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Controversial tech entrepreneur to political leader: The new startup career path

4:45PM | Tuesday, 22 April

Controversial tech entrepreneur Kim Dotcom has announced the formation of a new political party, known as the Internet Party, ahead of New Zealand’s next general elections in September.   German-born Dotcom is best known as the founder of the controversial file sharing website Megaupload, for which he was indicted in the US on charges relating to piracy.   Since then, he’s gone on to launch a new venture, a highly encrypted cloud storage service called Mega.   His new party’s positions include delivering cheaper high-speed internet, better oversight of spy agencies, opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, copyright reform, the introduction of a digital currency and the introduction of a digital bill of rights.   However, Dotcom is far from the first tech figure to turn to politics – with some having more success than others.   StartupSmart looks at five other high-profile tech figures from the tech world who have gone on to their hand at politics – often with mixed results.   1. Julian Assange, Wikileaks Party   Should Dotcom’s party get off the ground, his political career will inevitably be compared with that of Julian Assange.   Assange is best known as the founder of whistleblower website Wikileaks, along with a long-running series of court cases relating to rape allegations in Sweden. Since August 2012, facing the threat of arrest, Assange has been granted asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.   After being granted asylum, Assange announced plans to form a Wikileaks political party. The Wikileaks Party contested the 2013 federal election, but only received 0.66% of the vote.   Along the way, several high-profile candidates, including prominent academic and former Wikileaks lead Senate candidate Leslie Cannold, abandoned the party.   2. Ross Perot, Reform Party   A far more successful minor party campaign was run in the US by Texan tech entrepreneur Ross Perot.   Perot got his start in the tech industry all the way back in 1962, when he launched an information technology equipment company called Electronic Data Systems. Perot eventually sold the company to General Motors in 1984, which in turn sold the company to HP in 2008.   It was around the time of the sale to General Motors that Perot met another young tech executive named Steve Jobs. After being ousted from Apple, Jobs had launched a new tech startup called NeXT, and Perot decided to make an investment.   The products Jobs’ company developed included an operating system called NeXTStep, which would eventually form the basis of Mac OS-X and iOS after Jobs returned to Apple. Perot also sold another venture – Perot Systems – to Dell in 2009 for $US3.9 billion.   Of course, these days, Perot is best known for standing as an independent third candidate in the 1992 US presidential election against incumbent George Bush Snr. and Democratic Party candidate Bill Clinton.   The Texan stood on a platform combining a mix of policies mixing positions traditionally advocated with the left and the right of US politics. For example, Perot advocated a balanced budget, a tough stance on drug policy and opposition to gun control. However, he also advocated in favour of abortion rights, protectionism, an end to outsourcing and a strong Environmental Protection Agency.   Perot ended up winning 18.91% of the vote, an incredible result for an independent presidential candidate in the US. He stood a second time in 1996, picking up 8% of the vote against President Bill Clinton and Republican candidate Bob Dole.   Story continues on page 2. Please click below. 3. Rickard Falkvinge, Pirate Party   Of course, when it comes to Kim Dotcom, perhaps the best political role model to follow might be Rickard Falkvinge.   Falkvinge grew up in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, next door to the home ground of football club Västra Frölunda.   Falkvinge’s biography reads like a list of tech entrepreneur clichés. He got his first computer, a Commodore VIC-20, when he was just eight-years-old. By the age of 16, he had launched his first tech startup, a company called Infoteknik. At the age of 18, Falkvinge hired his first employee.   More than making profits, Falkvinge was motivated by the free exchange of ideas that came with the early home computer market. He grew increasingly concerned that harsher copyright laws being lobbied for by the motion picture and record industries could stifle online innovation.   His concerns about patents, copyright law and file sharing restrictions led Falkvinge to form a new political party. On January 1, 2006, he launched the website of his newest venture – dubbed the Pirate Party.   While the new party managed just 0.63% of the vote in its first Swedish elections, it grew to 7.13% for the 2009 European elections. The pirate party model was mirrored internationally, including in Australia. On January 1, 2011 – five years after its launch – Falkvinge stood down as party leader, handing control to his deputy, Anna Troberg.   4. Malcolm Turnbull, Liberal Party   In Australia, the most prominent example of a (far less controversial) tech executive turned entrepreneur is communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull. Before entering into federal politics, Turnbull has served in many roles, including as the general counsel to Kerry Packer’s Consolidated Media Holdings, the cofounder of law firm Turnbull McWilliam, the chair of the Australian Republican Movement, a journalist and a partner at Goldman Sachs.   Turnbull became the chair of pioneering Australian internet service provider OzEmail in 1994, also becoming an investor in the company. In 1999, at the peak of the ‘90s tech boom, Turnbull sold the company to US telco MCI WorldCom.   In 2004, Turnbull won the by-election for the federal seat of Wentworth, being elected as the local Liberal Party MP at the general election later that year. Since then, he has served as the environment minister in the Howard government, as well as the leader of the opposition.   5. Paul Fletcher, Liberal Party   These days, Paul Fletcher is best known as the Liberal MP for the federal seat of Bradfield, as well as a parliamentary secretary to the minister for communications. It’s a position he’s held since December 2009, when he won the seat at a by-election after former opposition leader Brendan Nelson retired from politics.   However, before entering into politics, Fletcher served as a senior executive in one of Australia’s largest telecommunications companies Optus, between 2000 and 2008.   After stepping down from the role, Fletcher authored a book titled Wired Brown Land? Telstra's Battle for Broadband, which dissected the case for Telstra being allowed to build the national broadband network.   He has also run a strategic consulting business focusing on the communications industry, and also served as the chief of staff to former communications minister Richard Alston.

