Monday, August 30, 2010

PitchFe$t 2010 - RESULTS!

"It's kinda hard to do a twenty-minute pitch, and a lot easier to do a half-hour pitch, and an hour pitch, well no problem, but it's almost impossible to do a three-minute pitch." - Hamish Hawthorn, CEO ATP Innovations, at PitchFe$t 2010

And yet do the impossible they did.  Seventeen enterprising individuals each stood up in front of a live audience and three industry judges, and in 3 minutes pitched their innovative ideas for consideration.  Some of them hadn't even arrived with an idea, but came up with one while they watched and decided, "Hey, I might as well pitch this."

The judging panel deliberated intensely over the three finalists, and after long discussion decided that with so many good ideas, two honourable mentions were announced along with the three winners.

Our thanks to Hamish Hawthorn, Topaz Conway, and Bart Jellema for generously donating their time and expertise to evaluating the contestests and their pitches.  Also thanks to the AGSM ICE Club (Naveen Danda, Sukrit Kumar, and Morten Lauritzen) for putting the event together.

The winners and their ideas are:

1st place - James Trigg for Niche Source, a website aggregating release dates for the latest cool mass market devices

2nd place - Ravi Ramjas for his idea for a website with evaluations of uni courses and programs

3rd place - Lucky Joeng, for his idea on a portable, personal ambient air tester

Honourable Mention to Mahesh Venkat, for his idea of a webshop providing custom shoe pairs – different sizes for each of a pair of feet.

Honourable Mention to Johann Sandberg, for his idea of installing vending machines on the uni campus for pens and related note-taking supplies

From L to R: Mahesh Venkat, Johann Sanberg, Naveen Danda, Sukrit Kumar, Dr Martin Bliemel, Ravi Ramjas, Lucky Jeong, James Triggs, Morten Laruitsen

For a complete list of contestants and the ideas they presented, check out our website

Congratulations to everyone who participated!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

2009 Peter Farrell Cup Winners (repost)

(reposted here as part of a de-cluttering of the CIE website. Stay tuned for announcements of the winners of the PitchFe$t earlier this week. Registration for the 2010 Peter Farrell Cup is now open)

2009 Press Release
'Ad-a-Bottle', a business concept that provides advertising directly on bottled water distributed exclusively to office building food courts, has won first place in an Australian School of Business competition to encourage student entrepreneurism.

The Peter Farrell Challenge Cup entrepreneurship competition offers students the opportunity to bring innovative business ideas to life.
“The Peter Farrell Cup was a catalyst for me to write a business plan and now I'm poised to implement it, and hopefully people will be drinking Ad-a-Bottle by next April,” said winning team member Iris Qi.

Some of the enterprising ideas in this year's Finals included a Wi-Fi based paperless receipt system, an online rental service where parents can order equipment and toys for their children when on holidays, and an electronic display system to eliminate changing price tags.

More than 45 teams from the University of New South Wales and other participating universities entered the competition, hosted by the Innovation, Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Club at the Australian School of Business, with eight teams participating in the Finals held on November 19, 2009.

The finalists presented their business plans to a panel of four judges including high profile business founders and venture capitalists.
Teams were judged on criteria including sound risk analysis, financial attractiveness to potential investors and a clear identification of current market need. The written business plan, oral presentation and responses to judge’s questions helped determine the overall winners.

Christopher Witt, Director of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at the Australian School of Business, said the aim of the Peter Farrell Cup is to foster entrepreneurship and instill a passion for research and innovation. More than $40,000 in prizes and scholarships was on offer to the finalists to pursue their business ideas.

“The Peter Farrell Cup strives to link research projects and businesses with student teams to produce credible business plans that help all parties. It frames the time period and requirements, and rewards excellence through prizes and scholarships," said Mr Witt.

“Amongst the partners of the CIE is the NSW Enterprise Workshop. This outstanding organisation offers finalists a scholarship to continue into the Enterprise Workshop three month long business planning program, enabling students to take their business ideas to the next level,” he said.

Ramanan Krishnamoorthy, President of the ICE Club, said the Peter Farrell Cup promoted the reality of business innovation as a real option for graduating MBA students.

“The life of an entrepreneur can be extremely rewarding; you are working for yourself on something that you are passionate about, and there is the opportunity to excel to your fullest potential,” said Mr Krishnamoorthy.

2009 Finalist Team Synopsis

Humanity Life Sciences: provides predictive medicine services via DNA analysis of genetic predisposition to inherited conditions in Greater China.

The Tag Team: use of electronic display systems to eliminate the manual process of changing price tags via a wireless, centrally controlled system.

Tiny Travel: a retail and rental service whereby parents can order equipment, toys and necessities for their children online to be picked up at the holiday destination, lowering baggage necessities.

Mercurius Ltd.: a device to estimate the fouling propensity of a given feed water prior to reverse osmosis membrane filtration to predict how frequently a filter must be cleaned or replaced.

Ad-a-Bottle: provides advertising on bottled water distributed to food-outlets in office building food courts via exclusive distribution channels.

Viva Blu: a chemical-free, cost and energy effective water-purification technology using a photocatalysis reaction.

