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Tag: Entrepreneurship (page 1 of 4)

Starting a Business Later in Life: Mature Entrepreneurs Conference

La Trobe Business School’s Professor of Entrepreneurship Alex Maritz recently delivered a keynote address at the Mature Entrepreneurs Conference organised by Sarina Russo Entrepreneurs. The Conference was part of Entrepreneurship Facilitators, an Australian Government initiative targeting nascent start-up entrepreneurs.

Sarina Russo Entrepreneurs

Sarina Russo Entrepreneurs provides individuals in the Ballarat, Moorabool, Golden Plains, Central Goldfields, Hepburn and Pyrenees regions of Victoria with free and practical support to encourage them to start a business as a way to create their own job. They provide services and advice such as mentoring, education on business industries, help to take a business idea to the next level and setting realistic goals and time frames (business.gov.au).

Mature Entrepreneurs Conference

Mature entrepreneurs represent the fastest growing sector of entrepreneurship in Australia. There are many reasons and many advantages to starting a business later in life. Mature age Australians face unique issues and opportunities in today’s labor market and self-employment is becoming a more attractive and viable option for older people wishing to be their own boss. 

The conference was specifically designed for people aged over 50 and explored the theme of entrepreneurship and self-employment as an alternative pathway or option to employment. The keynote address delivered by Alex was titled “Entrepreneur Start-Up Myths Exposed – the Rise of Mature Entrepreneurs in Australia”.

Alex giving his Keynote at the Mature Entrepreneurs Conference
Alex giving his Keynote

Close to 100 delegates, ranging from government officials, mentors and nascent entrepreneurs, heard about the significance of senior entrepreneurship. In his keynote address, Alex identified senior entrepreneurship as the fastest growing sector of entrepreneurship. There is a 9.3% participation rate (3% above that of developed nations), 34% of all entrepreneurs are senior entrepreneurs, and this sector contributes approx. $11.9bn to the Australian economy. Alex also talked about the benefits, which include behavioural, economic and psychological impacts. Adults over 50 are more likely to be self-employed than younger adults are more efficient and successful than their younger counterparts.

For further information on this thought provoking presentation, plus inspirational stories from guest speakers and entrepreneurs, visit http://www.matureentrepreneurs.com.au.

Media appearances by Alex on this topic

Only yesterday, Alex was interviewed on ABC National Radio by Myf Warhurst about why seniorpreneurs are the new force in the digital age. Click the link to listen back the interview: Why seniorpreneurs are the new force in the digital age

Alex was also recently interviewed by The Herald Sun. Click the link to read the article:  How seniorpreneurs are shaking up the start-up sector

LBS Innovation Series: Lean business model design for food and agribusiness

During the 2018 Innovation in Food and Agribusiness Forum (IFAF) Professor of Entrepreneurship Alex Maritz provided insights into disruptive innovation and technology, using entrepreneurship tools to facilitate commercialisation and transformation.

Alex Maritz presenting during IFAF

2030 Roadmap

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) wants to grow agriculture to $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030. Reaching that goal requires new ideas to accelerate the industry’s growth. The NFF identified five pillars to focus on:

  1. Customers and the value chain
  2. Growing sustainability
  3. Unlocking innovation
  4. People and communities
  5. Capital and risk management

Unlocking innovation means that by 2030, Australia is a world leader in innovation efficiency, cutting edge science and technology that improves the quality of products and reduces their cost of production. Digital technology, and particularly the internet of things (IoT) will have transformed farming, unlocking significant on-farm revenue and savings. Hence, every Australian farm will have access to infrastructure and skills to connect to the Internet of Things.

Disruptive technology

The NFF also lists some 2030 megatrends, with one being disruptive technology: “Digital and genetic technologies promise to unlock new waves of productivity growth across the sector. Automation will continue to improve quality of life for farmers, while reshaping the sector’s skills needs” (2030 Roadmap, 2018, p.9).

