7 Perth podcasts worth listening to …

7-Perth-Podcasts

In an era of self-publishing, you might expect to find some local West Australians broadcasting their views via the channel of podcasting.

I’ve been listening to, and in some cases have been a guest on, some of these pods. Some of the magnificent 7 highlighted here have been podcasting for years, some are relatively new to the game, but all are professionally put together and are (in the main) a joy to listen to. In each case, I can tell you that I have met and know the people involved. They are all producing them (for free) for the right reasons – to educate, interest and in some cases probe the listener.

No doubt there are many more people podcasting away in WA. In a search for others, I found a plethora of church podcasts (over a dozen) and quite a few that had been seemingly abandoned. The ones I highlight are all podcasting away frequently, once a week in most cases.

Before I get to them, here’s a brief history of podcasting…

The term was first coined by a British journalist back in 2004, a year after the iPod came out – so it’s a blend of ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcasting’. In fact, ‘audioblogging’ as it was known before, started 15 or more years earlier in the mid 1980s, with the humble beginnings of the world wide web. It was a quiet, slow burn for the most devoted during the 1990s, until the new millennium dawned and the advent of easy to use audio web players.

As an activity, podcasting took off in the mid 2000s with the iPod revolution (‘1000 tunes in your pocket‘), but then fell away as we all jumped onto video sharing (with the rise of Youtube) and the distractions of social media. The fact that pods were only audio saw them lose out in the popularity stakes to the wilder, visual treats of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the rest.

Ten years on, and podcasting is now making a come back. Between 2013 and 2015, the amount of podcasts on iTunes doubled. By 2015, there were a billion podcasts subscriptions – the average person subscribes to 6. One in three US citizens listen to podcasts, 67 million of them monthly. 52% of podcasts are listened to at home, 18% in the car. 85% of all podcasts are listened to through to the end, or mostly the end.

I find podcasts fill that otherwise dead time commuting to work, driving in the car or doing the gardening. Yes, as I’ve written about before, it’s good to let the brain declutter, but listening to a podcast is also a great way to learn and engage the brain. I subscribe to a whole host of different pods from around the world, on such varied subjects as philosophy, biographies, sport, satire, business, design, technology, history and politics. It’s radio on demand, and you can consume a tremendous amount of free and interesting content on almost any subject under the sun. Perhaps, I will share some my world wide favourites in another post. For now, let me describe, and humbly invite you to subscribe, to these 7 local podcasts, which I think you will find are well made, and great to listen to…

 

‘The Road to CEO’, and ‘The Key to Authority‘ from Jenish Pandya

If there is someone in Perth who has most inspired me to become interested in podcasting, it is Jenish Pandya. One of the nicest guys you’re ever going to meet, Jenish has already concluded his fantastic ‘Key to Authority‘ podcast series (57 episodes over 2015 and 2016) interviewing thought leaders on various topics, and now has started a new series, ‘The Road to CEO‘, where he interviews CEOs all about the job of becoming a CEO and what it’s like ‘in the hot seat’ so to speak.

I was interviewed on both, and was impressed with Jenish’s passion and energy for the podcasting format. He’s become a bit of  a local expert, and can often be seen speaking on the topic of podcasting. Not bad for a Water Corp engineer, who does all this in his spare time.

 

‘Mark my words’ from Business News.

Mark Pownall and Mark Beyer, are CEO and Editor respectively of WA’s only dedicated business media organisation. The 2 Marks are the most respected business journalists in Perth, and their 18 minute weekly show is a must listen to those who want to keep abreast of what is happening in the world of business in WA.

They’ve been podcasting now for more than three years and have a nice, natural style together. They obviously respect each other greatly and are firm friends and colleagues. Mark P asks most of the questions while Mr B provides most of the detailed analysis, although Mr P also chips in with his perspectives as well. It makes for a really interesting combination, and for those of you who may have missed what’s happened in WA during the past week, it’s a great catch up. I like hearing each other’s perspectives plus a welcome sprinkling of humour. More than you might get in the paper or online, you get to hear why these major stories are the main stories of the week.

As a nice extra, Mark Pownall also records his regular ‘CEO Lunches’ with WA business leaders and puts these out on the same podcast channel. Subscribe to Mark my words on iTunes or Soundcloud or listen to past episodes through the BN website.

 

‘Ask Alyka’, from Alyka

The Subi-based digital marketing agency has recently begun its own podcast, with Alyka cofounder Zion Ong and digital strategist Beth Caniglia talking about a different digital topic, often with a guest in the studio.

These guys go to town, as you might expect, with 3 microphones and 3 cameras recording the action, turning the podcast into a fast-paced lively show available through all the normal podcasting and video channels. Topics mainly centre on digital marketing, naturally, as that is their area of expertise. I was interviewed in a recent one, on the topic of digital disruption, and I was impressed by the laid back style of the pod, and the professional production standards.

