West Tech Fest is the ultimate week of startup events here, in Perth. It entices innovators, investors and entrepreneurs from the east coast and overseas to see what Perth has to offer (a lot). Now, on their 8th year, they assembled a killer group of expert speakers who dropped countless value bombs. Here are our favourites.
#1 Bill Tai on Culture
Bill Tai is one of the world’s best known early-stage investors, and it’s no secret that he loves a kitesurf on Perth’s beaches. He’s invested in Canva, TreasureData and BitFury. Basically, when Bill talks, we listen. In his fireside chat and the following panel discussion, Bill called for founders to build a cult-like devotion in their employees through the power of a strong company culture.
Bill describes culture with a simple metaphor. Imagine your early-stage startup as a motorbike. It glides at high-speed on the road, gracefully gliding around corners. These corners are your pivots and new challenges. As the company grows, it becomes a bloated road train. At the same speed, it loses its agility, but with a strong culture and purpose, the corners are long and require little deviation from its path.
A clear mission, set of values and beliefs, performance reviews and purpose is exactly how we build an incredible workplace. Atlassian’s “Don’t f*ck the customer” mantra and ‘brilliant jerk’ title, given to those who got the boot for producing excellent work but are rude to coworkers, are prime examples in which they have built and continue to hold on to a rich culture.
Culture has implications for capital raising, too. On a side note, Bill said that he had been on the cusp of investing in several startups, but was turned off by the vibe that was given off by the way the team worked together.
#2 It’s Time to Talk About Founder Mental Health
Being a founder is, too often, a lonely path. Founders take on the toughest challenges in the company, day-in and day-out. The daily battles can take a serious toll on their mental health.
Securing time to lay-off the tools and build a support network early in your journey is essential. But, just building a support network isn’t enough. You have to be able to be open and truthful with those that are part of your support group.
Take care of yourself out there!
#3 Moments of Doubt, Dissatisfaction and Desire - Andy Lark
Starting a startup in mature industries can be tough work. Like a seed in a rainforest, you’ve got to find that little bit of sunlight to begin to grow under the canopy. But how did Uber blow up the taxi industry to achieve a valuation of $82.4 billion in just 10 years? How did Tinder take a huge chunk of the online dating scene? Andy Lark suggests that huge growth is leveraged from addressing moments of doubt, dissatisfaction and desire in the customer’s experience.
“Where is my taxi?!”, a frustrating thought from before Uber came to market. It was a hugely dissatisfying experience to order a taxi and wait with no idea where it is and how long it will take to arrive. The founders of Uber became intimate with this moment of dissatisfaction, allowing them to design a product that people didn’t just like, but love.
By leveraging MODs, we’re not just providing a solution to a pain point, but also changing the way our users feel when using our product. We’re gifting them with a long-lasting and positive impression of your brand and offerings. It’s good stuff.
Andy describes the ‘holy grail’ of MODs coming from those that either extend or enhance a person’s time. Netflix, over the course of 30 years will save you a year’s worth of ad time. Who wouldn’t pay $4680 for that?
Start thinking about how you can tackle the MODs in your industry and enjoy the explosive rewards.
#4 Let’s Start Celebrating Our Startup Successes
A theme that we spotted in the week of West Tech was Western Australia’s tendency to stay quiet when it comes to our startups and ecosystem.
To attract a diverse range of specialised investors, high-quality employee talent and establish a more mature startup ecosystem, we’re going to have to pull out the megaphone.
We want to pass this over to you. How do you think, as a community, we should be broadcasting our awesome startups and successes on a national and international level?