Michael Fox


Shoes of Prey wins gold at World Retail Awards for store design

10:51AM | Wednesday, 9 October

Australian online custom shoe design company Shoes of Prey has won gold at the World Retail Awards in Paris for store design.   Shoes of Prey co-founder Jodie Fox told StartupSmart from China, where she’s working with the company’s product team, the win was a “wonderful coup”.   “There won’t be many times in my life I can say I beat Karl Lagerfeld,” she says.   Located on the fourth floor of upmarket department store David Jones in Sydney’s CBD, the store has been outperforming expectations in the nine months since it opened, Fox says.   “It’s really proven itself,” she says, adding that the company is excited by its possibilities, although plans to roll out more physical stores were yet to be confirmed.   The store was designed by retail specialists The General Store and beat the Puma flagship store in Osaka, Japan, and a Karl Lagerfeld concept store in Paris in the less than 1200sqm award category.   Strategy partner at The General Store, Matt Newell, told StartupSmart his team approached the design in terms of creating an experience.   “I said to Jodie the last thing I will give you is a beautifully designed store. We wanted to present an experience,” he says.   The Shoes of Prey store is just 29sqm in size and dominated by a 2.4 metre high flower made out of the company’s shoes by set designers from the Australian Ballet and includes many of the materials used to make the shoes.   It features a table finished with soft black leather, chairs made with a range of materials like suede and stamped patent leather, a “signature scent” and “custom-composed” soundtrack that includes the sounds of high heels clicking and Fox’s cat purring.   Newell says he hopes the Australian retail industry will consider the importance of multidisciplinary teams when it comes to retail design and “goes for it” in future.   “Australian retailers have this terrible tendency to travel around the world and steal ideas from (British supermarket chain) Tesco and bring it back and do it half as well,” he says.   “We’re so focused on what the rest of the world is doing, we should be backing ourselves. The creative talent in Australia is off the charts.”   Shoes of Prey chief executive Michael Fox said in a statement: “This is our first foray into physical retail, so winning ‘Store Design of the Year’ at the World Retail Awards is an incredible achievement for our team.”

Startup Spring Festival to include over 100 events

9:56AM | Thursday, 12 September

The first ever annual Startup Spring Festival, a celebration and awareness raising festival about the Australian tech start-up scene, now includes over 100 events.   The festival will include hackathons and start-up weekends, “walkabout” tours of incubators and co-working spaces, as well as a wide range of educational opportunities and travelling events.   Launched in late August, the festival is coordinated by StartupAus, a not-for-profit collective of tech entrepreneurs including Google Australia director of engineering Alan Noble; Freelancer founder Matt Barrie; Shoes of Prey founder Michael Fox, Bill Bartee from Southern Cross Ventures; and Peter Bradd, chief executive of Sydney co-working tech hub Fishburners.   The festival aims to showcase the tech start-up scene across the country, in major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, but also in rising tech start-up cities Brisbane and Adelaide. There will also be events in Perth, Tasmania and Canberra.   In August, Bradd told StartupSmart the event was designed to get the good news and momentum building in the tech start-up scene out beyond to a wider audience.   “Strategically, we need to show there is momentum to get buy-in from other stakeholders. Government, big corporates and some universities don’t quite understand or believe in entrepreneurs, so awareness is quite important for making change,” Bradd said.

The power of brave branding: Australian fashion start-up announced as a finalist for the World Retail Awards

