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Business

Oz start-ups hamstrung by lack of vision

The most recent Startup Weekend produced some impressive businesses that will no doubt achieve financial success, but definitely will not be the next Google or Apple.
Written by Mahesh Sharma, Correspondent on

The most recent Startup Weekend produced some impressive businesses that will no doubt achieve financial success, but definitely will not be the next Google or Apple.

The $5000 first prize for the best idea developed over 48 hours was awarded to Ned Dwyer's ThemePivot, a marketplace for website owners to buy cheap CSS tweaks.

Like the other ideas, it was a clever use of technology to solve a real market problem, and, most importantly, could deliver the healthy returns that Aussie investors crave.

It was billed as the 99Designs of CSS, and unfortunately it wasn't the first time a competitor described their product by invoking the name of one of Australia's most successful tech exports.

I was there all weekend, and was lucky enough to be able to give the teams feedback and see how they evolved over the weekend.

There were marketplaces of all shapes and sizes, servicing a niche by connecting a with b, or x with y, and underpinned by a viable business model, but there was very little focus on how to engage users, or, as the late Steve Jobs said, how to "put a dent in the universe". Instead, it was all about the exit.

Looking at the great tech companies — Google, Apple, Microsoft — the key element that shines through is the way in which they engage users with their technology and their long-term mission to fundamentally change industries and society.

They have also demonstrated that when you pursue your vision and execute on this, the financial returns will follow.

It will only be by solving a market problem, with a clever business model and pursuing a vision, that Australia will start to really produce the types of tech companies that can truly make a difference.

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