10 events and trends that shaped the tech industry in 2013

12:02AM | Friday, 6 December

The tech sector has always been hyper-competitive, and never has this been truer than in 2013.   For the likes of Twitter, Samsung and Google, the harvest of 2013 was bountiful.   However, from the perspective of Nokia, Microsoft, BlackBerry or the PC industry, it was a year to forget.   Here’s a look back at 10 of the big events and trends that shaped the tech sector in 2013.   1. One billion smartphones sold this year – and counting   The most important tech story of 2013 didn’t take place with a major product announcement or a Steve Jobs-style keynote speech.   Instead, it took place without fanfare at an ordinary mobile phone retailer somewhere deep in suburbia.   It was there that a consumer decided to purchase the one billionth smartphone to be sold during 2013.   To put that number in perspective, it is projected that 227.3 million tablets shipped worldwide during 2013, 158 million television sets, 180.9 million portable PCs and 134.4 million desktop PCs.   Meanwhile, figures from market analysts IDC show smartphones also outsold featurephones worldwide for the first time in history during the first quarter of 2013.   What this means is that while smartphones now account for more than half of the 418.6 million mobile phones shipped worldwide each quarter, there are still millions of old-fashioned featurephones being sold each year.   Especially in the low-end of the market and in emerging economies, that means there’s plenty of extra room for growth in the future – especially at the low-end of the market.   Make no mistake about it. The smartphone industry is big – far bigger than the PC or TV business. And it’s only going to get bigger in 2014.   2. Google Android and Samsung: The juggernaut rolls on The biggest winners from the spectacular, ongoing growth of the smartphone market have been Samsung and Google.   Last year, smartphones running Google Android outsold Apple. In 2013, that trend morphed into total industry domination.   For example, of the 261.1 million smartphones shipped worldwide during the third quarter of 2013, 211.6 million or over 80% ran Google’s Android operating system.   That compares to just 33.8 million iPhones, representing around 12.9% of the market, and a measly 3.6% for Windows Phone.   Samsung managed to ship 72.4 million smartphones during the second quarter of 2013 alone, representing around 30.4% of the market – more than double Apple’s sales during the same period.   Those device sales also mean increased component orders flowing through the various divisions of the South Korean tech conglomerate, which manufactures everything from semiconductors to batteries and smartphone displays.   The growing strength of the South Korean electronics behemoth is demonstrated by its advertising and marketing budget, which has been estimated at around $US14 billion worldwide.   To put that figure into perspective, as of 2011, North Korea’s entire national economy was estimated to stand at $US12.385 billion.   3. The PC industry bloodbath   While Google and Samsung have had a stellar year in 2013, the same certainly can’t be said for the PC industry.   The September quarter was the sixth consecutive quarter of falls, according to Gartner, with shipments falling to 80.2 million units for the quarter from 87.8 million a year earlier.   Figures released by IDC forecast PC shipments for the full year to fall 9.7% in 2013.   More alarmingly, it appears the emerging middle class in China, India and Brazil aren’t keen on buying computers, with total PC shipments in emerging markets expected to drop from 205.2 million to 185 million this year.   Australia and New Zealand led the trend, with a massive 21% year-on-year fall in shipments for first quarter in Australia, along with a more astounding 27% fall in New Zealand.   The implosion of the PC market was disastrous for a number of PC makers, including Dell, HP and Acer.   In August, HP announced a major shake-up of its senior management team after announcing a large 15% year-on-year drop in net earnings and a 22% drop in revenue from consumer devices during its quarterly results.   That same month, Dell reported a massive 72% year-on-year collapse in quarterly earnings, while a consortium including founder Michael Dell, Silver Lake Capital and Microsoft successfully fought off high-profile investor Carl Icahn’s bid for control of the company.   And at Acer, founder Stan Shih made a surprise return as interim chairman and president, following the resignation of former chief executive JT Wang and president Jim Wong after the company recorded a record third-quarter loss.   