Hypetap co-founders, Detch Singh and Nikhil Madhok
Hypetap co-founders, Detch Singh and Nikhil Madhok

Election 2016: What do start-ups really want from Australia's PM?

Kate Jones
@kateljnes

Innovation and small business have been buzzwords on the 2016 election campaign trail. But start-ups are hoping it’s more than just lip service.

Here, five budding start-ups outline what they want from the Prime Minister Australians elect on July 2.

Mark Lapin, chief executive and founder, Quantify Technologies 

“We would like to see the PM spend more time with start-ups and technology firms. Today’s challenges will be solved with tomorrow’s technology. Turnbull began to distance himself from his technology roots when he took office. We’d like to see this reversed. 

“To date we’ve not had a PM tour or acknowledge Perth’s start-up sector, and we would like to see that from the next PM along with a willingness to engage in meaningful discussion and reform. 

“A program that tangibly benefits the growth of serious start-ups is what we’re looking for, as there has been much rhetoric and little substance.”

Mike Pritchett, chief executive and co-founder, Shootsta 

“We would like to see the new prime minister leverage technology to better communicate with voters. The last leader to truly attempt this was Julia Gillard with the OurSay forum which ran over online video a few years back. At least the latest debate over Facebook — as opposed to a mainstream TV — was a step in the right direction.

“What if the PM used regular videos over Facebook or Twitter to stay in touch voters? Why can’t they do Skype forums or debates outside of elections? We lament how disengaged voters are and the rising informal vote without realising that technology holds already the solution.”

David Ginnane, chief executive, AgentSelect

“The concessional tax treatment framework for start-up investors on face value appears positive, however in reality remains highly restrictive, for example no more than $1M operating expense or $200,000 in revenue per annum. These parameters don't provide any benefit to the huge number of early stage businesses who have higher opex or revenues, but remain very much in a critical early stage and require additional investment beyond seed or A round.  In other words, the sticker impact of the policy seems great, but the real impact is poor given the restrictive eligibility criteria.”

Detch Singh and Nikhil Madhok, founders, Hypetap

“In start-ups, your people really are the core of the business. That’s why we’d like to see the new government step in to help grow the pool of talented entrepreneurs in Australia. We’d like to see stronger incentives to attract and retain great talent from overseas as our current 457 visa system is more complex than other countries.

“Additionally, from Hypetap’s perspective as a technology platform, it is vital to grow the next generation of technological thinkers and the new Prime Minister can reinforce that by increasing the emphasis on STEM education at both school and university level.”

James Chin Moody, chief executive and founder, Sendle

“If Australia is to become a successful hub for start-ups and truly progress to the innovation and knowledge economy, the next Prime Minister needs to make a solid investment in the nation’s most vital resource: Australians.

“Education is an investment, not an expense. If we want to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, we must equip Australians with a good education. Without a well-educated population and a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit, countries like Australia will be left behind in an increasingly competitive world.

“The next Prime Minister must invest as much as possible in education and make it a top strategic priority so that Australia remains competitive, productive and genuinely innovative.”

Kate Jones

Kate Jones writes for the business and money sections of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. She also writes for The New Daily, TAC, RMIT and is a news writing tutor at Monash University.

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