Headline Dec 27, 2014/


ABOUT  -some five years ago Michael Fox and two former law-school friends sniffed around for unfilled market niche.

Shoes of Prey was the result.

Old fashioned shoe makers in shops are disappearing in Australia. Internet shoesellers are replacing them. Mr Fox's firm goes one step further it allows customers to design and order their own bespoke shoes online.

It wastes no time wooing men. ''We figured women are more passionate about shoes,'' says Mr Fox.

Investors from America offered funds,  some on condition that  Shoes of Prey shift its base from Sydney  to  Silicon Valley. But Mr Fox and his friends refused to move. That decision seems to have done the  firm no harm.

It has sold more more than  20,000   pairs of shoes, as far afield as  France, Japan and America, and predicts that its revenues this year will be  three to four times times what it was in 2012.

A new report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers  {PWC}, a professional services firm suggests that Australia could start a lot more businesses like Shoes of Prey.

It predicts that  online  and  high-tech  start-ups could account for  4%  of GDP and  540,000  jobs by  2033, up from  0.1%  of GDP and  9,500 jobs today.

The report is a reminder that Australia 's long boom selling minerals to China will not last  for ever.

It offers signposts as to how country might shift from mining coal to mining data.

Australia has about  1,500   tech start-ups, mostly on Sydney and Melbourne. About three-quarters are involved in media or telecoms, a small part of the economy.

Yet vast untapped opportunities await in healthcare, an industry that will surge as the nation ages. And although there are only  23 million Australians, communications technologies-

Such as  Wi-Fi, which was partly invented in Australia-  allows local firms to reach a global market.  

Australia's regulatory environment for entrepreneurs is friendly,  and the country is admirably open to skilled immigration. But  PWC frets that  ''fear of failure''  is more common in Australia than in America or Canada and this could be holding it back.

Some Australian entrepreneurs think the sky is bluer in California.

Anthony Goldbloom founded  Kaggle,  a firm that matches data scientists with companies, in Melbourne in 2010. He moved it to Silicon Valley the next year.

Mr Goldbloom felt  ''a vague sense of guilt''  about staying in Australia when the odds were stacked against building a big tech business there. Other Australian  start-ups want the best of both worlds:

99designs, a marketplace for designers that was also founded in Melbourne, opened a San Francisco office in 2010 to be closer to customers, marketing talent and venture capital

However, it keeps its developers in Melbourne, where they are less likely to be poached. 

Shoes of prey somehow manages to keep the Bay Area at bay. Mr Fox and his partners wanted to stay in Sydney to draw on familiar tech networks.

China, where they make their shoes, and Japan, where some of their  35 employees work,  lie in similar time zones to Sydney.

Of the nine investors who put in $3 million between them last year, the two from Silicon Valley imposed no pressure to relocate there.

It perhaps helped that one of them, Bill Tai, a  Valley-based  tech investor, can keep an eye on things during his regular visits  Down Under as a kite-surfer.

So, this is how Australia can shift from mining coal to mining data. So, this is also how developing world can consider  Starting up Down Under and stand up to face the future.

With respectful dedication to all budding student entrepreneurs in the world.  and especially Dee. 

See Ya  all on !WOW!   -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' Design Your Own Future ''

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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