Share and contribute your thoughts and feedback as Collusion’s founders share their journey of turning an interesting idea into a successful start-up company.
The US Venture Capital market is actively monitoring the Australian tech community. It reaches out to snipe what it likes from half way around the world.
A little history.
As our biggest locally born tech success stories grew (Atlassian, Big Commerce and Freelancer to name a few), they had no choice but to seek venture capital. It’s just a shame that no Australian VCs seemed to able to compete with their international counterparts when the opportunity to invest in these companies arose. Our local VCs fail to step up with the same and drive as foreign interests, which means lost opportunity for the local market that happen frequently and with agonisingly consistency.
I’ve been a part of the Australian start-up community for over a decade. I’ve won and lost plenty; I’ve mentored successful start-ups and been involved with large tech investments and commercialisation projects – from both sides of the table. I’m a big believer in our local start-up scene. It’s a vibrant community with world class talent.
It’s the symbiotic investment industry that is seriously off the pace when it comes to backing local talent with global potential.
The problem as I see it is that unless you’re talking about a mining start-up, venture capitalists (though I am loathed to paint all with the same brush) view the market as exclusively local. The rest of the world is not priced into the deal in any serious way.
How wrong they are.
The result of all this is that they value start-ups lower. They take more. And they help businesses less, because they don’t see success in a global market as part of their responsibility.
I wanted to know if it was possible to build a new model for launching globally focused tech start-ups using a combination of bootstrapping and crowdsourced funds. In essence, by taking zero external investment capital. It’s a method that allows growth from our arid investment environment.
So far the experiment seems to be working. The kicker is that Collusion is now more attractive to venture capitalists because we’ve done the hard work of proving that it works and people want it. We’ve developed, de-risked and demonstrated the business.
Soon, we’ll be heading to San Francisco. It’s hard to justify staying in Sydney from a commercial perspective when all the commercial momentum is coming from the ‘States. The investment interest is there. Access to global markets, talent, capital and support are there.
I no longer believe this is a problem that can be solved by the local VC market. They haven’t solved it yet, despite decades of their laudable best efforts. It’s time to try something new.
The Silicon Valley chain reaction of successful tech start-ups investing in new start-ups needs to occur on our shores. We need successful start-ups to fund and mentor other start-ups. The current crop of successful Silicon Valley-based Australian entrepreneurs operate a model like this – and it can work in Australia.
We need to bring back to Australia the talents and processes that make Australian innovation work so well in Silicon Valley. We also need to stop the talent from leaving in the first place.
These are big problems, but there are tangible solutions. To start with, we must fix anti-start-up tax legislation that is crushing investment and innovation by driving it offshore.
So if and when we succeed in Silicon Valley, we’re coming back with reinforcements.
Soon after launching Collusion on Kickstarter a few of you identified an issue with our drawing clips in our Kickstarter video. We’ve been investigating why there was so much lag in the video when the app works so much better. Turns out that our video was shot with a high fps camera and included in our video at half speed to match the length of voice over.
We have now addressed this issue and updated our Kickstarter Video with updated ‘normal speed’ writing and drawing clips. See updated video below, the video on Kickstarter has also been updated to reflect these changes.
We’ve tested Collusion with over a hundred people so far here in Sydney and very rarely do we hear someone notice the lag. If you are in Sydney and would like to come play with Collusion, please get in touch with us.
Oliver Milman from StartupSmart interviewed Robert Yearsley (CEO of Collusion) yesterday. In this interview Robert talks about his startup Collusion which is going to launch on Kickstarter on June 1st, and his experiences with the local and international VC’s. Read the full article after the link.
Oliver is the editor of StartupSmart which is a free news and information website for Australian start-ups and people thinking of starting their own business.
There is something special about using pens, pencils and white boards that is far superior to using a computer. They’re still the first things we reach for when we have idea forming in our mind, the most effective way to collaborate, and the quickest way to note something down.
But then we get stuck, what we’ve created is static, a picture – just snapshot.
Because of this limitation the role of writing and drawing by hand has receded over the last few decades to the point where it’s now simply a first draft, to be discarded once it’s translated into a more flexible email, google doc etc – but in that process something is lost.
What if writing and drawing never were static in the first place, but were living works, created in our digital space from the get-go, to be shared, built on, edited and searched. By doing this the window to capture creativity and collaboration remains open for as long as we wish. It doesn’t close at the end of the meeting, the edge of the whiteboard, or the bottom of a page.
I certainly dont have all the answers on this (yet), and I’m describing something glimpsed from the corner of my eye. But I think it’s worth pursuing. It’s one way writing and drawing by hand may well come in from the cold, and like and old once forgotten friend – add some warmth to two decades of driving keyboard and mice.
I think we’re witnessing the birth of a new business model with Double Fine and inXile that is driven by a passionate and engaged community of backer-customers and professionally minded creators – right here, right now on Kickstarter.
Some people fear it will change the unique character of Kickstarter, or somehow displace smaller projects. Instead I think great successes like Double Fine Adventure and Wasteland 2 will serve to encourage and inspire many more very interesting projects to use Kickstarter…2012 is gonna be big!
How big? It’s dawning on a lot of people that we can do larger and more complex creative projects with Kickstarter – the kind that are challenged by the many barriers and bad things that can often derail great projects because, due to their size, are forced to use more conventional funding models.
Just as Double Fine and inXile are using Kickstarter to completely sidestep the barrier of game publishers, the tech community has its own set of shark infested waters of Venture Capital that may well be completely avoided for tech creators. I think I speak for the vast majority of tech founders that the biggest time sink is raising capital, this one activity is such an issue it displaces working with customers and developing a great product. It’s a system that does not work well, and is a RISK for creative tech projects.
By building on the Kickstarter model I think we can develop a better product, in less time and less risk with a community that wants it – and that’s a win for all concerned. Could Kickstarter point the way to creating a viable indie tech scene? With a few Double Fine and inXile style wins – it just might.
The most difficult challenge in preparing Collusion for Kickstarter.com wasn’t designing (and building) the product, recruiting co-founders, organising marketing, raising funds and the 100′s of other little things that need to pull together at the same time. It’s been that damn Kickstarter video.
My gold standard to follow was Justin Jensen’s CineSkates. Asides from the miracle of making a Bieber look good, his video is astonishingly well put together… Check it out here
For close to a month producing the Kickstarter video for Collusion was kicking my ass. I mastered iMovie, rewote the script a dozen times, learned the basics of shot composition, lighting, how to edit brutally and critically, how to go to my happy place to convincingly fake a genuine smile for the 13th take. Masses of effort and still a horrid result. I decided to leave it alone over Christmas, and come at it fresh in the new year.
This time round it has been very different. As much as i cursed the early attempts, the Kickstarter video process acted like miracle grow. It forced our idea to to develop fast, burning away everything unimportant to leave a purified, easily understood commercially back-able proposition.
Einstein said it best – “If you cant explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”