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Tall Poppies, Rockstar’s and Political Footballs- Start-Up Sagas

Alison Tilling

Chief Strategy Officer

VMLY&R

Alison.Tilling@vmlyr.com

Tall Poppies, Rockstar’s and Political Footballs: Start-Up Sagas

While there are some obvious exceptions to the rule (Atlassian, Canva, I’m looking at you) Australia doesn’t spring to mind as a technology innovation hotbed, and there is a distinct absence of technology brands in the BrandZ Australian Top 40. So, while it’s obvious that digitisation and tech are changing brands everywhere you look, and that global start-ups are changing the face of our brand landscape, why do we seem to lag on homespun innovation?

Part of the answer is politics, with a lack of consistent long-term policy from either party since Turnbull’s 2016 innovation agenda – though May’s election race has brought some focus back. Along with this “political football” sit some structural and legal challenges. Then there is “Tall Poppy” syndrome – a very Australian discomfort with the usual start-up tale of rock star founder who’ll stop at nothing for success.

But start-ups don’t all have to follow that romantic origin story. They don’t even have to be technology-focused. Australia does have its fair share of family-owned small businesses which show innovation in all its stripes, and while these might not make the BrandZ list in 2019, well, even Amazon and Uber started somewhere...