The resignations came after Acer announced its consolidated revenues for the third-quarter of 2013 fell 11.8% year-on-year to $US3.11 billion, resulting in an operating loss of $US86.6 million.   4. Surface falls flat   On top of falling PC sales and 3.6% Windows Phone market share, the news was dire for Microsoft on another front in 2013.   Late last year, Microsoft launched its Surface series of tablets as a first step towards making devices, with the company believed to have manufactured around six million units.   The release of the Surface instantly made Microsoft a direct competitor to many of its already struggling PC partners, straining relations in the process.   Fast forward to July of this year when Microsoft announced a massive $US900 million writedown on its inventory of unsold tablets. The writedown came less than a week after Microsoft announced a large price cut of $US150 for the struggling product line.   Adding insult to injury, Microsoft also revealed it has spent $US898 million advertising the tablets, while only generating $US853 million in sales.   According to many leading analysts, the company was believed to have sold just 1.7 million of the six million tablets it had built.   To put those numbers in perspective, Apple sells around 14.6 million iPads each quarter, while Samsung sells around 8.8 million.   5. Steve Ballmer resigns   During the 1990s, Microsoft was undeniably the 800-pound gorilla of the tech industry.   Then, in January 2000, founder Bill Gates stood aside as chief executive, in favour of Steve Ballmer, in order to focus on his philanthropic efforts.   Since then, the company has lost much of its former dynamism, and has failed to become the dominant player in a range of new technologies that have emerged since then, including search, tablets, smartphones or social media.   In August last year, Vanity Fair magazine journalist Kurt Eichenwald ran a feature exploring why Microsoft fell behind its rivals. A management technique called stack ranking was almost universally blamed.   “If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, two people were going to get a great review, seven were going to get mediocre reviews, and one was going to get a terrible review,” a former software developer told Eichenwald. “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”   Add the low market share for Windows Phone, poor sales of the Surface and the PC industry bloodbath, and it became clear something had to give at Microsoft.   In July, the company announced a major management restructure, with the company’s strategy shifting to focus on “devices and services”.   Then, just one month later, Ballmer resigned as chief executive, with stack ranking dumped as a management technique soon after.   The Redmond, Washington-based tech giant is currently searching for his replacement.   Story continues on page 2. Please click below. 6. Nokia sold for a song   Soon after Ballmer’s resignation, the news was overshadowed by an even bigger story.   In September, Microsoft announced it was buying Nokia’s smartphone and devices businesses for $US7.2 billion, with the Finnish telecommunications company retaining its Nokia-Siemens services network equipment business and the Nokia brand name.   The deal came after Nokia announced its smartphone sales had slumped 27% year-on-year during the second quarter of 2013, with an overall loss of €115 million ($A190 million) for the quarter.   The sales plunge was led by the company’s Windows Phone-based Lumia smartphone unit, where shipments fell 27% from 10.2 million units during the second quarter of 2012 to just 7.4 million for the same quarter in 2013.   To put that number into perspective, it was a little over one-tenth the number of smartphones sold by Samsung during the same quarter.   It was an inglorious end to a company that absolutely dominated the mobile industry through the 1990s and 2000s. As recently as 2010, when Apple sold 47 million smartphones, Nokia managed to sell 104 million.   According to prominent industry analysts, such as former Nokia executive Tomi Ahonen, the fateful moment came in February 2011, when then chief executive Stephen Elop made the decision to switch its smartphones to the Windows Phone operating system.   Soon after, a leaked internal letter from Elop known as the “burning platform” memo likened the company’s situation in the mobile phone market to a person standing on a burning oil platform.   After the takeover was announced, Elop was named as one of the top contenders for the position of Microsoft chief executive.   