Ruslan Kogan

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April Fools’ startup PR pranks: The good, the bad and the downright silly

4:09AM | Tuesday, 1 April

April Fools’ Day is a rallying call for the PR industry, which has whipped out would-be ideas for their clients. Here’s our pick of the five almost-stories that stood out.   Kogan Drone Broadband Network takes flight     The idea serial entrepreneur Ruslan Kogan has (allegedly) launched a Wi-Fi broadband network via drones, which are already in the air around you, is quite fun.   From the release: “The current Australian NBN rollout is going to cost an estimated $73 billion. Frustrated by the delays and cost blow-out associated with the NBN, our team of engineers decided to take matters into their own hands.”   With the ongoing angst about the withering NBN, and Google’s actual ambitions to spread internet via hot air balloon last year, this idea is the perfect combo of political statement meets market demand meets crazy. We actually wished this one was true.   OneShift launches JobSwap   Employment platform for retail and hospitality staff OneShift has launched JobSwap, a service to enable employees to swap employers and responsibilities for a couple of weeks.   From the release: “[Founder Gen] George said that although OneShift was focusing mainly on employer registrations at this stage, staff of participating businesses would be able to sign up via the website in a matter of weeks.”   This one goes into our April Fools’ lemon basket. In a business promoting themselves as pairing people with the right job, surely the idea of interchangeable staff-company fit is a bad one to promote? It’s also low on humour.   iiNet launches Pet-Fi: Wi-Fi-enabled pet collars     Another internet-related prank, iiNet has announced the launch of Pet-Fi to turn your pet into a mobile hot spot.   From the release: “Bringing you the latest advancement in Wi-Fi technology, we give you Pet-Fi, the world's first pet-powered mobile broadband solution. We know you love your pets and you love having them close-by, so why not take advantage of that? Use Pet-Fi to transform your pet into the ultimate – yet cuddly – Wi-Fi hotspot and mobile broadband modem.”   Water resistant, shock proof and almost definitely a joke, this April Fools’ prank is adorable with a hint of animal use that makes it uncomfortable enough to spur the conversation on. Though it loses points for being easily unbelievable.   Swiftly launches Fool your Friends offering     More of an enabler than a prankster in its own right, 99designs' new service Swiftly has launched a series of pictures demonstrating how the software can be used to doctor photos to fool your friends.   Unfortunately for Swiftly, which is fundamentally a design business, the images aren’t remotely convincing or aesthetically compelling. Again, an April Fools’ dud.   Google Maps launched Pokemon challenge     With ample resources and a history of fun gimmicks and Easter eggs, startup folk were quick to check the Google platforms for April Fool pranks.   This year, Google Maps released a video announcing a new position within their team: Pokemon Master.   {qtube vid:=4YMD6xELI_k}   To find the Pokemons, head to Google Maps and hit “start” without writing in anything. Quite frankly, we think the Pokemons should stay.

Kogan expanding to New Zealand: Watch our exclusive Q&A video with him here

3:46AM | Thursday, 27 March

Electronics startup superpower Kogan is setting up shop in New Zealand. Not literally though, as Kogan operates entirely online and the founder has told StartupSmart he doesn’t believe in omni-channel retailing.   At a recent pitching competition run by this publication, founder and chief executive Ruslan Kogan outlined his growth strategy, advocating ruthless focus on a unique selling point: in his team’s case, price.    You can watch him field questions and share his insights in the video below:

So You Think You Can Start-up winners urge other start-ups to get involved in pitching competitions

