The breaks favour the bold

The teams running Australian ICT companies these days have a much broader worldwide view than was common 10 years ago

THE ICT ecosystem is awash with Aussies worth watching run by entrepreneurs who know how to start and develop innovative companies with a unique character, vision, and personality.

Today's entrepreneurs mainly march to their own drums. They are mavericks in attitude, but they do understand customers' business needs and priorities and the need to deliver solutions efficiently.

Australian companies are now thinking more internationally. The small size of the local market has always been a problem. A few years ago the American and European markets offered growth opportunities. The US still has a couple of important advantages; one is the NASDAQ, a very powerful tool for technology companies to go public, and another is a deeper pool of experienced managers and lots of people good at devising marketing strategies, positioning, and selling.

But now high-tech Asia is well under way with further challenges for Aussie vendors.

Entrepreneurship is essentially about people and their abilities to evaluate new opportunities and to bring a match between innovation and market needs. Entrepreneurs are first and foremost change makers and achievers, not just visionaries. Today's breed of entrepreneurs is more operational, more business disciplined, more realistic, and more savvy. Although individuals become the icons, the real story for every successful company is truly built by the team.

The returns of the tech bubble, when just about any start-up or inexperienced founder could make money, are long gone. In today's environment it's no longer enough to have a core technology and a target customer. Companies must have management talent, marketing talent, business development talent and, increasingly, global talent.

Today we have a growing pool of multinational talent available to run companies and to build global markets, not just to develop products. The teams running companies these days have a much broader worldwide view than was common 10 years ago.

It was Will Rogers, the legendary entertainer, humorist, and author, who said "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there".

We must also remember that youthful entrepreneurs have been responsible for some of the greatest technology companies ever created -- Microsoft was created by a 19-year-old, Dell by a 19-year-old, and Apple by two 21-year-olds, Yahoo and Cisco by university students, Sun by four 26-year-olds, and Google by a couple of 22-year-olds. Others truly built a team -- Hewlett and Packard, Gates and Allen, Jobs and Wozniak: all have been famous entrepreneurs throughout the high tech history and a great inspiration to others.

Len Rust is publisher of The Rust Report

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