Recent years already have seen a rapid increase in development of technology in agribusiness, often referred to as agtech. The technologies create solutions for many common problems for farmers such as yield information, reduction of waste or spoilage and forecasting. According to Forbes (2018), agtech funding through investment or acquisition increased 32% to $2.6 billion, and half of the top 20 deals in the space exceeded $50 million in 2017 alone.

Using entrepreneurship tools

In his workshop, Alex discussed how entrepreneurship tools, such as the lean start-up, design thinking and the business model canvas, could facilitate the transformation required by agribusinesses because of disruptive innovation and technology. These tools are not only suitable for start-ups, but as Alex points out, the tools work for any dynamic organisation wishing to transform methods of operation, create customer solutions and value propositions to achieve high growth imperatives.

Lean start-up

A lean start-up is a business strategy that strives to eliminate wasteful practices and increase value-producing practices during the earliest phases of a business so that it has a better chance of success without requiring large amounts of outside funding, an elaborate business plan, or a perfect product (Ries, 2011). Important lean start-up principles include eliminating uncertainty, working smarter (not harder), validating learning and developing a minimum viable product. Prototyping while developing customers is a way that entrepreneurs fail successfully – success arises from the learning that happens while interacting with prospective customers who are experiencing use of the product.

An example of a company who used the lean methodology is Blue River technology, a weeding robot manufacturer. They started off with a robotic lawn mower, but through the lean start-up process pivoted to the agricultural sector, raised over US$30 million and have developed successfully smart farm machines such as the Lettuce Bot and See & Spray that aim to make farming more sustainable through robotics and computer vision (Trice, 2016).

Business model canvas

The business model canvas is a strategic management tool that was first proposed in 2004 by Alexander Osterwalder in his dissertation “The Business Model Ontology: A Proposition in a Design Science Approach”. The business model canvas is a visual chart, outlining nine segments which form the building blocks for start-ups and allows the business to test hypotheses about their business idea. There are four segments that focus on the customer (customer segments, customer relationships, channels, and revenue streams) and four segments that focus supply side of the business (key activities, key resources, key partners and cost structure). Completion of the customer blocks and the supply side blocks lead to the formation of a value proposition for the business – “the bundle of benefits the company offers its customers” (Osterwalder & Pigneur, 2010, p.22).

The business model canvas (Osterwalder & Pigneur)
The business model canvas (by Osterwalder & Pigneur, taken from Brown, Mugge & Grainger, 2017)

Farms are not usually start-ups, but disruptive technologies mean that acting like a start-up is a meaningful way to model the business (Brown, Mugge & Grainger, 2017). An example of a company that used the business model canvas is Freight Farms, who saw a need for urban agriculture and is now the world leading manufacturer of container farming technology. Their system is a complete hydroponic growing system that sits entirely inside a shipping container. The vertical farming delivers fresh and local food 365 days a year, while using no soil and using 98% less water than traditional farming.

Alex Maritz and Alexander Osterwalder
Alex Maritz and Alexander Osterwalder
This blog is part of the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics at La Trobe Business School. 
 
More blogs in the LBS Innovation Series:
- LBS Innovation Series: Gaps to perfection
- LBS Innovation Series: Building a global business in a period of disruption
- LBS Innovation Series: Is the Australian agriculture sector ready to grow?
- LBS Innovation Series: Agtech – Agriculture’s Disrupter or Saviour?
- LBS Innovation Series: Crossing the Chasm – Agtech & innovation ecosystems
- LBS Innovation Series: Innovation and the Agribusiness Taskforce
- LBS Innovation Series: Supply challenges and consumer expectations
- LBS Innovation Series: Robotics and AI are coming your way
- LBS Innovation Series: Consumer trends and future foods
- LBS Innovation Series: The future of agricultural production systems
- LBS Innovation Series: Cities that feed our planet
- LBS Innovation Series: Is big data the answer for the future of agribusiness?

