The differences between Coding and Programming

The differences between Coding and Programming

The differences between Coding and Programming

You have a killer idea for an App or software platform, and you want to get it built but where do you start? Software development requires a knowledge of the methods used, where they might be applied as well as an understanding of the skills that are needed to produce the end product.

It is unusual that the person with the idea has all of the knowledge and skills to produce it and to make it a reality he or she will turn to others to assist. This may be a collaborator that you join forces with, an external software development company or a freelance resource. They could be local or in many cases, in another country. No matter which path you choose it is helpful to have a basic knowledge of some of the fundamentals and in this article explains the differences between Coding and Programming.

“Coding” and “Programming” are the two most important approaches in software development and are often confused by the uninitiated, however, there are significant differences between the two.

Coding

Coding is the process of creating codes from one language to another one which involves writing codes in different languages. The main work of a coder is to translate the requirements into machine understandable language as machines (computers) only understands machine code. Coders need to have a comprehensive understanding of the project and they code as per instructed information. Coding is the initial step of developing a software programming.

Programming

Programming is the process of developing an executable machine level program which can be implemented without error and used to analyse, implement and produce the required machine level output. Programming enables human inputs and corresponding machine outputs to remain in sync. Programming also includes debugging, compiling, testing and implementation. Programmers visualise the different aspects of the communication and produce the correct machine outputs.

Differences between Coding and Programming

Differences between Coding and Programming

  1. Coding is the process of translating and writing codes from one language to another whereas Programming is the process of building an executable program which can be used to carry out proper machine level outputs.
  2. Coding only deals with the codes, whereas Programming is the creation of a program to control and interact with the machine to produce proper results.
  3. Coders translate the requirements and logic into a language that machines can understand whereas Programmers not only analyse and develop codes but also engage all the different parts of the system, so it performs in the intended way.
  4. Coding is the initial step of developing any software whereas Programming involves different types of complex scenarios to ensure the proper implementation of the product.
  5. Coders only translate the requirement logic into a machine understandable code without worrying about the details whereas Programmers analyse and visualise different aspects of the program and create solutions to problems that may occur. The Programmers scope is much wider than the Coders’.
  6. Coding can be defined as a part of Programming approach whereas Programming can be defined as a superset of Coding.
  7. Coding requires less expertise than Programming.

In conclusion

Coding and Programming are both parts of transforming your idea into a viable commercial product, each has a different purpose and often different people with different skills will be required to execute the strategy. Having a working understanding of who does what will help you keep your project under control.

 

How to make a prototype of your product idea

How to make a prototype of your product idea

How to make a prototype of your product idea

Prototyping is a normal development process, as it enables users to evaluate the product and try it out before implementation. It helps get valuable feedback from the customer and assists product designers and developers to understand exactly what is expected from the end  product.

Definitions of a Prototype

A prototype is an original model, form or an instance that serves as a basis for other processes. In software technology, the term prototype is a working example through which a new model or a new version of an existing product can be derived. (source: techopedia.com)

Reasons to make a prototype

reasons to create a prototype

The prototype is an important draft design that precedes the development of the end product and has several advantages:

1. A chance to review technical feasibility

Prototyping makes it possible to understand which aspects of the idea prove difficult or impossible to implement and highlight physical, technical or financial constraints.

2. Improves quality

A prototype of your software can assist is:

          • Testing usability
          • Reviewing the look and feel

3. Presents your vision clearly

The end user can visualise what you are trying to produce in a more understandable way. This can also assist in designing market advertising and in pre-sales.

4. Iterate at a lower cost

Iteration is the process of repeating the prototype build or modifying the prototype until an optimal product is made.

5. Simulate the end product

A prototype simulates the real and future product and can help attract customers and investors.

6. Provide focused feedback

Seeing the prototype helps end users to provide more focused feedback on the desired details which is essential in understanding their needs and expectations and provides a clear idea of where your product is heading.

7. Planning

A prototype can be considered the project specification and helps the entire team to focus on user needs.

8. Quick and easy to create

Create a simple idea on paper so that the designer understands the functionality and logic of the product. This simple sketch, illustration with a few buttons for a website, will be transformed by an experienced designer into a ready-to-implement product.

9. Risk Reduction

The risks of producing the final product are lowered by the prototyping stage exposing missing features, faults and functional gaps.

Potential disadvantages of a prototype

1. Increasing complexity

It is possible to increase the complexity of the product beyond its original concept as a result of trying to incorporate all end-user feedback.

2. Increasing costs

It is necessary to monitor the cost and effort that goes into the production of the prototype.

 

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Protecting your IP

Protecting your IP

In 2015, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office processed 629,647 patent applications. On average, approximately 55 percent of applications submitted receive patents. One way to improve your odds of getting a patent grant is to build your first prototype. While submitting a prototype is not strictly required by the U.S. Patent Office for submitting your application, it does serve to demonstrate that your idea has been thought through in sufficient detail to merit consideration.

Steps in creating a product prototype

1. Create a Concept Sketch

Draw your idea to help you visualize your prototype in greater detail. While it is possible to use a digital drawing program for this step it may be faster to draw the product on paper

If you intend to apply for a Patent retain your drawings for submission with your application as it can help if you ever need to defend your ownership of your intellectual property.

2. Develop a Virtual Prototype

When you are satisfied that you have enough detail in your drawings create a digital sketch of your idea or have one created using a program like AutoCAD. You may need to have this done by a design engineer. The image can be  used by the engineer to make both 2-D and 3-D renderings which can be rotated and animated.

3. Build a Physical Prototype

Once you have a virtual prototype, you’re ready to build a physical prototype.

Real life example:

In my early career I worked at Dulmison Australia Pty Ltd which was owned by a serial entrepreneur by the name of Philip Dulhunty. The company manufactured  aluminium and steel fittings that were used on high-voltage transmission lines. Philip came up with an idea which he called the ‘Dogbone Damper’ a vibration suppression device that is attached to a transmission line close to the supporting tower. The idea is that it reduces the vibration caused by wind and prevents the tower from shaking itself to pieces.

Although the finished product was to be made out of metal a physical prototype was built using a tennis ball, a ping pong ball and a piece of wooden doweling. Simulated tests were done, and they looked promising, a Patent Application was made, and a Patent was granted.

