30 episodes

The Unicorn Farm was conceived to help transform startups from horses to billion dollar unicorns. It's tough being an entrepreneur and if this collection of interviews and insights helps in any way at all, it will have served its purpose.
As well as his role helping the startup sector in Australia and New Zealand for AWS, Ian Gardiner helps to run Innovation Bay, a networking group whose mission statement is to help technology startups succeed. It runs Angel investment dinners and speaker events for entrepreneurs, investors and senior executives in the technology sector.
Previously to all of this he was the CEO and founder of Viocorp, an Australian video software startup. At the dawn of the internet age (1997), he was the founding employee of newsbase.com, a successful news, analysis and business intelligence service from emerging markets. He also founded and ran lastorders.com in the UK.
In November 2009 Ian won the NSW Pearcey award for ICT Entrepreneur of the Year. Ian holds a Master of Engineering from the University of Oxford where he also won two rowing blues in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race. In his spare time he is a competitive cyclist, avid computer gamer, husband and father of two boys (not in that order).

The Unicorn Farm - turning startup horses into billion dollar unicorns The Unicorn Farm

    • Technology

The Unicorn Farm was conceived to help transform startups from horses to billion dollar unicorns. It's tough being an entrepreneur and if this collection of interviews and insights helps in any way at all, it will have served its purpose.
As well as his role helping the startup sector in Australia and New Zealand for AWS, Ian Gardiner helps to run Innovation Bay, a networking group whose mission statement is to help technology startups succeed. It runs Angel investment dinners and speaker events for entrepreneurs, investors and senior executives in the technology sector.
Previously to all of this he was the CEO and founder of Viocorp, an Australian video software startup. At the dawn of the internet age (1997), he was the founding employee of newsbase.com, a successful news, analysis and business intelligence service from emerging markets. He also founded and ran lastorders.com in the UK.
In November 2009 Ian won the NSW Pearcey award for ICT Entrepreneur of the Year. Ian holds a Master of Engineering from the University of Oxford where he also won two rowing blues in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race. In his spare time he is a competitive cyclist, avid computer gamer, husband and father of two boys (not in that order).

    Dr Catriona Wallace, CEO of Flamingo at Innovation Bay Sydney, 19 April 2017

    Dr Catriona Wallace, CEO of Flamingo at Innovation Bay Sydney, 19 April 2017

    Dr Catriona Wallace has an amazing story around her Flamingo journey. With some amazing insights. She was genuinely inspiring, eye-opening, frank, charismatic and energetic.

    • 53 min
    Ash Fontana of Zetta Ventures (ex AngelList)

    Ash Fontana of Zetta Ventures (ex AngelList)

    Ash is a very successful Aussie who has been living in the heart of the US startup and venture scene for many years now. 

    In this chat we held at the Equitise launch of their Syndicates product, I chat to him about this investment model and his observation on the Aussie startup sector.

    • 39 min
    Dr Kate Cornick, CEO of LaunchVic at Innovation Bay Melbourne Feb 2017

    Dr Kate Cornick, CEO of LaunchVic at Innovation Bay Melbourne Feb 2017

    Kate Cornick is the new CEO at Launch Vic, the Victorian Government's $60m investment vehicle. We cover a very wide range of topics here. What is launch Vic? What does success look like? How did Kate get this role? She's a fascinating lady in a very cool job. 

    • 45 min
    Greg Moshal - Co-CEO, Prospa. Recorded at Innovation Bay Sydney breakfast event - 18 May 2016

    Greg Moshal - Co-CEO, Prospa. Recorded at Innovation Bay Sydney breakfast event - 18 May 2016

    Greg Moshal is an entrepreneur with over 12 years experience in entering new markets across diverse industries.
    Greg knew firsthand the difficulties faced by small businesses in accessing money to run and grow a business and founded Prospa in 2011 to change the way small business owners experience finance. Using a proprietary technology platform and a fast, simple online application process, Prospa can approve loans and provide funding in as little as 24 hours.
    Today Prospa is Australia's leading online small business lender and in 2015 was named Australia's fastest growing technology company at Deloitte TechFast 50 Australian awards having secured a phenomenal 6971% growth! Since 2011, Prospa has lent over $130m to thousands of small businesses in Australia. 
    We chatted to Greg about how his experience in fast-moving unpredictable environments has sharpened his focus on innovation. He is a champion of agile, holistic design thinking, where disruptive change can make things that are difficult, easy. His specialty is partnering strategically with the best people to achieve excellence in developing and bringing business ideas to life.

