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Drive and determination keys to investment for entrepreneurs

Wednesday, 11 December 2013 | By Gavin Lower

Gavin Appel, partner at Square Peg Capital, loves what he does and describes himself as a “passionate guy”.


“I strive to learn every day I’m on the job,” he tells StartupSmart.


It’s the same passion he says he wants to see in other entrepreneurs who may be seeking investment.


“I want to see the sparkle in their eyes that I had in my eyes. That drive and determination to succeed,” he says as he prepares to speak at a Startup Grind event in Melbourne on Wednesday.


Appel knows what he’s talking about.


He was the second employee at Hitwise, the website traffic measurement business that was acquired by information services company Experian in 2007 for $240 million.


At Hitwise he started out in a managerial role and then became its chief technology officer. After Hitwise was taken over, he became senior vice president at Experian, responsible for building a global research and development centre in Malaysia.


“I didn’t think I’d last six months in a corporate but I was there for four years,” he says, emphasising that continuing to learn was a “big thing” for him.


Appel says Square Peg sees up to 150 companies a month but “in reality we invest in less than one of them”.


“At the end of the day we’re putting hard-earned capital to work.


“It has to be something really special.”


Square Peg, which is backed by Seek co-founder Paul Bassat, James Packer and the billionaire Liberman family, has invested in a range of companies including digital referral company ROKT, travel search engine Wego, and server configuration tester Scriptrock.


“There’s a lot of activity going on in Australia and it’s exciting for Square Peg to be part of that,” Appel says.


“We’re finding a lot of great entrepreneurs are doing a lot of great things.”