If you have the skill, you can build a physical prototype yourself, however, with today’s technology there are other ways you can achieve this. Using the virtual prototype, you can have a physical prototype cost-effectively manufactured on a 3D printer. If you are making a product that will be eventually manufactured in a moulding machine, then a 3D printed version will provide an excellent perspective for the company that produces the final tooling. The ‘prototyping’ industry now has many companies that have been established just for this purpose as well as Universities and Tech Hubs that offer similar services to inventors at reasonable rates.

When choosing the final materials your product will be made from it is the time to ask, “What if?” and allow yourself the freedom to explore other options and processes.

4. Locate a Manufacturer

Once you have a working prototype approach several suppliers and manufacturers to get estimates, so you can determine the most cost-efficient materials and methods for putting your prototype into production. This may require involving several suppliers, one to make the tooling, one to manufacture the production items and one or more suppliers of materials or other components.

Real life example:

I was recently involved with a company that is producing a new fishing rod. They had successfully built a 3D printed prototype and been granted Patents in the USA and Australia. With an AutoCAD set of drawings and the physical prototype they approached a tooling manufacturer, a plastic injection moulding company, a supplier of telescopic graphite tips and a reel manufacturer. Combined they were able to produce the finished product.

In conclusion

Prototypes are valuable step in the process of bringing an idea to life. It would be safe to say that every product goes through a prototyping phase before release. Used correctly you can end up with a more efficient, less costly product that has a higher market acceptability and one which results in more sales.

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How to make a prototype of your software idea

How to make a prototype of your software idea

How to make a prototype of your software idea

Software prototyping is a normal development process, as it enables users to evaluate the product and try it out before implementation. It helps get valuable feedback from the customer and assists software designers and developers to understand exactly what is expected from the end  product.

Definitions of a Prototype

A prototype is an original model, form or an instance that serves as a basis for other processes. In software technology, the term prototype is a working example through which a new model or a new version of an existing product can be derived. (source: techopedia.com)

Software prototyping is the creation of a scaled down version of your software idea, it does not have all the features that will eventually be built into the product. Building a user interface for demonstration to others is also known as horizontal prototyping, whereas a more complete version of your software with some of the final features is referred to as a vertical prototype.

Reasons to make a prototype

Reasons to make a prototype

The prototype is an important draft design that precedes the development of the end product and has several advantages:

1.    A chance to review technical feasibility

Prototyping makes it possible to understand which aspects of the idea prove difficult or impossible to implement and highlight physical, technical or financial constraints.

2.    Improves quality

A prototype of your software can assist is:

      • Testing usability
      • Reviewing site navigation
      • In the case of a website, reviewing the look and feel

3.    Presents your vision clearly

The end user can visualise what you are trying to produce in a more understandable way. This can also assist in designing market advertising and in pre-sales.

4.    Iterate at a lower cost

Iteration is the process of repeating the prototype build or modifying the prototype until an optimal product is made.

5.    Simulate the end product

A prototype simulates the real and future product and can help attract customers and investors.

6.    Provide focused feedback

Seeing the prototype helps end users to provide more focused feedback on the desired details which is essential in understanding their needs and expectations and provides a clear idea of where your product is heading.

7.    Planning

A prototype can be considered the project specification and helps the entire team to focus on user needs.

8.    Quick and easy to create

Create a simple idea on paper so that the designer understands the functionality and logic of the product. This simple sketch, illustration with a few buttons for a website, will be transformed by an experienced designer into a ready-to-implement product.

9.    Risk Reduction

The risks of producing the final product are lowered by the prototyping stage exposing missing features, faults and functional gaps.

Potential disadvantages of a prototype

1.    Increasing complexity

It is possible to increase the complexity of the product beyond its original concept as a result of trying to incorporate all end-user feedback.

2.    Increasing costs

 It is necessary to monitor the cost and effort that goes into the production of the prototype.

4 Methods of Software Prototyping

1.    Throwaway/Rapid Prototyping

This method uses very little efforts with minimum requirement analysis to build a prototype. Once the actual requirements are understood, the prototype is discarded, and the system is developed with a clearer understanding of user requirements.

2.    Evolutionary Prototyping

The building a functional prototype with minimal functionality. The prototype forms the basis of subsequent prototypes to which modifications are made and features added as and when they are identified.

3.    Incremental Prototyping

The building of several functional prototypes of the various sub-systems and then integrating all the available prototypes to form a complete system.

4.    Extreme Prototyping

Extreme prototyping is used by web developers. Commencing with a basic prototype that has all the existing pages is presented in the HTML format. Data processing is then simulated using a prototype services layer. Finally, the services are implemented and integrated to the final prototype.

What are ‘Sprints’ and ‘Scrums’ in software development?

What are ‘Sprints’ and ‘Scrums’ in software development

Software development is often carried out by teams with team members having different but related skills. One person may be good at the ‘look and feel’ of a website (user experience) while another may be good at integrating different parts of the programme. Software development teams today use a process called Agile development which includes breaking down the project into smaller parts called Scrums which are led by a team member often called a scrum master. Each Scrum has team members which work on specific parts and each team works to achieve a goal within a set period of time called a Sprint. Scrum teams deliver product features in increments at the end of each Sprint.

The scrum approach includes assembling the project’s requirements and using them to define the project and plan the necessary sprints.  Each sprint is divided into its own list of requirements. Daily scrum meetings help keep the project on target as do regular inspections and reviews. At the end of every sprint a sprint retrospective is held to look for ways to improve the next sprint.

The Agile Scrum Framework operates like this

Within each sprint, the development team builds and tests a functional part of the product until the product owner accepts it and the functionality becomes a potentially shippable product. When one sprint finishes, another sprint starts. A product release occurs at the end of a sprint or after several sprint.

In conclusion

Prototypes are valuable step in the process of bringing an idea to life. It would be safe to say that every software application or product goes through a prototyping phase before release. Used correctly you can end up with a more efficient, less costly product that has a higher market acceptability and one which results in more sales.

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Learning from personal experience

Learning from personal experience

Learning from personal experience

Very few people can go straight from school into a business of their own. Most of us must find employment, whether full-time or casual, and spend years working in someone else’s company. For many this is frustrating thinking that, I could do this better, I am making a profit for some-one else or, I just am not happy working in this environment. Today’s economy is forcing more people to consider just how they create an income for themselves. The important thing not to lose sight of is that while you are doing this you are also learning, learning what not to do and if you are lucky enough to work with a great manager, learning what to do and the right way to do it.

