Southern Cross


First episode of That Startup Show taped in Melbourne

8:37PM | Sunday, 3 August

A who’s who of the tech and startup scene gathered in Melbourne to watch the filming of the first episode of That Startup Show, a new web and TV series aimed at the startup community.   The panel discussion show uses a format reminiscent of the ABC’s The Gruen Transfer. The first half of each episode is spent discussing the issues startups face, such as what constitutes a tech startup and developing effective social media strategy. Meanwhile, the second half sees entrepreneurs pitch their businesses ideas for a chance to win a trip to Silicon Valley.   The program is hosted by Dan Ilic, who some say bears an uncanny resemblance to Futurist Techspert Rambotia Jones. The panel for the first episode comprised of Google Australia’s Alan Noble, BlueChilli’s Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, and StartupSmart’s own Bronwen Clune.   While Melbourne produced the type of winter weather it’s infamous for, the event attracted an enthusiastic crowd to the recently refurbished Savoy Tavern, across the road from Melbourne’s busy Southern Cross Station.   Behind the scenes, there was a full television production crew, including multiple cameras, lighting, video, and sound editing staff. Many of the tech entrepreneurs couldn’t help but take a quick peek at the array of video and sound switching systems used to put the show together.   That Start Up Show producer Anna Reeves told Private Media "from the moment people walked in, you could feel a fun, collegiate mood".   "We're putting that down to the support we've had from our sponsors, community partners and crew who collaborated on so many aspects of the event," Reeves says.   That Start Up Show creative director Ahmed Salama told Private Media the turnout exceeded the crew's wildest expectations.   "We look forward to sharing the diverse and inspiring discussions around startups in this country in the coming episodes. And with some luck, inspire many others on the entrepreneurial journey," Salama says.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Here’s EXACTLY what the government can do to support the startup ecosystem

4:49PM | Monday, 14 April

The Australian tech startup scene is ready to take off, but Australia might become globally irrelevant if our political leaders fail to grasp urgency of the opportunity and scale of required change, according to a report released today by peak not-for-profit group StartupAus.   The 70-page Crossroads: An action plan to develop a vibrant tech startup ecosystem in Australia report details the present-day startup environment and puts forward 23 recommendations to put Australia on track to take part in the global startup boom.   “We can’t put our head in the sand and ignore this domestic and global transformation. We either get ahead of it, or become irrelevant in the global context. As a nation we need to affect systemic change now. Entrepreneurialism is at the heart of this retooling,” entrepreneur Adrian Turner says in the report. You can read the full report here.   According to the report, there are 1000 startups, 1500 founders, 15 incubators and accelerators, as well as seven student incubator programs.   It also includes conservative estimates of the limited Australian investment landscape, with $79 million invested by VC funds in startups in 2013, six funds and $22 million in angel investment deals.   StartupAus board member Peter Bradd told StartupSmart he believes all levels of government know they had to do more to support the startup ecosystem and are keen to, but lack a comprehensive road map showing what needs to be done.   “This is why we’ve shown examples from other countries of how the kind of change we all want can be implemented. We’re not asking for invention and risk, we’re asking to catch up,” Bradd says.   Labelling the government’s support of startups as “extremely modest”, the report also details the effective programs rolled out by the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the European Union.   “We’re not doing much by global standards, so we’re not going to get the opportunities opening up for other countries if we don’t accelerate what we’re doing,” Bradd says.   “We’re very far behind.”   The report, which explicitly states replicating Silicon Valley is not a viable goal worth pursuing, outlines an ‘action plan’ Australia to strengthen its startup ecosystem.   It outlines seven steps that could have an impact in one to two years, 13 that would have an impact in two to five years and three that would have an impact in five to 15 years.   Short-term steps include changing the regulation around employee share programs, creating an entrepreneur visa and relaxing 457 visa restrictions for new businesses, as well as developing a “landing pad” or program for Australian startups heading to Silicon Valley.   Medium-term steps include creating young entrepreneur scholarships, implementing a national learn-to-code promotion program, establishing a seed co-investment fund and creating loan schemes, as well as enabling a better legislative environment for crowdsourced equity.   The long-term steps recommended include a national program of entrepreneurial education, a digital technologies curriculum and a national program to raise awareness about tech startups.   StartupAus is a coalition of 50 tech startup community leaders. It is headed by a board that includes Bradd, Google Australia’s Alan Noble, Southern Cross Venture Partner’s Bill Bartee, RiverCity Labs Steve Baxter and ANZ Innovyz Start Accelerator’s Dr Jana Matthews.

