Four tech entrepreneurs reveal their biggest learning from 2023

Aussie start-up founders and executives share what 2023 had in store – and the transformation on the horizon that excites them.
4 tech entrepreneurs reveal their biggest learning from 2023. Image source: Getty Images

This year, Australian entrepreneurs and start-up leaders faced a tough economic backdrop. From rising inflation and interest rates to a volatile geopolitical climate; venture capitalists tightening access to capital and declining valuations, 2023 was difficult for the business community.

But it also birthed some major developments – particularly across the tech industry. We saw improvements in artificial intelligence (AI) with OpenAI’s tech launching a slew of generativeAI competitors like Google Bard and Amazon’s Anthropic. We saw space missions galore – like SpaceX’s first all-international crew launch to a space station in August – and many climate-tech advancements, like the revolution of the hydrogen electrolyser.

Four entrepreneurs and members of the Queensland chapter of the global non-profit Entrepreneur’s Organization community reveal their biggest learning of 2023 – as well as a transformation up ahead in 2024 that excites them, and how they’re preparing for it.

Simon Thompson, founder and CEO, Acquire Insights

Simon Thompson is a Founder and CEO of Acquire Insights, an AI-enabled financial analytics firm that helps Australian organisations liberate millions of dollars from their OPEX by improving their procurement outcomes.

Simon Thompson, founder and CEO, Acquire Insights, and member of EO Queensland. Image source: Supplied

What’s been your biggest learning from 2023 as an entrepreneur?

Relying solely on relationships to gain work and grow a business creates a ceiling and limits scalability. Marketing is necessary, but professional services organisations are typically terrible at it (at least, we were!). A good marketing agency is hard to find and worth their weight in gold.

What’s a transformation on the horizon that you’re excited about, and what are you doing to get ahead of it?

Artificial intelligence has the power to transform financial analysis. Australia’s largest organisations need teams of people and weeks of spreadsheet work to answer even the most simple financial questions. This results in making decisions with little understanding of true costs and the ability to compare in real time.

We have built AI technology that solves this financial visibility problem, providing immediate insights and accurate data into costs and cost saving opportunities. This not only saves time, but can save organisations millions of dollars. What has previously been humanly impossible, becomes as simple as asking a question.

Josh Old, founder, Core Asset Co

Josh Old founded mining asset management company, Core Asset Co, in 2018. Josh is focused on integrating AI’s potential into Core Asset Co.’s services to reinforce their position as an industry leading partner for global mining and heavy asset organisations. His vision is to seamlessly connect the dots between technical asset knowledge and achievement of business objectives.

Josh Old, founder, Core Asset Co and member of EO Queensland. Image source: Supplied

What’s been your biggest learning from 2023 as an entrepreneur?

For me there are two standouts. First, half of the entrepreneurial battle is one’s own psychology. It’s easier to learn from someone else’s situation than your own – when experiencing very similar challenges, it’s harder when you’re in it and feeling the emotions as your own.

Second, being busy is a form of laziness (thanks to Tim Ferris and Jack Daly for this gem). Working on the highest-payoff actions has multiplied my productivity.

What’s a transformation on the horizon that you’re excited about, and what are you doing to get ahead of it?

Artificial Intelligence. As an entrepreneur working in the field of business improvement, I’m excited about the productivity benefits AI will create for us personally, our business and our clients. If we consider recent advances in machine learning, deep learning and large language models, there are some great people creating AI tools that tackle meaningful problems. It’s already changing the consulting industry, and actually helping those of us with genuine domain expertise. That said, I remain wary of the risks posed by AI and lack of meaningful governance.   

Dallas Wallace, managing director, giide

Dallas Wallace is the managing director of giide, a workforce solutions partner empowering businesses to align operational strategy with the right manpower to ‘discover greater’- business performance, workplace dynamics and individual career paths.. Dallas is a recruitment and business leader who works with business leaders to provide tailored recruitment and workforce solutions that deliver real results.

Dallas Wallace, managing director, giide and member of EO Queensland. Image source: Supplied

What’s been your biggest learning from 2023 as an entrepreneur?

In 2023, my biggest learning as an entrepreneur, is the importance of focus and intent. As the saying goes ‘jack of all trades but a master of none’. I’ve come to recognise that attempting to cater to everyone and everything is a recipe for inefficiency and burnout. Instead, clarity on what truly matters is paramount. I’ve learned to identify and prioritise the core elements that align with my business and life goals while also making tough calls to say no to things that don’t align with my goals. This allows me to channel my time, energy, and resources into things that genuinely serve my purpose.

What’s a transformation on the horizon that you’re excited about, and what are you doing to get ahead of it?

The transformation in the recruitment and broader business landscape due to AI will be huge. AI technologies are reshaping traditional recruitment processes by automating tasks, such as resume screening and initial candidate assessments. This has potential to accelerate the hiring process and enhance objectivity in candidate evaluations. AI-driven analytics can provide valuable insights into workforce trends, aiding strategic decision-making for businesses.

Chatbots and virtual assistants powered by AI are becoming more widely adopted in candidate engagement, ensuring a seamless and responsive experience. As AI continues to evolve, predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms have potential to anticipate workforce needs, enabling businesses to proactively address skill gaps and align talent strategies with long-term goals. The result is a more agile, data-driven, and adaptive business landscape that harnesses AI’s potential to optimise recruitment processes and elevate overall business performance.

Lindsay Bell, CEO, Techwell

Lindsay serves as the CEO of Techwell, a thriving IT and Managed Service Provider. Taking responsibility for a comprehensive range of Managed Services encompassing IT, Cybersecurity, unified communications, Wi-Fi, data, and mobility solutions, Lindsay is accountable for the sales, project management, technical, and service teams, all collaborating to engineer tailored business solutions.

Lindsay Bell, CEO, Techwell and member of EO Queensland. Image source: Supplied

What’s been your biggest learning from 2023 as an entrepreneur?

In 2023, my most significant entrepreneurial reminder has been the importance of fostering rich partnerships. While strategic alliances with industry giants like Telstra, Microsoft, and Apple played a pivotal role in enhancing our business, the realisation extends beyond corporate affiliations. This year underscored the vital role of one-on-one relationships cultivated by our people.

Our success isn’t solely defined by accreditation pathways and governance frameworks; rather, it thrives on the strength of interpersonal connections within our team. Nurturing these individual relationships proved instrumental in strengthening our business, adding a layer of resilience that transcends formal partnerships. In essence, 2023 taught me that the bedrock of entrepreneurial success lies not only in strategic corporate collaborations but also in the interpersonal bonds woven within the fabric of our organisation.

What’s a transformation on the horizon that you’re excited about, and what are you doing to get ahead of it?

The impending transformation that excites me is the integration of AI into our business processes. At the early stage of identifying AI applications for heightened productivity and superior customer service, we are actively guiding our strategy toward harnessing its potential. A pivotal player in this evolution is Microsoft co-pilot, a cutting-edge tool currently under thorough scrutiny by all teams within our organisation. This transformative technology holds the promise of not only streamlining our operations but also revolutionising how we engage with customers.

As we eagerly explore and test the capabilities of AI, our proactive approach ensures that we are at the forefront of this technological shift, paving the way for enhanced operational efficiency and a progressive customer service landscape.

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