2:13AM | Friday, 7 February

A system that automates basic bookkeeping and paperwork for small businesses has won StartupSmart’s So You Think You Can Start-up pitching competition.   Bocastle took out first prize after founder Tim Stroh pitched his business in front of a panel of distinguished judges and nine other finalists and their supporters.   The competition – sponsored by serviced office provider Servcorp and held in their Sydney offices – was live streamed on the internet around the world.   Stroh won office space from Servcorp anywhere around the world valued at $250,000, as well as six months of public relations services with PR expert Sam Dybac, and mentoring sessions with Sydney Seed Fund and StartupSmart’s publisher Private Media.   Stroh says winning came at a great time for Bocastle and he’ll now stop looking for office space.   “The value of a $250,000 credit for office space and serviced office services almost has more value than cash because it’s an office that will scale with you,” he says.   Servcorp also offered on the night the two runners up its virtual office package for six months for free and the remaining seven finalists a two-month virtual office package for free.   Stroh says the number one priority now for Bocastle is to finish raising $1.5 million to $2 million from investors to deliver a fully commercial system.   He urged other start-ups to get involved in pitching competitions, saying the more they did, the more people they’ll meet and receive feedback and become more comfortable doing them.   Second place in the competition went to education course community marketplace WeTeachMe.   Co-founder Kym Huynh, told StartupSmart he hasn’t had a chance to fully reflect on the evening but thought it was a positive experience.   He says he would encourage any other start-ups to get involved in pitch events.   “It was great exposure and it was great to mingle and see what everyone’s doing.”   Third place went to curated legal services marketplace LegalVision.   Co-founder Lachlan McKnight says the feedback he received would go towards changing their pitch for the future.   “We should have given more information on our actual numbers,” he says.   He also encouraged other start-ups to enter pitching competitions, saying they provided exposure and “doing a three minute pitch is a good way of sitting down and having a think about the strengths of your business”.   McKnight also welcomed advice given by judge and founder of Kogan Technologies, Ruslan Kogan, who urged people thinking of starting up businesses to “just do it”.   Image: So You Think You Can Start-up winner Tim Stroh, right, with Servcorp chief operating officer Marcus Moufarrige

So You Think You Can Start-up pitching competition finalists out to impress

2:35AM | Wednesday, 5 February

StartupSmart’s first ever pitching competition, So You Think You Can Start-up, is on tomorrow night. The 10 finalists are competing for a raft of great prizes, including a year’s office space anywhere in the world with sponsor Servcorp valued at $250,000.   The business-to-business start-ups will be pitching in front of a distinguished panel of judges including entrepreneur and founder of Kogan Technologies, Ruslan Kogan, Sydney Seed Fund partner Garry Visontay and start-up expert Dr Jana Matthews.   The event will be webcast live from 6.30pm, Thursday, February 6 and can be seen by registering here and the list of finalists can be viewed here.   StartupSmart received over 100 entries to the competition from a range of industries including enterprise software, consulting, agriculture and outsourcing.   The majority of start-ups were one or two years old, with 40% launching in 2013 and 36% in 2012.

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.

Employee share scheme warning from start-up mentor, as Ollo Mobile takes out pitching prize

8:19PM | Tuesday, 6 August

Ollo Mobile has won a trip to Silicon Valley after beating nine other start-ups in the Small Team, Big Impact competition in Sydney last night.   The pitching competition was coordinated by cloud technology computing company RackSpace. Ten start-ups with fewer than 10 team members were selected to compete.   Ollo Mobile is a new device and system for panic buttons, which elderly or unwell people can use to alert family members and health authorities when they need help.   The other finalists were OpenLearning, Food Orbit, Projectia, Annexium, AuthoPay, Revolutionise, Clipp, Digital Sorbet and Geepers.   The start-ups pitched to a judging panel of Mick Liubinskas from incubator Pollenizer, Kim Heras from start-up network PushStart, Ruslan Kogan from Kogan Electronics, Chris Ridd, the country manager from Xero, and Robert Scoble, Rackspace’s international start-up liaison.   Scoble told StartupSmart he was excited to see an ecosystem beginning in Sydney, but Australia needed to do more to support entrepreneurs.   “San Francisco and New York have ecosystems, as do Tel Aviv, Beijing and Seattle. London kind of has one and Los Angeles is being built. It looks like Sydney has a good one underway. These ecosystems need to keep the geeks in town, or they leave and go somewhere else,” Scoble says.   Despite the growing ecosystem, Scoble cautions Australian struggles with employee share schemes (ESS) are a fundamental issue that needed to be overcome quickly.   “The laws here aren’t letting start-ups use their stock options and equity to motivate people to shelve their jobs at big companies and come and join start-ups,” Scoble says. “Australia needs to deal with this quickly to support your entrepreneurial talent, or they’re going to leave and take their value with them.”   The federal government announced a review of ESS opportunities in June.   Scoble adds start-ups need access to money, talent, public relations and business expertise to get their companies to the point they’re turning over billions.   “When you’re in San Francisco there is such a strong future culture, you can see it in the streets with people trying new things,” he says. “You need access to the idea that your plans are possible and a city with a great culture that encourages that.”

