getting. Price is always a significant point in any deal, but clients increasingly want someone they can rely on,” Jamieson says. “We also were hearing more and more stories from freelancers who were having a really tough time.”   Jamieson says the rise of outsourcing and crowdsourcing platforms has transformed the environment for creative freelancers, not necessarily for the better.   “Businesses really love platforms like 99designs and Freelancer.com, but a lot of our freelancers find them very hard to make a living from,” Jamieson says, adding the fact so much creative work gets discarded debases the design industry.   With outsourcing and crowdsourcing platforms continuing to grow rapidly as customer demand increases and these new models strengthen and consolidate their offerings, it will ultimately come down to creative freelancers to create the careers they desire.   “For creatives, there needs to be a bit of a movement where they value themselves better, and ask for what they’re worth. They need to set a benchmark within the community about what they’re worth, and people don’t know how much to charge as a designer and producer,” Jamieson says.   99designs spokeswoman Emma Maidment told StartupSmart they pay out over $US2 million a month to designers and the platform processes were designed to address many of the issues that emerged in the research.   “The scope of every project is defined up front. It is managed through a group discovery process, followed by a clearly defined project completion workflow,” Maidment says.   “Our 1-to-1 project tool allows a designer to engage in project work with a customer, agree to the scope upfront and have 99designs take the prepayment, which is then released to the designer once the customer indicates that the agreed project deliverable has been received.”   Freelancer.com’s regional director of North America and Oceania, Nikki Parker, told StartupSmart Freelancer firmly believes they are opening up new opportunities for freelancers and notes the way people work is evolving rapidly.   “Creative freelancers need to think differently in today's world and turn everything on its head. Our power users on Freelancer are actually western world graphic designers and web designers. They are using our site to move up the value chain,” Parker says.   She adds creative skills are highly valued in the start-up and tech industries, and that the location of creative talent still matters.   “The difference between Airbnb and a website that makes no money is design, plain and simple: it's all about user experience, interface design, usability, behavioural psychology, and so on,” Parker says.   The research also found that, on average, creative freelancers work on 2.2 projects at any one time, 69% of freelancers feel they’re a valued part of their client’s team and 60% said they were happier freelancing than in full-time employment.

Tinkler out but most made a killing: Secrets of the Young Rich

9:01AM | Thursday, 19 September

It often surprises casual observers that the annual BRW Young Rich edition counts the 100 youngest self-made entrepreneurs under 40.   After all, in most industries, awards for ‘rising stars’ and the like cut out at 25 or 30.   The reason BRW has to give people 40 years to shine is simple: hardly any businesspeople make a killing by 30. A list cutting off there would be dominated by sports stars and celebrities. And for a business publication, that wouldn’t interest its readers as much.   Almost all of the Young Rich 2013, unveiled in the magazine’s flagship edition out this morning, are aged from 30 to 40. The youngest person on the list, MotoGP rider Casey Stoner, is aged 27.   SmartCompany spent a fascinating morning dissecting the latest list. Here’s what Australia’s youngest millionaires have in common.   Life’s work   Most of the Young Rich are entrepreneurs, who started companies and over years helped grow them.   Apart from the sports stars and celebrities, there are few employees on the Young Rich.   Thanks to Nathan Tinkler dropping off the list this year, there are now two more. Todd Hannigan and Tom Todd made their $84 million joint fortune by leading Nathan Tinkler’s Aston Resources before it listed. In 2011 they lost their jobs, but were given six months’ pay and a whole lot of stock in the process. They sold their stock before things got rocky for the sector.   This must be especially galling for Tinkler. BRW doesn’t think his assets exceed his debts. He didn’t make the $18 million cut-off, leaving him entirely off this year’s list. Around this time in 2011, Tinkler was valued at $1.13 billion.   Most of the Young Rich have had a good year. Exactly half increased their wealth this year, while only 16 lost wealth. The rest were more or less steady.   Tech tricks   The full Rich 200 list, for which there is no age limit, is dominated by property developers. But the Young Rich has few of those.   Over one in three (34) of the Young Rich made their money in technology, of which 22 were web entrepreneurs. In the top 10, eight started technology companies.   These include Atlassian founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, steady at number one with a joint fortune of $550 million. They were pegged at $480 million a year ago.   The fastest-rising names in the top 10 are Ruslan Kogan, of Kogan.com, who more than doubled his fortune to $315 million, and Freelancer.com chief Matt Barrie, who’s risen into the top 10 with $185 million (he was pegged at $50 million last year). Both companies are looking at listing on the ASX in the near future, which could see their founders get a lot richer if all goes well.   Reinvesting the profits   If so, they’d be some of the few Young Rich-listers to turn their business success into serious disposable income. For most of the Young Rich, their wealth is ‘paper money’. They own large stakes in highly successful businesses. If those businesses list or are sold, they can cash in some of that ownership.   Until then though, many of the Young Rich are fanatical enough to keep most of their wealth tied up in the one thing.   For example, at Kogan.com, the online electronics retailer, shareholders Kogan and David Shafer reinvest the profits every year. Shafer told BRW their remuneration was on an “as needs” basis.   “Building something is much more exciting,” he said.   Perhaps this need to reinvest profits is driven by Australia’s low venture capital spend. According to a recent PwC report, there is less venture capital available in Australia, relative to our population, than in Israel, the US, Norway, Switzerland, Demark,  Britain, or France.   When capital to expand isn’t readily available, revenue can be the best source of funds.   Slim pickings for women   As always with Australian rich lists, there are few women wealthy enough to make the cut-off.   Only seven women make the Young Rich, of which the wealthiest is Carolyn Creswell ($55 million), of Carman’s Fine Foods. The next wealthiest is Erica Baxter ($40 million), who is in the process of finalising her divorce from rich list-fixture James Packer, which could see her secure another $100 million according to recent reports.   Other women on the list are Lilly Haikin ($40 million held jointly), who bought chocolate café chain Max Brenner to Australia, PageUp People founder Karen Cariss ($25 million held jointly), golfer Karrie Webb ($22 million), MyBudget founder Tammy May ($20 million), and model Miranda Kerr ($18 million).   This story first appeared on SmartCompany.

