Australia: the ‘lucky country’ as it was in the last century and it’s not just Greece

guest post by Nick Gonios

Even for a prosperous Australian economy with relatively low government debt levels compared to other developed countries, and good living standards are masquerading the medium to long term structural challenges facing the nation going forward. Believe me, it’s not just Greece!

This current prosperity from where I reside (Australia) has bred a sense of complacency in my opinion across big companies and government as our current GDP has been supported by historically high levels of raw material (i.e. coal, gas, gold, etc.) exports to the rest of the world, high property prices and strong consumer appetite for products, services and entertainment. Don’t get me wrong, we are not all ‘old money’ dependent as we have some great ‘new money’ startup success stories producing many Australian online tech billionaires within the last 10 years. Yet, the Australian startup ecosystem is facing growth challenges as government policies, an oligopolistic economy and lack of good access to early stage capital are holding back new high tech growth industries!

Having spent the last 22+ years in the online technology sector predominantly working for both large multinational software companies & early stage startups across the Asia Pacific and North American regions, I have seen slow moving big companies across financial services, retail, transport, media, entertainment and travel to name a few being ‘leap frogged’ by young high growth customer centric startups. Let’s not forget, big companies are designed to optimise and scale value that already exists.

In a world that is more volatile, uncertain and complex, and traditional business models have been overturned, Pollenizer have applied the evolution of startups to develop a science of innovation & corporate venturing that works for big companies. Startup innovation is focused on discovering something that does not exist yet. Starting only with an idea, and figuring out what might actually work as a business model. Big companies are using this to grow the profit centres of the future.

At Pollenizer, we are doing more and more work with big companies who are facing digital disruption and want to apply our startup science at an enterprise level, to stimulate more entrepreneurial thinking and help them create innovative new, customer centric products and business units. Our open corporate venturing model enables Pollenizer’s clients like Telstra, Singtel and Coca Cola to fail fast, fail cheap, and learn quicker than their competitors giving them a platform to disrupt their industries before they are disrupted themselves. The Pollenizer Startup Science used to achieve this has been built over the past five years – launching over 50 businesses, growing a strong startup guild, and has had great successes including one big exit in 2011 (Spreets to Yahoo!7), three series A and eight angel rounds.

Having seen it work across the Asia Pacific region, I do believe it could be applied to foster Greece’s large corporate and government innovation and corporate venturing efforts towards a mandate of ‘21st century’ high economic & industry development growth.

Nick Gonios is an experienced online entrepreneur, advisor, investor, and is head of Pollenizer’s corporate ventures program.