Wildcard: a Wi-Fi based paperless receipt system whereby the receipts are stored in an online personal account.
Equigreen: a rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed to power electric vehicles.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Peter Farrell Cup Business Plan Competition - REGISTRATION NOW OPEN!

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN - register your team before 5 PM on 24 September 2010!

Now in its 10th year, the Peter Farrell Cup Competition provides students with the opportunity to bring their innovative business idea to life by pitching to a panel of experts from the Sydney entrepreneurial community. The competition is open to all currently-enrolled UNSW students, and to teams containing at least one currently-enrolled UNSW student. Teams submit a business plan and finalists are selected to pitch their ideas "live" to the judging panel.

Cash prizes are awarded as follows:

  • 1st place - $5,000
  • 2nd place - $2,500
  • 3rd place - $1,000
  • 4th place - $500
  • 5th place - $500

Open to all AGSM, UNSW,MBS, UTS, University of Sydney and Macquarie University students in two formats:
  • Student Teams  
  • Start-ups & Existing Businesses
Student Team criteria
  • **Must have at least one currently-enrolled UNSW student in the team**
  • Students from any of the above universities allowed.  
Start-ups and Existing Businesses criteria
  • **Must have at least one currently-enrolled UNSW student in the team**
  • Must not have received external funding  
  • Must not have revenue exceeding $500k pa  
  • Must be less than 2 years old  
  • Must be a registered Australian business  
  • Must be original work  
  • Look for due dates in the new CIE Google Calendar 
Key Dates
  1. Team Registration due - 5 pm, Friday 24th September
  2. 1-page Synopsis due - 5 pm, Friday 1st October
  3. Business Plans due - 5 pm, Friday 29th October
  4. Finalists Announced - Friday 5th November
Finalists will be pitching their idea to the judges and a live audience on Thursday 18 November
Business Planning Seminar - Tuesday, 5th October 
presented by Dr Martin Bliemel (time & location TBA)

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN - register your team before 5 PM on 24 September 2010!

Diploma in Innovation Management (3451) live for 2011

The revisions to the undergraduate Diploma in Innovation Management (3451) were approved at the Academic Board meeting early last June.

The changes are just now making their way through the administrative and IT systems, and the 2011 Handbook entry is now live:

Thank you again for all your input and feedback in making this a truly interdisciplinary program with emphasis on experiential learning.

If you have any further feedback or know of courses that would be a great fit with the program, please contact us at

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

SIFE UNSW Newsletter and projects

SIFE UNSW recently had their AGM. I have to say this society (past and present) continues to impress me with the initiative, creativity, and professionalism they put into everything they do.

Here is a link to their newsletter: --link--

Check out the projects they have lined up, too:

PS: SIFE = Students In Free Entreprise)

Monday, August 23, 2010

CrisisCamp Sydney: Hacking for Pakistan

We are having an event at UNSW, Sydney on the weekend of 4-5 Sept to help with the collection, organizing and sharing of disaster response information for relief agencies in Pakistan. The event is in partnership with the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), World Bank , Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) and Drumbeat

Please come along if you have:
  1. mapping experience or
  2. can code/program or
  3. can research for information on the internet or 
  4. speak local Pakistani languages or 
  5. are familiar with the geography of Pakistan or 
  6. generally understand disaster response

Feel free to share the event details amongst your contacts. If you have any further queries please don't hesitate to contact the

Shoaib Burq
Skype:       spatialgoat

Vicky Pinpin-Feinstein
Skype:       Pinpinfeinstein (audio and video)

kind regards

Thursday, August 12, 2010

CIE and Ernst & Young present Meet the Entrepreneur: CleanTech

(updated 25 Aug)
Thursday September 23, 2010 at 5:30 PM for a 6 PM start

Add to my calendar!



Ernst & Young Sydney
680 George Street
Level 33
Sydney 2000

Hosted by Ernst & Young and Dr Martin Bliemel, Director of the CIE at the Australian School of Business, Meet the Entrepreneur is a moderated panel discussion followed by a lively Q&A session  This is an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurially-minded individuals to learn from leaders in the field. 
At this event, the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce will also be releasing the latest version of the Australia and New Zealand Cleantech portal, supported by
Austrade, Ernst & Young and Industry & Investment NSW.

The panel members for this event are leaders in the Cleantech space and will bring to life the challenges they experienced in moving from a technology to a product, securing finance at different stages, evolving their business models, and finding and working with corporate partners.

