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Information and communications technology stories

IT young guns lead the way

Edition 196_Jozie

Young entrepreneurs are leading the charge as Tasmania looks to re-invent itself as the ‘Digital State’.

It’s an economic powerhouse. Tasmania’s information, communication and technology sector (ICT) is worth $2 billion every year and employs 7,000 people.

Admittedly, this includes big organisations like Telstra and TasNetworks, but it seems our ICT future also lies in young creative hands.

“We really need to push ourselves as the Digital State,” the CEO of peak industry body TasICT, Phil Pyke, says.

“Tasmania is perfectly placed to be Australia’s ICT leader, but to achieve this we need to create a new paradigm, a new way of doing things.

“Riding on MONA’s coat-tails, we are increasingly viewed as being cool and creative, and that is where our ICT niche is.”

Mr Pyke believes Tasmania’s focus must be on nurturing young talent and giving them frame-works to facilitate start-ups. At the same time, we should be enticing other creative IT minds to re-locate south.

Tasmania, he adds, is ideally placed to become a digital hub. After all, a ‘big-city’ location is no advantage to the ICT industry, which conducts its business remotely.

“People can move here and enjoy all the benefits of our great lifestyle, and at the same time they are able to develop wonderful products that they can sell to the rest of Australia and the world.

“We’ve had the ‘MONA Effect’. Now let’s deliver the ‘Tech Effect’.”

Young Tasmanian, Josephine Michalek, is exactly the sort of creative entrepreneur who could help lead the state into this new digital era.

Just 21-years-old, Josephine is putting the final touches onto an IT start-up Sproutr that is already generating a buzz of excitement, despite being some months away from a launch-date. It was also a winner at the recent TasICT awards and will now head to the national i-awards next month.

Sproutr, which Josephine developed with her friend and business partner Alexander Bowler, involves equity trade. It is a website where cash-poor start-ups can swap equity in their company for needed goods and services.

“We want to revolutionise how start-ups – start-up,” Josephine explained.

“You sign up to Sproutr and it will give you all the help and support, including financial support, that you will need to make your dream happen.”

Another group making their IT dream happen are the young entrepreneurs behind Biteable: CEO James MacGregor; creative guru Simon Westlake; and tech wizard Tommy Fotak.

Hobart-based Biteable describes itself as ‘the world’s simplest video maker’ and is cashing in on the boom in web-based promotion and training videos; it’s an on-line tool that allows users to create professional-looking internet videos in minutes.

And in just four short years, Biteable is already an impressive Tasmanian success story.

Boasting three million subscribers, 96 per cent of whom are from overseas, mostly the USA, they produce more than 100,000 online videos every month.

Biteable is also recognised as one of the best operators in this highly specialised niche market.

“There is a lot of competition in the market that we work in, but yes, we are regarded as amongst the best in the world,” James MacGregor explained.

“We have always had a very clear vision of what we want to achieve. We dream of pioneering a new market for video content online. And we strive for perfection.”

Biteable already employs 25 people but that is expected to double within the next 12 months.

All this is clear proof you can take on the world – without leaving home.

“We work remotely with a lot of people all over the world, ensuring we tap into the best possible talent available. The beauty of the internet is that location is less of a deliverer of success,” James adds.

“You can do it all from Tasmania.”

Image courtesy of Josephine Michalek

11 July 2018, Edition 196

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