On the weekend I attended an interesting talk by Dr Jana Mathews at Adelaide University. She touched on many facets of innovation and entrepreneurship but of most interest to me was her discussion on the Adelaide Startup Ecosystem and ANZ Innovyz’s work in South Australia.
Firstly, on Dr Jana Mathews. She is an expert in her field of entrepreneurial leadership and business growth. She has a doctorate from Harvard, is co-author of several books (such Lessons from the Edge and Building the Awesome Organization). From Colorado, she has recently been spending significant time in Adelaide as the Managing Director of ANZ Innovyz START program – a 13 week startup accelerator modelled after the US TechStars.
She had been invited to talk to MBA students as part of the Entrepreneurship intensive subject. Luckily for me (and for a few others) the talk was opened up to MBA students and alumni.
So what did Jana have to say?
She opened the talk with a light joke, a brief intro and then went into the theory of who entrepreneurs are, what they need, and what needs to be done in Adelaide to help them.
On entrepreneurs, she said that they ” try do do things they do not have the resources for”. I’ve heard this definition before, and like it. It is reassuring. Wait..what? Reassuring? Well. getting things done, whether entrepreneur or an intrapreneur, is hard. You’re working above and beyond what is normal to bring an idea to life, often with no concrete proof it’s even worth it. Of course you won’t have the resources to achieve your vision. It’s meant to be hard – you should expect it and be ok with it. You won’t have the resources because what you’re doing is not business-as-usual. The definition Jana used is reassuring because this difficulty explicitly stated. All the other intreprenuers and entreprenuers will be in the same boat. You won’t have the resources you want. All you can do is hustle and try to be as ”relentlessly resourceful” as possible. Find ways to get more done with less. Anyway, that’s a bit of an aside…
Jana spoke about entrepreneurs needing ideas, and not just their own- some theirs, some from others in a big cross-pollination of creative thought and technology. If Adelaide is to have a thriving startup ecosystem it needs to support this via many events, meetups, organisations and clubs. All working together to create opportunities to share ideas and meet like-minded people. They also need to be easy to find, learn about, and kept up to date with.
On the cross-sharing of ideas, I think too many people think entrepreneur’s require a ‘light bulb moment’. Maybe if you wait long enough you’ll have a light bulb moment, but a better approach is to get out there. Throw ideas around. See more of the world’s problems and opportunities. Have creative moments with other creatively-restless people. Start the dream by taking steps towards it. Don’t sit around waiting for an “A-HA!” moment.
Jana also spoke about the differences between an accelerator, and an incubator. If you think on the words it’s somewhat obvious, an accelerator ”accelerates” the company, where as an incubator is like waiting for a business model to hatch. The differences mean accelerated startups have less capacity to pivot. On the positive, they’ll get funding and be a real company much quicker (and could always pivot afterwards).
Jana’s thoughts on the ecosystem required to support entrepreneurs was interesting and insightful. She presented a map of the “Adelaide Entrepreneurial Ecosystem” which was awesome – I’d never seen it laid out. So many players in the ecosystem, yet so few have strong public profiles. Some I have heard of, some I haven’t, and I’m not sure how many are actively working with each other either. One of Jana’s goals is to strengthen Adelaide’s Startup ecosystem. This can only be good for South Australia – hopefully people rally behind her and help.
The growth curve was another area she spoke about. It was interesting hearing how the founder’s role and required skill sets changed throughout the curve.
Finally, Jana spoke about what ANZ Innovyz offers and gave us a summary of the companies that are currently in the program- The Unicoach, Kicktone, Yesoft, FitUsIn, Mobility Unlimited, Datamunch, Edgebox, Memtell, TowardTheStars, and Agent Anything.
What’s going on there sounds awesome, it would be an incredible experience and I wish the people doing it the best of luck. I won’t go into more detail about the 3 month program but if you’re interested all the details are on their website - http://www.innovyzstart.com/
I can’t wait to see the final round of investor pitches at the Adelaide Town hall on the 18th of April. Oh, and if you do check out the ANZ Innovyz website, don’t miss their Week 1 highlights of the Summer 2013 program.
Thanks again to Dr Jana Matthews for her Saturday talk on Entrepreneurship the Adelaide Startup Ecosystem and ANZ Innovyz, to Professor Becky Ruber from MBA Entrepreneurship for allowing me to sit in on her class, and to Neil Saunders (Adelaide MBA – Marketing) for letting me know about the opportunity.
Thoughts? Comments!? Hit me up below!