If you want to know what’s going on in the digital marketing space, then Ask Alyka is the pod for you. Subscribe on iTunes.

 

‘WA Real’, by Bryn Edwards

Based on the London version (London Real), WA Real looks to interview real people and get into the real stories behind their life.

A fairly recent podcast, having started last month, UK immigrant Bryn has already posted 7 interviews of between 30 minutes and more than an hour duration, so this one really gets under the skin of the guests, and a deeply personal discussion usually ensues. I particularly enjoyed listening to local comedian Griff Longley, who is the founder of Nature Play, a local not for profit which aims to get kids outdoors with their families. “Kids have to learn how to stuff up! It’s OK to fail and have a go.” As a parent of two, I loved this discussion and found myself saying ‘Yes!’ – which greatly amused my fellow commuters that morning.

Subscribe on iTunes.

 

‘Music on the Move’, from the PSO

OK, a disclaimer upfront here – I am a huge fan of PSO founder Bourby Webster, having known her since uni days, and I’m chair of a PSO technology advisory board.

I also encouraged her to start a blog, and bless her, she did, and it’s great listening. She interviews local or visiting musicians who might be performing in an upcoming PSO concert, and we get to hear what happens behind the scenes, and the motivations and passions of the people who put such a complex live performance together. Listening to Bourby chat with Matt Allen (WAAPA Gospel Choir) 5 days prior to the world premier of ‘George Michael: Faith and Freedom concert’ brought the whole experience back to me, one, I am not ashamed to say, brought me to tears.

Subscribe on iTunes for some classical music food for your brain. Go on, it’s good for you.

 

‘Brand Newsroom’, from Lush Digital Media

When you have a former BBC and ABC radio host James Lush managing proceedings, you know you’re going to get something polished and professional. That’s not to decry co hosts Nic Hayes (Media Stable) and Sarah Mitchell (Director, Lush Digital Media) who make the perfect team to discuss the main content marketing themes of the day. Their collective experience and wisdom absolutely nail every topic, and they usually have a guest in their studio or online, including one I absolutely loved with Nenad Senic arguing that print was not dead, and could do way more things than digital can, in some cases. 160+ episodes in, there is a tremendous amount of great content in their back catalogue to listen to.

Subscribe on iTunes.

 

‘Business Marketing Show’, from Ed Keay-Smith & Brendan Tully

I’ve got to know Ed over the past years as we are both eGroup members, an association of internet entrepreneurs and managers which meet first Tuesday of every month to discuss all things digital. He interviewed me on this podcast back in March 2017, when I was CEO of Business News, and he has a lovely way with his guests, laid back and chatty. Ed keeps the whole thing real, without worrying too much about fancy production tricks. It’s a raw interview, plain and simple, and some great content. He has built up quite an impressive audience with around 5,000 listeners per show, with more than 70 podcasts over the past 3 years.

If you want to know more about SEO, SEM, remarketing, online video, … for small and medium sized businesses, this is the one to subscribe to.

 

So, I hope that inspires you to subscribe to these local WA podcasters, and give them a bit of love and support. More importantly, listen and learn. And if you like a particular podcast, don’t forget to go in and give them a positive review. It really makes a difference in their pods being discovered by others.


UPDATED – the original post neglected to list Jenish Pandya – a terrible omission, now corrected!

The Rise of the Bots

Everywhere you turn these days there seems to be another potential tech disruptor raising its head above the parapet. The topic for today is the bot.

The rather cutesy name – bot – conjures up a sci-fi future of robotic machines doing everything for us lazy humans, who might be otherwise left to sojourn on our flying chairs a la the folks in Wall-E. Set a few hundred years from now, having abandoned a wrecked Earth, people are overweight, can barely walk on their short stubbly evolved legs and bark orders for everything they want. Robots zip around everywhere doing all the work.

I wonder if we’re really a hundred or so years away from this now. I reckon it’s almost upon us. And, as for obesity, well that is certainly among us – just look at the evidence.

But let’s get back to modern day bots. A bot, or ‘internet bot’, is simply “a piece of software that runs automated scripts over the internet” (Wikipedia).

Some are malicious (such as spambots roaming the internet for email addresses they can pester or mailboxes they can take over), and some are there to do good (answering your questions or suggesting a great blouse to go with that new dress).

Whatever they are up to, they account for almost half of all internet traffic. On smaller websites, it could be 80% or more. We know that Google sends robots to check websites out, index their content, and help rank them in their search engine. This cannot be done by humans, there is just too much stuff to read.

If, like me, you have an iPhone, then you may already be used to conversing with Siri, who is (of course) a bot. Have no hands free to tap an SMS, look up a contact’s phone number or check your appointments for tomorrow? Simply hold down the screen button and Siri is there to help.

With the release of Google Home, you can now have a Siri-like service sitting on your side table to answer your beck and call – what time is it in India? what’s the traffic like on the commute today? and what are the answers to your kid’s tricky homework questions?

