Australian founders are emotionally stable. That was the finding of The Founder Institute’s psychometric tests that all candidates are required to complete, with Australia coming out on top for several qualities. Of the two Australian cities in the program, Sydney and Perth, Sydney scored the highest for emotional stability and Perth came in third. The Founder Institute’s pre-screening psychometric tests assess candidates on six key entrepreneurial characteristics: emotional stability, fluid intelligence, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness and capacity for extroversion. Over 20,000 applicants across 55 cities have completed the test. Sydney and Perth, were found to have average higher scores than Silicon Valley in almost every trait, but Perth beat Sydney when it came to agreeableness, clocking in at fourth globally with Sydney ranking 10th. Program chief executive Adeo Ressi says they weren’t surprised at Australia’s high rankings. “You would be hard pressed to find a faster-growing startup ecosystem than Australia’s, and so it is no surprise that Australians have many of the traits that we find to correlate with strong startup founders,” he says. When the global findings cross-referenced with over 1000 successful startups that have emerged from the program, agreeableness, along with openness and fluid intelligence were found to be the most important traits. Age was also found to be an important trait, with entrepreneurs over 40 generally performing better. The research also found conscientiousness and IQ had little correlation with entrepreneurial success. According to the program, about 10% of companies that complete the program fail. Startups that go through the program put 3.5% of their equity in a shared pool for the cohort. If the company exits (gets acquired or lists), 30% of this equity goes to the mentors, 30% to their fellow class members, 25% to the city coordinators and 15% to the overall program. Melbourne will host its first The Founder Institute program this year. Ressi says he’s keen to see chapters launch in Brisbane and Adelaide soon. Four startups were named last week as Australia’s strongest graduates of the program.
The world’s largest start-up accelerator, The Founder Institute, is considering establishing a new chapter in Melbourne later this year. The institute, based in Silicon Valley, already has two chapters in Australia - in Sydney and Perth. It says on its website that since launching in Sydney in 2010 the institute has helped launch more than 35 companies in Australia, including start-ups such as Slidefish, FoodOrbit and GeoMoby. It says the institute’s four-month, part-time program promises entrepreneurs will “learn by doing” and launch a company through training courses, practical assignments and feedback from mentors. Aspiring founders also don’t need to quit their day jobs to pursue their business idea. The push to create a Founders Institute chapter in Melbourne is being led by start-up mentor Matt Allen and Envato development manager Sebastian von Conrad. "Melbourne is a quickly growing technology hub, and the focus is shifting from Sydney to Melbourne," von Conrad is quoted on the site saying. The institute is currently testing interest in Melbourne for a chapter, and is asking those interested to fill out a form here. The institute is also hosting a webinar with chief executive Adeo Ressi and information sessions. More details can be found here.
Duncan Thomas has assembled an unlikely international team to help bring his online travel management start-up to life. From his Hobart home he’s brought together developers in Pakistan, website backend expertise from Israel and a flights wholesaler in India. Pakistan and India have battled over the Kashmir region for many years, while Pakistan’s passports say they are valid for all countries except Israel. Despite the tensions between the countries, Thomas, who works in software sales and business development, says “people are people” and the people he works with aren’t interested in politics. “Politics is for politicians,” he says. Thomas has been working on Travl8tor, a travel management and booking tool for small and medium-sized businesses, for the past two years and recently won a pitching advice webinar run by international accelerator Founder Institute and co-hosted by StartupSmart. “I like the business a lot,” Founder Institute chief executive Adeo Ressi said of Thomas’ pitch for Travl8tor. “This is a real issue.” Thomas, 37, says the idea for the business came to him when reading an article that interviewed a human resources manager who said the biggest issue they faced was travel management for their employees. “I got to thinking that seems an easy problem to fix from a software basis.” After discussing it with his brother, a sales manager at a mining company, whose reaction to the idea confirmed for Thomas that “it has legs”, he set about writing up a business plan. A key weakness, however, was that he didn’t know anything about the travel industry. That was overcome as he researched the subject and came across an Israeli start-up that developed backend platforms for travel agents and websites and helpfully sent him a document titled ‘So you’ve decided to create an OTA’ [online travel agency]. “Once I had that the pieces began falling into place.” Thomas has secured travel product suppliers that can offer 200,000 hotels around the world, 900 airlines and car rental in 193 countries. Travl8tor works by providing a platform for businesses to manage travel bookings. Businesses can set budgets and company travel policies which are applied whenever staff book travel. Thomas says motivation for working on Travl8tor is “easy”. “It’s my idea, it’s something I can see, I know what it can potentially be,” he says, adding he’s bootstrapped the business and spent around $20,000 building it so far. The biggest problem he says he faced was thinking too long about the idea. “You’ve actually got to do it,” he advised other start-up entrepreneurs. “You’ve got to follow through.” He adds that he’s also inspired by a quote from Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos who said: “There are two kinds of companies, those that work to try to charge more and those that work to charge less. We will be the second.” Thomas says the thinking reinforces the theme that customer service is key and that customers generally want to pay less. He also advises that start-ups have a “good lawyer” on board as early as possible to help navigate legal issues such as trademarks, supplier agreements and patent applications. While Ressi liked Travl8tor’s idea, one thing he didn’t like was the name. “I beg you, this is such a good idea, just rename it,” he said. Thomas says he’s open to suggestions and wouldn’t rule it out.
A Silicon Valley training and networking program for entrepreneurs is to extend to Australia, promising to help nurture start-ups with the aid of mentors from around the world.
A new study says there is no peak age for entrepreneurship, despite the tech industry’s “romanticised” idea of young founders.