The future trajectory of entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is one of the younger disciplines in education and one of the fastest growing disciplines. With this in mind, our Professor of Entrepreneurship Alex Maritz has done research into where the discipline is at and where it is going. He looked at challenges the discipline is facing, but also how entrepreneurship is taught in Australia.

Entrepreneurship – The facts

Let’s start with some figures. The 2017/18 Australian National Report from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) overall states a positive climate of the entrepreneurial activity in Australia.

  • 12% of the Australian adult population (18–64 years old) actively engaged in entrepreneurial activities
    • This equates to 1.8 million early-stage entrepreneurs
  • Australia’s profile of start-up activity (TEA) is particularly strong in the senior age groups.
  • Informal investment is strong in Australia, with the prevalence of business angels at about 4% of the population.
    • This equates to about 0.6 million informal investors financing entrepreneurial ventures in Australia.
  • Of the 1.8 million Australians engaged in starting new businesses, 38 percent or 690,000 were women.
    • This is high compared to other 24 developed economies included in the study.

There are some concerns as well. The fear of failure is slightly above the average of developed economies and youth entrepreneurship is lacking. Also, there is a high discontinuation rate of entrepreneurial activity in Australia, which provides an opportunistic platform for entrepreneurship education.

Challenges

Below are some of the challenges that entrepreneurship education is facing.

Trajectory 1: Why teach entrepreneurship?

The question is often whether entrepreneurship can be taught. According to Alex it certainly can be. Entrepreneurship education is about learning how to minimise risks to fail, which lowers the above-mentioned fear of failure, a great barrier to start a business. Interestingly, Universities of Australia mentions that more than four in five start-up founders in Australia are university graduates.

Trajectory 2: What is taught in entrepreneurship?

Teachers of entrepreneurship often speak from their own experiences, the risk associated with that is that their teaching is too much skewed towards their own expertise. A finance expert teaching entrepreneurship has a different take on entrepreneurship education than someone with a psychology background for example. This challenge can be tackled by viewing entrepreneurship as a process – from starting a business to exiting a business – and aligning a suite of subjects and courses to that process.

Trajectory 3: How to teach entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship education is about experiential learning, which is different from the traditional ways of delivering content such as lectures and tutorials. The move towards online learning also has shown to be a challenge. Entrepreneurship educators need to collaborate and network with other successful entrepreneurship educators, enhancing the scholarship of learning and teaching. These educators have to also update their knowledge and skills on the latest start-up nuances, such as blockchain, digital transformation and lean business models.

Trajectory 4: Outcomes of teaching Entrepreneurship

The only way to measure if people become entrepreneurs when they finish their degree, is their intention and efficacy to become successful entrepreneurs. In addition, entrepreneurs create employment versus seeking employment, adding not only to economic outcomes but social solutions.

Trajectory 5: Research in entrepreneurship

There are only two high tier entrepreneurship journals. Research in entrepreneurship has the aim to inform practice, but practitioners generally do not read academic research. Publications therefore should preferably happen in journals or magazines read by practitioners. The Harvard business Review is an example for this discipline to publish, although not an entrepreneurship focused journal.

Empowerment and transformation

Finally, entrepreneurial universities are not created overnight. According to Alex, if entrepreneurship is not one of the pillars or a strategic intent of the university, the discipline will not flourish. It has to be embedded into the entire university.  

Entrepreneurship education at LBS

The La Trobe Business School is in a transformative stage of entrepreneurship education, with recent research by Alex and Dr Quan Nguyen placing emphasis on the importance of empowerment and sustainable action to enhance the entrepreneurial university. LBS is one of the leading Australian higher education institutions in entrepreneurship education, evidenced by significant entrepreneurship ecosystems, leadership in entrepreneurship, active and impactful global partnerships, significant knowledge transfer, professors of practice, a successful incubator and associated university wide entrepreneurial initiatives.