This session will be moderated by Dr Marc Newson, Partner and Oceania Cleantech Leader, Ernst & Young. 
Meet the panel:
Stone Wang - Managing Director, Artemis Building Systems.  Stone is an engineer turned business leader with over 20 years experience working as a senior executive for Fortune 500 companies in Australia, Hong Kong and China, including BHP and Corus. Using his cross-cultural expertise, Stone has successfully established a manufacturing base and distribution network in China for Australian and European companies. Fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese, he has negotiated joint ventures in China, Hong Kong and the USA.  Artemis Building Systems pty ltd (ABS) is a Building Intergraded Photovoltaic (BIPV) specialist with design, supply and engineering capabilities in Australia and China.   ABS has won the contracts for supplying the services and materials to several prestige projects, such as Sydney Town Hall, TAFE NSW Yallah Campus. 
 Mathew Warnken -  Chief Executive Officer, Crucible Carbon, has a thorough understanding of the waste and resource recovery industry, including policy issues, industry trends, market pressures, business drivers, NGO sector issues and carbon implications (climate change, carbon credits and carbon trading). Matthew is a well regarded analyst and presenter and is also a columnist for environmental management news.  
 Guy Pross - Director, Business Development and Commercial Partnerships, Better Place Australia.  Reporting directly to the Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Pross is responsible for a range of major projects within the Information Management and Development of Corporate/Government Partnerships. In his previous role, Mr. Pross headed up the Trade Division of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce with a focus on developing the bi-lateral relations between Australia and Israel. He has worked extensively in a range of public policy, business development and marketing roles including roles at Accor Asia Pacific group focused on their deployment across Australia and Asia and a position held at the office of former Israeli Minister and head of the Israeli Security Services, Ret. Admiral Ami Aylaon.
Meet the Moderator:
Dr Marc Newson - Partner and Oceania CleanTech Leader, Ernst & Young.  Marc joined the Ernst & Young partnership in 2008. Prior to this he spent 12 years in product development in the professional services industry. He has facilitated the response to a number of regulatory and economic reform programs including the ASX corporate governance guidelines on behalf of the Business Council of Australia, and the Company Law and Economic Reform Program (CLERP) for the Institute of Chartered Accountants.  Since 1992 Marc has been accumulating practical experiences from the US, South Korea, UK and Australia in the business response to environmental issues and emerging environmental markets.
If you have any questions about the event or how to register, please contact the CIE (info below).  Thank you  for your attention and we look forward to seeing you at Meet the Entrepreneur!
Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship
+61 2 9385 9730
Ernst & Young is global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 144,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.   Ernst & Young is a proud sponsor of the Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
The CIE is located in the School of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the Australian School of Business (ASB).  Its principal ambitions are to improve the quality of innovative thinking in Australia, and to stimulate entrepreneurial skills in students, faculty members, UNSW alumni and the general entrepreneurial public. For more information please visit

2010-2011 Entrepreneurial Internship Program - UPDATED

(updated 26 Aug)

Another fantastic Meet-and-Match event on Tuesday with some fabulous results.  It was an exciting evening, with lots of energy and enthusiasm on both sides of the interview tables.  Although the number of companies participating decreased due to some last minute withdrawals, the attending partner companies were so impressed with the candidates that several of them decided on the spot that they would open and offer additional positions to the students!

This year's partners are:

BMDI Healthcare
Homestar Finance
Pet Barn

For information about how you can register your interest for student interns, please contact the CIE at, or call +61 2 9385 9730

For more information, see our website:

Monday, August 9, 2010

PitchFest 2010

1 stellar idea
1 chance encounter
3 minutes to sell your proposition…

You know the adage, at random you catch the lift with the CEO – you have that one ride to sell your best idea. Can you make the pitch? Pitchfe$t is your chance to hone your skills for when the moment comes!
3 leading entrepreneurs & business professionals from Sydney will listen and evaluate your ability to pitch. They will assess you on your creativity, presentation skills, and the commercial viability of your idea.
Register with the AGSM ICE Club - the first 25 to register will compete live at 5:30pm (sharp) on Aug 26th for the top prize of $250 AUD.
Open to any team with at least one UNSW student.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

CIE Newsletter, Autumn 2010 (repost)

As we move our newsletters and updates to a blog format, we are also reposting the old newsletters so we don't completely lose them. Pardon the formatting.

cie mast

Quarterly Newsletter - Autumn
Dear subscriber,

martin bliemel. pic

Welcome to the first CIE
newsletter for what promises to be a truly exciting
2010! In the last month, the CIE has transitioned the
daily operations leadership from Christopher Witt to
Martin Bliemel. Chris has done a great job building up
the CIE since 2007, and is now handing the reigns to
Martin to continue growing the CIE and launching several
new initiatives. Chris will remain on the CIE Advisory
Board, and in a big supporting role.

Martin Bliemel is a Lecturer in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and
joined the School of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at
the Australian School of Business from Simon Fraser
University in Vancouver, Canada
. His research is on
the use and development of entrepreneurial
. Prior to his PhD he worked as a mechanical
engineer in one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed companies,
completed his MBA at Queen’s University and started his
own business consulting company to help entrepreneurs
with market research, financial modelling, business
plans and raising capital. For 5 years, he was also a
mentor with New Ventures Business Competition and
a presentation room manager at the Angel

The New Year has been a busy one
already; in this newsletter you will find:

  • The Entrepreneurs Notebook – A
    continuation of last year’s popular column
  • Get Involved – An invitation
    to join students and faculty in the classroom
  • Upcoming events – Some dates
    to pen into your diary
  • Announcements – Keep yourself
    up to date
  • TSponsorship opportunities –
    How you can help fund entrepreneurial development

chris witt pic

Creating Value – Are you
doing it?

