SmartCompany's unconventional growth, Trend spotting from a data-journalist, and the TikTok feta effectby StartupSmart2021-03-08 12:50:19Atlassian, feta cheese and data journalism all feature in this week's curated selection of stories from around the internet by SmartCompany Plus.SmartCompany pandemic has deepened economic inequalities between women and men, new research findsby StartupSmart2021-03-08 12:46:35The economic toll of the pandemic has hit women harder than men, and will deepen inequalities between in the long-term.SmartCompany“It’s the right thing to do”: The women investing in women, and boosting diversity in Aussie entrepreneurshipby StartupSmart2021-03-08 12:24:42When it comes to supporting women in business, these women are ready to hand over their own hard-earned cash, as well as their wisdom.mentorship and coaching. Some of the grant schemes available to women include strict criteria that exclude many women-led businesses. But, when it comes to backing women in business, there are Aussie women ready to hand over their own hard-earned cash, as well as their advice, wisdom and guidance. It’s not because they’re philanthropists. These are investments like any other, into businesses they wholeheartedly believe in. As these five women explain, they are investments that can make a difference.

Joan Westenberg, founder of Studio Self and angel investor

Let's not beat around. It's hard to build a business without money. But if you don't fit into a box, finding access to that capital can be a brutal process. Angel investing in women-led startups is the way to break that barrier, backing bold ideas without compromise. Women in tech face different challenges than male founders. We don't have the same networks, the same support, the same perceptions of our value. Angel investing funds female entrepreneurs to help close the gender gap in startup funding. With more women investors coming to the table, we have a better chance of breaking down barriers and increasing access to equitable opportunities. Funding women in tech is not just an opportunity to back under-supported ideas and find rocket ship startups — it's the right thing to do. [caption id="attachment_183232" align="alignnone" width="733"]Joan Westenberg Joan Westenberg. Source: supplied.[/caption]

Julie Trell, SheEO country lead for Australia

If money and ROI is the reason to invest, women-led businesses return almost twice as much for their investors as their male counterparts. The economic fallout of COVID-19 could prove harder for women than men. We are at risk for investors to retreat to familiar and ‘safer’ investments, when in fact we need to be investing in solutions and products that are good for the planet, address health issues, and create a positive impact in communities. These companies, often founded and led by women, do have a social impact or greater purpose which traditional investors don’t always factor into their investment. We need to start considering the value of things we can’t write on the P&L and take a holistic look at the possibilities beyond the bank account. We are missing out on intellect, innovation, generative approaches if women are not in the mix as founders and funders. It’s important for the planet, next generations, and decolonisation processes that women are actively investing in startups and scale ups. It’s important for impact and redistribution of capital. We need to move away from extractive economic activity and towards generative and inclusive models working on what SheEO likes to call the ‘world's to do list’ or the sustainable development goals. When it comes to writing checks to founders, we should be looking at equitableness in the ecosystem, not just diversity. Equitableness is different to equality. We have to build new runways, not make everyone fit into the runways that are built to exclude them. Diversity will happen when we recognise that the we need to move away from having the same conversations with the same people holding the purse-strings (mostly men). When women invest in women we have the opportunity to change this dynamic by opening doors, listening differently and connecting them to our own diverse networks. Too many times I’ve heard stories of investors asking women founders if they will be able to ‘raise a family’ while running a company. These lines of questions make it even more challenging and require unnecessary additional effort for female founders to prove their worth. When the investors are women who have raised both a family and a company, the ‘family raising’ question is irrelevant. Breaking the cycle of who holds the capital will allow the funds to start flowing into new hands and different markets and create more opportunities within the ecosystem. This new system includes creating opportunities for Black women, Indigenous women and Women of Colour as investors and founders. When asked what ‘investment in women’ means to me, it’s beyond the capital. It’s about a network. It’s about women having each other’s backs. It’s about collaboration. It’s about making sure everyone succeeds. That kind of currency is invaluable and will ensure equitableness is closer to being achieved. We must use our capital for the world we want. [caption id="attachment_182363" align="aligncenter" width="733"]SheEO SheEO Australia country lead Julie Trell and founder Vicki Saunders. Source: supplied.[/caption]

Christine Mudvanhu-Makumbe, founder of Utano Consulting and SheEO activator

I’ve been putting a lot of my time and money into supporting women for a long time, particularly women from multicultural backgrounds. As a woman, it’s really, really hard to find support for your idea. A lot of people don’t give women’s ideas the time of day, and women are sometimes not as confident at putting our ideas forward. We also find it very difficult to find platforms that will entertain our ideas. A lot of women don’t even know about the investment community, or how to interact with it. Part of it is finding those women who have great ideas that we, as women, can support. We know the challenges, we know the stories that we tell eachother. We owe it to each other to invest in one another. We’re all dealing with the same insecurities and the same challenges. The more you get women investing in other women the more diversity we’re going to get in business; the more solutions to complex problems we’re going to get; and the more innovative solutions we’re going to get, because women are pretty innovative in their thinking when given the opportunity. They just need to be supported. If you look across all industries there’s a lack of diversity, and poor advancement of women even at a professional level, never mind trying to start a business, or trying to get a foot in the door where people actually give out their money. The people who are shelling out their money are the same group of white men who have very particular views about what they will and will not spend their money on. Getting up in front of a largely male-dominated audience, if you’re not practiced at that, is intimidating. Then, the way you’re articulating the information might not be the way they’re used to receiving it. There are not a lot of women in those circles that can give you the mentorship as to how you actually put those proposals together so you do get VC attention and funding. I think there’s a lot more scope for women in that space. Where I see women struggling is the space that SheEO is in, which is simply getting an idea off the ground. Once it’s off the ground, you still have the male-dominated VC space, but at least you have a product somebody can wrap their head around, and can help you tailor. You also have confidence in your ability to deliver that. I find the SheEO activator community is breeding a lot more entrepreneurs. In my mind — and this is just a gut feeling that I have — you will see more women bravely enter that marketplace of ‘traditional’ venture capitalists, because that marketplace won’t change overnight, let’s be honest. The more women that are supported to get off the ground, and the more education there can be of men in that space, the more successful women we will see coming through. [caption id="attachment_203827" align="alignnone" width="733"] Utano Consulting founder Christine Mudvanhu-Makumbe. Source: supplied.[/caption]

Jodie Imam, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Tractor Ventures

Women need to support women. When women help each other, the collective strength is very powerful. As we have seen in the news lately, it only perpetuates the inequality we face when we don't. Following on from Grace Tames’ excellent speech last week, we also need to be vocal about our support in our ecosystem. There are already lots of women investing in women-led startups, but we don't hear enough about it. At Tractor Ventures we have a strong focus on female founders and half of our team are women leaders. My personal focus is to invest in businesses that help women achieve financial independence. There are so many great new businesses enabling women to increase their savings, income potential, job opportunities, productivity, superannuation, business protection and revenue, and, last but certainly not least, self love and confidence. My approach is to invest early in startups, to be hands on advising and mentoring, leveraging my network and being a shoulder to cry on when it gets tough — starting up a business is a rollercoaster ride emotionally and financially — and, of course, to be vocal about it! [caption id="attachment_186168" align="aligncenter" width="733"]Depo8 Jodie Imam with parter and Depo8 co-founder Erz Imam. Source: supplied.[/caption]

Jaynaya Winmar, founder of Blakbone Sistahood and SheEO activator

I am a Noongar Balladong women from Western Australia. I founded Blakbone Sistahood two years ago, partly to assist professional Indigenous women in becoming more visible in the corporate world, but also to assist with Indigenous B2B and IB2IB engagement, along with Reconciliation Action Plan development. I have been a SheEO activator for over a year during this time. Being passion-rich and financially- and time-poor is a hard time for many entrepreneurs, especially those that don't look or talk like the past waves of entrepreneurs. We find ourselves not having the support systems to develop these amazing business ideas from the incubation phase. These failed businesses aren't failing from the lack of passion; it's from the lack of support or the lack of knowledge to get the right support. Since starting my business, I have researched many different accelerator programs and am now more excited, as there are many different programs and investment capital options. Being an Indigenous woman, there weren't many entrepreneurs or investors that looked like me, this made me delay starting my own business until last year. Over the past few years, I have gravitated towards startups and have worked for two amazing Indigenous business. I also saw the struggles of these business owners and thought if I started my own business, I would have more external support. But, I didn't feel the support fitted with me or my business ideas. I needed hard honesty, financial support and guidance, marketing and idea nurturing. These led me to programs like Generation One by Minderoo and Murra by Melbourne University, and to explore investment capital sources like Perth Angels, Ignite and SheEO. With the growth over the past few years of Indigenous businesses I have seen a number of support services emerge, such as Indigenous Businesses Australia, Supply Nation, and state based support like Kinaway and Wirra Hub. We also have been supporting each other through regular catchups and online support. We have found amazing results for a number of businesses that have been selling products online over this COVID period. Sharing, liking or commenting on various pages have given these businesses positive support and access to our networks as well also our Indigenous Business communities. I am excited to see the next wave of growth from Indigenous Female Entrepreneurs as I am noticing and supporting a lot of infant businesses that are now stepping into this space. I have been offering my support and sharing my networks to those that have been reaching out. I advise anyone looking to start a business to reach out to a support service that fits them and their business and before committing to anything. Do your market research on all of them. But, always remember your passion and why you are doing what you are doing. [caption id="attachment_203855" align="aligncenter" width="733"] Blakbone Sistahood founder Jaynaya Winmar. Source: supplied.[/caption]]]>
SmartCompany“The bill needs to pass”: Small business groups concerned about delays to the IR omnibus billby StartupSmart2021-03-08 12:16:44Small business groups are concerned about calls from the crossbench to delay the vote on the industrial relations omnibus bill until May.SmartCompany“I’m running my own race”: Naomi Simson reflects on 20 years of influence and individuality in businessby StartupSmart2021-03-08 11:59:50For Naomi Simson, running a business is all about making your own choices, living by your own rules, and watching your language.SmartCompany social enterprises to ethical super: Nine women-led businesses dedicated to supporting women during COVID-19, and beyondby StartupSmart2021-03-08 11:34:15federal government report. The theme selected by UN Women for IWD 2021 is "Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world", and so SmartCompany has chosen to showcase the efforts of nine female entrepreneurs whose work is having a meaningful impact on women's lives.