Prof Alex Maritz with various staff members of the Department of Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Marketing

It’s all about entrepreneurship ecosystems

LBS was recently fortunate to host an interesting presentation by a distinguished visiting scholar, Professor Steven Johnson from Sheffield Business School where he is Assistant Dean Research.

Steven shared research, collaboration and engagement initiatives currently being developed at Sheffield Business School. Some of these initiatives will be in collaboration with LBS, which brings opportunities to our students and staff.

Professor Steven Johnson with several staff members of the La Trobe Business School

Steven gave a presentation for the Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Marketing (EIM) Department on the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the city of Hull. He will further share his research findings with the LBS entrepreneurship team at the upcoming Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research Exchange (ACERE) Conference in Sydney, an annual conference co-sponsored by LBS. We will soon share more news about this conference. For any queries, please contact Professor Alex Maritz.

Dream it, Plan it, Pitch it! Competition

LBS hosted the Dream it, Plan it, Pitch It! Competition as part of La Trobe University’s Outreach Programme for secondary school students.

What is outreach?

The LTU outreach programmes offer learning opportunities to Middle Year and VCE-level students. Students partake in workshops, seminars or other activities organised by LTU. It aids students’ confidence and learning skills at the relevant secondary curriculum level in a tertiary environment.

What is Dream it, Plan it, Pitch It!

In short, VCE students dream up an idea, develop a business plan and pitch it at LBS during the Pitch It! Competition.

The idea students develop can be for a business, product, or service. Then, either individually or in teams, students outline, develop and complete a full business plan as part of the VCE curriculum. Complementing the year 11 VCE curriculum, LBS asks students to submit their completed business plans and pitch their ideas to groups of roving judges during a showcase event. The business plans submitted to LBS are assessed and used as a qualifying tool for the showcase event. On the day, students pitch their 5-minute presentation to groups of industry professionals and LBS staff who assess their pitch.

The event is supported by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ), who generously donate $1000 for the first-place winner. Second place receives $500 donated by the La Trobe Business School. Besides the first and second prize, there were various other subcategories of awards, such as the marketing plan award, the best stand award, and the financial award.

Some of the Pitch It! Competition judges

2018 Pitch It! Competition

There were competitions in Albury-Wodonga and in Melbourne and more than 100 students from seven schools participated. The first and second prize winners:

  1. Spartans Taekwando took out the first place with their idea – teaching martial arts through respect, discipline & leadership.
  2. Beauty Truck won the second place with their on the go beauty parlour.

Congratulations to the winners!

Pitch It! Competition participants

 

LBS’ collaboration with the Research Centre for China Industry-University-Research Institute

As part of the La Trobe University China Studies Research Centre program, Professor Alex Maritz from LBS recently visited Wuhan University’s Research Centre for China Industry-University-Research Institute. The collaboration’s aim is to improve the volume and quality of joint research with China-based researchers, and help La Trobe staff better understand China through improved access to China-based scholarship.

Universities’ initiatives

After meeting with Professor Li Yanping, Director of the China Research Centre (CRC) and her staff, a heads of agreement was developed. This included the launch of the Journal of Industry University Collaboration (Emerald Publishing), research studies on Entrepreneurship ecosystems, and ongoing engagement and collaboration between LBS and the CRC.  Professor Yanping is the Editor-In-Chief of the journal, and Professor Maritz the inaugural Honorary Editor. The aim of the journal is to publish research for an international audience covering theory, empirical research and practice in the field of cooperation and innovation between industry and universities. The collaboration will also enhance research initiatives between the institutions, such as PhD student exchange, seminars and online initiatives.

The largest Industry-University-Research Centre

Similar to La Trobe University, Wuhan University is ranked in the Top 300 Universities according to ARWU, QS and THE. Wuhan University’s Research Center for China Industry-University-Research Institute is the largest and most prolific Industry-University-Research Centre in China, and Wuhan University is ranked in the top 8 Universities in the Republic of China (ROC), similar to the Australian Group of Eight (Go8).