A short journey from here are the bots already installed on Facebook, who can answer your typed questions. It’s like talking to a real, live person, except there’s no one there. It’s a bot. Also, have you noticed how Uber has quietly slipped inside Google Maps and Facebook Messenger to be able to offer you a ride without leaving their service?

That pop up window offering you answers to your questions on that website you’re on? Increasingly likely, there’s no one there. It’s a chatbot.

Based on what you say or type, the bot can quickly provide you with answers or suggestions to your queries, and can do this 24/7. They don’t get tired, have coffee breaks or moods. They can understand context, nuance and even sarcasm. Try fooling Siri, and she’ll quickly catch on you’re playing silly buggers.

Some people feel more comfortable talking with a chatbot than a real person, especially if it concerns personal issues such as health or emotional problems.

Over on Slack, the explodingly successful messaging app used by many organisations to better coordinate internal communications, chatbots are inbuilt. They’re called Slackbots (of course), and you can program them to message someone when, say, a certain task is complete, or when some other condition was met, as well as answer questions about a project.

Slack has expanded rapidly from its 2014 start. With a mission to replace internal email, Slack rose to a million users within 18 months with 300,000 of them are paying. Its valuation hit US$ 9 billion in June.

11 million Aussies are already using messaging apps, and 4.5 million use it as their primary communication tool. There is a whole generation of youngsters and others growing up who rarely, if ever, send emails. Perhaps they never will.

It’s not just the young though – the peak age for messenging apps is the 25-34 age group and more than half the 35-54 age group do likewise.

In Australia, Facebook messenger dominates, then it’s Whatsapp and Snapchat.

As a general rule, chatbots work well inside messaging, and more ‘menu driven’ info (such as ordering a meal, with bots suggesting what goes well and selling upgrades), anywhere where there is a fairly simple user experience, such as a check list. Decision tree formats work best. If this, then this, if that, then the other. So, tailored gift recommendations work well.

Bots don’t go all that well (yet) on free flow chat, but tomorrow we could see general chat, voice, avatars or some other abstract versions offering a more conversational approach. Where we end up will probably depend on what customers want and are comfortable with.

The bot battleground will probably be fought between Apple, Google and Facebook, who each want to own that bot search and interaction experience.

Fancy designing your own bot?  Well, you can with Chatfuel, which does bots for Facebook or Motion.ai.

It might be an idea to think how bots could impact your market – how you might use them (start with Slack), or incorporate them into customer service, lead generation and the like? As artificial intelligence (AI) will only get sharper from here, you can bet the bots will be a big part of our future…

When the World Wide Web Conference comes to town

The World Wide Web conference, now in its 26th year, hits Perth this week. The last time it visited Australian shores, in 1998 in Brisbane, a certain unknown couple of Stanford PhD students with an odd-sounded company name presented a paper showing how they were going to revolutionise the world of online search.

Yes, the Google guys, Larry and Sergey, delivered what is now believed to be one of the all-time classic papers about the web. The conference itself was initiated by such luminaries as Sir Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the world wide web) and others a few years earlier.

19 years since it was in Brisbane, it has travelled around the world (next year it’s in Lyons, France, last year it was in Montreal, Canada) and moves into my home city this week, with 400 sessions being put on at a dozen different locations, mainly centred at the Convention Centre.

Looking at the agenda, it is geek heaven. What next big thing will be presented this week? There are topics ranging for the semantic web to AI to data visualisation to machine learning. There’s a session entitled ‘Is Tofu the new cheese of Asia?’ and ‘Web-based surveillance data to improve influenza forecasting in Italy’. Some pretty obscure stuff. I love it!

On Thursday I get to interview on stage 4 senior tech people from Google, LinkedIn, Wikipedia and Snapchat. Can’t wait. 375 people are booked in for that event.

As we rush headlong into the future, it will be interesting to hear from these incredibly smart folk about what type of future we are hurtling towards. You get the feeling, like the 2 PhD guys in Brisbane in 1998, that the future will be moulded by some of the 2000 tech people descending on Perth this week.

It’s Startup Week!

{ View from the panel at Techboard's inaugural meeting: How to get Publicity for your Startup }

{ View from the panel at Techboard’s inaugural meeting: How to get Publicity for your Startup }

We’re in the middle of ‘startup week’ in Perth, with an incredible array of start up events, conferences, hackathons, demo days, meetups and even reports being published (one is already out.) The media, MPs and Ministers are all over it. There’s a bit of ‘bandwagon jumping’ going on, but that’s OK, as long as something now happens to solve the problems inherent in the sector, which have prevented many startups being funded and scaling up.

Perhaps for the first time, you can sense a growing appetite and attention for the sector.