Sarah Liu, The Dream Collective

As founder and managing director of the global diversity and inclusion consultancy The Dream Collective, Sarah Liu got down to work when the pandemic struck. “In Australia, women were hit harder with the mass redundancies that resulted from COVID-19,” Liu tells SmartCompany. In response, The Dream Collective developed a free, online program, ShePivots, that aimed to upskill COVID-affected women to prepare them for career transitions, and connect them to job opportunities. “ShePivots has seen almost 3,000 women enrol and benefit from the program, feeling equipped to re-enter the workforce,” Liu says.

Perina Drummond, Jira Models

Headed up by founder Perina Drummond, the First Nations talent agency Jira Models is today honouring all the strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women leaders who continue to be role models for its community. “We also celebrate all our female talents that we have in our agency that continue to be role models for our people around our country,” she says. Drummond says between the pandemic and having a child in her hometown of Thursday Island last year, she was forced to take time out from her Melbourne-based business. But, it did come with a silver lining. “I’ve learnt the importance of connecting with communities around the country, and how saturated we are with so many great opportunities to grow locally and nationally,” she says. [caption id="attachment_203791" align="aligncenter" width="240"] Perina Drummond, founder of Jira Models. Supplied.[/caption]

Christina Hobbs, Verve Super

Ethical women’s super fund Verve Super was founded in 2018, and co-founder and chief executive Christina Hobbs knows all to well that the pandemic has not helped close the super gap between women and men. For Hobbs, the impact of the pandemic has been a double-edged sword. On the one hand, flexibility at work has made life easier for some working women. On the other hand, the pandemic took a disproportionate economic toll on women. “Research shows women who accessed their super will find it more challenging to rebuild than men,” Hobbs tells SmartCompany. Hobbs says it’s a reminder that Verve Super has an obligation to advocate to change the systems that contribute to the 35% super gap between men and women. “International Women's Day for us has never been about seeing women rise through an unfair system, it has always been about changing the system so that people of all genders can experience equality and rise together.” [caption id="attachment_203808" align="aligncenter" width="733"]Christina Hobbs Verve Co-founder and chief executive of Verve Super Christina Hobbs. Supplied.[/caption]

Bronwyn Bate, Mettle Gifts

Mettle Gifts founder Bronwyn Bate runs a social enterprise that employs survivors of domestic and family violence by selling gift boxes online. This International Women’s Day, Bate says she’s celebrating her employees' courage. “We celebrate the fact that, despite their hardship, they somehow retain an optimistic view of the world,” Bate says. During the pandemic, stay-at-home orders made it harder for women experiencing domestic violence to safely connect with services, Bate says. “This highlighted a clear gap in the emergency evacuation process, and it’s something that we’re now working closely with service providers and ride-share services to try and reform.” [caption id="attachment_203807" align="aligncenter" width="733"]Bronwyn Bate Mettle Gifts Bronwyn Bate of Mettle Gifts. Source: supplied[/caption]

Cortina McCurry, Caia

Caia co-founder and chief Cortina McCurry says COVID-19 has given women confidence to be more vocal with their employers about their needs and constraints. “In many cases, they haven't had a choice. It has also helped to change perceptions about working from home and the reality of what it takes to truly integrate work and life,” she says. Founded in 2019, Caia is a medtech that gives women easy access to healthcare practitioners through video consultations. McCurry says that even though the pandemic has proven telehealth works, it has also revealed the limitations of the virtual health model. “We are looking at opportunities to better respond to the new reality, as opposed to trying to force fit a model from the past into the current environment,” she says. “This International Women’s Day we’re celebrating the resilience of women and families everywhere and the power of community.” [caption id="attachment_178808" align="aligncenter" width="681"]Caia Caia co-founder and chief Cortina McCurry. Source: supplied.[/caption]

Ally Watson, Code Like A Girl

Code Like A Girl founder Ally Watson, who devotes her time to teaching young women to code, says the pandemic only highlighted the gender gap further. “This pandemic has turned cracks into chasms, making it all-to-clear that the gendered division of our workforce is leaving our women behind,” she says. With demand for technologists seeing huge growth, Watson says it is the perfect time to reskill the women with in-demand digital skills. In Victoria last year, Code Like a Girl rolled out an online coding course aimed at closing the gender gap in IT education. Since August, over 110 students have participated. “Our courses are delivered 100% online which means we’ve been able to attract a diverse range of women across Australia nationally,” she says. [caption id="attachment_203809" align="aligncenter" width="733"]Ally Watson Code Like A Girl Code Like a Girl founder Ally Watson. Source: supplied.[/caption]

Jane Marx, The Beautiful Bunch

Last year, Jane Marx managed the feat of launching a business during Melbourne’s prolonged lockdown. The founder of the social enterprise Merchant Road Events, which employees women from refugee backgrounds, was unable to continue operating under public health restrictions. As a result, Marx established the florist The Beautiful Bunch. “Launching The Beautiful Bunch enabled us to continue to generate an income and importantly, to employ young women from refugee backgrounds who need this opportunity now more than ever,” she says. This International Women’s Day Marx is celebrating the recent success of her newly established enterprise. “We were able to actually experience growth last year, and lay the groundwork for an expansion of our training program,” she says. [caption id="attachment_203810" align="aligncenter" width="732"]Jane Marx The Beautiful Bunch Founder of The Beautiful Bumch Jane Marx. Source: Supplied[/caption]

Winitha Bonney, diversity consultant and founder of Amina of Zaria

For business mentor and entrepreneur Winitha Bonney, the shift to remote work has an upside for women from diverse backgrounds. “For women of colour, working remotely has enabled those that have little to no support be able to manage caring duties with work,” she says As part of her mentoring work, Bonney has spent this year helping businesses create inclusive cultures while working remotely. This International Women’s Day, Bonney says she is honouring “the greatness that is within each person and woman of colour”. [caption id="attachment_183259" align="aligncenter" width="733"]Winitha Bonney Winitha Bonney. Source: Women's Agenda.[/caption]

George McEncroe, Shebah

Since its outset, the women-only Australian ride-sharing platform Shebah has aimed to make travelling and working safer for women. The startup’s founder George McEncroe says while the pandemic has not changed Sheba’s core mission, it has changed the way it supports and onboards women drivers. “We offer flexible working arrangements for drivers, who take home an industry high of 85% of every fare, and want to make sure women know driving for Shebah is a safe option to earn or supplement their income,” McEncroe says. [caption id="attachment_203812" align="aligncenter" width="733"]George McEncroe Sheba Shebah founder and CEO George McEncroe. Source: Supplied.[/caption]]]>
SmartCompany discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins to investigate sexual harassment at Parliament House in new inquiryby StartupSmart2021-03-08 11:30:10Sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins will lead an independent probe into the way Parliament House treats and responds to allegations of sexual harassment and assault.Kate Jenkins will lead an independent probe into the way Parliament House treats and responds to allegations of sexual harassment and assault, finance minister Simon Birmingham announced on Friday. At a press conference Birmingham said the commissioner would consider how to change the culture and practices within parliamentary workplaces, as well as how to ensure the Commonwealth has “the best possible environment for prevention and response” to instances of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and bullying. The announcement comes just two days after attorney-general Christian Porter identified himself as the minister at the centre of historical rape allegations, and less than a month after former ministerial staffer Brittany Higgins alleged that she was sexually assaulted by a colleague at Parliament House in 2019. Last year Jenkins released her report on a national inquiry into sexual harassment in workplaces — Respect@Work — which found sexual harassment to be “prevalent and pervasive” within Australian workplaces. In a statement following Friday’s press conference, the commissioner encouraged current and former Parliament House and ministerial staff to take part in the review by sharing their experiences. “Your contributions will build a safer, more respectful workplace for everyone,” Jenkins said. With cross-party support and through the experiences of staff members, the review would provide the basis for “long term positive cultural reform to make our parliament safe and respectful”, she said. The Australian Human Rights Commission will support Jenkins to conduct the review. She will deliver her final report in November. The Community and Public Sector Union has welcomed the probe, but argued that action on sexual harassment was well overdue. “This review must lead to meaningful change — it can no longer be the case that standards of behaviour unacceptable in other workplaces go unchecked in the nation’s parliament,” it said in a statement. “It has been one year today since the sex discrimination commissioner released the Respect@Workreport, making 55 recommendations on what can be done to address sexual harassment in the workplace. Yet the Morrison government has failed to implement any of these recommendations.
“The prime minister could have, and should have, already taken steps to implement these recommendations and ensure safety at work.”
Last week, the union released survey results which found that most political staffers who have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment or assault in the workplace didn’t report it because they thought it wouldn’t make a difference, or out of fear for their job. The independent review has been prompted by Higgins’ allegations, and was originally going to be undertaken by Curtin MP and former university vice chancellor Celia Hammond. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet deputy secretary Stephanie Foster has been looking into the workplace complaints processes at Parliament House, while PM&C boss Phil Gaetjens has been investigating which staff in the prime minister’s office knew of Higgins’ allegations before they were made public. This article was first published by The Mandarin.]]>
SmartCompany tips for beating procrastination and indecision as we emerge from the pandemicby StartupSmart2021-03-08 09:15:05
  • Recognise how fear is interrupting your choices and whether this serves you in the long term;
  • Self-compassion for ourselves, our wellbeing, our boundaries and even our fears is crucial at any time. And right now, it is essential for us to move forward with re-integration. It is okay to feel nervous, worried, fearful given the year we have had. Don’t block these feelings they need processing not ignoring;
  • Remember that your guest of fear is only one of many in your head. You have the guest of excitement, joy, pleasure, all the emotions. Which one you let lead your party is up to you. But never forget you are the host of your party, not any of your guests, even the loudest one!
  • Evaluate the key message your fear guest is wanting to warn you about. We want to be able to turn towards this guest and hear the message but not the drama;
  • Decide about the best way forward for you after you have evaluated the message of fear. If your longer-term goal is inhibited by what fear wants, perhaps think of a simple way you could build towards your goal whilst calming your fear; and
  • Create a graded hierarchy to step yourself towards your goals without letting fear take back control. Each step should be progress and perhaps a little uncomfortable, but safe enough that you are not going to pull back to avoidance. Learn some simple grounding techniques to calm your biological system should you experience any spike in anxiety.
  • We can give ourselves the tools to get closer to our fear. When we understand the patterns our fear guest has we can start to unpick whether it is stopping us from being as courageous as our goals require. Using these tools you will take actions that will get you closer to your full potential. This article was first published by Women's Agenda.]]>
    SmartCompany we should be teaching all children about brilliant women in technologyby StartupSmart2021-03-08 08:18:58SLittle People, Big Dreams books began life focusing on inspiring women including Marie Curie, Frida Kahlo and Coco Chanel, to name a few. They have since expanded to include men – Muhammad Ali, Stephen Hawking and Martin Luther King. The reason these books initially focused solely on women was because the author wanted inspiring books for her nieces. She expanded that focus because “uniqueness includes boys too”. While all children need role models they can see themselves in, the assumption that boys don’t want or need to hear about successful women is a real problem for successful women when those boys become men. Statistics tell us that fields like philosophy, physics and technology where ‘brilliance’ or ‘genius’ are considered key characteristics of successful people are still hostile to women. The gap in ‘genius’ isn’t one of performance, but of perception. But, what about gender balance in technology? We have seen an enormous shift from programming being considered ‘women’s work’ in the early days of computing, to it now being a near-exclusive and increasingly male pursuit. If it were only men that used or were affected by technology, this wouldn’t be a problem. This isn’t the case. Recent research I worked on in collaboration with Dr Suelette Dreyfus, Professor Jeannie Paterson and Professor Shanton Chang is one of the many studies that demonstrate women are disadvantaged by technology designed by (and arguably for) men: AI algorithms fail to recognise women’s voices, and advertise lower-paid jobs and poorer housing stock to women. Beyond artificial intelligence, social media platforms designed for men are unsafe for women; Amnesty International recently labelled Twitter “toxic” for women and girls.

