LONG BEFORE CRYPTO CURRENCY – EVEN BEFORE SMART PHONES – INVESTORS RODE THE FIRST WAVES OF THE DIGITAL AGE, BETTING ON GOOGLE AND APPLE WITH MASSIVE RETURNS. ONE SUCH INVESTOR WAS TOWNSVILLE-RAISED SCOTT ROGERS.
The young architecture student worked across the globe in London and Japan before settling in Brisbane to complete a Masters of Information Technology and Software Engineering. Scott then began work as a software engineer, and started investing in real estate and US-based tech companies like Apple and Google in 2005.
“While I was living in Japan, I read the book ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ by Robert Kiyosaki,” Scott said.
“I recognised that I couldn’t realise financial freedom and a wealth mindset without developing passive forms of income and investing in assets that increase in value.”
Since 2005, Apple shares have increased 40 times and Google shares have increased 11 times from Scott’s initial investment. It is these kinds of investment returns, he said, that allowed him to retire from corporate life in 2012 to focus entirely on advising and supporting startups in America and Queensland.
“In 2005 my graduate software engineering salary of $65k per year was smaller than the increase in the value of my Brisbane home, which in turn was smaller than the increase in the value of my Apple shares,” Scott said.
“Work is good for gaining skills and experience, but it’s how you invest your time and money which is where there is massive value, and over time, your wealth is actually created.”
Scott said his time working as a software engineer on a global product taught him that he could work and invest anywhere in the world, and with the aid of the internet, he has been able to remain based in Queensland whilst investing in Silicon Valley.
“I learned the true definition of the word ‘startup’ from Paul Graham, the co-founder of Y Combinator (one of Silicon Valley’s top startup incubators),” he said.
“Paul said, ‘A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup; nor is it necessary for a startup to work on technology, or take venture funding, or have some sort of ‘exit.’ The only essential thing is growth’.
“I also learned that great ideas often look like bad ideas to most people based on their past experience or the current status quo.
“Future technology waves, like microchips, smart phones, AI machine learning or blockchain technologies, transform what appears to be bad ideas or ugly ducklings into beautiful black swans.
“By riding these technology waves, startups like Apple, Uber, Airbnb and Coinbase have grown into multi-billion dollar companies while creating whole new markets and disrupting established industries.”
After seeing firsthand some of the most cutting-edge growth and forward thinking in new markets globally, and investing his own money in much of it, Scott said he was shocked to see how stagnant things were in Townsville when he returned here five years ago.
“The same problems of employment and water security that Townsville faced when I was a child have not been solved in the last 50 years,” he said.
“Local business and government appear to be poorly prepared for the risks and opportunities of technological change within an increasingly connected and carbon-free economy.
“Sorry, but coal does not have a bright future globally and it is not a sustainable solution for North Queensland.”
Forward-thinking Scott made a small seed investment in FundersClub.com in 2012, when it was part of Y Combinator. As the first online venture capital platform for investing in Silicon Valley startups, the company’s valuation has grown from $5 million to $125 million in five years, and now has over 18,000 accredited investors who have invested over $US90 million in over 250 startups from more than 20 countries.
Scott would like to encourage similar growth and investment in his home state, which has led him to start OpenFund which has received the support of the Advance Queensland Regional Business Angels Support Program.
“I created OpenFund to facilitate the formation of a Startup Investment Group in North Queensland (sigNQ),” Scott said.
“Our goal is to develop new economic opportunities in regional areas through investment in promising Queensland based startups. I see OpenFund growing into an Australian version of FundersClub for Queensland’s startups.
“OpenFund is actually designed to assist the North Queensland investment community, to understand the opportunities and risks of investing in technology startups.
“It is also designed to raise the bar, so that only the most promising startups are funded. There is actually no shortage of investment capital for quality startup teams that are solving real problems, creating value and which have the potential to scale to very large markets.”
To get involved with OpenFund and sigNQ, Scott said locals should become active members of Innovate NQ (iNQ), as they would be working closely with the organisation to coordinate the program in Townsville.
“Remember how many years ago, North Queensland used to lose it’s best rugby league players to Sydney and Brisbane clubs?” Scott said.
“That is what is currently happening with North Queensland startups. Our startups like Safety Culture, now valued at $440 million, and FlyFreely are moving south in search of venture capital as they are not being supported by North Queensland’s investment community.
“OpenFund is working on solving that problem by bringing local high net worth investors, professionals and entrepreneurs together monthly at iNQ.
“Over the next year we aim to share startup investment strategies and consult with successful entrepreneurs and investors who have originated here; people like Glen Richards (Green Cross Vets) and Stephen Phillips (Mawson Ventures).
“The goal is to form an active angel investor group in North Queensland to support our most promising startups – to do this we need to unite North Queensland’s investment community by making small early-stage investments together in our scalable high-growth companies.”