Breakfast with Mark Sowerby

Breakfast with Mark Sowerby

The Capricornia Chamber of Commerce was pleased to partner with Livingstone Shire Council to host a business breakfast at the Keppel Bay Sailing Club on Friday 18 August, for a presentation by the State Government’s first Chief Entrepreneur, Mark Sowerby.  45 guests were obviously keen to hear what the outgoing – in both meanings of the word -Chief Entrepreneur would have to say.

A master storyteller, Mark used anecdotes and personal experience to demystify the investment approach to the start-up market.  While all investment is about risk versus return, Mark was able to break down some preconceptions about the strength of some traditional sectors in Australia, most notably banking and retail.  In the case of retail, Mark sees the arrival of Amazon as a game changer for the traditional suppliers.  He noted that in America, over 25% of retail goods are now bought online.

Some of Mark’s insights relating to investing in start-up/early stage companies included focusing on the owner or proponent’s personal qualities and behaviours, that provide some assurance of future success.  Mark also emphasised that investment in these types of companies is a longer term (ie about 10 year) proposition.  It is also important to be resilient and tenacious, as there will inevitably be peaks and troughs in the target company’s valuation over that ten year period.

Mark’s tips for growth sectors into the future?  Student accommodation, water and artificial intelligence.  Mark also emphasised that investors in the start-up sector need to recognise that their investments are as much in their communities, through job creation and social value, as in financial returns.

Mark will shortly step down from the Chief Entrepreneur position, which he has undertaken on a pro bono basis.  His replacement will be Steve Baxter, well known from the TV series Shark Tank.

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