My first serious learning experience

In my early career I worked as Assistant Managing Director of a steel fabrication and construction company called Aquila Steel. The company specialised in large agricultural and industrial buildings and, from its Australian base, manufactured and shipped buildings around the world. We had made 1,000 farm buildings and shipped them to Libya, a major rice storage complex for Myanmar, Flemington Markets in Sydney and storage buildings and silos in every Australian State. It was with this background that the company made a bid for four very large storage complexes in Saudi Arabia.

The Managing Director of Aquila Steel was Ted Jarvis, an impressive figure who had been a British Ambassador to India and the veteran of many trade deals. Ted always wore a black pinstripe suit and dark sunglasses no matter whether he was outside or in the office, senior staff were somewhat threatened by his appearance and very tough management style, they called him ‘the Godfather’. At times I had seen Ted berate a senior executive and cause him so much stress that the executive snapped a pencil he was holding in his mouth.

The first meeting I had with Ted was when he appointed me to the position. I had been with the company for only one day and he decided to set me a task. The Flemington Markets project consisted of four large steel complexes and Ted had the suspicion that the project was falling behind in the time schedule. My task, as he outlined it, was to review the entire manufacturing process, establish where the project sat in relation to completion deadlines and work out the end cost and the date it would be completed. Having arrived at the company the day before Ted gave me seven days to complete the task and write a report. I was 23 and naive enough to think I could do it. The next seven days were hectic, but I did come up with a report and some conclusions, one of which was that the financial management of the project was a problem. Presentation day came and I was summoned to his office to be introduced to the company’s Chief Financial Officer who, as it happened, was responsible for the direct financial management of the project. I was asked to read the report and give my reasons, rather a daunting thing to do given the circumstances. I delivered the findings and to my surprise Ted, the Managing Director, agreed with every point, which was the starting point for the next seven years of working closely together. The Chief Financial Officer also accepted the points I had made, and we became friends and worked on many projects.

The lessons I had learned from this were many, firstly do as much homework and investigation of the facts before you open your mouth and secondly, if you are going into a meeting, try to find out who else will be present.

As an aside and an anecdote about how fearsome Ted was, we were out of the office at a meeting together with a client in another city. Ted needed some information and called the office, the phone was answered by the office assistant, an 18-year-old male. The conversation went something like this;

Ted:                                       “I would like to speak with the factory manager please”

Office assistant:                 “He’s not here”

Ted:                                       “Can I speak to the accountant please”

Office assistant:                 “He’s not here”

Ted:                                       “Can I speak to the assistant factory manager please”

Office assistant:                 “He’s not here”

In a fit of rage Ted screamed down the phone saying;

“Who is speaking???”

The office assistant’s response was:

“I don’t know, I don’t recognise your voice”

Ted was lost for words and for the first time he saw the irony in the question and burst out laughing. The office assistant kept his job because how could you fire someone for giving a perfectly correct answer?

Aquila Steel’s first experience in Saudi Arabia

Aquila Steel’s first experience in Saudi Arabia

To finalise and secure what was, at the time, the largest contact ever awarded by Saudi Arabia to an Australian company required visits to meet with the client, The Saudi Arabian Ministries of Finance and Agriculture.

Ted spearheaded the deal and met with the Ministry of Finance in the capital Riyadh. The meeting took place in the morning and adjourned over lunch with the direction that it would resume at 2pm. Ted returned to the Ministry at 2pm to find it completely empty, hundreds of rooms but not a single person in sight, until he was rushed by soldiers and arrested. At the prison they took him to he found out that King Faisal had been assassinated that morning in the next building and, being the only foreigner in sight in an empty ministry they assumed he was connected to the death. Fortunately, the truth came to light and Ted was released. That time Ted really was in the wrong room at the wrong time.

On my way to Saudi Arabia

Ted won the contract and preparations were made for me to move to Riyadh and cement the communications between our company and the two ministries. Ted booked a first-class flight for me to meet him in Beirut a few days later. This was to be an experience of its own.

Prior to landing in Beirut, the captain announced,

Any passengers disembarking in Beirut do so at their own risk. The situation on the ground is dangerous and the crew will not be leaving the aircraft”.

Not a good start. I got off the aircraft, found a taxi willing to take me to the city and headed for the Martinez Hotel where Ted was to meet me. Checking in to my room I took a nap to be woken up by very loud noises, I phoned reception and was told it was a practice drill for evacuation. This was not true, it was an Israeli air raid. I later met Ted and we decided to go out for dinner to a boutique hotel on the waterfront, The Vendome.

The Vendome was a place Ted had previously visited, it was owned by a French woman and had impeccable ratings. We went to the rooftop bar managed by an Australian by the name of John Sidney and found that we were the only people other than staff in the hotel at the time. We enjoyed a drink to the sounds of gunfire in the streets as Beirut was on the verge of civil war. Dinner was delightful and a pianist was playing classical music on a grand piano. Leaving the Vendome, we headed back to the Martinez Hotel just a few blocks away and passed a nightclub “The Tube” from which we could hear music. We entered and found the place empty of customers, sat down near the band and ordered a drink only to be informed that if we were not accompanied by a woman, we would need to move tables and sit at the rear. It’s amazing how formality can preside over chaos and war.

The next day I was free to do whatever I wanted, so not to let the events in the city spoil visiting a new country I hired a driver to drive north along the coast to the ancient town of Byblos. Along the way there was a cable car known as the Telerifique that went from the shoreline of the Mediterranean to the peaks of the mountain some 2,000 feet above. As the only passenger concern had not set in until it stopped hallway up, at which point artillery shells were being fired from the peak towards the city. I carried on to Byblos and returned the same day to the Martinez.

The following day saw an escalation of the fighting and the rule of law totally broke down. Teenagers were running through the streets with machine guns, people were being killed and bodies were being stacked in the hotel foyer. Time to get out. The Australian Embassy in Beirut knew we were there and assisted in holding off both sides whilst Ted and I made a run for the airport where we boarded a plane for Riyadh.

Landing in unknown territory – Riyadh

Landing in unknown territory

On a previous trip Ted had rented an apartment on Al Batha Road, which turned out to be the only road with a name in Riyadh. At that time the city had no named suburbs, no street names and no house numbers, a nightmare for finding your way in a place where no one spoke English. Ted had made a map and we instructed a taxi driver using sign language. Apparently, the apartment block was one of very few new constructions, it was basic concrete block, not air-conditioned and situated between two rubbish dumps. This was to be my new home. It was mid-summer and street temperatures consistently exceeded 50 degrees Celsius. Inside the apartment was like an oven that would not cool down, at one stage I recorded a temperature of 70 degrees Celsius!!!