It all kicked off on Thursday night at PwC in the city, where Techboard (the local startup ranking site which, of course , is itself a startup) held its first ever meeting (see photo above), attended by 100+ people listening to a panel of startup folks talking about publicity and promotion. I spied local MP Peter Tinley plus our wonderful Chief Scientist Prof Peter Klinken in attendance, the latter getting up to say “What an amazing sense of relief has come over the country recently… (since our change in Prime Minister)… now everyone is talking innovation”.

Friday night was a get together of the recent Startup Weekend crew, and tonight it’s the pre-OzAPP/West Tech party down in Nedlands at Larry Lopez’s house.

Monday is the full day, of West Tech conference incorporating the OzAPP Awards. Silicon Valley types who love to kite surf have winged their way to Perth and brought with them a bit of Californian fairy dust and cool, with various panels and keynotes on stage at the Perth Town Hall. The ever effervescent US Ambassador (who famously  welcomed people last year at the historic building with a cheerful ‘Welcome to Hogwarts!’ line) will be taking centre stage again this year with a whole morning session entitled ‘The Ambassador’s Innovation Roundtable’. In the afternoon the final 5 in the Asia-Pacific wide OzApps comp will pitch to the judges (including me) and a winner will be announced at the after party that evening.

As if that is not enough, Tuesday heralds a Unearthed demo day showcasing great ideas for the mining industry, which the WA Premier Colin Barnett will be attending and that night is the mass gathering (350 are expected) at the West Tech Assemblage at Government House ballroom, which brings together (for the first time) eGroup, WAITTA, Australian Computer Society and OzApps. I’m privileged to be MC’g this event, with Liberal State Attorney General and Minister for Commerce Michael Mischin addressing the throng, as well Opposition leader Mark McGowan, Chief Scientist Peter Klinken and others. That very night, there is also an Innovation Bay pitch night and dinner taking place.

It’s still not over, because on Weds, Startup WA will officially publish their new report into WA’s startup scene, which will update the excellent report produced by Boundlss (who are also producing this one) in 2013.

And after a week of events, Startup WA have the Assistant federal Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy over in Perth on 15th December for a Q&A session with Senator Linda Reynolds and Matt Taylor. Wyatt Roy is not just a seriously cool name for a politician, but he is also the youngest ever MP, having won election in 2010 when he was just 20. The ‘baby of the House’ is seriously interested in tech startups, and it’s good to have someone like him so close to power at the top levels in this land.

You can sense that startups and tech and innovation are the flavour of the month, and one wonders if politicians and leaders can grab this opportunity. Will the drastic shortage in funding for the sector be significantly eased? Will we see some tech success stories emanating from Perth? Will would-be angels and investors take the sector seriously and start loosening their pockets?

Can we create a place where people flock from around the world (tick), get funded (errr…) and then see us develop a regional centre of excellence for tech and innovative companies? Maybe this week will be an important step in the road… let’s hope so.

Innovation, the new buzz word

Einstein thinking

Since new PM Malcolm Turnbull, in his first address to the nation, challenged Australians to embrace change and innovate, everyone seems to be talking about ‘innovation.’

But what does it mean, and why’s it so important?

Technically, ‘innovation’ means ‘new’, as in a new method, a new way of doing something, or a new invention. It’s synonymous with being clever, successful and on the cutting edge. Turnbull, a successful businessman in his own right, has experience in these things. He went from lawyer to investment banker to IT entrepreneur and made multi millions in the process.

Rabbiting on about innovation is not enough, but grasping the challenge, seeing the positive and actually doing some different things, is important. As Albert Einstein reminded us – “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” He also famously said that the definition of ‘madness’ was trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

We have to try new things. You get points for trying. Seriously, you do. Because you learn, and no one will forsake you if you give something new a try. The Finnish company Rovio Entertainment spent 6 years and laboured over 51 failed games before their smash app hit Angry Birds came out in late 2009. Since then, its been downloaded 3 billion times – 3 billion! – plus various spin offs such as multiple versions, merchandise, a TV series, a movie and several theme parks. From an app. From a multiple-failed game developer. In Finland. If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is.

Six years on, even Rovio cannot rest and is having to innovate further. They’ve recently laid off a third of their workforce, mirroring staff cuts at Zynga (who make the Facebook game Farmville) and King (Candy Crush). The more successful you get, the more imitators and competitors try to knock you off your pedestal. You knocked others off to get there. That’s how the world works.

Nice though Australia’s resources base is (many countries would kill for this, and, often, do start wars over this stuff), we are not a cheap place to do business, and need to occupy the technological heights if we are to remain competitive and continue living the life we’ve had so good for so long. 23 years of uninterrupted economic growth is under threat. It’s no time to rest on our laurels, or pretend that new things aren’t changing how the world works, fast. As the PM says, we need to embrace technological change “as our friend“.