By Christopher Witt
This is a critical question for us all, and one I ask
entrepreneurs from time to time. In the conversation that
inevitably follows, it offers insight into not only one’s
understanding of “value” but also the elements of valuation.
Further, this informs most business manager’s priorities on
how to allocate people, time and capital. Several questions to
consider arise from this starting point.

The first question is, do you know what your business is
worth, and to whom? A realistic awareness of this value range
is crucial. An inflated concept of value is unhelpful – it can
result in problematic engagements with stakeholders, including
investors, when seeking to raise capital. But a value logic
based on operational metrics can generate constructive
measures for your business. These are frequently called Key
Performance Indicators, or KPIs. As your team improves these
KPIs, so will grow the value embedded in the business.
A harsh reality of current times is the importance of
liquidity in every market. That an entity has a value is
predicated on a market of buyers for those assets. With no
buyers, there is no value. A useful baseline for value is
replacement costs. That another business could be built to
replicate your place in the market, will likely bound your
value. Of course we all think we are irreplaceable, that our
customers love us and would never leave! But a humble
reconsideration of this is useful.
A second question is what is your timeframe for building
your business? Are you working towards an exit point – perhaps
a retirement point in time? Or are you taking a long term view
without a specific end in mind? Like a property developer who
builds units with a buyer-audience in mind from the start, it
is a positive approach to build the business to suit potential
buyers within the time frame in question.
My final question for you is how do you allocate your
people, time and capital to be in alignment with your
identified operational metrics (value drivers), and timeframe
you are working to? An example of this is awareness that
entrepreneurs need to spend capital, allocate people and allow
time to pursue specific opportunities. As the Leader you
cannot be everywhere – the CEO must seek force multipliers,
where you can punch above your weight. A fragmented approach
to opportunity seeking will result in a grab-bag of customers
& products, and a scattering of your people and capital
resources across a thin landscape. Not a good result over the
longer term.
As a Board member, I like to see from the CEO (even in
smaller businesses) a summary statement of the specific
opportunity, the capital to be spent, the manpower needed, the
financial impact expected and the timeframe for results to be
shown. The discipline associated with this approach works to
harmonise your strategy with the operational tasks needed to
produce more consistent results.
And over time, your value – whatever that may be – will
grow with the results as measured in your KPIs.


classroom pic
Involved in the Classroom
The School of Strategy &
Entrepreneurship is always looking for entrepreneurs to
participate in lectures and add a real story to our courses.
At the undergraduate level,
entrepreneurs are invited to be guest speakers to talk about
how they launched their ventures, as well as jury panel
members to provide feedback to students’ business pitches (see
STRE2010 Fundamentals of Innovation and
Entrepreneurship for more).

At the postgraduate level,
entrepreneurs are invited to present their business pitch and
get feedback from exceptionally talented Executive MBA
students (see AGSM MBA Strategic Management Year for
details). If you are interested, please contact us.

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events Schedule
Meet the Entrepreneur:
Ernst & Young

This event is at capacity.
Registration requests will be handled pending availability and
When: Thursday 20th May, 5:30 for 6pm start until

Where: 680 George Street, Ernst & Young
Sydney City Offices, Level 33

Moderator: Tim
Harcourt, Chief Economist of AusTrade.
Topic: From concept to commercial reality

Are you
interested in starting up a technology business? If you want
it to be successful, learn from those who already are. Our
panel members are leaders in this field and will provide
guests an insight on their entrepreneurial approach and how to
navigate through the commercialisation process, including
securing funding and grants. Learn about their experiences of
commercialising early stage technology businesses and receive
practical advice, followed by a facilitated question and
answer session.
Meet the panel

Damian Kay, Founder,
. From a conversation in the lift, telcoinabox
has become a leader in the telecommunications industry, with
an annual growth rate of over 180%.
Hamish Hawthorn, CEO, ATP Innovations. ATP is a
collaboration between four of Australia’s top universities,
providing value-added services to accelerate growth of early
stage technology businesses.

Open Innovation and Global
invention Capital (Hosted by NSi
and Intellectual Ventures)
When: Wednesday 26 May, 2010, 4pm – 5.30pm, followed
by drinks and networking

Where: Tyree Room, John
Niland Scientia Building, University of New South

Moderator: Hamish Hawthorn, Chief Executive
Officer, ATP Innovations

Topic: Can Invention Capital save the world?
Venture Capital, while still an important part of any
entrepreneurial ecosystem, will only help stimulate a small
fraction of the needed innovation. New models of technology
commercialisation are emerging. ‘Invention capital’ is a model
for addressing this challenge through cross-border open
innovation and global capital investment.
Keynote address: Invention Capital, what it is and why the
world needs more of it.