Could you work in a busy Melbourne laneway for a day? I did

11:09AM | Wednesday, 6 November

I’m writing this in the SmartCompany bunker. It’s no quieter than normal, but to me, the silence is deafening.   I’ve spent the better part of today working in a lane. Tucked into an alley next to what is perhaps Melbourne’s busiest train station, it was a loud place to type my articles.   It was also the worst day possible for me to leave the office. Our little news team was two people down. I was out the door before my editor could reconsider the little experiment we’d agreed on.   I turned up to Godfrey Lane, where Hub Melbourne had set up Australia’s first outdoor, pop-up co-working space.   The idea was simple. With laptops, Wi-Fi and batteries, what need was there to stay indoors? Hub Melbourne, which runs a more conventional co-working space just next to Godfrey Lane, thought it’d be fun to try and work outside for a day.   So they threw the event. And 120 people came, including yours truly.   The narrow laneway was a hub of conversation and activity. It was beautiful, filled with balloons, tables, plants and heaters, and free refills of steaming hot tea. And bemused passers-by walking along the redbrick lane to Southern Cross Station.   I grabbed a seat at the head of a table, and was quickly joined by six others along the other seats.   A man in a suit looked sheepish as he explained to his client what they were doing in a laneway. “I don’t normally work here, of course, but I thought this’d be fun,” he said as he led his guest to one of the more secluded tables.   Two women on my table hit it off while talking about their respective businesses. They were soon joined by another. I guess when you’re working in a laneway you’ve got a pre-made ice-breaker.   Hub Australia’s CEO, Brad Krauskopf, said one of the things he most liked about the experiment was the lack of hierarchy.   “No matter which company you’re from or what you’re working on, everyone is on the same level,” he told me. “We’re all working in the gutter, and we’re all having great fun doing it.’   In the lane, Krauskopf spent a productive morning in several meetings, including, appropriately, one about how to expand Hub Australia.   Is a permanent outdoor fixture on the cards?   Story continues on page 2. Please click below. Krauskopf said sure, why not. As long as they get more power boards (there was a persistent shortage of power-points during the day).   “When I got up this morning, it was raining,” he continued. “Which wasn’t great.   “But the future of work is you’ll get the ability to choose where you work. So, if I wanted to, I could choose not to work outside today.   “The other thing I liked was the learning event we did.”   Over lunch, half a dozen speakers got up to share their knowledge. One spoke on the 10 apps he used to travel the world. Another on how companies could boost their productivity through outsourcing. Yet another spoke on the history of co-working.   “The future of work is going to include constant learning,” Krauskopf said. “Anybody who dishes out a job without a good dose of learning is going to find themselves without a job to dish out. It’s very important for any company wanting to stay ahead to keep challenging their people.”   That’s all well and good. But for a wage-slave like me trying to convince their boss to let them work more flexibly, surely the sticking point is productivity.   My editor thinks I did alright.   “In terms of producing content, there was no problem at all,” Melinda Oliver says. “But I lost the ability to bounce ideas and questions off you.”   I got two news pieces done by 11am, scheduled a heap of social media updates, sent a few emails back and forth with people across Private Media, and pursued my usual, neurotic refreshing of our website to see if it’s working as it should.   I don’t think I’ve been noticeably less productive today than I normally am.   Mind you, I made mistakes I don’t normally make. In my highly distracted state, I called and left a message for Nick Xenophon by accident after reading the wrong number on a press release. I was also rather unobservant when it came to proof reading our test email – thankfully the eagle-eyes back in the office spotted what I missed.   It was hard to concentrate outside. With so many things going on around me, it took an enormous amount of willpower to keep ploughing on through my busy morning workload. I’ve no doubt the quality of my writing (and proofreading) suffered somewhat as a result.   The experience certainly made me appreciate highly controlled, indoor environments. With few distractions, it’s easier to focus on the work. The Melbourne CBD is nothing if not busy.   But as Krauskopf says, when the revolution comes, we won’t have to work outside if we don’t want to.   The great outdoors do have one thing going for them. As one of my colleagues for a day said, at least outside, you can smoke without leaving your desk.   This story first appeared on SmartCompany.