    So how did we end up here?

    We know that the bias begins very early, at school age. Boys are more likely to be given computers or technology as gifts than girls and are more likely to have men in their family tinker with it alongside them. The ‘genius’ focus creates a ‘brogrammer’ hyper-focused stereotype that is less likely to appeal to women and girls. By the time young people reach university age, there’s a confidence and interest gap that sees few women start technology degrees, and ever fewer complete them. Even once degrees are completed, women struggle to get venture capital for startups, and when they work for other people, they leave the field at much higher rates than men due to poor satisfaction with their working environments, and lack of opportunity for promotion. There are now many efforts that aim to measure and address these problems. Numerous programs encourage women and girls to consider careers in computing, and address the barriers they face in doing so. Some techniques, like designing real-world impact into curricula, creating a cohort experience for women, and supporting novice programmers to build their confidence away from their more expert peers are well known. Others are less clear, and being researched by (for example) Dr Melissa Rogerson, Associate Professor Jenny Waycott and Associate Professor Nic Geard in collaboration with Google, right here at the University of Melbourne. Still other efforts, like my own work with Dr George Buchanan and Huiwen Zhang, have begun to measure the progression of women in computing. In academic human-computer interaction (a field where women are typically well-represented), we have noticed that women participate in local conferences at similar rates to men, but that their publication rates drop at international conferences, particularly as co-authors. This points to a situation where men are more likely to be invited to a team than women. Measurement is important, because it gives us a baseline, and a way of determining who is trying to fix things: this is partially why many large companies now publish diversity reports. It also allows shareholders to hold companies to account, as they have with Apple. Other researchers, including Dr Kobi Leins, Dr Marc Cheong and Dr Simon Coghlan, have shown that women are more disadvantaged in highly technical fields, and have promoted an ‘ethics of care’ approach to addressing this – that is, organisations taking moral and legal responsibility for the representation and experiences of women. The one area that we are not addressing, though, is the culture of men in computing. It is male venture capitalists who don’t fund women, and male programmers who exclude women from their teams. Men are the CEOs of all the major tech companies (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Snap), and they sign off on (or don’t sign off on) codes of conduct. While the most egregious abuses are addressed (such as Google engineer, James Damore’s missive on why straight, white men are the best programmers) the culture that facilitates these abuses remains. We can promote technology careers to women all we like, but if the men who are the current gatekeepers of these careers don’t make room for women, ultimately all we will have is women with broken careers and broken hearts from finding that leaning in, and dealing with their ‘impostor syndrome’ (which is actually systemic bias) just isn’t enough.

    So, what can we do?

    Well, if the culture of computing starts in school, so too can a culture of accepting women. Alongside teaching our girls that they can code, we need to teach this to our boys as well. I’m doing this by reading about inspiring people of all genders to both of my children: at first it was my set of Value Tales from the 1980s, but now we are moving into Little People: Big Dreams and the Extraordinary Lives books. Together, we are reading about Alan Turing, sure, but also Ada Lovelace and Katherine Johnson, alongside many other inspiring women and men from outside the field of technology. I also talk to them about the lost women of technology, like Karen Sparck Jones, who did the work founding modern search engines, and Klara von Neumann, who did the work underpinning nearly every weather app we use today. While I am merely an anecdote, in my house, my approach is working. When my eight-year-old son heard me tell a story about a conference incident where women were unfavourably compared to a computer game (an incident that would now be addressed under the code of conduct), he asked “why would he say that? It’s just wrong, and very rude”. By normalising brilliant women, we make room for them. And to do that, we have to talk not just to our daughters, but also to our sons. This article was first published on Pursuit. Read the original article. ]]>
    SmartCompany expands small business platform with acquisition of European staffing platform Plandayby StartupSmart2021-03-05 12:23:29Accounting software provider Xero has made its largest acquisition to date, after striking a deal with Denmark-based workforce management platform Planday.SmartCompany I’m joining Kirstin Ferguson in supporting with cash, not just words, this IWDby StartupSmart2021-03-05 12:20:20As International Women's Day approaches on March 8, we have an opportunity to think about our own purchasing decisions.On Monday, prominent leadership expert and author Kirstin Ferguson started a Twitter thread about International Women’s Day.  Inspired by a post about handmade earrings, Ferguson said she had been prompted to "put my money where my mouth is around supporting women". As International Women's Day approaches on March 8, Ferguson said she was planning to buy from Australian women and asked her 21,000 followers to share links to online businesses she could support. "For 2021, I want to support with cash, not just words," she added. Ferguson's followers -- myself included -- started sharing links to businesses to support and Ferguson added 30 businesses to the thread, indicating which ones she's already bought from. She even offered to buy some flowers from a roadside flower stall, for the owners to then give to someone in their community as a gift. It made me stop and think about how and where I spend my money, and how I could be more intentional when making purchasing decisions this year.  What would happen if, collectively, we all made more effort to buy from women-led businesses this IWD, and in the weeks, months and years that follow?  What if, like Ferguson, we were all to support women-led businesses with cash, not just words? There is no limit to the impact this could have on those businesses, their owners, and the communities they serve.  The United Nations’ official theme for this year’s IWD is “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” and it's an opportunity to reflect on how we can make simple changes to our daily buying habits to contribute to this vision. Indeed, this kind of practice doesn’t have to be limited to individuals either. Organisations of all shapes and sizes -- from small businesses to large corporations and government departments -- make purchasing decisions each and every day.  What would happen if they too thought more carefully about who they buy from? There are a myriad of lenses that we can consider our buying decisions through, with women-led businesses one of the important ones.  What if we also actively sought to buy from more businesses run by First Nations people and people of colour?  If we included more businesses run by people with disabilities? If we looked outside of the capital cities more often and chose to work with great suppliers located in regional and rural areas? If we actively stopped buying from large corporations that have little regard for corporate social responsibility or their impact on the environment? No group understands how far one dollar goes more than those in small business, so on #IWD2021, I hope you'll join me in taking a moment to think about where your next dollar could go. ]]>SmartCompany Josh Frydenberg launches Australian-made marketplace Buy Aussie Nowby StartupSmart2021-03-05 12:08:50Australian made and owned products have a new online marketplace to call home, with Buy Aussie Now launching on Friday.soft launch, Buy Aussie Now boasts 15,000 products from 1,000 businesses and says it has another 5,500 registered to join. Founder Mitch Catlin says the marketplace's accompanying tick of approval will help Australian shoppers identify businesses that are 100% Australian owned, and products that are 100% Australian made. "We want to try and do as much as we can for the businesses, because most of them are small-to-medium sized, and they don’t have a lot of spare cents to be spending on marketing," Catlin tells SmartCompany. "It gives them that added ability to showcase their Australian credentials," he says. Businesses approved as a seller on the marketplace will receive the tick of approval to use on their websites, marketing content, social media, and their products at no extra cost. However, to become listed on the platform, sellers must agree to pay transaction fees equal to 8% of sales, and payment processing fees of 3%. They then manage their own shipping to customers. The idea was born early last year after founder and marketer Mitch Catlin lost six months of work due to the pandemic in March. To keep himself occupied, Catlin set up an Instagram page to showcase Australian brands, which he says took of instantly. "I couldn’t keep up with the messages from Aussie businesses wanting to be posted on our page," he says. The page tapped into the swell of support Australians were showing at the time for local businesses in the wake of the drought, bushfires and pandemic. Within two months, Catlin had raised $250,000 to develop an online marketplace before raising a further $600,000. Buy Aussie Now is currently in the market for its next capital raise. The marketplace boasts brands including Bondi Sands, Ugg footwear, Ministry of Chocolate and MyAura deodorants across nine categories, from clothing and home and lifestyle, to beauty and health and food and beverages. Catlin is confident the platform will meet a real demand for an online 'one-stop-shop' for Australian-made products. "In effect, we’ve created an Aussie-made Amazon," he says. Research by Roy Morgan shows Australians are more likely to buy goods if they are made in Australia, with 90% of Australians saying they prefer Australian made products — up from 88% four years ago. What’s more, online marketplaces such as Amazon are outperforming legacy retail competitors in the e-commerce market. In 2020, online marketplaces recorded growth of 81% year-over-year, surpassing the overall 40% growth rate of the market, according to the latest data from Mirakl. "Buying Australian made is movement that everyone wants to get behind right now. Everyone wants to support Australian brands but no one knows where to go," Catlin says. "So, for the first time, there is this one-stop-shop for Aussie-owned and made products."]]>SmartCompany 2021 is the year for non-technical foundersby StartupSmart2021-03-05 11:50:48There is a longstanding perception that to build a successful tech startup, one needs a background in programming or IT. This misconception is further driven by the renowned success of tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft, all of which were founded by people with technical backgrounds.  But despite common belief, someone no longer needs to be technical or have a technical co-founder to launch a successful technology startup. One group in particular — the non-technical founders — are rising to the challenge of being able to creatively solve problems, whilst resourcefully seeking help to get their technology off the ground. The founders of Tinder, Airbnb, and closer to home, Canva and Afterpay, are some examples. After a torrid year, 2021 is shaping up to be the year businesses start to better understand the shifts and disruptions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. With no end in sight for the global crisis, there needs to be a focus on recognising disruptive opportunities, and re-evaluating how businesses are run and, often, structured.  Knowing how to build a product, versus running a startup, are two distinct skill sets and the non-technical leaders have several advantages when it comes to this “new world” of work. 