An instruction from Ted

As Ted left for Australia, I was given one instruction. He said,

“I do not care if you cannot do the job, the most important thing is to stay alive. I have set up two contacts in Riyadh that you can reach out and let know where you are or where you will be travelling in the country”.

Unfortunately, within days both contacts had left the country and I was on my own. As there were no phones in the apartment, no public phones and few ways of communicating with Australia I had to decide how I would handle the situation.

I was aware that the Saudi Government had a contract with Vinnel Corporation to train Saudi military and that Vinnel had 100 (ex-mercenaries) employees staying at the old Riyadh Hotel. I went there to find it empty but did find out that they all came back about 5pm and sat in the foyer. Saudi Arabia was and is an alcohol-free country and at that stage there were no organised sports, no cinemas, few restaurants and very little entertainment. I hatched a plan, get to the hotel before they arrived, sit in one of the chairs at a large table and wait. At 5pm they came in and silently sat in the foyer, no one spoke much so I started a conversation. After a few days I had made new friends and I had a backup safety plan in place. As there was little to do two of the mercenaries Mike Scroggins (a demolition expert) and Bill Steele and I went for a rock-climbing trip to the desert. Halfway up a steep face sitting on a narrow ledge was a large unexploded bomb.(As we later found out we were on the army’s test range). We stood on the ledge while Mike defused the bomb and carried on our way, a little excitement in a boring place.

Erecting the buildings

Erecting the buildings

Aquila Steel had hired a Saudi Arabian construction company The Bahareth Corporation, owned and run by Sheikh Mohammed Bahareth and his son Mazin. Materials had arrived from Australia and ground was broken at four sites, Riyadh, Jeddah, Yanbu and Dhahran under the supervision of Fouad Chamoun, a Lebanese engineer and The Bahareth Corporation’s General Manager.

Construction went well and I decided to return to Australia when Fouad invited me to visit his family in Beirut on the way back home. I looked at Fouad and asked him if he was joking as we were lucky to escape last time, and nothing had improved. Fouad assured me that everything would be fine and I would be safe as his uncle would look after us. Still not feeling comfortable about this I asked how his uncle could do that, to which Fouad replied, “My uncle is Camille Chamoun former Prime Minister of Lebanon, and he has his own army”. I respectfully declined Fouad’s offer and returned safely to Australia.

In conclusion

There are many things I learned by being placed in situations that were unknown and challenging and ones where some thought was necessary to achieve the outcome or solve the problem. None of this would have been possible had I not worked for someone else but all of it I have used in later years to help me build my own companies.

If you are still working for someone else or have started your own business recognising what you have done in the past and how you achieved it will help you to manage the future of your own company.

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My first attempt at a Pitch Deck

My first attempt at a Pitch Deck

My first attempt at a Pitch Deck

The terms, Incubator, Accelerator and Pitch Deck are all relatively new. The first company known to use the word “accelerator” was Y Combinator, which started in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by Paul Graham in 2005.

What happened before that?

By 1999 I and my colleagues had started a few companies and had financed those on our own, we had not needed to raise funds to get a business up and running. This applied to a startup called Remcentral.com which eventually went on to become a Unicorn, a company with a Billion-dollar valuation.

Remcentral.com had evolved from some rudimentary software developed by Remuneration Planning Corporation Pty Ltd (RPC) of which I was a Director. In the mid 1990’s at RPC we started to create a software platform for the administration of employer provided benefits and Remcentral.com was formed. Having built a basic version, we were successful in acquiring a large hospital as a client, we hired a few employees and started to expand. I had lobbied the Australian Department of Defence for the previous two years and they decided they were interested and called for submissions to manage their 100,000 employees. We won the contract and immediately knew that we would need to raise funds to build the infrastructure and develop the programme and it would be more than we could personally afford. We had to find an investor.

finding an investor

In 1999 there were no investment funds that were accepting startups, no incubators, accelerators or other institutions that we could approach as the ‘Startup’ industry was itself a ‘startup’. I looked for individuals and companies that might be interested and spent several months fruitlessly knocking on doors and pitching our case to people. We knew we had limited time left to keep the company afloat and it was at this time that someone said, ‘why don’t you approach Macquarie Bank as I have heard they have backed a few new ventures”.  A meeting was arranged in their Sydney office and I walked with a PowerPoint set of slides that can only be described in today’s terms as pathetic. They were pictures without facts, figures or financial projections and were embedded with the sound of a cash register every time a new slide opened. To my disappointment I reached halfway through the 12 slides and was asked to close the PowerPoint and that was that. On the way out I was told the usual “well get back to you”.

What happened next?

Two weeks later I received a call from Macquarie from the person who had shown me the door, he said “Can you come back for another meeting?”  A few days later I went back to the same building and was shown into a larger room where about 20 solemn faced individuals were sitting. The person who had set up the meeting asked me to show the people gathered the same PowerPoint set that I had shown him two weeks earlier. I completed the slide set and not a word was said, nor a question asked. I received a polite ‘thank-you’ and left the building.

Another two weeks passed, and I received another call from the same person who asked me to call into his office in the afternoon. I walked in not knowing what to expect and he was sitting at his desk with a dozen envelopes in a pile. He said, “these are for you”. He handed me the envelopes which I opened to find $4.2 million dollars in cheques made out to my company. I walked back to my office, looked at my partners and said, “you will never guess what I have in these envelopes”.

Remcentral.com changed its name to SmartSalary Pty Ltd in 2000 and today is valued at over 1 Billion dollars.

Getting an investment for your company

In conclusion

I had just presented my first successful Pitch Deck and at the time had not even realised that in the coming years the Pitch Deck would become more sophisticated and the fundamental document that grabs the interest of investors in the quickest possible time.

 

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5 factors about structuring a company for growth in Australia

5 factors about structuring a company for growth in Australia

5 factors about structuring a company for growth in Australia

When a business is started it is normal that there are only one or two people, an idea and a common goal to grow the business and not a lot of thought is given to how it might be structured to accommodate that growth. Everything is focused on the here and the now.

Growth is fundamental to success so it makes sense to consider early on how the business will grow and what is needed to achieve growth. This is where the importance of your Business Plan takes effect as it will set out the phases the business will go through to reach the goals you are setting. Many founders underestimate the importance of structure in facilitating growth.