Dr Patrick Ennis, Global Head of
Technology, Intellectual Ventures

Dr Patrick Ennis, Global Head
of Technology, Intellectual Ventures

Chris Somogyi,
Senior Strategist, Intellectual Ventures

UNSW Professor
Veena Sahajwalla
, Director SMaRT Centre

, CEO NewSouth Innovations

This year, PitchFest will be run as a double feature with
the iChallenge. iChallenge is a new event by the
ASB that is a business pitch competition for high-school
students. PitchFest is a business pitch competition, open to
any UNSW student. It is also the launch event for the Peter
Farrell Cup Challenge, UNSW’s signature business plan
competition. Details to be announced soon.


ernst & young logo

Ernst & Young –
Entrepreneur of the Year Awards

Ernst & Young is
searching for outstanding entrepreneurs from around Australia
who embody the values and spirit of the Entrepreneur of the
Year program. Nominations can be submitted by anyone
associated with a successful entrepreneur, or you may
self-nominate. To find out more about the nomination process
and Entrepreneur of the Year program, please contact Sally
Collins on Tel: +61 2 8295 6424 or go to the website.
View a short video of highlights from
the SEP at

2010 inventor of the year

dell logo

social endeavour prize logo



Inventor of the Year Awards

Presented annually by
NewSouth Innovations, the UNSW Inventor of the Year Awards
recognise and reward inventors that are making the world a
better place. Boasting a total cash prize pool of $28,000, the
awards are open to UNSW academics and students who are
commercialising their research with NewSouth Innovations, the
university’s commercialisation company. This year’s awards
will introduce a new Student Inventor of the Year category and
a category to recognise the Best New Invention.
NewSouth Innovations annually receives
in the order of 100 new Intellectual Property Notifications
(IPNs). These are the starting point for commercialising new
inventions that can make a positive impact on the world. All
IPNs submitted in the 12 months to 30 June 2010 will
automatically be entered for the IPN award. For competition
details and to see 2009’s Inventor of the Year finalists and
winners visit:

Dell Small Business

Dell announced its call for entries for the
global 2010 Dell Small Business Excellence Award. In its
second year in Australia, the award gives small businesses
that apply technology in innovative ways to better serve
customers a chance to win up to US$50,000 in Dell solutions
and meeting time with Michael Dell. Enter the competition here.

Endeavour Prize

The Social Endeavour Prize has been
moved to the Centre for Social Impact (CSI), located just
upstairs from the CIE. The competition involves team of
students and not-for-profit organisations outlining innovative
and creative strategies to raise funds. Students will benefit
from exposure to real organisations in the not-for-profit
sector. Organisations will benefit from fresh and energetic
students bringing their ideas and talents to their
CSI is currently holding discussions with interested
organisations about the competition and its timing later this
year. If you have any input please contact Anne Measday on +61
(2) 9385 9897 or

year running for Entrepreneurship Interns Program

A very successful third year of the EIP was
run this summer where 12 students in their penultimate year
partook in paid internships with fast-growing companies. These
included ATP innovations, Better Place Australia, BMDI
Healthcare, Heard Systems, News Limited, NICTA, Personal
Audio, ResMed and Roses Only.
The highly competitive program reduced 693 invited
students, to a short list of 22, who competed for 12
positions. As part of their internship students shadowed
proven entrepreneurs, gaining valuable insights to
salesmanship, opportunity analysis, financial literacy, and
personal leadership. A documentary about their experiences can
be found on the CIE website.
In the coming weeks, the Academic Board at UNSW will make a
decision on our proposal to move the Undergraduate Diploma in
Innovation Management from the Entrepreneurs in Science unit
to the School of Strategy & Entrepreneurship. Once
re-launched, the students will be offered internship
opportunities for credit towards their diploma. In the
meanwhile, the CIE will continue the existing EIP in parallel
with a pilot internship program that will become the Diploma
version. New this year: There is no fee to participate in the
EIP, other than the intern’s wages.
If your company is able to take an Intern for summer
2010/11, please contact us for more information.

We are pleased to confirm
AusIndustry, Ernst & Young, NewSouth Innovations
and RosesOnly as sponsors of the CIE. Likewise, we
would like to thank Peter Farrell and Gary Zamel
for their generous donations. Their continued support
helps provide the means to host networking events, award
prizes, and reimburse our suppliers and service providers. In
exchange, our sponsors receive good karma and public
recognition as supporters of innovation and entrepreneurship.
If your firm is keen to engage with UNSW students, faculty and
alumni, and our members from industry, please contact

Subscribe to CIE Newsletters

To join the CIE community and receive future updates about events and newsletters, please email us at and type subscribe in the subject box

sponsors logos 1
sponsors logos 2

CIE Newsletter, November 2009 (repost)

As we move our newsletters and updates to a blog format, we are also reposting the old newsletters so we don't completely lose them. Pardon the formatting.

cie mast

Quarterly Newsletter - November 2009

Dear Subscriber,
chris witt pic

There is one public event left on the CIE 2009 calendar which you should not miss – this is the Peter Farrell Challenge Cup Finals. More than two hundred students and fifty one teams from UNSW and Macquarie Universities have spent the last month putting together business plans for commercialising their own ideas, or someone else’s.The eight finalist teams will present their proposals on campus on November 19.
In this newsletter, you will find news, links to information and registration for events, and in the ‘entrepreneur’s corner’ section, I will share some thoughts on a question which frequently comes to my mind, that is - ‘Are successful entrepreneurs born or created?’
 Entrepreneur’s Corner – CIE Director's thoughts to consider

 Corporate and Campus announcements – recent activities which may interest you

 Upcoming events – Dates for your diary

Wishing you all the best in business for the rest of 2009.


entrepreneur's corner pic

Entrepreneur’s Corner
Are successful entrepreneurs born or created?