 

LBS’ Professor of entrepreneurship, Alex Maritz, and Professor Li Yanping, Director of CRC, celebrating the new collaboration and engagement initiatives between the two institutions.

LBS Innovation Series: An eco-system, satellites and stage

Nick Kaye is the founding Chief Executive Officer of the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE) and in this presentation he talks about setting up the SSE.

Platform

Nick argues that the SSE offers a model that can facilitate greater investment and collaboration across and between the higher education sector and industry. The role of SSE is to act as platform and honest broker for budding entrepreneurs within the 12 institutions it represents supporting Australia’s emerging innovators to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions. Nick presented a case study of the development of the SSE which opened in August 2017.

Collaboration between universities & TAFE’s

The SSE is an unprecedented new partnership between 11 NSW Universities and TAFE NSW. It is based on the business model Nick successfully led for 10 years at the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship. Some 35% of the Stockholm alumni are now highly active entrepreneurs and include new start-ups such as SoundCloud. When fully operational, at least 1,000 student entrepreneurs each year will participate in SSE courses and activities during their degree or TAFE program, with many more taking part in a program of co-curricular activities including workshops, hackathons, and educational boot camps and networking events.

 

Watch his presentation below:

 

This blog is part of the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics in the La Trobe Business School. The series was developed after the successful National Innovation Forum organised by La Trobe Business School, NORTH Link and Deloitte Consulting P/L.

More blogs in the LBS Innovation Series:

LBS Innovation Series: The critical factors that determine why start-ups succeed (and fail)

Why do 9 out of 10 start-ups fail? A question of interest to Christine Christian; Chairman of Kirwood Capital, Director of FlexiGroup Limited, Victorian Managed Insurance Authority, ME Bank and Lonsec Fiscal Group, Deputy President and Board Member at State Library of Victoria and Co-Founder of New-York based Powerlinx Inc.

What drives success in start-ups?

In her presentation, Christine draws on her vast corporate and philanthropic background to explore what have been the success factors for new start-ups from her experience. Christine discusses key elements such as the skills you must develop to succeed, the importance of timing, the strength of an idea, funding for success and the execution for start-ups. Christine presents from her perspective as a co-investor in start-ups over the last 5 years where she has made 11 start-up investments.

Why do so many start-ups fail?

Together with some co-investors, Christine commissioned research using Dunn and Bradstreet data to conduct regression analysis of what drives success in start-ups. What is the biggest predictor of likely success among the common elements? E.g. strength of idea, timing, leadership, strength of the team, amount of working capital, execution, marketing etc.

Timing, timing, timing

Her answer may surprise you. Christine presents statistical evidence that timing is the biggest predictor of start-up success, although all the elements remain important. That is, to attract investors, start-ups need to bring something different to a market at a moment in time that is attractive and accessible to consumers and can be enabled by smart technology.

 

Watch Christine’s presentation below:

 

This blog is part of the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics in the La Trobe Business School. The series was developed after the successful National Innovation Forum organised by La Trobe Business School, NORTH Link and Deloitte Consulting P/L.

More blogs in the LBS Innovation Series:

LBS Innovation Series: A start-up science story

The LBS Innovation Series brings you a presentation by Antonio Palanca, CEO and Co-founder of the HiveXchange. Antonio presents a case study on the HiveXchange and talks about fresh innovations in traditional food supply chains.

HiveXchange

HiveXchange has created a new form of business to business e-commerce called trust-based e-commerce which is designed specifically to meet the challenges in perishable produce supply chains. Antonio mentions that organisations over a 20 year period have tried to introduce online buying models into the fresh produce supply chains but have failed.

Lean canvas

Antonio was formerly with Sun Microsystems where they used WaterFall project methods to launch big technology projects. He talks about this experience and how it taught him that this old approach to software design of define requirements, design, build, test, and launch was no longer viable. Instead the HiveXchange embarked on the use of ‘start-up science’ and the lean canvas. He describes the company’s journey and how the use of lean canvas methodology shaped field experiments and prototypes to reveal problems early. This became the foundation of HiveXchange’s trust based e-commerce software. The benefit of this approach is that as you go through the stages you reduce risk and therefore become more attractive to investors.