7:25PM | Sunday, 21 July

Australian online fashion start-up Shoes of Prey has been named as a finalist in the World Retail Awards.   Founded by Mike Knapp and married couple Michael and Jodie Fox in 2010, the brand has boomed over the last few years. Shoes of Prey lets users create shoes using its online design tool.   The brand has recently opened its first bricks-and-mortar retail store and is one of six finalists in the Store Design of the Year round.   Jodie Fox told StartupSmart the nomination was recognition of the power of brave brands, and that start-ups shouldn’t shy away from developing a strong and unique brand.   “So long as you are true to expressing who your brand is and providing a valuable experience to your audience, don't be afraid to be bold and make a statement,” she says.   “Start-ups are designed to disturb the space they compete in. It's been a really successful venture for us and we are thrilled to be listed as a finalist.”   Fox says the store was designed to showcase the creative possibilities of the Shoes of Prey brand.   “The store was meticulously designed, from the scent to the soundtrack to the sculptures, to engender an atmosphere of unbridled imagination that invites women to reconsider the way they shop for shoes,” she says.   Managing the rapid growth of Shoes of Prey across multiple areas of the business has been a challenge. Fox says the focus has been on ensuring the customer experience remains strong.   “This involves everything from improving the product, enhancing the website, to messaging our brand and then scaling production to keep up with demand.   “This process now involves the boutique, and while it's a challenge, it's also exciting to be able to bring a product that I love and believe in to more and more women,” Fox says.   Finalists for the World Retail Awards are assessed by a panel of 16 judges, including Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes.   The winners will be announced on August 2.

Tech start-ups could contribute $109 billion to local economy by 2033

4:17PM | Monday, 22 April

Tech start-ups have the potential to contribute $109 billion to the Australian economy, or around 4% of GDP, by 2033, according to a new report, which identifies four key ways to unlock the potential of the sector.   The report, titled The Startup Economy: How to support tech startups and accelerate Australian innovation, was commissioned by Google and prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers.   Preliminary findings of the report, which provides a snapshot of Australia’s 1500 tech start-ups, were released in March.   Google commissioned the report after helping form #startupAUS, a new industry group that is working on a national campaign to promote the Australian tech start-up sector.   The group is led by Google Australia engineering director Alan Noble, Freelancer.com founder Matt Barrie, Shoes of Prey co-founder Michael Fox, Fishburners’ Peter Bradd, Southern Cross Ventures’ Bill Bartee and Startmate founder Niki Scevak.   Google and PricewaterhouseCoopers have now released the findings of their report, which shows start-ups have the potential to contribute $109 billion or 4% of gross domestic product – and 540,000 jobs – to the Australian economy by 2033.   According to PwC partner and economist Jeremy Thorpe, the findings will prove useful as the start-up sector continues to grow.   “There is no comprehensive catalogue of start-ups in Australia [but] we believe there’s 1500 start-ups in Australia… The majority are in Sydney,” Thorpe says.   “The vast majority of start-ups do not succeed – they actually fail… [Only] 40% of entrepreneurs in the start-up space, when they fail, will start again.”   The report highlights four key ways to unlock the potential of the Australian start-up sector:   Attract more entrepreneurs with the right skills   In the short term, Australia needs 2000 more tech entrepreneurs each year drawn from the existing workforce.   In the long term, Australia’s education sector must produce more skilled tech entrepreneurs.   Encourage more early stage funding   Funding for the Australian tech start-up sector will need to increase.   Australia invests approximately $US7.50 per capita in venture capital per annum, compared to the United States ($75) and Israel ($150).   Open up local markets to tech start-ups   Governments are major consumers, with spending totalling $41 billion in 2012. They can become more start-up-friendly with procurement reform.   “Companies can [also] think more innovatively about how they use start-ups,” Thorpe says.   Foster a stronger and open culture of entrepreneurship   Australia has a considerably higher “fear of failure” rate than nations like the US and Canada, constraining the sector.   The tech community is key to changing this by celebrating its own success and becoming more inclusive.   According to Noble, this last point is a key takeaway.   “This is a good thing – that the community realises the fate of the sector is actually in its own hands,” Noble says.   “#startupAUS is a start-up itself. We’re still actually figuring out what the organisation’s structure will look like. It will be some form of not-for-profit.   “We want to make sure it’s very much driven by the community itself. It won’t be like your traditional government body – it will be a much more community-led organisation.   “A big part of its success will be ensuring we do provide ways for the community to collaborate… and, with any new venture, no one has a monopoly on ideas.   “Hopefully the research released today will go some way to helping to inform the debate and get to where we need to go by 2033.”

