Managing

Employee share scheme warning from start-up mentor, as Ollo Mobile takes out pitching prize

Rose Powell /

Ollo Mobile has won a trip to Silicon Valley after beating nine other start-ups in the Small Team, Big Impact competition in Sydney last night.

The pitching competition was coordinated by cloud technology computing company RackSpace. Ten start-ups with fewer than 10 team members were selected to compete.

Ollo Mobile is a new device and system for panic buttons, which elderly or unwell people can use to alert family members and health authorities when they need help.

The other finalists were OpenLearning, Food Orbit, Projectia, Annexium, AuthoPay, Revolutionise, Clipp, Digital Sorbet and Geepers.

The start-ups pitched to a judging panel of Mick Liubinskas from incubator Pollenizer, Kim Heras from start-up network PushStart, Ruslan Kogan from Kogan Electronics, Chris Ridd, the country manager from Xero, and Robert Scoble, Rackspace’s international start-up liaison.

Scoble told StartupSmart he was excited to see an ecosystem beginning in Sydney, but Australia needed to do more to support entrepreneurs.

“San Francisco and New York have ecosystems, as do Tel Aviv, Beijing and Seattle. London kind of has one and Los Angeles is being built. It looks like Sydney has a good one underway. These ecosystems need to keep the geeks in town, or they leave and go somewhere else,” Scoble says.

Despite the growing ecosystem, Scoble cautions Australian struggles with employee share schemes (ESS) are a fundamental issue that needed to be overcome quickly.

“The laws here aren’t letting start-ups use their stock options and equity to motivate people to shelve their jobs at big companies and come and join start-ups,” Scoble says. “Australia needs to deal with this quickly to support your entrepreneurial talent, or they’re going to leave and take their value with them.”

The federal government announced a review of ESS opportunities in June.

Scoble adds start-ups need access to money, talent, public relations and business expertise to get their companies to the point they’re turning over billions.

“When you’re in San Francisco there is such a strong future culture, you can see it in the streets with people trying new things,” he says. “You need access to the idea that your plans are possible and a city with a great culture that encourages that.”

This article first appeared on StartupSmart.

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