7. BlackBerry’s failed comeback and takeover attempt   It wasn’t just Nokia that had a tough time in the smartphone market at the hands of Samsung and Google.   In January, BlackBerry launched its new, all-touch BlackBerry 10 smartphone operating system. The platform, originally scheduled for late 2011, had been delayed by a year, preventing the company launching a flagship phone in 2012.   The Australian launch for the first smartphone to run the new platform, the Z10, came in March at a gala event in Sydney hosted by Adam Spencer. A second device using a traditional BlackBerry keyboard, called the Q10, came soon after.   While the reviews were generally positive, the new devices failed to be the big comeback success the company’s then-chief executive, Thorsten Heins, had hoped for.   By August, the company formed a special five-member panel to examine takeover options after director and Canadian investment guru Prem Watsa quit the board.   In its September quarter results, the full carnage was laid bare. The Canadian smartphone maker reported just $US1.6 billion in revenues for the quarter, down 45% year-on-year and 49% quarter-on-quarter.   The company also revealed it sold just 3.7 million smartphones for the quarter – and less than half of those ran BlackBerry 10.   Total losses came in at $US965 million, including a massive $US934 million inventory writedown against unsold stock of the company’s Z10 smartphone.   The company announced more than 4500 staff layoffs, representing nearly 40% of its global workforce, while Heins bought a new private jet.   Meanwhile, the company’s rollout of its Messenger app for Android and iOS was frozen due to technical issues with its release.   In early November, with banks uncertain of the company’s long-term future, Watsa failed to raise the requisite $4.7 billion for a buyout, instead lending the company $US1 billion.   As part of the deal, Heins stood aside as chief executive, replaced by former Sybase chief executive John Chen, with Watsa rejoining the board.   Heins received a $US22 million golden parachute for his efforts, significantly less than the $US55.6 million he would have received had the sale gone through.   8. The Twitter IPO   Last year, Facebook’s disastrous IPO ended in tears – followed by lawsuits.   Thankfully, the outcome was not repeated when its social media rival, Twitter, listed on the New York Stock Exchange in November.   After opening at $US26 per share, the company’s share price surged 72.69% in its first trading session.   It closed at $US44.90 per share, before dropping slightly to $US44.44 in after-hours trading.   Making the result even more amazing was the state of its balance sheet.   While the tech giant has revenues of $US534.46 million and around 230 million users worldwide, it has never posted a profit.   Despite this, the company now has a market capitalisation north of $US20 billion, with chief executive Dick Costolo claiming the company’s long-term investment strategy has prevented it from chasing profits in the short term.   9. iOS7, iPhones and iPads   For Apple, 2013 was a solid if somewhat unspectacular year.   In June, the company released a redesigned version of its smartphone and mobile operating system, iOS7, alongside a new version of its Mac OS X desktop operating system, known as Mavericks.   It was the year that Apple finally unveiled a low-cost version of its iPhone, known as the iPhone 5c, alongside a new 64-bit flagship smartphone called the iPhone 5s, complete with a 64-bit processor and a fingerprint sensor.   Then, in October, the company unveiled a lighter version of its iPad, known as the iPad Air.   None of the products had the industry-shaking impact of the unveiling of the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone or iPad.   That said, with billions in profits each quarter, a solid second place in the smartphone market and the world’s biggest selling tablet, solid and unspectacular for Apple is better than most companies could dream of.   10. Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launch   Last, but certainly not least for gamers, 2013 marked the introduction of next generation games consoles from both Sony and Microsoft.   Coming a year after Nintendo launched its Wii U system, Sony announced one million first-day sales of its PlayStation 4 system, but the launch was marred by a number of angry consumers taking to social media to complain about non-functional systems.   Sony’s first-day sales were soon matched by the first-day sales of Microsoft’s new Xbox One system.   So how will the two new devices perform over the long term? We’ll have to wait until next year to find out!   This story first appeared on SmartCompany.