By Christopher Witt, CIE Director.
An age old question, this is.
We have all read the stories – where the son of the Scion goes on to trump the father in business achievement. Think of Kerry Packer, and the achievements of the “idiot son” in surpassing father Frank in business dimensions. Born or created?
Think of Rupert Murdoch, and his building of a global news empire on the back of inheriting a provincial newspaper based in Adelaide, left to him at a young age after the pre-mature death of his father. Born or created?
Think of penniless immigrant Richard Pratt coming to Australia. Over 50 years he built a packaging empire on the back of hard work and sacrifice. Born or created?
Or is there an aura of circumstance involved? Luck even?
Below the headlines, romantic fantasy and urban myths are often trotted out to explain such results. Populist authors and pundits reach for convenient explanations.
Attributional bias
They say “winners write the history books.” Thus, the bias exists that every success story will hold an indelible truth. Yet the academic and anecdotal research suggests multiple underlying causes for entrepreneurial success.
Consider this: entrepreneurship born of necessity, as distinct from opportunity seeking. The conventional wisdom is that business success stories emanate from opportunity seeking entirely. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, a global study covering 42 countries including Australia, reports that businesses founded to pursue opportunity are 7 times more frequent in number than those founded out of necessity. There also appears to be a strong correlation with age, with opportunity seeking business formation reducing with age.
Yet the fact remains: out of every one hundred new businesses founded today, in ten years time only three will still be open for business.
Skill versus Passion
Much has been written of the sources for entrepreneurial advantage, be they personality characteristics, family connections, or learnt skills.
At the Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, our initial premise begins with a view that passion often drives opportunity seeking, yet skills form a foundation to maintain operational integrity and minimise risk. And it is such skills to quickly re-assess business situations with new information that distinguish serial entrepreneurs from others.
It is precisely this risk profile that is frequently misunderstood by observers. The popular mythology has it that entrepreneurs are risk-seeking. Yet, observational research suggests successful entrepreneurs are in fact risk-averse agents of opportunity. They intensely manage risk to maintain exposures to levels that can be tolerated, and to kill off poorly performing ideas earlier than others. Decisiveness is the key.
Hence skills development is an important contributor to routine management capability, while aptitude appears to drive decision making, commitment and team building at those inflexion points. In other words, passion leads to decisive strategic action, while skills can keep the train on the rails.
Timely matters more than perfect
Yet Man is still a creature of the animal kingdom, and emotion plays a considerable part at critical decision points. Research has repeatedly shown that timely decisions – but based on less information –frequently generate equal or better results, than delayed but more fully analysed decision making. This probably reflects Man’s instinctive learning capability, and our adaptive skills to transpose one set of circumstances (known) over another situation (unknown), and in effect, make good “educated guesses.”
Another fascinating fact: Man frequently over-estimates the pain of a possible mistake. And then under-estimates the ability and time needed to correct that same mistake. This leads to dwelling on failures, and hesitancy in commitments. Not a great entrepreneurial strategy!
No doubt emotional intelligence – or the lack thereof – has been a contributor to otherwise good businesses coming unglued. Think One-Tel, and its expansion into building a multi-billion dollar telecoms network, on the back of initial success as a re-selling operation. Hubris can have a poisonous effect on the entrepreneur’s ability to process contradictory information running against the grain of their accepted wisdom.
Mentoring and modelling of behaviours have been shown to strongly influence on coping skills for leaders. The CIE devotes considerable effort to provide quality time to network and learn informally from practioners.
As a pilot trains heavily in a simulated environment, so might we train entrepreneurs through experiential learning, and deep interaction with serial entrepreneurs?
Consider this - and decide to decide on at least one pending item in your in-box - today.

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Corporate and Campus Events & Announcements
12 November - National Awards Ceremony

Entrepreneurs create many of the world’s most dynamic and successful companies. That’s why Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year is considered the world’s most prestigious business award - because it goes to the most exceptional from among a unique group of people. The 2009 Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year program is underway and category winners have been chosen across five regional awards programs. These regional winners will now progress to the national program for the title of 2009 Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year, announced at the national awards ceremony on November 12.

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UNSW student attends SIFE World Cup in Germany

Students in Free Enterprise, (SIFE), are a global organisation that enables students to lead social change through business. Earlier this year Bernise was awarded 'The Most Outstanding SIFE Member' in Australia after leading a project to assist indigenous communities become financially independent. Read More Here
“It is not just about raising money, but about innovation - embracing entrepreneurship as a way to identify problems and find practical ways to solve them.” said Bernise. Recently, Bernise attended the SIFE World Cup which showcased the outcomes of community outreach programs globally.

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Westmead Children’s Hospital implement Fundraising idea

The winners of the Social Endeavour Prize, students Iris Qi, Megan Dunne and Aldo Claparols, implemented their fundraising idea this month. Children at the hospital were asked to draw a picture in response to the question “What makes you happy?” The winning design pictured will be featured on T-shirts available for sale. Proceeds from the merchandise will go to Westmead Children’s Hospital. Read more here

View a short video of highlights from the SEP at

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19th November - The Peter Farrell Challenge Cup Finals Presentations and Dinner

Sponsored by AusIndustry and Better Place Australia.