  1. Corporate Structure

Corporate structure includes the type of entity that is used to house the business, for example, Sole Trader, Partnership, Pty Ltd Company or Limited Company. Each type of corporate structure has its own advantages and disadvantages. In brief, Sole Traders and Partnerships are generally more suited to smaller businesses, a Pty Ltd Company provides room for growth whereas a Limited Company structure is more commonly used by larger companies and ones that want to list their shares on a Stock Exchange. It is often the case that a Pty Ltd Company that has grown to become a large company will change its corporate status to a Limited Company to allow it to raise money from investors by listing on a Stock Exchange.

  1. Operational Structure

Very few companies grow without employing staff. As a Founder you initially would have concentrated on the idea and how to get it up and running. There will come a point at which the tasks and roles of a growing company will need more hands-on deck. A good time to plan for this is when you are creating your Business Plan as it will require you to think about what types of skills you need, where they will be located and what management hierarchy (organisation chart) is needed for control and reporting.

  1. Production Structure

Whether your business produces a product or service you will need to consider how each part of the chain is organised. If you are creating a digital service platform will the website, programming, and digital marketing be handled internally or outsourced or a combination of both? How you do this affects both bottom line profits and growth.

If you intend to produce a product or provide a service you will also need, plan and cost who does what.

  1. Sales Structure

No matter what your company does, if you do not sell anything, you will not make money. How will you create ‘brand’ awareness? How will people know where you are? How will people find your website? You need to market your company’s services and products to get to your end users. Will you use agents, direct salespeople, distributors, intermediaries, influencers or a combination of these to reach your audience. The way in which you structure your marketing and sales approach will be reflected in your company’s success.

  1. Business Structure

This is the core of your business that runs in the background, it encompasses all of the back-office activities including accounting, invoicing, supply ordering, customer deliveries, employment and administration. All these activities should be thought out and cost in your Business Plan and, importantly, should be monitored on a regular basis to enable you to make any adjustments necessary for the operation of your business.

In conclusion

As a Founder or business owner, be conscious of all the structural elements that will make your business a success. They all work together and have an impact on each other, ignoring one can be damaging for any company.

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How to find startups to invest in

How to find startups to invest in

How to find startups to invest in

Finding the right startup to invest in is very difficult and can be a high-risk activity for the uninitiated as a large percentage never raise enough funds to succeed. Startup investments are generally not trade-able like stocks. You should expect to hold onto your investment until the company goes public or is acquired.

Can an average person invest in startups?

The short answer is Yes, however, whenever, wherever and however you decide to invest do your homework first. There are a few ways the average person can invest;

  1. Directly in the startup.
  2. By joining an investment group, often called ‘Angels’. The group reviews proposals from startups and offers some of the startup an opportunity of raising funds from its members (Angels).
  3. Through a fund that consolidates investments from many people and invest in startups that the fund chooses. These types of funds accept smaller amounts (investments) from the public as opposed to a direct investment where the startup may have a minimum amount it will accept. Funds of this type allow average investors the opportunity to diversify their investment across a number of startups and potentially reduce the risks involved.

Several countries, including the USA and Australia have made it possible for the average investor to invest in this type of fund. Some of the funds available in the USA include,

  • SeedInvest 

is a crowdfunding platform that allows individuals to invest in early-stage companies that have been pre-screened for potential viability. According to SeedInvest, less than 1% of companies that seek funding through the platform are accepted.

  • WeFunder

WeFunder has a stated goal of funding more than 20,000 startups by the year 2029. It hopes to do this by accepting investments of as little as $100 at a time.

  • Republic

Republic is another online platform that allows individual investors to purchase a stake in early-stage startups. It allows you to get started for as little as $10.

  • Microventures

Microventures is a platform allows for early-stage and late-stage startup investing for as little as $100.

  1. Crowdfunded Equity is a method that has gained popularity over recent years. Startups post their offer and details on a crowdfunding platform and seek investment from the general public. Crowdfunding equity platforms usually require formal government approval before they allowed to post offers by startups. Some examples of companies offering this service are;
  • Equitise (Australia)
  • Onthemarket (Australia)
  • CrowdfundUSA (USA)
  • Birchal (Australia)
  • SeedInvest (USA)
  • Startengine (USA)

The above are just a few of an ever-increasing number of companies.

What signs should I be looking for when investing in a startup?

What signs should I be looking for when investing in a startup

Picking a startup to invest in is a difficult task. I recently spoke with an Investment Fund manager who receives 800 proposals from startups every month from which they will choose one or two to take to Due Diligence before they invest. Some of the points they look for are:

1.      Unique Product

If the startup has something unique that allows the company a competitive advantage over others in the same market.

2.      Scalability

Is the product and scalable, i.e. will sell and can the market and the company handle growth?

3.      Market Size

Does the market that the startup has targeted have a huge potential?

4.      The Team

Is there a dedicated management team? Does it have the skills to realise the business plan?

5.      Momentum

Has the startup achieved any sales?

6.      Outlook

Is the outlook positive and do you believe they can achieve it? Are there any possible hurdles that may arise e.g. competition, government legislation changes, sovereign risk etc?

7.      Ownership for Sale

Is the price asked for the equity on offer good value?

8.      Use of Funds

Are the funds being raised enough to carry out the Business Plan or will more be needed. If more is needed your equity will be diluted at that time, i.e. your percentage ownership will be reduced.

9.      Financial/Business Plan

A comprehensive, well thought out Business Plan will tell you a lot about the company, the product, the team and the future. Conservative and achievable forecasts, expenses, and projected margins can provide you with a view on the feasibility of the startup and its future potential.

 

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What Questions should I ask before investing?

What Questions should I ask before investing

Financial questions to ask

  • How much money is the startup trying to raise?
  • Who has invested already?
  • Are there any well recognised investors or investment funds who have already invested?
  • What is the likelihood of raising the total asked for?
  • What will the money be used for?
  • How much have the current business owners invested of their own money?
  • Has the company generated any revenue?
  • How long will the funds that are being raised last?
  • What do the financial forecasts look like?
  • Is there any debt in the company?
  • If there is debt, is it secured or unsecured?
  • Are there any 3rd party financial agreements or arrangements?
  • What does my investment buy me? (i.e. what percentage of the company).
  • Is the equity on offer the same type of share classification as the founders?
  • Does the startup have a ‘Term Sheet’ explaining the offer and what you will receive?