International investment trends: Mobile apps up and games down

11:24AM | Friday, 15 November

Over $US60 billion ($64 billion) worth of investment deals were done internationally in quarter three this year, up significantly from $US23 billion in the same quarter in 2012, with the Asia-Pacific region leading the average deal value with $30.4 million.   According to quarter three’s Internet Dealbook produced by Right Click Capital, 985 deals were made this quarter, down from 1248 made in the same period in 2012.   In the last year, financial services and transaction related deals were up by 284%, and mobile apps up by 381%. E-commerce deals were down by 36%, and software as a service by 11%.   The games industry has slumped with total deal value dropping by 90% since quarter two 2013.   Right Click Capital partner Benjamin Chong told StartupSmart the data revealed some interesting target industries for local founders.   “There continues to be a lot of interest in mobile apps, so the acquisition and investment amounts have gone up, but there has been a big decrease on games,” ,” Chong says. “There are some amazing success stories but it appears investor appetite for games has waned. Investors are focusing more on serious apps and those that can provide ongoing value to users.”   Chong says he was surprised software-as-a-service (Saas) investment trend.   “I would’ve assumed software-as-a-service would’ve trended up, so this is definitely one to keep an eye on. I’m still very positive and bullish about SaaS, as for the target business market the model of pay by month makes a lot of sense and anecdotally is taking off,” Chong says.   Despite the lower number of deals made, the average deal value (over $81 million) was almost triple 2012 quarter three average (over $27 million).   RightClick Capital omitted the multi-billion Verizon deal from the totals as it would skew results, but infrastructure investment boomed on the back of Dell returning to being a privately owned businesses and a series of large deals including the Microsoft-Nokia deal.   “Australian founders who have start-ups who can add significant strategic value to these large companies and recent deals should explore the new partnerships to create value for themselves,” Chong says.

THE NEWS WRAP: Wesfarmers reports $2.26 billion profit, defends Coles fuel dockets

8:25PM | Thursday, 15 August

Coles’ parent company, Wesfarmers, has reported a full year profit of $2.26 billion for the year to June, with chief executive Richard Goyder defending fuel dockets in the face of an ACCC investigation.   Coles reported a 13.1% increase in earnings before interest and tax to $1.53 billion, with revenues up 4.8% to $35.78 billion.   Goyder also defends the use of shopper docket discounts on fuel in the face of criticism the practice harms smaller retailers.   “We try to give our customers what they want, and clearly they have a strong desire for these dockets at a time when they are under significant cost pressures in their daily lives,” Goyder says.   Packer hopes Japan will be the next jewel in the Crown   Crown executive chairman James Packer has expressed interest in bidding for a gaming licence in Japan if Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party goes ahead with granting licences for a Singapore-style casino resort.   “If Japan comes on it will be the second-biggest gaming market in the world. It has 100 million people who are all mad gamblers but they are all doing it through horse racing and pachinko. Japan is looking at the Singapore story," Packer says.   "Japan is two to three years before it all gets serious, which is perfect for us because we will have Macau Studio City open and the Philippines open.   "Crown Perth will be finished and Crown Sydney should be well underway, approvals pending. It is just going through the political process at the moment in Japan."   Dell reports 72% drop in quarterly earnings as PC sales crash   Dell has reported net income for the second quarter of $US204 million, down a massive 72% from $US732 million year-on-year.   “It was predictably bad. It's not a big surprise that margins compressed to the degree that they did, when they're prioritizing sales volume over profitability," Morningstar analyst Carr Lanphier told Reuters.   The news comes as founder Michael Dell battles prominent investor Carl Icahn over the company’s future, with Dell hoping to take the company he founded private.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 1.47% to 15112.2. The Aussie dollar is up to US91.41 cents.

Should you develop your apps and websites for Android, Windows or Apple?