Peter Farrell, Resmed, initiated this business planning competition in 2005. Alan Finkel, Chief Techonology Officer of Better Place Australia will be our keynoter speaker. Alan will outline the gamble BTA are making to develop smart electric cars in urban areas globally. Eight teams will be selected to present in the finals held on the 19th November. The competition boasts cash and prizes totaling $15,000 which will be presented following the presentations at the Awards Dinner.

Finalist Competition (Public is welcome):

Where: Richie Theater, Scientia, UNSW

When: 5pm, Finish by 7pm
Awards Dinner (Payment and Registration is Required):

Where: Tyree Room, Scientia, UNSW

When: 7 for 7.30pm, Finish by 10pm
To attend the Awards Dinner Register Here

If your firm is keen to engage with UNSW CIE, then please contact us.

©CIE UNSW, Christopher Witt

CIE Newsletter, April 2009 (repost)

As we move our newsletters and updates to a blog format, we are also reposting the old newsletters so we don't completely lose them. Pardon the formatting.

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Quarterly Newsletter - April 2009

Dear subscriber,
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Happy Easter to you, and we hope this message finds you well and taking active steps to manage your future. In this first newsletter of 2009, you will find:
 Entrepreneur’s Corner – a new feature column with commentary on current events

 Coming Events – Dates for your diary

 Announcements – Related activities or organisations that may interest you

 Corporate Engagement Opportunities – invitations for your company to get involved


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Entrepreneur’s Corner
The phone has not stopped ringing in recent months with questions from entrepreneurs concerning “what should I do?” So beginning this quarter we launch a regular feature called “Entrepreneur’s Corner”. We hope you find this column stimulating, & unembellished in nature.

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Thought 1:

There is “good debt”, and there is “bad debt”.

Good debt is taken on to purchase assets and fund expenses for a cluster of activity, be it a new store, production plant, research & development or to find a growth strategy. Let’s term this an “activity cluster” as that suggests the linking of capital, revenues and expenses that form a pooled unit. There is an expectation for this activity to produce revenues and cash flows within a prescribed period of time, and this is termed a Return on Investment.
Bad debt is that taken on to fund operating cash flows, usually in a pooled environment, where the link between the debt and any investment in an activity cluster is lost. Often it creeps upward, and takes the form of leases, expanding lines of credit, staff costs or even personal Director-tied debt. There is generally little accounting of the returns brought through this debt.
Funding your operations via growing credit reflects a poorly performing business at work. That is, operations are not producing cash & profits. And expenses are being paid by drawing on credit sources. Hence, there is an operating deficit underneath the surface, whether the accounts show this or not. It is essential that entrepreneurs are brutally honest in distinguishing between good & bad debt, and not kid themselves.
Too often companies form the view that things are fine, as long as there is cash in the bank. They blur the lines between true cash, and lines of credit. As long as the lines of credit flow, there is little urgency to address the growing cracks in the underlying business performance. But the party comes to an abrupt halt, when the debt music stops flowing. And that can be extremely painful if not catastrophic.
This is analogous to “Honey, let’s go out to eat tonight, we still have credit on the credit card.” In contrast to forming a conscious view of how much the house hold is saving, and deciding to consume some savings via a dining experience. Likewise, businesses need to budget for a profit – and make those discretionary decisions to forego profits for an investment in a future activity cluster with an expected ROI.

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Thought 2:

There is “good business”, and there is “bad business”.

Can you specify the assets, employees, revenues, expenses and profits/cash flows that accrue to your “activity clusters”? Do you know which are your most profitable products, projects, stores, or customers? Do you know which ones lose money for you? Have you fired a customer lately, or declined new business, as the terms were unfavourable?
These are all signs of a healthier business, and stronger management style.
In numerous businesses we have worked with recently, the discussion has focused on pruning the edges wisely. This begins with quality information to track where your profits/cash come from, and where the losses arise. Many businesses have untracked cross-subsidies embedded in them.
As you consider cost cutting, we encourage you to prune based on “activity cluster” – choose to discontinue a product, project, store, or drop customers where they are not a healthy long term basis for both supplier and customer. If needed, raise prices to affect a profitable product. Explain this to your customers that if you don’t, you will need to discontinue the business. Honest communication can make or break you on this point.
Likewise, act with a clear collections policy. The use of EFT, Credit Cards and Accounts needs to be revisited. Customers that don’t pay in a timely fashion represent poor business. So use discounts, perhaps 2%, for customers who sign up for timely automatic EFT payment. And raise prices for those activities that are unprofitable, or else drop them and the assets, employees associated with them.
Poor quality cost cutting strategies look like across the board cuts to marketing. Or dropping the use of contractors, but not changing the mix of your business activities to align with profitable operations.

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Thought 3:

Will the Government’s $42 billion economic rescue represent “good debt”?