Consider the following:

  • In latest Global innovation rankings, Australia is 17th, no change from our 2014 position. Sweden, Switzerland and the UK occupy the top 3. The US is 5th, Singapore is 7th … Germany and New Zealand sit above Australia
  • According to a Deloitte Report (2015) one third of Australian companies face imminent and substantial disruption by digital technology and new business models
  • Another report from 2014 suggests 25% of Australian GDP is under attack in next 10 years
  • San Francisco-based Uber has taken 9% of Aus taxi industry ($450m of $5bn) from a standing start inside 2 years (~ consider how well entrenched, regulated and supported this industry thought it was pre-2013)
  • In the Crossroads’ economic complexity map, Australia ranked 74th in world – we are just too reliant on too few traditional industries. Sweden is one of the most diverse.
  • In 2014, $47bn was invested in Australian resources while $1.5bn was invested in tech
  • In the last 5 years, Australian startups added 1.5m jobs. Meanwhile, large businesses are culling staff numbers. In the US 80% of new jobs (in a run lasting now 67 consecutive months of net job creation) have come from new/small business.

Consider further…

  • Singapore has allocated $14bn over next 5 years for investment in startups/tech
    – funded 15 incubators
    – matching funds 85% to 15%
  • Israeli government supports 22 incubators, invests ~ 85% of their budgets
    – has led to 5x private investment in follow on funding
  • Meanwhile, our WA government invested $6.9bn in royalties for regions, and $20m into tech startups
  • Other States in Australia have a Minister for Innovation, but not WA

We’ve got a way to go to catch up, but perhaps the message will get through. To the innovative belongs the future. It’s always been thus.

The Internet in real time


Click the animation to open the full version (via http://pennystocks.la/).

This animation keeps things in perspective!

Watch as the number of tweets, youtube posts and watches, Linkedin searches, Skype calls, Instagram photo uploads, Google searches, App downloads, Facebook likes, emails sent, Dropbox files saved, Amazon items purchased, Netflix views … and much more, changes in real time in front of your eyes.

And to think most of this did not exist 10 or 15 years ago, and none of it was around 20 years ago.

Back in 1995 the internet was new, a mess. No Google. And scientist Clifford Stoll wrote a piece in Newsweek called “The Internet? Bah!” pouring scorn on its future. What could we do without it now?

San Francisco, not SF, San Fran or Frisco

PRICELESS: While at Dropbox HQ I see a guy dropping off boxes

PRICELESS: While at Dropbox HQ I see a guy dropping off boxes

Don’t call San Francisco ‘San Fran’, ‘SF’ or ‘Frisco’ – the locals never refer to their city that way, you only look like a tourist. Which I was last week, on my second trip to the world’s tech capital, taking in SugarCON (SugarCRM’s annual conference) and a few other things along the way.

San Francisco (or “the city”) is a unique place, mixing quaint Victorian townhouse architecture with the pulsing modernity of an all encompassing tech boom and amazing views from its many road peaks and bayside vantage points. Jazz and piano bars adorn the central Union Square tourist traps, cable cars (only 3 lines remain) trundle noisily up and down passing roadside diners, which frequent every street corner. There’s a restaurant that puts garlic in everything (I mean everything, including ice cream), the school where Joe DiMaggio grew up (and the church where he posed for wedding pictures with Marilyn) and the country’s first topless bar (which is still open, and no, I did not go inside).

ha-houses

Walk south of Market Street (‘SOMA’) and you pass by the offices for Yahoo! (ironically placed right next door to the San Francisco Chronicle), Eventbrite, Klout, Weebly, Wikipedia, Zendesk, Yelp, FitBit and DropBox. The flood of tech people head to the city, chasing limitless streams of VC money that has put upward pressure on rents and house prices, making it an expensive place to live. As in Perth, people are being forced further and further afield, and the commutes are getting longer.

gg

The place is cool, in more senses than one. The sweeping mists and fogs roll in across the Golden Gate bridge, bringing plunging temperatures to the city, while surrounding areas stay warmer. The winds that whip through the up and down streets are chilling, but walking around you feel the place is cool (in the trendy sense) and you don’t get badly hassled by street panhandlers as you always are in New York. Yes, around Union Square there’s someone on every street corner asking for money, but they do it in such a charming, friendly manner. They wish you well, no matter if you drop a dollar in their tin or not. Some openly tell you they need it “for weed”, with a cheeky grin.

ha

Speaking of cannabis, I was there (coincidentally I hasten to add) in the Haight-Ashbury (hippy) district on the 19th April, which is the eve of ‘420‘ – the day synonymous with everything and everyone that worships marijuana. They had come in droves from far and wide, and were already camping out in Golden Gate park. All drab colours, ear piercings, distant faces, glazed smiles and large black dogs.

crabDown at Fisherman’s Wharf, you’ll taste the finest clam chowder on the planet, along with the sweetest crabs. As one nearby sign simply read (how I loved it’s simple ‘call to action’ message): EAT CRAB. The views out to Alcatraz straight ahead and the Golden Gate bridge to the left have to be some of the finest anywhere. The seagulls are also the largest I’ve ever seen, at least twice the size – I gave them a wide berth.

