In this episode of the DevReady Podcast, our hosts Andrew Romeo and Anthony Sapountzis are joined by Jordan Green, President Emeritus/Founder of Melbourne Angels. Jordan has spent decades focusing on doing things that have never been done before and is passionate about investing in a future driven by creative and responsible technology development. In this episode, he talks about what fuels his work and how he realizes his vision through action, leadership, investment, education, and collaboration.
When asked about what draws him to start-ups, Jordan shares how he has always been on the frontier—whether it be in regard to technology or the economy. He believes that this has to do with having had a strong focus on cutting-edge technology and a need to be the push-button towards change—to make the world a better place, to leverage the technology capabilities, to do things that make life easier and better for people. As he rightfully puts it, “It’s just exciting, to live in a world of constant change.”
Reminiscing about how he started out, Jordan talks about introducing new technologies and applications in fields as diverse as aircraft maintenance, digital imaging, policing, defence, maritime maintenance, and real-time simulation. Jordan has founded and co-founded more than 20 ventures on three continents, successfully exiting some as a founder and others as an investor. He does admit that back in the day, he knew of no one who thought about creating a business to then selling it and exiting. It wasn’t how the world worked because back then one had to build a real business with very substantial revenues and profits and scalable markets and all the things one is supposed to have before anyone would even look at putting money into a company.
Then came the era of venture capitalists. But then again, everyone played it safe. After all, nobody wants to be the first one to take a risk. And that’s around the same time when Jordan came back to Australia and thought that the creative people who did wonderful things in Australia needed people who could help guide them to success along with being able to inject some money into their ventures. Venture capital was at an embryonic stage in Australia at that time and to Jordan, the first generation of venture capital resembled fund management. He then co-founded a venture capital fund with the goal of showing that venture capital could be done faster and better than it was being done in Australia at the time. Even though they succeeded in doing what they set out to do, Jordan was looking for something else. He wanted to know how he could help visionary, passionate, and dedicated founders give it their all; how he could help them progress without the parasites in the system. The answer was ‘Angel Investing’. That’s how he initiated and led an organised national Angel investor community in Australia, founded and led the Melbourne Angels. Jordan continues to contribute to the leadership of Angel communities in Australia, NZ, Asia, and the USA.
When asked about his investment thesis, Jordan highlights the following:
- He wants to be able to trust the people he is looking to invest in.
- He wants to invest in real technology that creates new value.
- He wants to invest in technology that is strong, different, and sustainable.
Jordan is looking to invest in people who have a vision and passion to change the world for the better. And here’s his advice for anyone in the start-up ecosystem:
- Only do something that you’re really passionate about because it is a hard journey.
- Have a good support system and make sure they want to come on the same journey as you.
- Don’t assume that the first thing you have to do is raise money.
- Think about what you’re going to do; why it’s going to succeed; what is going to be the core trick that makes it succeed.
- Get the market timing right.
- Step outside yourself and see if what you want to offer is going to be valuable to people, if it will be valuable at the level you need, and if people will pay enough for what you want to offer.
- Compete for your share of the investor’s wallet.
Jordan is an internationally sought-after Thought Leader, Speaker, and Educator on early-stage investing and ecosystems, strategic visioning, and change through culture and teams. As the Executive Chairman/ Founder of Jordan Corporation Pty. Ltd., he consults with and advises clients on a broad range of strategic issues with particular expertise in technology, investment, leadership, and developing/managing international channels.
In Melbourne Angels, Jordan was able to establish one of the most active start-up investors in the country. Every week of the year the Melbourne Angels has a networking lunch open to the whole community on the last Friday of every month except December. Then there are training courses five or six times a year, all of which are accessible through the mailing list on their website.
- What fascinates Jordan about the start-ups.
- Introducing cutting-edge technology in the market.
- How investment works.
- How Jordan started Angel Investment in Australia.
- What matters when investing in a start-up.
- What motivates Jordan.
- Jordan’s advice to start-up founders.