Idea related questions to ask

  • What is the problem or pain points in the market that it is solving?
  • What is the unique selling proposition?
  • how does it deliver value to customers?
  • What stage of production is the company at, i.e.
    • pre-prototype
    • prototype
    • product validated by end users
    • orders received

Business questions to ask

  • Does the startup have a Business Plan?
  • Does the startup have a Marketing Plan?
  • How well has the market been researched?
  • Who are the competitors?
  • What is their pricing model?
  • What is the startups pricing model?

In conclusion

If you are satisfied with the answers to all your questions and feel that you would like to proceed DO NOT JUST HAND OVER THE MONEY. The next step that is crucial is called Due Diligence, a process that requires you to examine as many background and supporting documents that the startup has to enable you to verify the claims and statements that have been made in its investment pitch to you.

If there are other significant investors i.e. people, whose judgement you trust or independent investment companies you may join with them to carry out the Due Diligence phase.

 

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How to get a team for a startup business

How to get a team for a startup business

How to get a team for a startup business

The importance of team in a startup

“A founder’s individual characteristics are important but what’s more important is that person’s ability to bring a bigger and more experienced team with them, and the bigger that team the more likely the firm will succeed.”

(Source: Rotman School of Management)

“If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.”

(Source: Confucius)

Let’s start with the thought that, being the smartest person in the room is possibly the dumbest thing you can do when it comes to creating a great business from an idea. If you entered every room knowing you had more intelligence than the rest your ego may be satisfied, but there would be no one there that knew more than you and who could add ideas, inspiration and skills to your startup. You’re on your own. At this point you are relying on your own capabilities for everything.

How about creating a new room? Let’s call it your ‘Team’. Fill the ‘room’ with people who have different skills, the ones that you are weakest on and stop worrying about not being the smartest person in the room. Investors in your business will value the talent that you have assembled and see in you a founder capable of leading a team, taking a vision to completion and returning a profit for them. The success of a new venture doesn’t just lie with the founders and their vision. It’s only when those founders attract a great team around them, bringing in more experience and a diverse range of skills, helping to drive the founders’ vision forward, that long-term success will be possible.

How to pick your perfect team

How to pick your perfect team

Finding your dream team

Entrepreneurs sole focus is often their start-up. Hiring people who share this vision is crucial in ensuring the start-up has the best chance to achieve its goals.

Employees accustomed to working in corporations enjoy the comfort of consistency and often need to be told what to do, so many probably wouldn’t make a good fit for your start-up. On the other hand, start-up employees are creative and can operate without constant oversight and aren’t afraid to bring up new ideas and work to implement them. To attract the right team, look for self-starters who have achieved things in their own life, individuals with the ability to make out-of-the-box decisions and know how to work towards goals. Look for people who enjoy thinking on their feet but aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves when necessary.

Your team critical to the success of your new venture, how do you pick the right people? Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Identify your company’s weak spots

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, things they are good at and some they’re not. Identify the skills you have, and the skills you need as early as possible

  1. Identify time commitments 

Identify early on whether you need full-time assistance or not. A part-timer you’re confident in is often better than a full-timer you’re not

  1. Identify potential candidates

Consider the skills you require and the experience of people you know and whether this compliments what you already have on board. Can they be relied upon and how important is a salary to them in the early stages?

  1. Have the conversation

You may already know candidates well, but you will still need to make a formal offer to them, so think through how you can persuade them of the merits of joining your team

  1. Assess continuously 

You will then need to regularly assess how well the company’s goals and milestones are being met by your founding team and plug any knowledge gaps that may have arisen with new personnel.

  1. Your startup has Directors, but does it need an Advisory Board?

A board of directors is the governing body of a company. Directors are elected by the shareholders to act in the best interests of the company. An advisory board is an informal panel of independent people who give non-binding strategic advice to the owners and founders of a business. An advisory board can provide broad strategic advice, but cannot dictate how management run the company, and cannot appoint staff. An advisory board can be a considerable asset for your business at all stages of growth.

How does a startup remunerate key employees?

How does a startup remunerate key employees

Advisory Board

Advisory Board members are usually remunerated on an hourly/daily rate dependent on the depth of their involvement. It is not unusual for member to be on an Advisory Board for short periods e.g. 6 months whilst the company is going through various stages.

Compensation might take the form of:

  • Fees – typically $1,000 to $1,500 per monthly meeting is a typical amount for high level professional individuals
  • Out of pocket expenses
  • Stock options. Some board members will be more valuable than others and you don’t have to compensate them all the same.

Incentivise Key Start-up Employees

Start-up employees typically have the same goals and working for a start-up provides experiences not available in established companies that can afford to pay high salaries to attract the right people. The key to attracting and incentivising the best start-up candidates is to understand the intrinsic value that working at a start-up offers. These include:

  • Broader responsibilities – Employees in larger organisations are often restricted to a small set of job responsibilities whereas a start-up is usually unstructured allowing employees to gain valuable knowledge and experience above and beyond their corporate counterparts. Employees attracted to start-ups are generally more capable of thinking outside the box and are versed in multiple disciplines. The exposure to the start-up environment provides employees with experience alone that they would not get in other companies.
  • Effective ownership – Large corporations offer employee option and share participation plans, but start-ups can offer real equity. Investors generally require key employees to be locked-in with a future stake in the business that will vest, subject to meeting set milestones, over a period of years. Employees effectively own a piece of the business they’re helping to build while taking on real tasks that directly affect the bottom line which is a great way to incentivise them to work harder and more passionately to achieve the company’s vision.
  • Flexible work schedules – Start-ups can be more flexible than larger organisations and allow a variety of working options that suits the company and the employee. Start-ups can more easily accommodate workers’ personal lives with split shifts, compressed schedules, and other creative scheduling techniques.

Key executives that start-ups cannot afford

  • Every start-up needs the best talent it can get, however, there is an affordability limit that forces them to economise in certain key areas. CFOs, COOs and other key roles cannot be filled until the business scales significantly. These roles will become very important as you go through future funding rounds and expansion so how does a start-up fill this gap?The major accounting houses of the world have identified the start-up sector as a source of future clients and have decided to respond with a service that provides many of the administrative functions including Board Reporting, Visa management and other functions. Previously to become a client would have required full hourly rates to be paid which for most start-ups is out of the question.Now an interim service is available that covers many of the necessary areas at a fixed fee per month. One example is the programme introduced by Ernst Young that delivers these services for approximately $2,500 per month eliminating the need for a start-up to engage far more expensive personnel but still delivers the professional level of Governance required by investors. It is a useful interim step.