Overall, you feel this place can do anything. It screams innovation, while also tipping a nod to its own history. You understand why people beat a path to its door, and why innovators in cities across the US and the globe are seemingly envious of the attraction San Francisco has for the next Facebook, Instagram or Google. It’s well worth a visit.

Trad media got prosh

Prosh

Last week the PROSH students were out and about in their fancy dress, collecting money for charity ($150,000 all told) and distributing their newspapers at almost every intersection into and out of the city.

Every year this gives me flash backs to the time I first noticed PROSH, Easter 2000, and the accompanying tech wreck that had happened the day before. I was on a bus going to my dotcom company, and the dotcom bubble had well and truly burst that week. I had shareholders on my tail, a rapidly declining company bank balance, and I wondered if the business would survive the next few months.

As I reached for a regular newspaper that day, I read all about the doom and gloom of the global stock markets. Most commentators seemed to be revelling in the destruction all around them. “No more stupid ibusiness this and ebusiness that,” they crowed, “we’ve seen the last of these ridiculous companies with silly names and even sillier business models. Let’s get back to reality, and real business.” In the weekend papers that week, some real estate agent poured scorn on dotcoms, advertising properties that rise in value, unlike shares.

Ho hum.

Well, we made it through that time, as did many others. Still others were to form a few years later and sweep all before them. No doubt many of the late 90s’ dotcoms had no realistic business model and were doomed at the start (just like most businesses in fact). But the shift to the internet economy was only just getting going, and 15 years on, we still have ebusinesses and ibusinesses with silly names (Apple, iTunes, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, Uber…), and many have multi-billion valuations. Most of these businesses had not been born in 2000, or even 2005. Today, most have piles and piles of cash and are amassing fortunes the size of a mid-sized country’s GDP.

As I read those papers back in Easter 2000, I was infuriated by the hubris and arrogance of the traditional media. In many ways, I still am. Ever year, I watch the PROSH students in their crazy costumes, and I smile to myself (not just due to their silliness). Great change happens slowly, so slowly that you can ignore it for years, putting your head in the sand and carrying on as before. The true visionaries jump on the trend and build the future. The sad Luddites throw spanners in the works and decry and rail against progress.

In which camp are you?

Perth’s startup scene

start ups in perth I’ve met a few people this year interested in getting into Perth’s startup scene… so here’s a humble overview as I see it. Go to a few of the events below, meet some of the folks and quite quickly you’ll be at the centre of the action. Why not help out and get involved?

Perth Morning Startup (meet up)
http://www.meetup.com/Morning-Startup-Perth/
– run by Justin Strharsky (@JustinStrharsky) and Stef Pienaar (@sfpienaar)
– set up 4 years ago, a free fortnightly meetup held at Spacecubed, Weds 7.30am-9am, now with over 1000 members. The beating heart of Perth’s startup community. Many sessions have been video’d.

Spacecubed (co-working space)
– founder Brodie McCulloch (@brodiemcculloch) http://spacecubed.com/
– the first, and largest co-working space in Perth, now on two floors at 45 St George’s Terrace in the city
– the place where entrepreneurs and coders meet, hire deskspace; and where most startup events take place. Head down here to get right into Perth’s startup community.

Startup Weekend (event/hackathon)
http://spacecubed.com/2014/08/26/startup-weekend-perth-announcement/
– held 2x a year, leader is Sam Birmingham (@sambirmingham)
– the essence of startupland; 100 attendees, 40 one-minute pitches on a Friday night begets 15 or so teams with products (and even revenue) by Sunday afternoon. Triplify, Simply Wall St and others have been born at one of the 5 weekends held so far.

Founder Institute (course)
http://www.fi.co
– intensive silicon valley startup course in Perth, with Claire McGregor (@clairesayshi) as Director
– in 2013 and 2014 eight companies were formed (from 20 that started each year); not for the faint hearted, it provides 2 years of learning crammed into 13 weeks. Will it run a course in 2015?

Venture Capital (money)
– Yuuwa Capital http://yuuwa.com.au/
– run by Matt McFarlane (@nullarki) and others
– there are other investors around, but at $40m this fund has been the largest and most active with investments in iCetana, Discovr and Agworld among others. Awaiting its first significant exit, the fund is fully committed mixing IT and health/biotech investments.

eGroup (forum) http://www.egroup.org.au
– internet entrepreneurs club (small fee), Evan Cunningham-Dunlop (@EvanCunninghamD), Rob Nathan, Greg Riebe are some of the current organisers
– been going the longest (since 2003, and in 2010 formally became incorporated as a not for profit association), a unique feature is its ‘what’s said in the room stays in the room‘ forum.
– meets at law firm Wrays in West Perth, first Tuesday of the month 6-8pm.