Key Quotes (Time Stamps)
- “Everything I’ve done has always been on the frontier, whether it’s a technology frontier or an economic frontier. And also, ever since I was a kid, I’ve been starting things, starting organizations at school, at university; starting clubs; starting social groups.” (1:20 – 1:37)
- “I’ve always been starting new businesses. And it’s got a lot to do with having had, early on, a very strong focus and activity around bleeding edge technology. So, I was starting what today people call tech startups long before it was fashionable and also when it was real technology.” (1:58 – 2:18)
- “I’ve always enjoyed being ‘the push’ to do something for the change, to change the world for the better, to leverage the technology capabilities, to do things that make life easier and better for people. It’s just exciting, to live in a world of constant change.” (2:49 – 3:13)
- “And then we would deliver that videotape to the maintenance engineers. And they could then, in effectively near real-time, inspect the plane and they could know when it was going to need maintenance, which meant that maintenance became responsive rather than preventative. And they could time it better, which all adds up to fewer accidents and more cost-efficient maintenance; only using parts when you need to use parts, but definitely using them when you do need knowing that you need to use them.” (6:18 – 6:52)
- “So, I got to install the very first digital scoreboard at the MCG.” (13:13 – 13:15)
- “You had to build a real business with very substantial revenues and profits and scalable markets and all the things you’re supposed to have before anyone would even look at putting money into a company.” (16:24 – 16:33)
- “People don’t really want to invest in your company or buy your company unless somebody has already invested in it. It’s a fairly natural thing to understand…Nobody wants to be the first one to take the risk, right? So, someone else has taken the risk. That makes it seem like a better idea.” (18:39 – 19:00)
- “The money is just the grease to the wheels. You’re supposed to be doing a whole lot of other stuff. It’s the intellectual capital contribution. So anyway, I came back and there’s a whole bunch of stories, but I did end up co-founding a venture capital fund with the goal of showing that venture capital could be done faster and better than it was being done in Australia at the time, which we achieved. So, we had a small privately backed venture capital fund. We ran it for five years. We sold the whole portfolio; we delivered eight times return to our investors.” (20:55 – 21:26)
- “But at the same time, I was looking for something else. How do you help the founders who have the vision and passion and dedication to give it their all? How do you help them and find a bit of money to help them progress without all the parasites in the middle of the system, all the investment banking activity, etc. And lo and behold, that’s called angel investing.” (21:47 – 22:13)
- “All of the training courses are open to everybody. We believe that if everybody gets to learn together then you get rid of the misinformation and you get rid of the friction and everybody will end up spending more time on building businesses and less time on doing silly things around transactions because startups and start-up investing are not investment banking, they are not transaction focused. So, if everything you do is about what’s happening in the transaction, you’re probably going to fail as an investor.” (25:28 – 25:59)
- “But your best defense in the startup world is speed. Whenever you are doing, do it really well and grow really fast.” (31:47 – 31:55)
- “And now to this day, we all know that Apple products always start off embedded in the Apple ecosystem with proprietary interfaces and proprietary software. Over time, of course, they open up and they need to operate because you have to. But it was really Microsoft and Intel; what’s called the Wintel partnership, Windows and Intel, who moved into the open systems, not open source, but open systems environment where everything is available for everybody to interact with and to work on. That’s what actually gave the world the whole sort of commercial consumer computer age, because now you had a platform that everybody could play with, People could build accessory cards for the IBM PC, which now you can drop the IBM, now it’s just the PC as opposed to the Mac.” (37:21 – 38:22)
- “What am I looking for in a company that I want to invest in? I am looking for a company where the founder and the founding team and the business is about a vision and a passion to change the world for the better, even if it’s in just a little way. I’m not excited about a better way of ordering coffee.” (40:32 – 40:50)
- “And so, think about what you’re going to do; think about why it’s going to succeed, what is going to be the core trick that makes it succeed, the secret sauce, the specialty, whatever it might be. So, it’s just one stat that’s relevant here: the research that’s been done says that the number one reason that startups fail. At 42% significance levels, that’s the highest significance level, is market timing, meeting the market. Similarly, the research that says what is the number one reason that startups succeed, as it turns out also at a 42% significance level, is market timing. So basically, and by the way, as far as data goes, getting investment funding is the 16th most significant reason.” (45:53 – 46:46)
- “And one of the biggest mistakes I see is people who start out entirely based on a market analysis of one, i.e. I’ve got this problem; I like this solution. Therefore, it’ll work for everybody.” (47:40 – 47:51)
- “But as a founder, you have to be able to step outside yourself and see why what you want to offer is going to be valuable to people. And will it be valuable at the level you need? Will they pay enough for what you want to offer them to make this a viable business?” (48:29 – 48:46)
- “Every dollar in the wallet is being spent on something now, and if you want your share of that wallet, you have to get something else out. You have to compete for your share of that wallet.” (49:33 – 49:44)
- “And that comes down to your customers’ value system, right? Not what you think is valuable, what your customer thinks about. Customers buy benefits to them, not features of your product, but the benefits that they enjoy by using your product or service. And that’s an old soul. That’s the way business has been taught for over a hundred years. But it’s amazing how hard it is for most new founders to really understand and relate to that as their core strategy.” (50:02 – 50:34)
Social Media Clips (Time Stamps)
- It is exciting to be living in a world of constant change (1:06 – 3:13)
- Use cases of introducing technology in the market (2:22 – 9:39)
- Introduction of new technology (9:49 – 11:17)
- No one wants to be the first to take a risk (16:24 – 19:00)
- How Angel Investment started in Australia (19:01 – 23:07)
- Jordan’s investment thesis (26:35 – 33:34)
- What keeps Jordan going? (40:02 – 40:50)
- Jordan’s advice for start-up founders (43:04 – 49:44)