Managing a startup team for my new business

Managing a startup team for my new business

Team management can determine the success or failure of a start-up. As the founder you need to be aware of the things that are required to establish your business and set it on a path to success. Your Business Plan outlines the stages you have thought are necessary and the funds required to achieve this, however, does it identify the skills gaps that exist amongst your team?

Some key fundamentals to consider when managing your startup team are:

  • Training – Are there areas in which they need to upgrade their skills or learn more about your product and its implementation?
  • Planning – Have you established clear objectives, responsibilities and deliverables? Do they understand what needs to be done?
  • Personalities – Are there different but valuable personalities that you need to manage?
  • Communications – Do you have a plan or schedule for regular communications and discussion of what went well, what went wrong and what needs to be done?
  • Incentives for achievement – Set clear and achievable targets and reward employees in several ways:
    • Short-Term Incentive Plans

Short-term incentives, also often referred to as annual incentives, are intended to compensate executives for achieving the company’s short-term business strategy based on achievement of goals by the board compensation committee.

The nature of these goals varies depending on the type and maturity of the business, specific company strategy, market conditions and other factors. Short-term incentive metrics are typically financial in nature, such as revenue growth, return on capital or maximising profit, and many companies also include non-financial metrics that are consistent with company strategy, such as meeting safety or quality assurance hurdles, or delivering on development of a new business or product. Annual incentive opportunity is typically expressed as a target percentage of the executive’s salary, and plans are typically constructed to provide threshold, target and maximum levels of performance which then generate corresponding threshold, target and maximum levels of pay.

Generally, performance below the threshold level will result in no payout, while performance above the maximum level may be capped at the maximum payout tier (often 200% of target) to mitigate risk-taking.

    • Long-Term Incentive Plans

Retaining good employees saves you money. There is no need to go through the expense of recruiting and training new workers if your workers aren’t leaving. Long-term incentive plans encourage employees to remain loyal to your business. A range of incentive plans, implemented at graduated longevity milestones, can convince employees to stay at the company for many years. Typical long-term incentive plans provide rewards every two to five years.

    • Stock Options

A company benefit of stock options for employees who have been with the company for five years provides a long-term incentive, while at the same time making it achievable. Increase the amount of stock the employee can access at a discount for every five years he is with your company. The employee pays a percentage of each share’s value, with you paying the balance.

The percentage of each share that you buy increases with employee seniority with the company. Another option is restricted stock. The company gifts stock shares to the employee with restrictions. For example, the company can structure it so the employee forfeits all gifted stock if he resigns within two years of receipt. For each subsequent year of employment, he retains the rights to an additional 25 percent of the gifted stock. During the fifth year of employment following the stock gifting, the employee is fully vested and owns it all, even if he resigns.

    • Vacation Increases

Adding a week’s additional vacation time for every five years the employee works cements company loyalty for the long haul.

    • Cash

Cash awards that are given every three to five years of employment on the achievement of certain performance goals work well as long-term employee incentives. Performance is typically measured against projected growth, sales expectations and peer group evaluations in the industry. The award amount is based on multiple base-salary calculations.

Conclusion

Your team is as crucial as your idea, they can make or break a startup. Keeping them together, focused and incentivised is the role of the founder and its importance should never be underestimated.

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Lean A practical view

Lean – a practical view

Lean A practical view

The term “lean” was coined to describe Toyota’s business during the late 1980s by a research team headed by Jim Womack, Ph.D., at MIT’s International Motor Vehicle Program. At its simplest it means maximising customer value while minimising waste. Whether you produce a product or provide a service companies are using lean principles to reduce waste, minimise cost and produce better products.

Much has been said and written to the point that Lean today is almost a study in itself, however, its origins are rooted in history. Lean can also be described as ‘process thinking’ where each process is examined, its relevance and effectiveness reviewed, and modifications made to the process or the process is eliminated. Lean is not rocket science.

When we look at ancient buildings, prehistoric monoliths and massive earthworks it is hard to imagine that all of these were built without thought to the steps and processes involved. How did the Egyptians build the pyramids in such a complex way in a relatively short time, how was Puma Punku in Bolivia designed, manufactured and assembled and how was a complex structure such as Gobekli Tepi in Turkey created 15,000 years ago? The current thinking according to Lean practitioners is that in 1913 Henry Ford, at Highland Park, MI, married consistently interchangeable parts with standard work and moving conveyance to create what he called flow production.

Ford lined up fabrication steps in process sequence wherever possible using special-purpose machines and go/no-go gauges to fabricate and assemble the components going into the vehicle and deliver perfectly fitting components directly to line-side. Taiichi Ohno, and others at Toyota looked at Ford’s situation in the 1930s and realised that a series of simple innovations might make it more possible to provide both continuity in process flow and a wide variety in product offerings. They therefore revisited Ford’s original thinking and invented the Toyota Production System. This shifted the focus of the manufacturing engineer from individual machines and their utilisation, to the flow of the product through the total process making it possible to obtain low cost, high variety and high quality.

manufacturing engineer from individual machines

There is an account concerning the building of the Empire State Building that simply describes the application of common sense using a Lean approach and how it impacted on the eventual outcome. The schedule on this project was as adventurous as the design. The project would be done, the architects planned, in only eighteen months. General contractors Starrett Brothers and Eken were engaged to do the job.

Less than two months after breaking ground, in March 1930 construction began on the steel skeleton. The frame of the skyscraper rose at the rate of four and a half stories per week, or more than a story a day. No comparable building has been built at a similar rate of speed. This accomplishment came about through effective logistics combined with a skilled, organised workforce. The project became a model of efficiency. A railway was built at the construction site to move materials quickly. Since each railway car, a cart pushed by people, held eight times more than a wheelbarrow, the materials were also moved with less effort. The steel girders could not be raised more than 30 stories at a time, so several large derricks were used to pass the girders up to the higher floors. In those days, bricks used for construction were usually dumped in the street and then moved from the pile to the bricklayer by wheelbarrow as needed. The streets would have to be closed off, while the labor of moving the bricks was backbreaking and inefficient. With ten million bricks needed for this job, the old method would be impractical and wasteful of time. Instead, Starrett Brothers and Eken devised a chute that led to a hopper in the basement. As the bricks arrived by truck, the contractors had them dumped down the chute. When they were needed, the bricks were released from the hopper and dropped into carts, which were then hoisted up to the appropriate floor. While the outside of the building was being constructed, electricians and plumbers began installing the internal necessities of the building. Timing for each trade to start working was finely tuned, and the building rose as if being constructed on an assembly line – one where the assembly line did the moving and the finished product stayed put.