    • 51 min
    Wyatt Roy - Assistant Minister for Innovation. March 2016

    Wyatt Roy - Assistant Minister for Innovation. March 2016

    He might be the youngest minister in Australia's history, but Assistant Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy shows no signs of inexperience. An impressive speaker, and a passionate advocate for innovation and the entrepreneurial community, when Mr Roy sat down with Innovation Bay Co-founder, Ian Gardiner, he suggested it might not just be a cultural shift that's needed, but a generational one. 
    Mr Roy began by defining innovation as 'the output of a deeply entrepreneurial culture', and continued by outlining what he sees as the role of government: 'as a Liberal, I'm someone who feels the government should generally get out of the way. The questions I ask myself are: "How do we act as an enabler? And "How can we be a facilitator between sectors, such as the University sector and the private world?"'
    While 'getting out of the way' of business may be his ideal, Mr Roy concedes that placing innovation on the agenda (through the Government's aptly named Innovation Agenda) will involve a fair bit of hands-on work. 'We've announced 24 policies to date. The Prime Minister wants to add to them if we can, but he is also willing to review them if any aren't working.'
    However, to properly embrace this process of testing ideas and seeing what works, Mr Roy acknowledges it will require not just the politicians who are willing to risk being criticised, but for Australians generally to shift their thinking about business success and failure: 'In many ways we need a cultural change in this country. We need to be willing to accept failure and embrace risk if we are truly going to be a leader in innovation.'
    'Innovation is not about how many zeroes you can add to a government cheque, it's about the cultural changes we are trying to make so the next generation feels like Australia is a place where they can build their businesses and have their ideas embraced.'
    Despite the work that needs to be done, Mr Roy remains confident that the future is going to be a positive one: 'I'm actually quite optimistic about the change we are going to see in this space. I'm excited that we are going to see a shift.'
    It's a shift he believes will need to be lead by his generation: 'When you look at Super fund investment in start-ups, it's the younger generation who have many years of investing ahead, who are more willing to take greater risks. They have an appetite for it.'
    Being young is something the minister can't escape. When asked about what would lead such a young person to choose politics as a career (he was first elected as a 20-year-old), he seemed to have a view beyond his years:'You have to have a balance, and a bit of perspective. I believe I can be good at what I do and still be able to go out occasionally and have a good time with my mates. The thing with politics is, we are all better served if we have diversity. Age is just one area.'
    His youth is perhaps what fuels his idealism, and his critics have been quick to suggest that like the Prime Minister, more action and less articulation is necessary for real change to occur. But, acting in an environment where governments are elected and ousted on public opinion and the general population is yet to really understand or embrace the value of innovation, requires some selling-which Mr Roy seems well equipped to do.
    He explains: 'We are starting from a foundation where there's not the political will and the public support for this. We need parents around the dinner table to think this is very important for their children's future.'
    Mr Roy also acknowledges that taking action may cost him his job: 'You have to have the political will to risk a little bad press in order to promote risk culture. You actually have to have politicians who are brave enough to ride against the media.'
    And, if his recent...

    • 1 hr 3 min
    James Spenceley, Vocus

    James Spenceley, Vocus

    James came along to an Innovation Bay event in late 2015. He was a remarkable CEO. Very young, very dynamic and utterly competent. Whilst at the same time very humble and soft-spoken. Here's an excerpt from the Innovation Bay blog post after the event:


    James Spenceley (http://www.innovationbay.com/past-speakers-single/james-spenceley) has overseen the incredible success of Vocus Communications (http://www.vocus.com.au). In 2009, Vocus was Australia's fastest-growing technology company, which led to James winning the prestigious Deloitte Technology Fast 50 award.

    Today, Vocus Communications is a member of the ASX200 with a market capitalisation of more than AU$1.493 Billion - a staggering achievement for a start-up that James originally funded through refinancing his home mortgage in 2008. He joined us for our Innovation Bay speaker breakfast in Sydney on November 11, to share what he's learnt so far from his journey and what he hopes to achieve in future.

    Quick to stress that success is never by chance, James reflected on his meteoric rise with a sense of humour: 'the harder I worked, the luckier I got.' He also puts the key to customer service equally plainly: 'don't screw the customer.'

    But, he also realised there was more to building a strong company. Early on, he learned the importance of having a great organisational culture: 'You need really clear, concise goals to create culture and provide direction. You also need tangible values, which are about how you want to achieve those goals, like "no muppets".'

    'When you're looking for people to invest in, look for people who have a thirst to understand all parts of the business.'

    His philosophy for sustained success is a simple one, yet not traditionally common in the industry: 'We want Vocus to become the telco of choice. To do this you have to look after your customers, ensuring the contract is fair.'

    While there is still a way to go yet, he is seeing positive signs that the Australian government is starting to move in the right direction: 'Government backing for start-ups is really important. They could do more in terms of support, funding and grants, but the government now wants to do something, which is great.'

    James wasn't afraid to share his views on the #NBN, either. He provided his opinion on problems with the prior plans behind the NBN, such as the budget; and his sense that Malcolm Turnbull's current scheme - which makes productive use of the existing copper network - is feasible.

    Despite having achieved so much already, there is a still a hunger in James to go further: 'I have the desire to prove people wrong. I'm always seeking to learn, and I'm driven by new challenges.'

    One of these exciting challenges might come from what could be his next project. Commenting on rumours of a potential joint venture with NextGen, he said: 'A cable from Perth to Singapore is critical for Australian infrastructure.'

    While his work may take him further afield, his focus remains on making the most of local opportunities: 'It's important to know what you're good at. There are lots of opportunities in Australia and NZ to focus on.'

    In reflecting on his leadership philosophy, he remarked: 'My role is to find the right answer, what's the right way to do something, rather than to just impose an answer on everyone.'

    • 49 min

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