    Innovation is no longer just about the tech 

    In a world shaken up by the pandemic, a sustained burst of challenges and improvisation have magnified the cracks in existing business models and brought to light a plethora of previously unfelt problems that now require solutions. In my experience, some of the best ideas for these solutions come from someone with in-depth domain experience. I’ve always found a good business starts with having a problem worth solving. These problems already exist in every industry imaginable and are often highlighted by those working in these fields. As these problems intensify, the talented and ambitious domain experts within these fields will be the first ones to spot and attempt to reduce any roadblocks.  The beauty of being a non-technical founder, particularly one with experience in a specific industry, is that you bring firsthand domain expertise and a niche understanding of the problems found within your industry. As we continue to work towards pandemic recovery, this knowledge is indispensable.

    Non-technical leaders bring in new perspectives

    An idea with legs is always a fantastic starting point, but bringing it to fruition more often than not requires the right support. While non-technical founders may not have been formally trained to write lines of code, their diverse backgrounds offer new perspectives to tackle unresolved problems.  In the wake of the pandemic, we have seen founders go above and beyond, taking a holistic approach to solutions. Despite their lack of technical capabilities, non-technical founders offer different strengths. These may include: identifying growth opportunities or new features from evolving customer preferences, defining the product’s value proposition, improving the company’s hiring processes, having a knack for raising capital, or looking after the company’s go-to-market strategy.]]>
    SmartCompany data shows Australia’s GDP is V-shaped, but there’s no guaranteesby StartupSmart2021-03-05 11:01:56The latest GDP data shows Australia’s economy is rebounding, but whether the V-shaped recovery turns into an upward tick remains to be seen.national accounts press conference. It’s a graph of the level of Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) – how much is produced and earned each three months in Australia – adjusted for inflation.
    Australian quarterly gross domestic product
    Chain volume measures, seasonally adjusted. ABS

    It shows Australia’s economy getting bigger and bigger over almost all the past 80 years with only two readily-apparent slowdowns; one in the early 1980s recession, and one in the early 1990s recession. Until COVID. Last year’s recession wasn’t a slowdown like the other two – it was a collapse, so big you could see it on any scale, even one that went back to when modern records began. And it was V-shaped. As soon as the economy collapsed – by 7% in the three months to June, the most since the Great Depression - it bounced back 3.4% in the three months that followed and (we now know) a further 3.1% in the three months that followed that.

    It’s actually more like the beginning of a V

    But, as I suggested last time (and as the graph shows) the gain of 3.1% and the gain of 3.4% don’t anything like offset the dive of 7% because a percentage increase in a small number does less than a percentage dive in a bigger number. It’s reasonable to think that population-fuelled GDP is irrelevant to our lives, that what matters is GDP per head - the amount earned per person. It shows much the same pattern: a V so clear you can see it on the widest possible scale, which is the one I have presented:
    Per capita quarterly GDP
    Chain volume measures, seasonally adjusted. ABS

    The economy is 1.1% smaller than it was at the start of last year and 3.3% smaller than it would have been had economic growth continued, an extraordinarily good outcome given what Frydenberg described as the “economic abyss” forecast just five months ago in the October 2020 budget.

    Government support has turned into private spending

    Driving the recovery has been a continuing rebound in consumer spending. It dived 12.3% in the June quarter, climbed 7.9% in the September quarter and in the three months to December when Victorians became freer to spend, a further 4.3%. We’ve funded it in part by cutting what had been an extraordinarily high household saving ratio. Household saving has slid from a record high 20% of net-of-tax income in the June quarter to a more welcome 12% in the December quarter.
    Household saving ratio
    Ratio of saving to net-of-tax income, seasonally adjusted. ABS

    Unable to spend much on travel, we are spending on the things we can. In the three months to December our spending on motor vehicles jumped a dizzying 31.8%, putting it up 22.2% over the year. Our spending in hotels, cafes and restaurants rebounded 17.5% in the months to December, although with overseas and much interstate travel restricted, it was still down 29.8% over the year. With the help of low interest rates and incentives, housing investment climbed 4.1% in the quarter (Homebuilder) and business investment in plant and equipment climbed 8.9% (instant asset write-off).

    There are no guarantees

    Farm production soared an astounding 26.8% in the quarter – the biggest jump since 2008 – on the back of the second-best winter crop on record. If the economy continues to recover at this pace and the “V” turns into an upward tick we will make big inroads into unemployment and the coronavirus recession will look like a blip, an aberration. But there are no guarantees. The JobKeeper employment subsidy ends on March 28 and the sharp upticks in business investment and farm production are unlikely to continue. Much will depend on the May budget, which comes out before the next update. Among the budget decisions that will matter are how it will deal with the funding requirements of the aged care royal commission, whether and how it proceeds with the legislated increases in compulsory superannuation, and how quickly and to what extent it withdraws support from the economy. There’s a case for keeping support high in order to extend the rebound in GDP and make big inroads into unemployment right up until the point we return to meaningful inflation. There’s a case for going for growth.The Conversation This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.]]>
    SmartCompany one ACT registered employer received a WGEA Employer of Choice citation this year, and it’s time that changedby StartupSmart2021-03-05 10:33:31YWCA Canberra was once again the only ACT employer to receive an Employer of Choice citation from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency this year.from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) as an Employer of Choice. And this is the second consecutive year that we have celebrated alone, as the only ACT registered employer to receive the citation. While we may be celebrating alone in the ACT, 17 new citation holders have been added to the list for the 2020-2022 application period, including Australia’s largest private employer Woolworths. Furthermore, the new list sees companies registered in both Tasmania and South Australia achieve citation for the first time. It would seem that private sector employers are realising the benefits of facilitating gender equality in the workplace. The Employer of Choice citation is bestowed on those employers that comply with the Workplace Gender Equality Act (2012) and meet all the assessment criteria, which include preventing gender-based harassment, discrimination and bullying, driving change beyond the workplace, and mainstreaming flexible work, among others. The citation is a voluntary initiative for employers that recognises those workplaces that have demonstrated a genuine and structural-level commitment to gender equality. It is additional to the compliance reporting program requiring non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees to submit a report to WGEA. While the 2020 report scorecard showed more employers were participating in the reporting scheme, I am conscious that the previous 12 months have been tumultuous for women in the workplace and the time for corporate and public sector leadership is not so much now, but yesterday. COVID-19 had a disproportionate impact on the lives of working women who shouldered an even greater share of unpaid care as schools closed and heavily feminised industries such as retail, hospitality and tourism took a crushing hit. In many instances, women working part-time were the first to be shown the door, others were transitioned from full-time to part-time arrangements and, perhaps most appallingly, the 97% feminised workforce in early education were the first to be prematurely and exclusively removed from the JobKeeper wage subsidy. For a long time now, the benefits of gender equality in the workplace have been well known. Research from the global consultancy group McKinsey & Company has consistently found a statistically significant correlation between board and workplace diversity and productivity. On the flip side, those companies that delay efforts to diversify their staff and executive profiles suffer in terms of profitability. Similarly, the evidence base also exists to show that workplace policies supporting gender equality are important in staff retention and facilitating competitive recruitment. It is not altogether surprising that staff simply want to work in an environment where parental leave is equitable and encouraged for all who parent, where diversity is celebrated and where transparent workplace policies exist to address harassment, discrimination, and abuse. Our 2019 survey of more than 1000 Canberra women, Our Lives: Women in the ACThighlighted the persistently high rates of workplace sexism experienced by young women living in Canberra and our advocacy work has responded to this finding by advocating for structural and cultural change to stamp out workplace sexual harassment. Our survey findings were also reflected in the national survey on workplace sexual harassment conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2018, which found that more than 85% of Australian women had been sexually harassed at some point in their lives, with 23% experiencing workplace sexual harassment in the last 12 months. And it has not gone unnoticed that we are celebrating our citation at the time of intense scrutiny on the culture of the Australian Parliament House as a workplace. The alleged criminal behaviour endured by women working in what should be a benchmark workplace simply highlights that there has never been a greater impetus for change and that that change must involve both government and political workplaces. While government workplaces are currently exempt from participating in the WGEA reporting schedule, the 2018-2019 State of the Service report shows the gender divide between the feminised APS level staff and the SES remains. Further, the same report found that gender-discrimination is the most perceived form of discrimination with carer-based discrimination also a significant concern. Political staff on the other hand are distinct from public servants and employed under specific legislation which, along with their workplace agreement, has comprehensively failed to provide a protective framework in what is a combatively partisan and ruthless environment. The power to fix these legislative and administrative gaps to progress gender equality and set a benchmark for government and political workspaces lies with the Parliament itself. Among the 55 recommendations from the Human Rights Commission’s landmark Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry report were suggested amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act to expressly prohibit sex-based discrimination and introduce a positive duty on all employers to take reasonable measures to eliminate sexual discrimination. The government, however, wherein the power to progress legislative reform exclusively sits, are yet to respond to the report’s recommendations. Cultural change takes both vision and leadership and I implore employers and government to take the steps needed to put words into action. Pursuing gender equality in both private and public sector workplaces delivers both fiscal and personnel benefits to employers, but without demonstrable leadership in the form of action, and legislative reform, the cycle of discrimination and inequality will continue, ouroboros-like. This article was first published by Women's Agenda.]]>SmartCompany behavioural biases that challenger brands must know for success in 2021by StartupSmart2021-03-05 09:53:51When you can't outspend your competition, you have to outsmart them, says behavioural science expert Dan Monheit.As Australia readies itself for a post-COVID recovery, the fight for consumer confidence and dollars will be primarily fought in the advertising and marketing spheres.

    For most challenger brands, the option of blowing established competitors out of the water with a big-budget ad campaign and a thumping media plan just doesn't exist.

    Yet, if you cast your eye to the opposite end of the marketing equation, you’ll find something that’s far more powerful, incredibly accessible and free to use if you can unlock it: the reason customers buy the things that they do.