The Empire State Building is a 1453-foot, 103-story structure that was built in just over 13 months ahead of schedule and under budget.

Source: http://www.constructioncompany.com/historic-construction-projects/empire-state-building/

In conclusion

Planning, the elimination of waste and needless processes has been a hallmark of efficient production and construction for ever. Whether it is labelled Lean or something else the principles can help every business owner become more profitable, timely and produce product and services that the end user requires.

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The ideas factory

6th Floor, 110 Sussex Street, Sydney – The ideas factory

The ideas factory

Two Unicorns and a bunch of other stuff

A personal experience

By 1984 I had established a successful career in the corporate world and has risen to an international position managing over 700 employees across five countries and four continents when, out of nowhere came a government infrastructure policy change that devastated the Australian high-voltage power line transmission industry. Shell-shocked we held on to our employees for several months believing that the government would reverse their policies, they did not, leaving hundreds of employees without a future.

Not unlike many individuals today I needed to consider what I could do to earn a living and support a family. I never went back to being an employee and after a few months had established a new career in finance, a long way from engineering. I attended some conferences and happened to meet people who had had similar experiences and were in the process of creating their own employment. This is when I realised the importance of individuals with different skill sets working together to achieve an overall goal that none could achieve on their own, i.e. I had found a ‘Team’.

the team

Chris Costello, Kris Chikarovski, Gary Fitton and Geoff Price came from different backgrounds, commerce, law, taxation and remuneration but had combined their skills and rented a small apartment on the 6th floor of The Chelsea at 110 Sussex Street Sydney. They had started a consultancy that would provide remuneration and taxation advice to large corporates and I had the good fortune to join them.

In the mid 1980’s Sussex Street, although within 200 yards of the city centre, was not seen as a desirable location for a business as it was adjacent to a derelict area that was once a set of docks for sailing ships to unload their cargo. Fairly rough and run down it was however relatively cheap and so the company Remuneration Planning Corporation Pty Ltd (RPC) was created. To entice high-end potential clients RPC installed a commercial coffee making machine at a time when there were few coffee shops in the city. Clients came, enjoyed coffee and business was done.

RPC became known as a small group of people that were at the cutting edge of employee remuneration structures and implementation. Initially it researched employee share schemes in other countries and set about creating a set of Employee Share Ownership Plans (ESOPs) that were compliant with and approved by the Australian Taxation Office. Over the next few years RPC created and installed ESOPs in to 60 of Australia’s top 100 corporations and became widely known for its innovation in the field. In 1988 RPC create the Novated Lease Taxation Ruling IT2509, an approved method for employers to cost efficiently provide vehicles for their employees. Chris Costello and I wrote a book on how to implement vehicle benefits in companies and $1 million of sales of the book were achieved in the first year.

As RPC grew and more large corporates used its services some of those corporates were raising questions about the ESOPs and their employees’ shares and although they liked the schemes and they were becoming increasingly popular with their employees, they were concerned about the way in which they could manage those shareholdings on paper in their administrative records. Back at the office at 110 Sussex Street an idea was hatched to create a basic software platform, a sophisticated spreadsheet, to record the employees’ shareholdings. This idea gained traction and drew the interest of a large finance and insurance company Legal and General (L&G). L&G approached RPC and offered to buy the platform and it was sold to them. Two years later, even though the platform was expanding and profitable, L&G had a change in focus and asked RPC if it would like to buy the company back. Chris Costello’s answer was ‘No’. L&G then asked if RPC would take it back at no cost and again Chris Costello’s answer was no. L&G’s final offer was for RPC to take back the platform and L&G would pay RPC an amount to do so, Chris Costello’s answer was ‘Yes’. What L&G did not recognise at the time was that the platform has performed services for which L&G had not invoiced the major corporates. RPC took back control of the platform, received a significant sum from L&G and then set about raising $600,000 in new invoices which it subsequently collected.

But that was not the end of the story. Geoff Price, one of the team and a remuneration lawyer, steered the platform, now called RPC Plan Managers Pty Ltd, to further growth and positioned it to become an attractive target. In Melbourne Chris Morris had established Computershare in 1978 with similar objectives and in 1998 acquired RPC Plan Managers and merged the two businesses. Geoff Price remained with Computershare for many years growing the company internationally to the point that today its stock market value is approaching $10 billion.

stockmarket value of 10 billion

Meanwhile back at 110 Sussex Street other ideas were emerging. In the late 1990s, following RPC’s remuneration and employee benefit innovations, employers were also struggling with employee benefit administration and a parallel platform to RPC Plan Managers was devised with its purpose of creating more efficient ways to manage the flow of funds that employers channeled into employee benefits. I took on this task and we formed Smartsalary Pty ltd as an employee benefit administration company. To make this a reality we needed to raise funds and employ a team with the right skills. I raised $4 million, we leased the top floor of the building next door and both RPC Plan Managers and Smartsalary moved in.

It was in the process of recruiting key staff that I met my future partner. She had heard of RPC whilst working in Melbourne, cold called the company and inquired about a position. The company asked her to come to Sydney and we met in what then was an unknown 1800’s hotel across the road from our office. Unbeknown to both her and me at the time was that a Tasmanian girl, Mary Donaldson, was also meeting someone in the same bar, his name was Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark. As my now wife likes to remind me Mary got her prince and she got the frog. Smartsalary grew, acquired a cornerstone client in the Australian Defence Forces and today has a stock market value in excess of $1 billion.

110 Sussex Street had not seen the last of its innovations as in 2002 it created the first of its three fintech products, ‘The Employee Benefits Card’, a credit card that removed all manual administration from the benefits that Public Hospitals and Not-for-Profit organisations provided their employees. More than 1.2 million Australians are employed in this sector and enjoy this Australian Taxation Office approved benefit. RPC created the company PBI Benefit Solutions Pty Ltd to market ‘The Employee Benefits Card’ and signed a Joint Venture Agreement with one of Australia’s largest bank Westpac. The card was a success and the company ran at a gross profit margin of 91%. Two more tax efficient cards were created in the following years, the ‘Leisure and Accommodation Card’ and the ‘Meal and Entertainment Card’.

Leisure and Accommodation Card’ and the ‘Meal and Entertainment Card’

Time has moved on, but innovation has not ceased, and as many of you would have realised by now, if you have an inquiring mind and see problems in front of you, you start thinking about how to create a solution. Today such a person is called an ‘entrepreneur’, in the 1980s we were just trying to solve problems and create a living.

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