Why you became a Geelong Angels member?
I invest in startups and growth businesses independently and have done that for some time; I find it very enjoyable and rewarding in a number of ways. I have been looking for a better way to support an initiative that makes regional support available and more transparent. This is why I was so keen to be a founding member of Geelong Angels and to support the initiative. It is a great way to help entrepreneurs in the region with good ideas, great skills and potential to go global.
What you are interested in as an investor?
Investing in people who have a compelling vision, are passionate and will stop at nothing to succeed! I am also looking for a track record or some indicators as to why someone will succeed either because they have done it before, they have done it for someone else, they have special knowledge or skills and / or they have done something in another space and know how to execute.
Great ideas are just the start and are only about 5% of the potential of any business model. It’s a given you will come to us with a great idea. My challenge is to wade through the great ideas to identify the skills, the people, the space and the timing that will lead to that great idea becoming successful.
I am also interested in things where I can make a tangible difference either through advice, experience and / or my network. The money invested is only a small part of the investment.
Your success story
I’m fortunate to have had two exits two date in my own startups and to have been involved in another four startups that are on the road to success in some way, as well as a number of others that have potential to succeed. I’ve been involved as a founder, co-founder, investor and / or advisor with about 20 startups. One of my current startups, FitMyCar, was recently recognised in the top 50 fastest growing companies in Australia.
I invested in FitMyCar and helped set the business on its way in 2016 after coming across the founder in a business called “Prestige” late in 2014. Since my investment and becoming chair of the FitMyCar board, the business has grown 10x. My most rapid exit and growth story was Sky Software in which I was the major shareholder, founder and CEO. We incorporated the business in March 2011 and sold it in March 2014. In that time we had grown from nothing to over $12m in annual revenue, $6m in ebitda and had nearly 100 staff, many of whom were regionally based in Geelong. When it was acquired by the UK-publicly listed company Tribal Group, it was one of the largest privately held tech companies in regional Australia. I am also a Limited Partner in the successful VC fund, Maven Ventures, based in San Francisco and chairman of Runway.