Lust Have It outlines sCommerce models following record year

2:41AM | Wednesday, 27 February

Online beauty retailer Lust Have It has outlined three distinct models of subscription commerce, or sCommerce, after revealing its subscriptions have grown more than 1000% over the past year.

Eight start-ups selected for Incubate program at University of Sydney

3:50AM | Monday, 11 March

The University of Sydney Union’s Incubate program has selected the eight successful start-up teams who will use $5,000 grants to develop their ideas over the university’s summer break.

Global Entrepreneurship Week kicks off in Australia

3:53AM | Monday, 11 March

Global Entrepreneurship Week has kicked off with a bang in Australia, with a lengthy list of events tipped to provide plenty of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs.

2012 BRW Young Rich List – eight standouts from a tech dominated year

9:05AM | Thursday, 27 September

The 2012 BRW Young Rich List has a strong start-up and tech flavor, with Atlassian founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar heading the rankings.

Sydney Uni’s student union launches start-up program Incubate

9:19PM | Monday, 24 September

The University of Sydney Union has launched a development program in the hope of identifying high-potential start-ups on campus, securing entrepreneur Matt Barrie as a mentor.

Aussie Webby Awards winner offers tips to online start-ups

5:52AM | Wednesday, 2 May

Australian Christian youth website Fervr.net has won the religion and spirituality category at this year’s Webby Awards, while Freelancer.com and Huaweimobile.com.au were also recognised.

Eight Australian sites nominated for 2012 Webby Awards

4:37AM | Saturday, 21 April

Eight Australian websites have been nominated for the 16th annual Webby Awards, which attracted 10,000 international entries, including Freelancer.com, Fervr.net and StreetAdvisor.com.

iiNet founder Michael Malone named Entrepreneur of the Year

11:12AM | Friday, 18 November

iiNet founder and chief executive Michael Malone has told Australian start-ups “it’s all about the product”, after being named 2011 Australian Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Going Freelancer.com

5:11AM | Wednesday, 2 May

Perhaps ironically for someone whose business relies on outsourcing tasks Matt Barrie has a very do-it-yourself approach to entrepreneurship.

The crowd-source king

4:36AM | Friday, 27 April

Mark Harbottle happily admits he’s a “start-up guy”. The co-founder of SitePoint and 99Designs may not be steeped in the pinstripe and spreadsheet CEO culture, but he can be relied upon to come up with a sector-defining online idea.

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