    While it’s easy to funnel energy into ideas about how you’ll disrupt the market and all the ways to unseat existing players, it’s also profoundly important to consider just what it will take for a customer to take a chance on you.

    Studies from behavioural economics have consistently demonstrated that we don’t have the mental energy to meticulously weigh up the thousands of choices we’re faced with each day. Instead, we rely on instincts, are led by biases and favour the familiar.

    As we move through a period of immense societal change and all of the stress that goes with it, consumers are more likely than ever to feel overwhelmed. As a challenger brand, it’s on you to reduce the cognitive load, and ultimately, make yourself easier to choose.

    Here are the five behavioural biases that every entrepreneur should look to for turbocharging growth in 2021.

    Choice paradox

    As humans, we love the idea of choosing but are quickly overwhelmed by choice. Studies have demonstrated that adding too many options to the mix can quickly lead to customers making the simplest choice of all: nothing.

    Having too many choices to weigh up forces us to engage the ‘slow thinking’ part of our brain, rather than relying on the ‘fast thinking’ part that ushers us through most of our day.

    Slow thinking can involve making long-term projections, weighing up risks against benefits, or calculating if an item’s price matches the promise. More often than not, these thoughts drive us towards the safe, the proven and the familiar.

    If you’re a challenger brand, this is probably bad news. It’s also why less is usually more.

    Offering fewer, better options is a surefire way to reduce your customers’ cognitive load and a proven technique to increase conversion rates. You can minimise choice by rationalising your product suite, highlighting recommended options or allowing customers to filter their way down to a manageable number of options.

    Social proof

    Following the year we’ve just had, it’s not surprising that people are looking for ways to feel safe. As our world and the central business districts, transport systems, and community spaces within it start to open up again, this need for safety will only continue.

    One of the most primal ways we can feel safe is to be part of a larger crowd that’s all doing the same thing that we are. For instance, take the current situation as companies hesitantly return to their offices. It will only feel ‘safe’ and normal when we see everybody else doing it too.

    When considering a new product or service, our primitive brains need convincing that it’s a good, safe and popular choice to make. Therefore, challenger brands must find interesting and creative ways to leverage social proof, which describes how we adapt our behaviour according to what we witness other people doing.

    It is social proof that causes us to wait outside full restaurants and bars while empty ones across the street futilely beckon us.

    In a commercial sense, this means demonstrating to potential customers that people who are just like them — or better yet, people who are just like their aspirational selves — have already made the choice we’re asking them to make. Social proof can be demonstrated through reviews, testimonials, and online prompts like, ‘X number of other people have already bought/are currently viewing this’.

    Each of these techniques will help reduce perceived risk, increase perceived safety and edge you closer to closing the deal.

    Loss aversion

    Over the last 12 months, we've lost a lot: jobs or job security, holidays, social liberties, and contact with friends and family. Hence, we cling tighter to things we already feel ownership of.

    This comes down to a cognitive bias known as loss aversion, which describes why the pain of losing something causes a more extreme emotional response than the pleasure of gaining something new.

    Loss aversion is why we hate to see other people sitting in ‘our seat’ in the meeting room and why we never get the price we want for our secondhand cars or bikes. The mere fact of owning something, no matter how fleetingly, makes it feel like it’s worth more than it is.

    Challenger brands can lean into loss aversion by making it easy for customers to feel like they own your product before they really do. This can be achieved through a generous free returns and exchanges policy, letting people ‘try before they buy’, through co-creation, such as allowing people to spec up the product themselves, or making onboarding quick and frictionless.

    If you let them feel like they own it, they probably will.

    Mere exposure effect

    Like loss aversion, the mere exposure effect taps into the comfort we all feel from familiarity.

    From an evolutionary perspective, human beings had to be on guard for potential hazards, and anything new, understandably, was perceived to be a danger. While there are far fewer actual hazards today, this fear-based mentality still drives many of our decisions.

    Introduced in 1968 by Polish-born American psychologist Robert Zajonc, the mere exposure effect describes our tendency to prefer things when we’ve been exposed to them repeatedly. When it comes to marketing and advertising, it is repetition that brings familiarity. In turn, this familiarity brings recognition, a sense of safety and trust.

    For challenger brands, this means being clever about your messaging. While established brands can focus on reach, challenger brands must prioritise frequency, even if this means talking to a smaller audience. One hundred people seeing your brand one hundred times is likely to create far more preference than 10,000 people seeing it once.

    Effort bias

    With 2021 comes a heightened appreciation for the human input that goes into goods and services.

    Studies have proven that people will value your product or service more if they see just how much effort has gone into creating it. This ‘effort bias’ goes a long way to explaining why we’re happy to pay more for small-batch whisky, or why we enjoy sitting at the chef’s table in a trendy restaurant. The meteoric rise of craft and artisanal products through 2020 is further evidence that this trend is steadily on the up.

    For lesser-known brands, the effort bias should be all the encouragement you need to surface and celebrate the complexity behind whatever you do.

    Shining a light on the process, the ingredients, the intricate supply chain or the blood, sweat and tears you’ve put in can help customers justify a price far beyond what they otherwise would have considered.

    SmartCompany finds Megasave Couriers breached consumer law by misleading franchiseesby StartupSmart2021-03-05 09:01:34The Federal Court has found Australia-wide courier delivery franchisor Megasave misled franchisees with false income guarantees.Warning for franchisees Marianne Marchesi, principal of Legalite and specialist in franchising law, says the ruling shows there is a dire need for franchisees to get financial advice before entering into franchise agreements. “I don’t typically see a lot of franchisees getting their own independent check of the financials, because they’re already so invested in the opportunity,” Marchesi tells SmartCompany. Anyone considering buying a franchise can also check a group's claims by contacting existing franchisees within the system, Marchesi says. “They can at least give a good idea of whether targets are achievable and if they have had any issues with misrepresentation by the franchisor,” she says. The ACCC initiated proceedings against Megasave Couriers and its sole director Gary Bourne in July last year, after receiving numerous complaints from franchisees. Acknowledging the court’s decision, ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said the commission received complaints from Megasave franchisees who had relied on the company’s false claims when deciding to pay thousands of dollars for a franchise. “Many of the affected franchisees experienced significant financial hardship and emotional distress due to Megasave’s failure to make the guaranteed payments that it promised,” Keogh said. Keogh said there are “significant consequences” for company executives and officers who breach Australian consumer law. Australian Small business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell supports the ACCC’s decision to take action against Megasave, and says the outcome will be welcomed by the affected franchisees who suffered due to Megasave’s failure to fulfil its promises. Carnell’s office assisted more than 30 franchisees in late 2019, who spent up to $27,500 to buy into the Megasave franchise. The Small Business Ombudsman provided dispute resolution assistance to the franchisees under the Franchise Code of Conduct, including facilitating a group mediation. “Aspects of the matter were referred by my office to the ACCC for its consideration and we assisted with the ACCC’s investigation,” Carnell said in a statement. As a result of the Federal Court’s judgement, Megasave Couriers director Garry Bourne has been disqualified from managing corporations for five years. A hearing to determine the final penalties and compensation for franchisees will be held next month. The Megasave website is currently unavailable and its main phone number was not in service when SmartCompany tried to contact the company.

    Reforms still on the table

    The Megasave ruling comes after the Senate last week passed a private member's bill to amend the Franchising Code. If it clears the lower house, the Fairness in Franchising Bill will legislate some of the recommendations that came out of the scathing franchising inquiry report of 2018. These include giving the Small Business Ombudsman the power to refer disputes between franchisees and franchisors to arbitration when mediation fails. The bill would also increase fines for exploitative franchisors from $133,000 to $10 million. Lawyer, Marianne Marchesi, who was consulted by the federal government during the franchising inquiry, says a lot of the report’s other recommendations are still under review by the government. “Hopefully the sector will improve even if we don’t get all of the recommendations from the initial report actually legislated,” she says.]]>
    SmartCompany a secure client portal for supporting your customersby StartupSmart2021-03-05 09:00:25Find out how you can use online forms, documents and digital signatures to create a client portal that lets you get on with business.You’ve just entered into an agreement with a new B2B customer. It’s a great feeling, and we’ve all been there. With both parties moving forward, first impressions count. But your customer onboarding experience lets you down. Maybe you’re still emailing signed documents that you’ve scanned, or all of the documents in the engagement process are paper-based. For contracts and agreements, it’s not just arduous and slow, it’s also error-prone. What could it cost you and your customer if something was missed? You appreciate the investment required to onboard a new B2B customer or new partner. You’ve likely invested weeks, or even months of time and effort. And then finally, it’s time to start working together in building opportunity and increasing your market share.  You hit send on that engagement email with the seven attached documents for your new customer to work through and complete. And then all you get is silence. Your onboarding process has stalled. You follow up with multiple emails in the hope they will complete and sign everything, and complete it correctly.  CentricMinds can provide an innovative cloud content, document and workflow solution for teams of all sizes. Start a free trial today. And then they start sending things back. Not together, but in different emails, and in some emails they forget the right attachment. So they ask their assistant to send it — and she sends it from her Hotmail account, and it sits in your junk mail folder because you rarely check your junk mail folder. And the agreement date for commencement was… yesterday.

    Is it time to rethink your B2B customer onboarding process?

    Maybe it’s time to rethink how you are onboarding your customers, partners and vendors. You may be struggling using a blend (let’s be honest here and call it ‘digital spaghetti’), like email, Google Drive, Dropbox, Trello, DocuSign, one of the many form platforms.  Or worse, you’re printing and scanning hard copy documents and then attaching them to email as a PDF. Not only is it costing time, but attempting to remember who got what and when they have to respond is the stuff of nightmares. A client portal gives you a single platform for you, your team, your customers, partners and vendors to collaborate, manage and track all activities. A client portal lets you standardise your business processes and eliminate the guesswork and error. It provides you with a consistent error-free and transparent business process, from start to finish. A client portal streamlines the heavy lifting of doing business with all the different audiences you interact with on a constant basis.

    How can you simplify your onboarding process using a client portal?

    Designing a client portal using CentricMinds enables you to launch simple or complex processes that capture the bespoke ways in which you conduct your business. Registration and application forms, contracts, signature pages. All the stuff that goes into how you do business. Add client branding, create custom welcome messaging, add key contacts. Send your customers, partners and vendors tasks for them to complete and follow through the onboarding journey.

