Five things startups can learn from kitesurfing

Five things startups can learn from kitesurfing


Do you have an idea, insight or passion you think could make a great Startup?

Time spent at the beach could actually be relevant to your business success…

Recently I’ve helped launch StartupWA, mentored at Startup Weekend, advised government on digital and innovation strategy and enjoyed the start of the kitesurfing season. This all got me thinking, and below I share five insights that could help your startup grow.

  1. Simplicity can hide complexity

Great kitesurfers make navigating big waves in screaming winds look simple. Great startup entrepreneurs similarly create elegant and easy-to-use solutions, hiding the complex behind-the-scenes challenges.

You may have an idea for a startups or app, but do you understand the real challenges of building a great product? Using Uber and thinking “I could do that” is like watching Aaron Hadlow flip in a video and thinking after a few lessons you will do it better.

Avoid being over-confident based on your ideas alone. Instead of investing in hype, spend time understanding the market, trying and failing a lot, and learning from those who’ve already done it.

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Four reasons why Bendigo is the most surprising Bank in Australia

Four reasons why Bendigo is the most surprising Bank in Australia

What would be your response if I told you that the 5th largest Australian Bank was:

  • So innovative it’s model is being exporting its model across the world,
  • So good it’s been awarded as the most ethical, reputable, innovative and best for business, and
  • So committed to creating shared value towards a 100-year vision that it’s donated more than $130 million back to local communities in which it operates?


I’ve been a voluntary Director of my local Bendigo Bank branch for a few years, and I still get surprised at what a remarkable organisation it is. Recently attending my first National Conference with 700 fellow Directors from 300 branches made me even more passionate about the Bendigo Bank model. Throughout the conference I enjoyed the sense of shared vision, culture, and of being part of something remarkable. There were four themes from the conference that I count as reasons for Bendigo being the most surprising Bank in Australia.

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Bendigo Bank community services ecosystem

Bendigo Bank community services ecosystem

Geraldton’s Community bank branch an amazing array of services, grants and funding opportunities for community groups. The image attached is an unofficial attempt to highlight how some of these work, centred around a member-based, NFP community organisation.


As a voluntary Director, shareholder, and business and personal customer I am still working out how to make the most of Bendigo’s services.


While not all are captured (e.g. telco, insurance etc) the illustration does include:

  • Bendigo Bank Community Bank model — 50% profits go back to community projects (50% to Bendigo corporate shareholders)
  • Community Sector Banking products — 50% of profit from fees go to a consortium of 20 NFPs who half-own the service
  • redy digital payment solution — 0.5% of retail transactions are available as ‘creds’ to donate to community groups
  • act. banking products — 0.4% of monthly balance available as “Impact Dollars” to donate to community projects,
  • Community Enterprise Foundation — grants available to community groups through Bendigo Bank’s corporate philanthropic arm

A question for anyone reading is: Knowing this (and given rates, conditions and service are the same of better), why wouldn’t you (or your business or community group) bank with Bendigo?

And in response to some likely questions for me: “yes”, I’m inquiring internally at Bendigo as to why there is separate branding and ‘currencies’ for each of the 5 or so different ways that money goes back into community groups and projects!

Social and creative enterprises in Bali and Lombok

On my recent holiday with the family through parts of Bali and Lombok I had my eyes open for local social and creative enterprises. While we were definitely tourists this time (not volunteering, researching or working), I felt that the least I could do was be a responsible traveller — aware of the impacts of my behaviour and directing spending towards those enterprises that were making the greatest contribution.
I did a little research before, but mostly just found out about these as we travelled. We visited Sanur (Bali), Nusa Lembongan and Cenigan, and parts of central and southern Lombok. I am sure there are many In the end we didn’t get to personally visit all of these, and I can’t vouch for their complete legitimacy or social impact. Still, I hope this might be a good starting point for others travelling in the same area, and a reminder for myself when I next return.

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