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May 9, 2016

A glance at QLD's startup sector with Wayne Gerard

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Wayne Gerard is a recognized figure in the Queensland tech startup landscape. Holding an extensive business background, Gerard has successfully managed businesses across varying industries and in 2011, alongside business partner Randall Makin, the pair created RedEye Apps. The RedEye concept was brought to life on the back of inefficiencies in engineering data management that Gerard and Makin noticed in their many collective years across the engineering and resources sectors. Redeye’s cloud-based software solution makes engineering drawing and data management simpler, cheaper and more efficient, and has been embraced by global mining houses, oil & gas operators, and engineering services companies across Australia. This has led Gerard to take RedEye to Silicon Valley to expand and take the startup platform global.

Gerard’s success, entrepreneurial spirit and genuine drive to develop the technology and startup sectors has seen him advise, host and speak at many industry events across Australia. Following his recent talk at Brisbane’s Innovation Summit, Gerard provided an insight to the sector from his perspective, looking at where it’s come from, and its bright future across Queensland.

Gerard is seeing all figures across the sector working together collectively to drive a positive industry trajectory Queensland-wide. “I think the ecosystem here in Queensland has rapidly accelerated over the last 4 years,” he said. “I’m also seeing ecosystems in regional Queensland popping to life. I was in Townsville last year and I was presenting to 75 or so people and they were really excited about what’s happening up there. Since then they’ve established a facility, have a co-working space and sponsors, and we’re seeing the same thing in Toowoomba, the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast, Mackay, Rockhampton, so I think people understand that start-ups are not just a trend, startups is a new way of doing business.”

With the right people driving new startups, Gerard can’t see the industry slowing any time soon. “I honestly don’t see any barriers to the growth of the startup ecosystem, I see there are heaps of opportunities,” he admits. “Some people are entrepreneurs, and the people who are entrepreneurs and start businesses, find a way to make shit happen.” His views on the environment for entrepreneurs to prosper are positive also. “We’ve got great government support here, we’ve got support from corporates, there’s heaps of opportunities in the ecosystem here,” he said.

In light of this momentum, Gerard believes that the sector will go through a learning period, where the market will show the way. “Steve Baxter has talked about it when he said the market lets you know if you aren’t on the right track, so if you’re on the track you will find funding, you will find clients and you will find advocates,” he said. “Some people try to fight against that feedback and they’re not listening, so they keep trying to push an idea or a business that actually isn’t scalable, so I think the reality is as the startup sector matures we see that people start to get better at learning what makes a good startup and what doesn’t.”

The growing demand for people within the sector is another topic the startup sector currently faces, and Gerard firmly believes that more great people are needed. “I think the startup ecosystem around the world needs more great people,” he highlighted. But within the industry in Australia, Gerard acknowledges that people will come with demand. “In our ecosystem here at the moment it is early in development. There aren’t a lot of people who’ve worked in startups and we’re still learning the demand that will drive the supply, so the more startups we get, the more demand we get, the more likely we are to have more kids going through university courses doing things that are relevant to startups.”

To register your interest at the Fireside Chat on May 18th, please RSVP@stellartechnology.com.au. Wayne Gerard is speaking alongside Michael Trusler of PlantMiner at River City Labs, hosted by Chris Titley (Host of the Morgans StartUp Series Podcast).

Interview by Trent Clulow

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