6:06AM | Wednesday, 19 June

Once upon a time, figuring out which personal computer platform to develop your program or website for was easy.   In these tech good ‘ole days known as the mid-90s, DOS and – later – Windows accounted for well over 90% of both the home and office computer markets. Old Taskmaster remembers the days when the overwhelming majority of computer users knew the frustration of an error message that said “illegal operation”.   Bill Gates racked up a number of anti-trust lawsuits trying to keep it that way. Any company standing in the way of this tech juggernaut – from Borland and Word Perfect to Netscape and very nearly Apple – were driven out of town like the evildoer in a spaghetti western.   Back then, the rules were simple: Develop it for Windows.   If it particularly appealed to graphic designers in black skivvies and berets, consider porting it to the Mac. If you were a blind open source ideologue, you might also port it to Linux and boast about it on Slashdot (after all, 1999 was the year of Linux on the desktop – or was that 2009?).   But nowadays, things are a little more confusing. There are smartphones, tablets, PCs, laptops and other web devices to consider. Even if you just have a website, you still have to consider which devices and browsers to optimise for. (And before you say “it should work perfectly on everything”, you probably won’t test your site on Contiki for the Commodore 64, or the Telecom Computerphone, now will you?!)   If you’re developing for Australian consumers, which of the big three – Android, iOS or Windows – should you focus on? Old Taskmaster has some food for thought:   Smartphones   If you want to develop a smartphone app it has to work on Android. Period.   According to Kantar WorldPanel, Android now accounts for 69.4% of all Australian smartphones and 69.6% of the world market. In comparison, iPhones make up 28.1% of the market in Australia and 18.4% worldwide.   In other words, if you have a mobile app that doesn’t run on Android or a mobile site that doesn’t quite look right on a Samsung Galaxy S4, you’ve just lost three-quarters of the market.   Tablets   The Australian tablet market grew 147% year on year, with Aussies now buying 1.14 million of the things each quarter. But as sales of tablets have gone up, Apple’s marketshare has gone down.   One year ago, the iPad made up 80% of the Aussie market, while today it’s just 56%. Meanwhile in the same time Android has grown from 18% to 36%. Meanwhile, despite all the hype from Microsoft, they only claim 8% of the market.   Desktops   While desktop computer sales fell a massive 21% year-on-year during the first quarter of 2013, they still remain an important platform. Here, Windows still runs the show.   HP controls 19% of the market, followed by Dell (15%), Lenovo (11%), and Toshiba (9%), with no-name computer shops down the road making up the other 28%. In contrast, Apple has 18%.   Still confused?   By the numbers, Old Taskmaster says it’s really simple. Find out which sort of device your customers prefer to use the most, and prioritise your apps and websites accordingly.   If you want your app or website on smartphones, it has to be built for Android. If you want it primarily on tablets, it’s Apple first and Android second. If you want desktop computers, it’s still Windows, with Apple a distant second.   So knowing the figures, are you developing for the right platforms? If not, it’s time to get your priorities right!   Get it done – today!

Investors: the missing link for female entrepreneurs

6:20PM | Tuesday, 4 June

Wendy Simpson knows the one thing she would do to raise the number of women in business leadership.   "For all the discussion about the statistics on the number of women on boards (15.7% on the ASX200), and the number of women in senior management, the number that upsets me the most is that only 2% of venture capital money goes into businesses led by women," the Springboard Australia chief says.   "If we fixed that, think of [how that] will shift our economy, and women's leadership in general."   The pressures women face sourcing capital is an issue close to Simpson's heart, given she experienced them herself back in 2010 while attempting to buy out her partner in the engineering company she part-owned. "It was very difficult, as a women, to raise capital for a manufacturing company in Australia," she tells StartupSmart from the Dell Women's Entrepreneurs Network conference in Istanbul. "I didn't know how to do it. I went around various private equity and venture capital firms, trying to look at how to actually fund the growth of a company."   At a DWEN conference three years ago, Simpson met a woman who could help.   Kay Koplovitz is the founder and CEO of American cable company Koplovitz & Co. In 2000, Koplovitz founded Springboard Enterprises, an organisation dedicated to teaching women how to pitch for capital.   Simpson, fresh with the memory of her own funding problems, lobbied Koplovitz to bring Springboard to Australia, a vision she achieved a year ago.   Since then, the company has coached its first intake of Australian female entrepreneurs in how to grow million-dollar businesses.   Simpson stresses the fact that they're million-dollar businesses they're hoping to assist, rather than women launching successful small businesses. She sees her role as helping big businesses while they're still small. Through coaching, mock investor presentations and feedback, Springboard helps these business owners position themselves for growth.   To grow large and successful, you need to get your structure and pitch right from the beginning, says Amy Millman, who heads up Springboard in America.   "The actual reason most entrepreneurs can't get money is usually that there's something else missing. That absence adds risk to investors.   "Big bankers are very black and white. If you don't have a certain numbers or structures, they're not going to even look at you. But the whole process of thinking like an investor is something foreign to most entrepreneurs.   "So we decided to be like Hollywood agents for entrepreneurs. We help them speak 'investor'."   Asked whether there are unique constraints in Australia holding female entrepreneurs back, both women say the key issue is remarkably the same across both continents.   "Investors invest in the jockey not the horse. They want to know you're somebody they can work with. Yes, they care about the business. But if they haven't established a rapport with you, if you haven't said why you're the person they should invest in, you're at a disadvantage," Millman says.   "Most women don't think their personal story is relevant to investors. In Australia, they have an excuse, which is the 'tall poppy syndrome'. In America, we don't have that excuse, but it's the same problem."   Pitching yourself along with your business would help entrepreneurs avoid another common pitfall: not clearly articulating what differentiates them from the rest.   "Often you get so involved in the intricacies of your product and what you're doing, you don't understand what's different about it. With plenty of startups there are many people doing something similar. You have to stand out from the crowd," Millman says.   "Honestly, I can count on one hand the number of people who've been effective in explaining what their niche is. They're very involved in explaining their algorithm. That's not going to work. It's about what makes you different from the next person who can do the same thing.   "If you're going to compete with Microsoft, investors need to know what makes you think you in particular will be able to do it."   Myriam Robin is in Istanbul as a guest of Dell, which paid for her flights and accommodation.