THE NEWS WRAP: Still no suspects in “heinous and cowardly” terrorist act

4:31PM | Tuesday, 16 April

US President Barack Obama has delivered a second television address following the bombing of the Boston Marathon as investigators continue to search for evidence.   “This was a heinous and cowardly act and, given what we now know took place, the FBI is investigating this as an act of terrorism,” Obama said.   President Obama also downplayed growing speculation that a domestic terrorist group was responsible for the attack, noting that investigators are still looking for a suspect.   “We don’t have a sense of motive yet, so everything at this point is speculation.”   Nine proposes media reforms in a bid to save its merger with Southern Cross   Nine Entertainment has proposed a series of reforms to Australian broadcasting regulations in a submission to the joint select committee on broadcasting legislation.   Under Nine’s proposal, the 75% reach rule would be scrapped, paving the way for a proposed merger with regional broadcaster Southern Cross, along with obligations on any broadcaster with a reach greater than 75% to provide regional viewers with 22 minutes of local news each evening.   “Nine estimates that in order to meet this requirement it would need to have approximately 200 journalists and news production staff employed in regional areas,” its submission states.   IMF cuts global growth forecast   The International Monetary Fund has released its latest World Economic Outlook report, cutting its growth forecast for 2013 from 3.5% to 3.3%.   “Global prospects have improved again but the road to recovery in the advanced economies will remain bumpy,” the IMF report states.   “In the medium term, the key risks relate to adjustment fatigue, insufficient institutional reform, and prolonged stagnation in the euro area as well as high fiscal deficits and debt in the United States and Japan.”   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 1.07% to 14,755.01. The Aussie dollar is down to US103.89 cents.

THE NEWS WRAP: Nine to press on with Southern Cross merger plans

3:30PM | Wednesday, 20 March

Nine Entertainment is pressing on with plans to merge with Southern Cross Media, despite the possibility that legislation to repeal the 75% reach rule will fail to pass the Parliament.   Among the possibilities being considered is the potential sale of Southern Cross regional affiliates outside the key markets regional Queensland, Victoria and southern NSW following a merger, or a Nine Entertainment takeover of Southern Cross stations in those markets.   However, Nine Entertainment shareholders are believed to favour a merger rather than a takeover of selected stations, as this would give the broadcaster a back-door listing that would allow them to sell down their stake in the media company.   Dry expectations crop Elders growth   Agribusiness giant Elders has reported it expects to report a small loss during the first half of this year due to dry conditions across large parts of rural Australia.   While the company’s live export trade remains strong and northern Australia experienced a normal wet season, dry conditions across parts of New South Wales, Victoria and Australia slowed demand for farm supplies.   “Dry and hot weather conditions over the summer have led to a reduction in demand for agricultural chemicals across the cropping and livestock sectors,” Elders chief executive Malcolm Jackman said.   South Korean banks and broadcasters hacked   Hackers have attacked several major banks and broadcasters across South Korea, just days after North Korea accused the US and South Korea of hacking its websites.   Two major banks, as well as television stations KBS, MBC and YTN were all targeted in the attacks, which affected companies hosted by LG UPlus Corp.   South Korean police are investigating the cyber-attacks, but the government is not currently blaming its northern neighbour for the attacks.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.39% to 14,511.80. The Aussie dollar is steady at US103.78 cents.

THE NEWS WRAP: Woolworths plays down its marketshare

3:35AM | Friday, 15 March

Senior Woolworths executives are in Canberra claiming the supermarket giant is not as powerful as some people believe, as the federal government drafts an enforceable industry code of conduct.

THE NEWS WRAP: Coalition to consult Productivity Commission on IR reforms – but no changes until 2016

3:38AM | Friday, 15 March

The Coalition has revealed it plans to consult with the Productivity Commission about reforms to the industrial relations system if it wins the next election, but any reforms will wait until 2016.

New Christmas theft figures prompt security warning

3:35AM | Monday, 11 March

Businesses are being urged to ramp up their security measures in the lead-up to Christmas and over the holiday break, on the back of a report highlighting the extent of Christmas theft in 2012.

THE NEWS WRAP: Italian PM’s resignation sends jitters through global markets

3:44AM | Monday, 11 March

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has announced he will step down ahead of a general election, sending shockwaves through European financial markets.

Royal prank will cost Austereo “hundreds of thousands” amidst global outrage

3:48AM | Monday, 11 March

The royal prank call that went tragically wrong has sparked a worldwide social media storm and radio network Austereo has suspended all advertising on 2Day FM in a move likely to cost it hundreds of thousands of dollars.