    The 5 advantages of a client portal

    1. Automate the flow of work with forms, include the option of digital signatures
    2. Speed up your client onboarding operation, while you control the quality of service you provide to your clients
    3. Everything in one place for your clients, partners and your team
    4. End the back-and-forth when gathering client or partner data and reduce errors
    5. Improve efficiency by automating your client and partner processes
    Find out how you can use online forms, workflows, documents and digital signatures to create a client portal that lets you get on with business. It's time to say good-bye to inefficient and slow ways of doing business with your clients, partners or vendors. Implementing a client portal to onboard and keep work flowing gives you convenience and productivity gains. With a few steps, you can get started onboarding your clients or partners with a client portal from CentricMinds.]]>
    SmartCompany’s Spaces is beating Clubhouse at its own game, becoming first to admit Android users into the roomby StartupSmart2021-03-05 07:50:56Twitter wasted no time at all muscling in on Clubhouse’s live chat room turf.

    the human voice can bring a layer of connectivity to twitter through emotion, nuance and empathy often lost in text. we see this with voice tweets & voice dms. sometimes 280 isn't enough, and voice gives people another way to join the conversation.

    — Spaces (@TwitterSpaces) December 17, 2020 It wasn’t clear exactly who was in this initial ‘experiment’ group, which was a testing site for things like reaction capabilities, live transcriptions, reporting and blocking, and sharing tweets. However, it didn’t take long for comparisons with new-kid-in-the-social-circle Clubhouse to arise. Having launched in April last year, invite-only audio chat app Clubhouse quickly gained momentum in the US. By the end of the year, the Aussie first movers were on board too. Concerns have been raised about accessibility — there’s no capability for live captioning, to include people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and not much support for people with vision impairment either. There are also qualms around privacy. And when someone like Elon Musk joins a conversation, followed by a thousands of adoring fans, it’s prone to a glitch or two. But still, people like Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and even Kanye West are on board. This platform, with its old-school conference call vibes, have certainly struck a chord. The one thing Clubhouse still doesn’t have is a way in for people with Android phones and that’s where Twitter is gearing up to take the lead. On Wednesday, Spaces tweeted the news Android-using fans had been waiting for: they would now be able to join and talk in any Space. They were also promised they would be able to start their own rooms “soon”. This isn’t the first time Twitter has taken inspiration from the success of a rival social media platform. In November last year, the platform launched its Fleets capability for ‘disappearing tweets’, in a similar vein to Instagram’s stories, which themselves have a certain Snapchattiness about them. Are you a Clubhouse convert; an Android user desperate to get in on the action; or a wholly uninterested bystander rolling your eyes at it all? Get in touch and let us know.]]>
    SmartCompany warns 60,000 businesses to file overdue taxable payments reports or risk penaltiesby StartupSmart2021-03-04 12:18:32The Australian Tax Office says businesses who have not yet lodged their annual reports need to lodge them as soon as possible.first developed in 2013 for the building and construction industry, was ramped up following the black economy taskforce in 2016 to also include the cleaning and courier industries in 2018. The ATO announced in November it would continue to conduct regular audits of the TPRS to ensure contractors are meeting their income tax and GST requirements. The ATO says businesses who have not yet lodged their annual reports in the TPRS should lodge them as soon as possible to avoid penalties. Penalties for non-lodgment of the taxable payments annual report can be up to $5,550 for small and medium sized businesses. An ATO spokesperson said their office was working closely with businesses and their tax practitioners to encourage them to lodge. “We are focused on supporting people to meet their obligations and not on applying penalties in the first instance,” the spokesperson told SmartCompany.]]>SmartCompany startup CarClarity banks $1 million investment to fuel innovation in car financingby StartupSmart2021-03-04 11:48:29CarClarity is supercharging its platform, bringing transparency to the woefully under-innovated car finance industry.SmartCompany. So, he set out to build a comparison platform designed to bring fairness and transparency into the whole process. Having previously worked at fintech lender Plenti as well as FlexiGroup and Prospa, he had an understanding of this space. But, for car loans in particular, he says there was no destination online or anywhere else where a borrower could get a sense of whether they would be approved for a loan or not, before actually applying. Jappie launched the startup alongside co-founders David Fahim and Luke Scott, who also have backgrounds in the lending sector, with angel backing from a number of contacts from the industry.

    A $37 billion opportunity

    This latest round includes repeat backing from four of those angels. For Jappie, that — along with the funding from EVP — is a validation of the model and the need for a tool like this. “We came up with this model and approached people about it and everyone got behind it,” he explains. “We were really fortunate to have people believe in us straight away.” Already, the startup is growing in terms of both customer base and revenue. This month’s numbers for both are up about 35% on the previous month, he says. But what’s more important to Jappie is customer feedback. The platform currently has a 4.9-star rating on Trustpilot. “That’s something we’re very proud of,” he says. For the most part, this funding is pegged for development of the product and a marketing drive. Jappie and the team have also wasted no time in building a team. Four months ago, the business had just four employees. Now, there are 14 full-timers. Ultimately, he wants CarClarity to be the first thing that comes to mind when anyone is considering buying, owning or financing a car. Jappie says there’s a $37 billion car finance market in Australia alone, and it has been bereft of innovation for years. He’s not seeking to disrupt that market, but to remove some of the friction and improve the connections and relationships between each player.

    'I've learnt more in the past 12 months than I have in the past 10 years'

    This has been a personal journey for Jappie too. He’s been involved in high-growth tech companies before, but having ownership of the thing is a whole different ball game. “I‘ve learnt more in the past 12 months than I have in the past 10 years,” he says. “When you see the growth and the traction, as a founder, it can never compare to working for someone. “It’s another level.” He also says his family have played a huge role in his success. To fund the business in the very early stages, he not only sold his shares in Plenti, he also sold the family home he had only just finished building — all with the support and encouragement of his wife. “Having a good partner at home allows me to focus,” Jappie says. “She’s a founder as well, in my mind.”]]>
    SmartCompany scraps controversial cashless trial after public backlashby StartupSmart2021-03-04 11:29:56Woolworths is abandoning a trial of electronic-only payments, after customers criticised it for excluding people who prefer to pay with cash.threatened to boycott Woolworths. One customer on Twitter said a Woolworths employee in Sydney paid for a man’s groceries after the man became distressed at the checkout because he only had cash. “The corporate head office needs to act like the staff,” the customer said. Justin Nolan, Woolworths Metro general manager, confirmed the company would resume cash payments in all its Metro stores by March 10. “Based on feedback from our customers, we can see we’ve moved ahead of current community expectations on cash and will be ending the trial,” Nolan said. Nolan said despite most Metro customers choosing to pay with cards, cash remains important to others for “a whole range of reasons we didn't fully appreciate”. The use of cash has been steadily declining in Australia, with the share of consumer cash payments dropping 42% between 2007 and 2019, according to the RBA’s 2019 Consumer Payments Survey. Steve Worthington, professor of management and marketing at Swinburne University, says that while the pandemic has accelerated the decline of cash payments, the backlash Woolworths’ trial faced shows there are still many Australians who prefer cash. “The pandemic and COVID-19 has certainly turbocharged the way we pay by using digital means, because people perceived that cash was a way of transferring the virus,” Worthington tells SmartCompany. “People most comfortable with cash are the elderly, people in regional communities (where there’s not the same internet connection) and even people who are unable to get a card because they don’t have a bank account,” he says. Worthington predicts cash will continue to play a role in payments, particularly because electronic systems are not failsafe. However, with the number of ATMs and bank branches decreasing, the future of cash remains somewhat uncertain. “There’s a danger that the cashless society becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, where there’s less access to cash and less places you can use cash,” he says.]]>SmartCompany franchise Poolwerx dives into the fast lane with first innovation and tech officersby StartupSmart2021-03-04 10:58:27After 29 years in business, Poolwerx has hired its first ever chief innovation officer and chief technology officer.Poolwerx is a global pool sales and servicing franchise. It now has about 160 stores across Australia, New Zealand and the US, as well as about 600 serviced vehicles. Shannon O’Brien joins the business as chief innovation officer, based in New York. He will be responsible for managing and growing the “innovation pipeline” across existing and new products, and across all services and processes. The idea is to fast-track adoption of new systems and technologies within the business. Russell Inserra, who is based in Melbourne, also joins the franchisor as chief technology officer, in charge of improving the tech infrastructure and improving products in anticipation of client needs. The two appointments represent a recognition that the pool franchise must innovate and embrace technology in order to remain competitive. In a statement, chief executive John O’Brien said this was “a key part of our ongoing growth”. The appointments follow a period of success for the business. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Poolwerx has seen a 15% sales increase, year-on-year. O’Brien pointed to two of the business’ key values: "dare to succeed" and "find a better way". He said that the team moved all operations online “effectively overnight” during the pandemic period. That included recruitment and training of franchisees. Poolwerx is “driving technology adoption within the industry", he added. He also sees focusing on technology as a motivating factor to encourage existing businesses to jump on board as Poolwerx franchisees. “Technology is a key innovation enabler,” he said.]]>SmartCompany accounts: FWC upholds dismissal of ANZ banker who accessed private info about a colleague and celebrityby StartupSmart2021-03-04 10:36:10This case is an important reminder for employers to ensure they have policies regarding the access and use of confidential information.Unfair dismissal claim ANZ’s policies stated that employees were not permitted to access customer accounts including those belonging to family members or friends without an appropriate business reason or account holder approval. Accordingly, ANZ commenced disciplinary action against the employee putting allegations to her of unacceptable conduct. The employee denied all of the allegations and instead suggested that another person had tampered with her work station to obtain her password which was kept in a drawer and used it to conduct the searches in question. ANZ did not accept the employee’s explanation and terminated her employment immediately on the grounds that she had contravened ANZ’s policies and procedures by deliberately and repeatedly accessing its customers' confidential information. The employee subsequently lodged an application with the FWC claiming that ANZ had unfairly dismissed her. The employee denied all allegations and submitted that she had no knowledge of why the searches were made, although acknowledged that her account had been used to carry out the searches. She claimed that she did not know any of the people whose accounts were accessed and therefore had no reason to search for people not known to her. The employee also accused ANZ of creating accounts under her family member’s name to support the allegations against her and subsequent termination. However, in response to ANZ’s evidence indicating the contrary, the employee conceded that this was in fact inaccurate. The employee maintained in her submissions before the FWC that an unknown person had tampered with her work station to conduct the searches themselves and that she had raised this concern with senior management on a number of occasions, however her concerns were disregarded. In response, ANZ submitted that the employee’s explanation was not "plausible" or "logical" as:
    • The employee was the only consistent employee working at the time each search was conducted;
    • It was policy for all employees to change their password every 60 days; and
    • The searching of accounts occurred in a short period of time between the employee having made legitimate work-related searches.
    The FWC agreed with ANZ and found that the employee’s explanations were "completely without substance" and on the balance of probabilities, the misconduct alleged was indeed undertaken by the employee. The FWC noted that ANZ’s customers entrusted them with highly sensitive and personal information and to allow the employee to continue with her employment would directly undermine ANZ’s values. On this basis, it found that there was a valid reason for the employee’s dismissal. While the FWC acknowledged that the employee would now struggle to obtain employment in the banking industry given she had to disclose her misconduct with future employers in line with industry protocol, it considered this factor to be significantly outweighed by the employee’s continual denial and lack of remorse for the apparent misconduct. The FWC held that the employee had not been unfairly dismissed and accordingly dismissed her application.