Dell's social media head tells SMEs to start talking online

3:43AM | Friday, 15 March

Businesses shouldn’t wait to hear noise about their brand on social media in order to start a conversation, but instead should look to engage in commentary about their industry, Dell’s head of social media has urged Australian SMEs.

Sydney doctor named among world’s 50 best new start-ups

3:42AM | Tuesday, 12 March

A start-up launched by a Sydney doctor to aid paediatric care in remote Aboriginal communities has been named among the world’s 50 most innovative new businesses by Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Five top pieces of business tech from the IFA show

9:30AM | Thursday, 6 September

The falling cost in technology has been widely credited for lowering the barriers to entry for new start-ups.

NSW schoolboy snags big-name brands for 360º Mall retail launch

9:44AM | Monday, 3 September

More than 100 brands have signed up for The 360º Mall, a 3D shopping centre created by a 16-year-old NSW schoolboy that will launch in Australia next month.

Dell announces $60 million fund for storage start-ups

7:35AM | Wednesday, 18 July

Tech giant Dell is hoping a new $60 million fund dubbed the Dell Fluid Data Storage Fund will win the hearts of tech start-ups, insisting it will contribute sweat equity in addition to money.

$5 billion program set to boost female entrepreneurship in Australia

5:34AM | Thursday, 24 May

An Australian-first program to connect women with entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts launched in Sydney yesterday.

Twitter to open up promoted tweets to advertisers

6:20AM | Monday, 4 June

Twitter is to place advertisements in the timelines of users who follow a particular brand, but an industry expert says small businesses should be wary of using the network as an advertising platform.

Dell data breach prompts cyber crime warning

4:33AM | Friday, 8 April

An IT security expert says that small businesses need to be aware of five key areas to protect their data, following the revelation that hackers stole the personal information of thousands of Dell customers.

THE NEWS WRAP: Hackers access Dell customer information

4:22AM | Friday, 8 April

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey has backed down from his call to tax trusts at the same rate as companies, just 24 hours after floating the proposal.

Tablets and apps dominate 2011 CES

1:25PM | Sunday, 16 January

Start-ups have been urged to take note of the hottest trends at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, which showcases the latest innovations in gadgets and technology.

Start-ups urged to conduct IT audits

12:50AM | Tuesday, 21 December

Start-ups are being urged to conduct an IT audit over the Christmas downtime to ensure their systems are up to scratch for 2011.

Top tablets for business

1:26PM | Sunday, 16 January

A flurry of recent activity in the exploding tablet market has raised the prospect of a much greater choice of tools for small businesses.

Top 10 purchases from the US

12:45AM | Wednesday, 8 December

Much like a flagging marathon runner, the US dollar, burdened by an exhausted economy, is in danger of being overtaken by its sprightly Australian equivalent. The Aussie dollar has broken through the US97 cent mark and looks set to achieve parity for the first time in nearly 30 years.

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