 

Watch his story below:


 

This blog is part of the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics in the La Trobe Business School. The series was developed after the successful National Innovation Forum organised by La Trobe Business School, NORTH Link and Deloitte Consulting P/L.

More blogs in the LBS Innovation Series:

LBS Innovation Series: Universities’ engagement with industry

Australia must get better at creating meaningful collaboration between universities and business. The Federal Government flagged innovation in Australia as a major policy focus with its $1.1 billion National Science and Innovation Agenda in November 2015. Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics in the La Trobe Business School, shares his thoughts on creating meaningful collaboration between universities and business.

Bringing industry into the classroom

One way La Trobe Business School is working towards better engagement with industry is through hiring Professors of Practice. A concept born out of the school’s strategic decision to adopt an approach focused on bringing industry into the classroom. Professors of Practice, such as myself, are experienced practitioners in a relevant field of professional practice. We teach subjects and courses that provide a high quality and industry relevant learning experience.

Before I joined LBS, I was the Senior Executive Officer responsible for enterprises management, business planning, audit and protective security in the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water. My experience leads me to be able to develop innovative teaching programs in the economics discipline and risk management practice that enhance the student learning experience, and enhance their career-readiness.

Bringing research into the market

Besides bringing industry experience into the classroom, we also build relationships by organising events where academia and industry can come together. The National Innovation Forum organised by La Trobe business School, NORTH Link and Deloitte Consulting P/L is a great example of such an event. More than 90 business, local government, academic and industry group representatives from Australia and internationally discussing the question:

 

How can we create sustainable bonds between universities, business and not for profits with a view towards creating a more mature innovation culture and ecosystem?

 

The discussions on strengthening collaboration are centred on maintaining industry-university connections and relationships through regular engagement and dialogue and the use of accelerators and incubators. Thus, universities need to create open collaborative spaces and networks with industry where there is potential to commercialise ideas.

This implies that each side needs to engage far beyond the traditional exchange of research for funding model. The implication is that we need strategic partnerships that better blend the research-driven culture of the university with the innovation/data-driven environment of business.

 What more can universities do?

Forum delegate discussions and feedback show that some of the key points universities could consider in enhancing their engagement with industry are:

  • Streamline the decision making processes in terms of entering into collaborative arrangements with industry i.e. make it easier and break down barriers.
  • Changing the incentive system for academics to be equally rewarded for their industry engagement/collaboration as they are for their research.
  • Focus on talking the same language as industry (i.e. business practice) rather than academic theory (shaped by the need to publish).
  • Have a clear path of entry and handling strategy for business’ seeking collaboration opportunities.
  • Hold regular events that give business an opportunity to access and learn about its research and R&D activities.
  • Facilitate more frequent industry engagement/dialogue including events such as the National Innovation Forum which begin to bridge the gaps.
  • Introduce staff industry placements/secondments.
  • Work with industry on developing work-in-learning opportunities to develop more business ready graduates.
  • Establish quicker processes for changing curriculum and subject offering in response to industry need and the changing nature of work.
  • Offer all students opportunity to learn entrepreneurial skills i.e. to nurture start-ups and innovation.

La Trobe University, and La Trobe Business School, are already very active in many of these areas (e.g. La Trobe Accelerator Program; Professors of Practice, Work Integrated Learning and Placements; Industry and Community Engagement; Research and Innovation Precinct etc.) but we can always strive to do better.

 

Read the full NIF 17 Summary Report

  

This blog is part of the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics in the La Trobe Business School. The series was developed after the successful National Innovation Forum organised by La Trobe Business School, NORTH Link and Deloitte Consulting P/L.

More blogs in the LBS Innovation Series:

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