    A lesson for employers

    This case serves as a reminder for employers to ensure that they have policies in place regarding the access and use of confidential information. Where it involves personal information, these policies should reflect the Australian Privacy Principles in relation to access, use and non-disclosure of personal information. Employers must also ensure that their policies are regularly communicated to employees, as this knowledge can be relied upon in the event there is a breach of policy. This article was first published by Workplace Law.]]>
    SmartCompany message to Scott Morrison: Toxic cultures start and end with leadersby StartupSmart2021-03-04 09:51:13Reviews and reports can shed some light on what needs to change, but it’s only when leaders take action that things actually do.Culture has once again been the topic of conversation these past few weeks. It has taken the courage of several individuals to shine a light on workplace practices that not only physically threaten lives, but also create an environment of mistrust and fear.

    Parliament House isn’t the first and won’t be the last example of a toxic workplace but it now has an opportunity to correct course. The government must act now if it wishes to salvage its reputation and retain the services of the good people that it has working there.

    Like many organisations, however, it's likely to walk down a well-trodden path. An external review (or two) will be commissioned, humility may be shown when it is are published, someone will stand up and publicly say that 'culture is the most important thing' and then nothing will be done with the recommendations bar some legislation or policy change.

    In a 2015 independent review, Professor Peter Shergold had this to say about the way things get done within the Australian Public Service: "Legislation will not change culture: people and their actions do."

    When it comes to culture, reviews and reports can shed some light on what needs to change; but it’s only when leaders stop ignoring poor behaviour and conduct and choose to take action, that things actually do.

    The ownership of culture

    Culture is the sum of everyone’s beliefs, attitudes, skills and behaviours. It doesn’t belong to senior leaders or the HR department (if there is one) -- although the latter may be the custodian of it.

    Culture is defined by every human interaction inside or outside the office, every process, every tradition, the nature of the work being undertaken and the skills or otherwise of those responsible for it.

    It is also defined by every lost temper, every missed deadline, every award won and every target hit. Contrary to popular belief, culture is not hard to change once people have been taught how to define it, know how to uphold it and then constantly evolve it for the better. When none of these things are done -- when there is no real commitment to culture -- then it’s likely to end up on the front pages at some stage.

    What does seem hard for many leaders, however, is the ability to follow a process to manage people whose behaviours undermine that culture.

    Australia and New Zealand, like many other countries, aren’t very good at this. Instead, leaders make apologies or worse, excuses for people’s behaviour and fail to take action that would bring about lasting change.

    How many more times will we hear that stress, pressure, being away from home, alcohol etc are the root causes of toxic culture, rather than the inhumane way that people treat others.

    Things are so bad here that former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull had to remind senior ministers (many of whom were married with children) not to sleep with junior staffers. The standards were changed, but did the behaviours follow?

    Culture change requires change from senior leaders

    We’re not on our own. There are many global cases of poor leadership leading to toxic cultures. Travis Kalanick at UberSepp Blatter at FIFA and Martin Winterkorn at Volkswagen are three such people who failed to realise -- until it was too late in Kalanick’s case -- that as leaders they are wholly accountable for the culture.

    By allowing themselves or others to walk past the behaviours that undermine their staff's psychological safety, they threaten the very thing that makes an organisation successful. All organisational success stems from its culture.

    Improved productivity, improved sales, improved delivery of projects, improved customer satisfaction and reduced risk of physical injury are all attributable to how people treat each other.

    Leaders need to heed the lessons from these stories and focus on three things:

    1. Put your money and time where your mouth is -- stop talking about culture being the most important thing and provide staff with the time and money to define it. Provide support to help them be more self-aware, agree on the behaviours they expect of each other and how they’ll work together to deliver to their customers. Then help to hold them accountable to these agreements.
    2. Open your ears -- culture is all around you. In order to find out what’s really going on, talk to people and just listen. Show empathy, compassion, humility and understanding. Make culture a key metric for the senior leadership team (rather than individual measures) and teach yourself how to positively evolve culture. Make it your goal to create more leaders that know how to build and maintain great culture.
    3. Deal with the transgressors -- where you have instances of poor performance or there are people who seek to undermine the safety of others within a culture, they need to be dealt with swiftly and fairly. Regardless of whether that person has been there four minutes or 40 years, no one should make anyone else feel afraid to come to work or undermine the quality of what others do.

    In a report at the end of last year, the Australian Institute of Company Directors called on CEOs and boards to start taking culture seriously.

    "Defining expected culture [is] a precursor to requiring employees to behave in line with the desired culture," it said.

    Those behaviours start and end with senior leaders.

    SmartCompany you build it, they will come: How to create a website for your businessby StartupSmart2021-03-04 09:00:39According to Xero’s Tipping point research the timing really is perfect to create a website and gain the edge over your competition.Following the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping has skyrocketed to unprecedented levels with almost nine million Australian households making an online purchase in 2020 The numbers show that the desire to support local brands and services is growing too, with 70% of recent nbn survey respondents saying they would like to support more local businesses.  As a result, there has never been a better time for small businesses and sole traders to create a digital presence.  However, according to Xero’s Tipping point research  a new report that uncovers what it is that makes sole traders decide to start something of their own – only 37% of sole traders have a website. All of which means the timing really is perfect to get online and gain the edge over your competition.

    Hallmarks of a great website

    A website provides your business with a virtual shop front for local, national and international markets 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  All great websites; 
    • Reflect your business philosophy, promote your brand and showcase your products;
    • Are well designed, mobile optimised, easy to navigate and have clear calls to action;
    • Make it easy for customers to contact you.
    Whether you lead a small team or are going it alone, you’ll find the support you need at Xero’s dedicated resource page – complete with free tools and guides to help everything run smoothly. Xero is online accounting software designed to let you do business beautifully and simply, nab a free 30-day trial today.

    Planning and preparation

    You don’t need coding or web developing skills to create your own site as most platforms offer simple ‘drag and drop’ building modules in their designs. Do your research to ensure you know how to reach your market and carve out your own digital space. Domain name: Choose a domain name that reflects your business — it is an important promotional tool. A relevant name will help customers find you easily through a search engine, so go with www.(your business name) Hosting: Websites are stored on servers, called hosts. There are hundreds of hosting services, so choose a plan that supports the functions you’ll need, can guarantee a high percentage of ‘uptime’ (when the site is fully available), has an easy-to-use backend and offers enough bandwidth and storage space. Look into different types of web hosting; shared, dedicated or cloud-hosted.

    What your site needs

    An online sitemap planning tool will help you decide where your content will go. Most basic websites have four page categories; Home: This includes your business name and logo and a short description of what you sell and/or services you offer. Services and/or products: Showcase what customers can buy from your site. Keep it simple and clean, and take great product shots using your phone camera or write short, up-to-date descriptions. About us: This is your chance to tell people all about you, and your business. Include some background, your expertise and don’t be shy about tooting your own horn; confidence is key. Include customer testimonials to build credibility and trust. Contact: It’s important to provide up-to-date email, postal address and contact details. With the shift to online shopping, making sure you have current information listed will ensure you don’t miss any opportunities for sales. Also include links to your social media and list your business hours, if applicable.

    Which platform to use

    There are dozens of providers to choose from and most allow you to sync your online data with your accounting software to cut down on admin and save valuable time. Xero’s Tipping point research revealed that 74% of sole traders who use cloud accounting software connected it with other apps to help with everything from managing their e-commerce site, to customer relationship management and time tracking. Some great platforms for sole traders are: Shopify: An e-commerce platform, Shopify handles everything from marketing and payments to secure checkout and shipping. This platform also connects seamlessly to Xero using e-commerce app A2X. Oncord: Drag-and-drop editing is a key feature which makes it simple to build a presence for small to medium businesses. Oncord also connects seamlessly with Xero’s online accounting software. Wix: With hundreds of templates to suit a variety of businesses Wix has a host of plans which can sync your data to your Xero account using app Parex Bridge Squarespace: Squarespace provides all the tools you need to get you online. This platform can sync all of your data to Xero using Parex Bridge. Wordpress: Wordpress is perfect for small business or sole traders and offers hundreds of modifiable templates. A variety of apps can integrate with your site to allow you to sell online and sync your data with Xero.