Atomic Sky / Tech Hub (incubator, investor / space)
– Andy Lamb (@andymlamb) http://atomicsky.com.au/
– part co working space, part incubator and investor, and also event space for startup launches. pitch nights (“Snap”) and gatherings, a funky new building (http://www.techhub.io) on the aptly named Money Street in Northbridge.

WA Angels Association (money)
– Greg Riebe http://www.waai.net.au/
– quarterly pitch nights are held at the BDO offices in Subiaco (invitation only) where startups go for money in front of high net worth individuals interested in investing in new businesses. No shark tank this, it’s a wholly supportive environment, and deals usually do happen.

Sync Labs (co-working)
– Leederville version of Spacecubed, mainly for techies http://synclabs.com.au/
– established by Marcus Tan (@drmarcustan) of Health Engine fame, and others

Silicon Beach (meet up)
– free techie meetup, Friday nights at Synch Labs http://www.meetup.com/Silicon-Beach-Perth/ – bring some beers

Sixty27 (co-working)
– Joondalup version of Spacecubed, although much smaller http://www.sixty27.com.au/
– run by Phil Kemp’s Business Foundations, and supported by the City of Joondalup 

//Startupnews.com.au (media)
http://www.startupnews.com.au/
– central blog, news and events site that maps the startup scene, run by Patrick Green and Marcus Holmes (@GentlemanTech),
– itself a startup, was launched just over a year ago and keeps everyone up to date with goings on.

Business News (media) http://www.businessnews.com.au/list/startups
– independent business media (disclaimer: I work here so this is a shameless plug!) that tries to cover tech sector regularly with an ‘app/tech business of the week’, a Startups List and regular startup/tech stories.

Universities

~ UWA : Tim Mazzarol (https://theconversation.com/profiles/tim-mazzarol-1526) professor at UWA Business School, leader in research and teaching in innovation and new ventures
~ Curtin : annual ‘Ignition’ week, intensive course, not to be confused with a 10-week incubator course (‘Incubate’, now called ‘Accelerate’) run by Jeremy Lu (@lu_jeremy)

Schools
~ CoderDoJo
: a wonderful innovation, bringing coding to school children, free of charge, supported by the Fogarty Foundation (https://zen.coderdojo.com/dojo/412)
~ Just StartIT
:  established in 2014, a dozen schools formed startup teams, have mentors and then pitch to a judging panel after a few months’ hard work in their own time. Run by Curtin’s School of Information Studies Lainey Weiser and others.  (http://juststartit.com.au/)

Award Programs
~ OzApps
: Feb every year, $100k up for grabs, includes apps from around Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Perth has had finalists in each of past 3 years. West Tech Festival. http://ozapp.com.au/ – there are a few other awards programs that feature emerging businesses or IT, such as Incite (WAITTA Awards), Rising Stars, Pinnacle Awards and others.

Tech Accelerators
~ RAC Seedspark : established in late 2014, 3 startups were selected to share in $50k in non equity money, and have access to mentors
~ KPMG Energise : announced Feb 2015, a free tech accelerator focusing on the resources industry, with no equity commitment, but access to mentors
~ Unearthed (RIIT) : announced late in 2014 a resource focused tech accelerator with ambitions to hold events around Australia and deliver over 50 funded startups over the next few years (http://unearthed.solutions)
~ Amcom Upstart : announced Feb 10th 2015, this looks like being Perth’s first pure tech accelerator, with $40k seed money in 8 successful startup applicants in return for a small equity stake, and access to a 3-month mentoring program starting 1st June 2015.
(http://www.amcomupstart.com.au)

An Overview of Perth’s Startup scene (Report)
In late 2013 there was a report done into Perth’s startup scene – some of the info is now out of date, but it is still interesting reading > http://www.boundlss.com/blog/perth-startup-ecosystem-report and full report here> https://48yo.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/5b756-perthstartupecosystem2013-infographic.pdf

There are many other meetups, some more active than others, some more techie than others, and various events. So I’m not trying to claim the above is an exhaustive list – however I can vouch for all the above, having been personally involved or having attended every one of them, and I know the people doing all the work. I don’t believe the community needs more events, but it needs more volunteers to help ‘do the heavy lifting‘. The ecosystem is alive and flourishing, but funding for startups is still hard to come by. Maybe 2015 will be a watershed year for deals?

Maps and me

Abbreviated version of a talk I gave to WA Spatial Excellence Awards 2014 last Thursday. You can view these slides on Slideshare.

I love maps. I reckon I first became aware of mapping when I was 10 years old, in a geography class, and we were using those wonderfully drawn British Ordnance Survey maps.

The geography teacher (wonderful old Mr Law) made the subject come alive. I was fascinated by all the detail on those OS maps, the churches (showing whether it was a spire or a tower), the post box, the gradient lines… even where there was nothing, there was detail.

Today sadly people are, as a rule, map illiterate. A recent US poll revealed that eight out of ten want to bomb Syria. Sadly, a similar number cannot locate Syria on a map.