We have no issue with taking on good debt by Governments to build assets that will generate dividends for future generations. Examples of such investments might be building dams, bridges, roads, rail/port facilities. The proposed subsidy for insulation in homes to reduce power usage will pay for itself quickly for households that take up the offer.
After the Depression the Government built the Snowy Hydro Scheme for multiple purposes including irrigation of vast tracts of new farm land, protection against drought, and peak power generation. It is a legacy asset of immeasurable wealth to the nation.
Likewise, the announced National Broadband Network proposes to establish core national infrastructure to boost productivity and international competitiveness. There are doubts about the ability to generate sufficient returns on such a sizeable investment, which could result in taxpayers effectively footing any shortfall. But like many infrastructure deals such as airports, ports, etc, there are in-built subsidies as well. Yet, no doubt the national competitive posture will be improved, and other nations are making similar commitments. In the current funding climate, it is clear the government is the best positioned party to lead such a commitment.
On a basic level, the underlying economic issue at work has been insufficient savings, over-consumption, and a reliance on asset inflation to generate equity, which is then periodically withdrawn to pay off excessive debts. This has been a foundation with widening cracks. It appears that the only way out of this is through frugality, savings, debt reduction and – gradually – repairing balance sheets over time.
There are theoretical economic arguments for stimulating consumption, but the historical evidence appears to show that government stimuli have been to no avail. Japan had 8 major stimulus programs in the 1990’s, without measurable results. Other empirical studies seem to echo this point as well. In fact, Governments only ever act in an economic support role, as John Howard recently admitted to a Journalist.
One criterion for Government investment would be for expenditures to provide a similar (to the Snowy Scheme) tangible long term return in proportion to the investment value made. The provision of cash handouts, simply ends up shifting wealth from today (surplus Govt funds) to a small number of individuals (who will save or consume), at the expense of future generations (our children) to repay. We may come to rue leaving our children with extraordinary debts to pay but few matching assets to show for it.


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Upcoming Events Schedule
May 5 Event Info Let's Talk Business

When: Tuesday May 5, 2009

Where: Customs House Barnet Long Room, 31 Alfred St., Circular Quay

Assess your business health in this hands-on session. Analyse key indicators, gain perspective and take action - find out more here.
May 21 - Social Endeavour Prize Finals Competition Night

Where: K-Power, 271 Sussex Street, Sydney City

Time: 5-8pm
May 27 - Meet The Entrepreneur: Managing in a Maelstrom

Place: 680 George Street, Ernst & Young Sydney City Offices

Time: 5:30 for 6pm Start, Until 8pm
Come hear an exciting panel debate in hypothetical format, featuring a moderator led discussion with three seasoned entrepreneurs as they share their coping & success strategies for managing in the current climate. Numbers are strictly limited – register today to secure your spot.


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Ernst & Young – Entrepreneur of the Year Awards

Do you know an outstanding entrepreneur?

Ernst & Young is now searching for outstanding entrepreneurs from around Australia who embody the values and spirit of the Entrepreneur Of The Year program. Nominations can be submitted by anyone associated with a successful entrepreneur, or you may self-nominate. To find out more about the nomination process and Entrepreneur Of The Year program, please contact Sally Collins on Tel: +61 2 8295 6424 or go to the website.

Dell Small Business Awards

Dell today announced its call for entries for the global 2009 Dell Small Business Excellence Award. In its second year in Australia, the award gives small businesses that apply technology in innovative ways to better serve customers a chance to win up to US$50,000 in Dell solutions and meeting time with Michael Dell.
Enter the Dell Small Business Excellence Awards here.
Social Endeavour Prize

New to UNSW this year is the Social Endeavour Prize. This competition is for student teams (paired up with a host charity) to generate innovative and creative strategies to fundraise. Think “red Nose Day” or “Red Shield Appeal.”
Students will benefit from exposure to real charities and the not-for-profit sector. Charities will benefit from fresh and energetic students bringing their ideas and talents to their institutions.
Participating charities will be the big winners of this competition – in addition to all money raised, the charity will have the winning students volunteer for a week to implement their ideas!
The motivations for entry are many – help a worthy cause, get creative, receive recognition and of course, win prize money.

1st Prize: $4000

2nd prize: $3000

3rd prize: $1000
Expressions of interest for Teams will close on April 23rd.

Go here for more information.

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Second year running for Entrepreneurship Interns Program
A very successful pilot Internship program was run this summer where nine students in their penultimate year partook in paid internships with fast-growing companies. These included ResMed, Brasserie Bread, Harris Farm Markets, Worley Parsons, NICTA, ATP Innovations, and Monkey Steel.
The highly competitive program reduced 375 invited students, to a short list of 18, who competed for 9 positions. Students shadowed proven entrepreneurs, gaining valuable insights to salesmanship, opportunity analysis, financial literacy, and personal leadership.

A documentary is being filmed about their experiences, and will screen on TV in June.
If your company is able to take an Intern for summer 2009/10, please contact us for more information.


New Sponsors
We are pleased to confirm Ernst & Young, AusIndustry, and Spruson & Ferguson as corporate partners of the CIE.
Other new sponsors of the CIE include Brasserie Bread, Vasse Felix Wines, and Roses Only.
If your firm is keen to engage with UNSW CIE, then please contact us.

©CIE UNSW, Christopher Witt