    Top tips for building your site

    • Make your site easy to navigate and use headings; they’re not only good for SEO, but help people who are scanning the page find what they’re after.
    • Keep it simple — you can add more pages or modify when you have analytics on how your customers are interacting with your site.
    • Be concise — people only read about 30% of the content on web pages so make it count.
    So if you’re a sole trader and don’t have a website, now is the perfect time to take the next step! It’s never been easier or more affordable to build your own site to promote your brand, improve efficiency and productivity — and grow your business. NOW READ: Level up in 2021: Three sole traders share their best advice for fellow business owners NOW READ: Five marketing tips to help sole traders expand in 2021]]>
    SmartCompany Zealand startup Winely joins South Australian Landing Pad programby StartupSmart2021-03-04 08:07:38New Zealand wine-tech company Winely has joined the South Australian Landing Pad program to set up shop in the wine state.South Australian Landing Pad program to set up shop in the wine state. Founded in 2017, the company develops sensors placed inside wine tanks that provide real-time fermentation analysis to winemakers via cloud-based software. Winely currently has three South Australian wineries using its technology, along with several in New Zealand and America. Winely co-founder and CEO Jacob Manning said most of the company’s manufacturing will still occur outside of Australia due to volume restrictions with local manufacturers. Instead, the company will focus more on research and development of their products with Australian winemakers and researchers, who Manning referred to as the “world leaders” in wine. “If we go into an obscure [South Australian] wine region, we’ll generally know the people we’re working with by name, so that’s really exciting,” Manning said. “The amount of academic talent in terms of technical winemakers, makes South Australia a great place for research and development.” Winely has been awarded $80,000 under its landing pad agreement, with $40,000 to be used towards office space and $40,000 to hire local professional services suppliers. Manning said the funding was just the “cream on top” of the deal. “The thing is, if you put the cash on the side, it’s still awesome to be able to work with the South Australian team, because if you’re entering a new market, it takes quite a bit of time, and you’re not sure who to speak with.” Winely’s operating model is based on a hardware and Software-as-a-Service platform, with wineries paying an annual subscription to lease the sensor hardware and gain access to the cloud-based software. Manning said by providing winemakers with constant access to fermentation information, winemakers can move from a “reactive state” to a “planning state”. “The reason why it’s better is generally a winery only gets two samples a day,” Manning explained. “They take a sample of a ferment in the morning, and a sample at night…you only get a snapshot of what’s happening in a ferment. “And often because that piece of information is delayed, a winemaker may take up to 72 hours in getting that info and making a decision. In terms of a ferment, 72 hours is a long, long time, and a lot can go wrong in that time. “We do real-time sampling, so you get a sample every second on the ferment, and you can make accurate decisions and we also prompt with warnings [over SMS or email] if something is going outside of spec.” As health and safety restrictions tighten in the wine industry, Manning said automatic technology such as Winely’s sensors will become “a necessity and some stage”. As Winely continues to develop its technology, Manning said the company was looking forward to helping winemakers move towards smart wineries. This article was first published by The Lead South Australia.]]>SmartCompany portal in the works to modernise application process for R&D Tax Incentive schemeby StartupSmart2021-03-03 12:32:03A new government portal is set to modernise and smooth over the process of R&D Tax Incentive applications online.SmartCompany understands it will offer controls over who can access a company’s registration form, through MyGovID. Businesses will be able to submit requests for extensions, or withdraw or edit their applications. The portal will also show the status of the application, and indicate when any deadlines are looming. A real-time, in-form validation and pre-filling capability is also set to help guide business owners in their applications, in a bid to improve the quality of submissions. Deloitte is set to provide program management, change management, data migration and business support services to get the new portal up and running. The changes are expected to come into effect in the second half of 2021. In July, a suite of changes to the scheme are also due to come into effect. The new platform comes after the federal government pledged $2 billion to the RDTI scheme in the 2020 Budget, while also rolling back some controversial changes that were in the works. A $4 million cap on RDTI refunds was removed, and plans to introduce more tiers to refunds were scrapped. The tax incentive is a notoriously tricky beast, and one that’s been the subject of much discussion over the past few years. Specifically, debate remains around how the scheme serves software-based businesses. In 2019, startup Airtasker was ordered to repay millions in incentive payments following an audit. That led to concerns that earlier-stage startups might be dissuaded from taking advantage of the program, for fear of inadvertently racking up unmanageable debt. More recently, in public hearings and submissions to the Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology, both StartupAus chief Alex McCauley and small business and family enterprise ombudsman Kate Carnell have called for a new, separate scheme tailored specifically to software.]]>SmartCompany“I’m very proud”: 11-year-old entrepreneur Angus Copelin-Walters wins best sole trader at the Australian Small Business Champion Awardsby StartupSmart2021-03-03 12:29:48Eleven-year-old entrepreneur Angus Copelin-Walters from Darwin tops the category of best sole operator at the Australian Small Business Champion Awards.SmartCompany. Copelin-Walters made the trip to Sydney for Saturday’s ceremony after being named a finalist in the sole trader category, and up against businesses owned and operated by adults. His mother, Joanne Walters, says an unknown person nominated her son for the award, which then prompted her to file an application on his behalf. His submission was considered by a panel of judges who assessed all applications against a set criteria. At the event, Copelin-Walters met prominent figures including small business ombudsman Kate Carnell, who commended his achievements on social media. Meeting him was "a highlight" of the evening, she said. “I was very honoured to get photos and meet them, and have the Prime Minister recognise me,” he says. Copelin-Walters sells his candy products online and in Territory Pharmacies across Darwin. He also carries out the business operations and marketing activities. “I do emails, ordering, quotes, packaging and delivering,” he says. The young entrepreneur became interested in business at the age of seven when he pitched his first idea to his mother. “I wanted a lemonade stand but Mum said no. So, that was my first business challenge,” he says. About a year later, Copelin-Walters saw an advertisement on television for a charity that donated money to homeless people. “I wanted to get some money to help them. So, I went to a kids buy, swap and sell market and sold rock candy. "I made $20 profit and gave it all to that charity I saw on TV that day,” he says. Since then, he has donated profits from the business to the Cancer Foundation, Ovarian Cancer Australia and Black Dog. As an entrepreneur with dyslexia, he has also donated to Made By Dyslexia, a charity helping teachers and other people support and empower dyslexic people. Copelin-Walters says part of what motivates him is being able to inspire other young people with dyslexia, and highlight opportunities for them. His message to young entrepreneurs considering a new venture is to “research your idea, ask people about it and give it a go”. As for the future of Croc Candy, Copelin-Walters says he wants to expand and scale the business. “I’d like to manufacture some basic products somehow, but I need help and advice in that area,” he says.]]>SmartCompany startup funding round: Fintechs galore, records broken and a $1 billion cash injectionby StartupSmart2021-03-03 12:20:33Startup funding has been coming thick and fast in 2021 so far.SmartCompany we cover as much as we can, there are always raises we don’t get to report on in depth. So, here’s the first of your new weekly wrap-ups of all the capital raises we saw closed this week. Did I miss anything? Let me know.


    Fintech Deferit has raised $15 million in an oversubscribed Series B round, for yet another take on the buy-now, pay-later trend. Founded by Mat Blas and Jonty Hirsowitz, the tool allows users to defer payments on their utility bills. Over the past 12 months, Deferit has grown its user base by about 150%, and according to a statement, it's already saved users about $10 million in late fees. The round was led by existing investor Carthona Capital and a new backer Alceon group. “We believe [the founders] have the product and vision to make Deferit a lead player in the $211 billion pay-later vertical of everyday bills,” Carthona Capital Partner Dean Dorrell said.


    Accounting software startup Karbon has reportedly secured US$10 million ($12.9 million) from US VC firm Five Elms. Founded in 2014 by Aussie entrepreneurs Stuart McLeod and John Freeman, who are now based in the US, the startup saw a period of strong growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Small and medium businesses became more inclined to adopt accounting software, Mcleod told the Australian Financial Review. “Accountants were very happy with relying on being together every day to work out where everybody was up to, but all of a sudden that wasn’t a suitable mechanism for workflow,” he said. The co-founders weren’t necessarily looking for capital, but the uptick in adoption led to a flurry of inbound VC enquiries. “We wanted to take advantage of the inbound interest and work with a partner who would be with us from a $10 million to a $30 million run rate range and beyond.”


    Marketplace and procurement platform VendorPanel has raised $4.5 million in Series B funding as it gears up for growth in the US. Founded by James Leathem back in 2018, the business has secured repeat funding from Aconex co-founder Leigh Jasper, as well as from Five V Capital and Equity Venture Partners. Private wealth management group Ord Minnett also reportedly participated, as well as investor Andrew Sypkes. The round reportedly followed a successful ‘soft launch’ in the US. That international expansion represents a huge opportunity for the startup, and it’s something the investors latched on to. “I initially invested in VendorPanel because of the strong network effects demonstrated in the business model,” Jasper reportedly said. “The team has delivered ever-accelerating growth since then, and I’m doubling down as VendorPanel gains traction in the US.” [caption id="attachment_158743" align="aligncenter" width="681"]VendorPanel VendorPanel founder and chief James Leathem. Source: Supplied.[/caption]


    In more fintech news, Melbourne-based personal loan startup Symple has secured $15 million in Series D funding, bringing its total capital raised to $130 million, in equity and debt funding. The funding is pegged for accelerating the startup’s growth strategy. Founder and chief Bob Belan says he anticipates an increase in demand as the Australian economy starts to recover following the COVID-19 crisis. Aussie fintechs had a role to play in supporting the recovery, by offering alternative lending options and meeting an “inherent consumer demand”, he said in a statement. “We remain focused on building on our momentum to date and doubling-down on our vision to redefine how personal lending ought to work.”


    Last week, in yet more fintech funding news, SME financial admin startup Thrive hit its equity crowdfunding goal of $3 million in just three days. The Birchal campaign had previously been the fastest startup to reach the $1 million benchmark through equity crowdfunding. The total figure also equals the biggest ever funding round through this method of funding, equalling women-only rideshare startup Shebah, which bagged $3 million back in April 2019. Speaking to SmartCompany after the business banked its first $1 million, Thrive co-founder and chief Michael Nuciforo said the campaign's success “blew our expectations”. “We were gobsmacked. We literally couldn’t believe it,” he said. The product has clearly already resonated with the small business community. There are already more than 7,500 people on the waiting list, ahead of the planned launch in the second half of this year. [caption id="attachment_202359" align="aligncenter" width="733"] Thrive co-founders Ben Winford (centre) and Michael Nuciforo (right), with chief technology officer Warren More. Source: supplied.[/caption]


    And finally, just in case you haven’t had quite enough of fintech news, European BNPL player Klarna has closed a whopping US$1 billion funding round, valuing the business at US$31 billion. The Swedish startup launched Down Under last year, with founder Sebastian Siemiatkowski wasting no time in getting into a war of words with Anthony Eisen, co-founder of Aussie competitor Afterpay. Siemiatkowski took aim at Afterpay’s 4% merchant fees, which account for about 80% of the fintech’s revenues. Fran Ereira, Klarna’s country head for Australia and New Zealand, also said she was “surprised” at the costs incurred by merchants offering BNPL services in Australia. “This is a particular burden on a sector that is so critical to our economic recovery,” she added. [caption id="attachment_197100" align="aligncenter" width="733"]Klarna Klarna country head for Australia and New Zealand Fran Ereira. Source: supplied.[/caption]]]>