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Published 06 September 2012 05:02, Updated 06 September 2012 07:31
Optus vice-president of digital communities and ecosystems Austin Bryan: “Our attitude as an investor is that failure is not necessarily bad”.
The Optus Innov8 Seed Program plans to make six to eight investments of up to $250,000 each over the next 12 months. Optus vice-president of digital communities and ecosystems Austin Bryan explains what start-ups need to do to get their hands on the money.
How did you get into angel investment?
We spent considerable time evaluating what would be the best role we could play to support the Australian start-up ecosystem. We decided that investing at an early-seed stage would help the community to grow and keep our Aussie tech start-ups in Australia for longer. We are providing investment and will co-invest with others to increase funding rounds, plus helping with resources, distribution, talent and access to the Australian market and beyond.
What was your best investment?
None as yet. We closed our first winter round in July.
What makes a great pitch?
A clarity of thinking, demonstrating a disruptive, scalable, viable and validated business. We are not interested in old-school business models, we want proof that the business founders have validated, learnt and iterated based on what their customers want. Plus it’s an advantage to showcase a solid and experienced management team with great passion and determination and clarity of purpose.
What are some common mistakes entrepreneurs make when pitching?
Some entrepreneurs don’t solve the problem they set out to solve, they don’t seek engagement with their customers and simply don’t understand their needs.
As an investor, what is your attitude to failure?
Our attitude as an investor is that failure is not necessarily bad – it’s better to have tested the market, tried various approaches and learnt from them rather than to stay safe.
Why or when shouldn’t a business raise equity capital?
It’s important to have a strong view on how the funds will be spent, what levers you have to value the business and what type of investors you’re looking for and their involvement. If you don’t have these fundamentals covered, you probably are not yet ready to raise equity capital.
How do I get you to invest in my venture?
Our investment criteria are explained online.
What kind of companies or sectors are you keen on?
Our investment focus at the moment is on highly scalable technology start-ups delivering mobility solutions, digital convergence solutions, or solutions in areas of digital disruption such as health, education or media.