Kogan wins Supreme Court case against ispONE

5:55AM | Thursday, 2 May

Tech retailer Kogan has won its case against ispONE, following several weeks of tense argument in the Victorian Supreme Court.   Kogan’s counsel Norman O'Bryan told SmartCompany this morning the case was, “won comprehensively on every issue”.   The Victorian Supreme Court has said ispONE breached its obligations under the Master Wholesale Agreement to refusing to permit customers to to recharge their services, and must now pay all of Kogan's costs.   The Court order mandates ispONE must be damages in respect of any losses, with that amount to be determined by the two parties. ispONE must also pay Kogan's costs, including those relating to its abandoned counter-claim.   ispONE – which is a former entrant on the SmartCompany Smart50 - was contacted by SmartCompany this morning, but no response was available prior to publication.   In a statement, Kogan Mobile said the victory means customers can “rest assured that their services will not be unlawfully interfered with by the wholesaler”.   “Today is a win for Australians fed up with paying too much for their mobile phone access,” Kogan said in a statement.   “The migration to Kogan Mobile has been one of the largest in Australian telecommunications history, and with today's result we can only see this migration gathering further momentum."   The case began last month when Kogan took ispONE to court, alleging the company had breached the wholesale agreement because it was refusing to recharge the services of some customers. ispONE argued these customers were using too much data.   Although Kogan had advertised the prepaid mobile plans as providing 6GB of data, some users were judged by ispONE to be using too much in a short space of time, in breach of the company’s acceptable use policy.   ispONE responded to the case by alleging Kogan had engaged in “misleading and deceptive conduct”.   The case heated up two weeks ago when Justice James Judd said he was troubled by the case due to the “distraction it causes to business management’s time and effort”.   Ruslan Kogan, founder of the eponymous business, said on Twitter that although the company has won, the case could harm the business’ reputation.   This story first appeared on SmartCompany.

Ruslan Kogan: Kickstarter is a "glorified video editing competition"

3:49AM | Friday, 15 March

Outspoken internet entrepreneur Ruslan Kogan has lashed out at the crowdfunding industry, saying in an interview with SmartCompany the market is nothing more than a "glorified video editing competition".

Cashing in on the apocalypse: Five earth shattering marketing tactics

3:23AM | Monday, 11 March

For many people, the Mayan end-of-the-world prophecy is simply a hyped-up event that will come and pass without notice, just like every other prediction of its kind.

Kogan becomes a telco, targets dissatisfied customers with prepaid SIMs

3:36AM | Monday, 11 March

Internet entrepreneur Ruslan Kogan is once again expanding his bulging online empire, this time moving into telecommunications, with his company now selling pre-paid 3G cards for use with smartphones and tablets.

Formal Apple apology over Maps app a lesson for SMEs

3:03AM | Tuesday, 12 March

Small businesses have been urged to follow Apple's lead when it comes to corporate apologies, with experts saying Tim Cook's admission of fault over the company's poor-performing Maps app is an ideal way to address severe customer service issues.

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.

Smirnoff controversy prompts Facebook comments warning

8:55AM | Monday, 6 August

Start-ups are being urged to monitor comments left on their Facebook pages, after the parent company of Smirnoff failed to monitor distasteful comments made by its Facebook “fans”.

Kogan slams “antiquated” browser after introducing Internet Explorer 7 “tax”

6:28AM | Thursday, 14 June

Online entrepreneur Ruslan Kogan has fulminated against “antiquated” web browsers, after introducing the world’s first “Internet Explorer 7 tax”, effective as of today.

How do I make my business partner work his fair share?

3:26AM | Wednesday, 14 March

How can I ensure that my business partner puts his fair share of hours into the business rather than, as he currently does, swan in for an hour or so before ‘working from home’?   Choosing the right business partner can make or break your business, and the majority of business partnerships fail, and some fail spectacularly.

Getting ideas across the border

11:55PM | Wednesday, 23 November

A trip overseas might not sound like an obvious springboard for business ideas, but the rise of holiday-inspired start-ups certainly suggests a link between jet-setting and entrepreneurialism.

Start-ups dominate Deloitte Technology Fast 50

11:29AM | Tuesday, 22 November

Online powerhouses Catch of the Day, Kogan Technologies and RedBalloon are among the companies to appear in this year’s Deloitte Technology Fast 50 list, which also features iiNet, Atlassian and OzForex.

By Dezign named Australian Independent Retailer of the Year

11:54AM | Tuesday, 15 November

Furniture retailer By Dezign has been named Australian Independent Retailer of the Year, while eyewear company eyeclarity has been named Retail Innovator of the Year.

Retail and tech start-ups fare well in Young Rich list

9:16PM | Thursday, 22 September

Some of Australia’s leading start-up entrepreneurs have made an appearance onto this year’s BRW Young Rich list, with the tech and retail sectors well represented.

Our Apple range will “rattle” retail industry: Kogan

9:21AM | Wednesday, 14 September

Online tech retailer Kogan is to start stocking Apple products in a move that its founder, Ruslan Kogan, claims will “seriously rattle the entire retail market.”

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