Google to examine Australian start-up scene for StartupAUS project

3:48AM | Wednesday, 20 March

Google has commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to gather data on Australian tech start-ups, and has already released preliminary findings, after partnering with five well-known Australian tech entrepreneurs including Matt Barrie.

I have a brilliant idea for an online business. How can I be sure it’s a goer?

3:23AM | Wednesday, 13 March

This week’s Secret Soloist is answered by Shoes of Prey co-founder Michael Fox.   This is an exciting position to be in and, as you’ve identified, it’s critical to ensure you have your product and value proposition clearly defined to the point where people are willing to part with their money to buy your product.

Deloitte and Norton Rose to press government on employee share options

2:43PM | Monday, 4 February

Deloitte has partnered with law firm Norton Rose to conduct a survey on employee share option plans in order to present the government with hard-and-fast data on the issues affecting start-ups.

Start-ups’ federal election wish list

3:30AM | Thursday, 14 March

Some say it’s too late. Some, even those who have been continuously calling for the nation to go to the polls for the past three years, say it’s too early, given the budget announcement isn’t until May.

Eyewear start-up unfazed by sombre industry forecast

3:09AM | Friday, 15 March

Australia’s optometry and optical dispensing industry is expected to grow just 0.4% in 2012-13, according to an IBISWorld report, but online eyewear retailer Sneaking Duck says it isn’t worried.

Shoes of Prey founder flags share option woes for start-ups

3:12AM | Friday, 15 March

Serial entrepreneur and StartupSmart mentor Michael Fox has outlined problems with employee share option plans (ESOPs) for start-ups, after being invited to meet with the federal government.

US VC funds raised $20.6 billion in 2012 – but what slice did Aussie start-ups take?

3:11AM | Monday, 11 March

Venture capital firms in the United States raised $20.6 billion from 182 funds in 2012, new figures show, with Australian start-ups among those that benefited from the surge in investment cash.

How to safely scale your start-up in 2013

12:14AM | Monday, 17 December

Mike, Jodie and I are often asked how we persuaded ourselves that it would be okay to quit our jobs to start Shoes of Prey and how we managed to self-fund the business without overstretching our resources.

Gillard urged to help create 'Silicon Beach' for Australian tech businesses

3:53AM | Tuesday, 12 March

Government regulations need to change if Australia is to create a 'Silicon Beach' that will compete with the world's leading digital economies, a gathering of tech giants and start-ups has told Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Confident exporters predict New Zealand market will keep growing

8:24PM | Thursday, 9 August

New Zealand has replaced the United Kingdom as the predicted third biggest export destination for Australian exporters in five years’ time, according to the 2012 DHL Export Barometer.

Getting trampled in the Silicon Valley gold rush

6:19AM | Monday, 25 June

Going by economic indicators such as unemployment, inflation and interest rates, Australians should feel pretty good about how we stack up with the US.

Google launches Trusted Stores program in US

6:59AM | Friday, 8 June

Google has launched a new program to assure online consumers they’re buying from trustworthy websites, but it’s currently only available for purchases shipped within the United States.

StyleTread bucks Asian gold rush to expand to New Zealand

5:22AM | Wednesday, 16 May

An online retail expert says New Zealand can be a lucrative market for start-ups as long as they localise their offering, after online shoe store StyleTread announced its New Zealand launch.

Google Sudo aiming to drive growth among Aussie start-ups

5:09PM | Wednesday, 9 May

Google is rolling out a new series of networking and tutorial events aimed at growing Australia’s start-up scene and fostering the “enormous talent” of local entrepreneurs.

SMEs warned over rush for customer data

5:25AM | Friday, 4 May

Online retailers need to avoid overwhelming consumers with questions, experts say, after the privacy commissioner said local companies demand too much information from their customers.

Wednesday 11 April, 2012

4:13PM | Tuesday, 10 April

Today on StartupSmart, Leon Gettler talks to three entrepreneurs about the lessons learnt at different stages of their business development.