Laughable if it were not so dangerous. I feel much the same every time there’s another report of a lorry wedged in some old alleyway because its driver used sat nav instead of common sense, or when I read that park rangers in Victoria keep being asked for the postcode of mountain peaks.

Who needs a boring old map and compass when you can just tap in the address for Mount Bogong and follow the screen on your smartphone?

As atlas sales plummet so those getting lost rises. Funny that?! According to Mountain Rescue England and Wales, the total number of call-outs in 2004 was 965. Last year the figure was 1,486 — an increase of 54 per cent.

But the real sadness in all this, quite apart from all those idiots with hypothermia and all those stranded juggernauts, is that millions of young people seem destined to grow up without appreciating the sheer beauty of a decent map. I had that joy, and it has held me in good stead.

I am certainly not denouncing all the joys and seismic progress we owe to digital mapping. I am a digital business guy.

It is telling that when the British car industry was designing the new State Bentley for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2012, the designers asked the Palace what sort of sat-nav device Her Majesty would like installed in her state-of-the-art car.

Back came the reply: none at all. The Queen and Prince Philip, it turns out, prefer an Ordnance Survey map. And, as far as I am aware, the State Bentley has never got lost.

I alighted on these West Australian shores 17 years ago, and after doing an MBA here at UWA changed career course, going from being a school teacher to an internet entrepreneur.

Our idea was to put real estate on maps on the internet. After all, property is all about the 3 Ls as someone used to say… Location, Location, Location. Why couldn’t we see properties for sale or rent on maps on the internet? Well, no one had done it before, so we set out to find out how to do it.

Imagine our delight to find that Perth was a centre of GIS expertise – take an isolated mining town like Perth or Vancouver and there ye shall find GIS technology. We knocked on the door of Prof Julie Delaney here at UWA and asked her is what we wanted to create was possible.

Sure it was, she said and gave us a few GIS consultants to go see. 5 months later we launched aussiehome.com, as far as we know, it was the world’s first interactive map based property site.

We plotted the properties on the map, so people could see where they were, alongside the schools, parks, beaches, shops and transport systems. People buy a lifestyle when they buy a house. They buy into the local community. They want to see what’s around, what the neighbourhood is like. Our initial maps were very rinky dink, but they sort of worked. We deployed 4 types of mapping software, and spent $100ks to get them to work.

Our tag line was “putting your home on the map”, which we thought was quite clever. Although it seemed to confuse some, as did our name, as people used to walk in off the streets looking for home loans.

A few months after launching in 1999 a real estate agent rang us up and told us to hide the address of the properties on the site.

“Which bit about a map-based property web site are you not getting?”

Stony silence.

A few years later none of them really worried about showing the address; the era of open information had set in; giving away more info reduced the tyre kickers anyway. It meant real estate agents could spend time with those that wanted to buy; they’d seen everything on the market already.

And so we built ourselves a nice little online business all due to our distinctive mapping, 7 years before Google Maps came along and gave it away. The software, data sets and consulting fees were significant, but it was a worthy investment. It was our sizzle, and to us, we were proud to be pushing the envelope. And when Google Maps came out in Sept 2006, we leapt on them and made them sing.

We were the first to introduce mapping directions to every property, and as far as I know, the still only site to allow users to map their home open route according your starting route and where and when the open properties were located.

When apps came along, we transferred this to the app environment – an obvious move, as people had these devices with them as they went around looking for properties.

10 years went along and we sold the business to REIWA, and my team and I got to run reiwa.com. I stayed for 3 years before moving to my current role at Business News.

2 weeks ago I notice reiwa.com has relaunched with mapping at its core – even the new logo tips its hat to Google Maps. Their tag line “be WA streetsmart” is all about mapping.

At my current position at Business News, I am looking to how we can use mapping to show off our amazing array of data – how about mapping every business in our Book of Lists (4000 businesses and 14000 executives), mine sites, map stories where relevant, show where the public companies are and quantify the market cap of West Perth? All possible.

Where is mapping going into the future?

Presumably more accuracy, more handiness, more mapping will surround us – corrected sat nav, and I hope beautiful mapping will appeal. People of all nationalities intuitively understand what maps are. Mapping is, you could say, an international language; and apart from great music what else is there that can do that?

There will be business opportunities wherever mapping itself helps solve problems. For what I have discovered about business can be distilled into one sentence: if your customers have a problem that you can solve, then you will create value for them; if you create value then they will pay; and if they pay, you’re in business. (It’s amazing how many businesses forget this simple rule.)

I am sure most of you are doing some really cool stuff, and for that I salute you. Keep going, keep pushing the boundaries. We’re living in exciting times and the best ideas are still to be discovered.

Thank you for this opportunity to address your Gala Dinner; congratulations to all of you that work in the spatial industry, and well done to those walking home with awards tonight.