How did you get into venture technology?
When I started BlueChilli Technology, initially it was just me consulting [to businesses]. Opportunities were presented where founders couldn’t afford our services so we took equity instead of cash [which lead to BlueChilli Capital].
What was your best investment?
BlueChilli Capital is still in early growth stages so we’ve not had any exits yet. Personally, my first business exit was successful. I built 199query, which was an SMS question and answer service. I sold to Dominet Digital – Domenic Carosa’s early investment business – when they bought out my competitor 199bongo. They combined the two services and it’s now the largest premium service provider in the country. I was still full time in the military in Iraq at that stage. After that I started a digital signage business with a friend but sold my share to my business partner when I realised my passion was in the creation, not necessarily the ongoing growth. That’s where BlueChilli Technology came in.
What was your worst investment? What did you learn?
A dance music promotion company, Sebtrackt. Never name a business after yourself. We were chartering our own aircraft and flying DJs around. Our egos got in the way. We were going to put on a massive party in Hobart, my home town, but we didn’t read the market. We pretty much lost everything. [The lesson learnt was] know your consumers, don’t over expose yourself and don’t grow too quickly.
What makes a great pitch?
The best pitch formula is based on having a set structure, confidence and charisma. Confidence comes with practice, charisma comes with practice and I love the “Gaddie” pitch structure [which he learned from marketer Anthony Gaddie] where your pitch is answered by the following three sentences: “You know how … (explain the problem). Well, what we do is … (explain your unique selling point). In fact … (give one awesome example).”
What are some common mistakes entrepreneurs make when pitching?
A pitch should have just enough information to get the curiosity kicking in. There’s no need for a detailed financial plan – give me the big numbers and let me want more.
What kind of companies or sectors are you keen on?
We focus on web and mobile transactional businesses, so once an idea is launched it can start making money.