JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

300: the small Aussie force willing to risk all

Date

Asher Moses

Zoom in on this story. Explore all there is to know.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Digital Dreamers 3: Meeting the Aussie Mafia

Episode 3: They are 300 against the world, willing to risk it all and fed up with the lack of funding for entrepreneurs in Australia.

PT0M0S 620 349

They call themselves the Aussie mafia and, fed up with the lack of funding for entrepreneurs in Australia, they're pooling together at least $20 million to invest in themselves.

The success of Australians in Silicon Valley - there are at least 65 Aussie tech startups over there - has created a new crop of millionaires who are sharing their knowledge, capital and couches with the next generation of hopeful founders.

The Aussie Mafia Facebook group is used to organise dinners and meet-ups between Australian founders in the Valley.

The Aussie Mafia Facebook group is used to organise dinners and meet-ups between Australian founders in the Valley.

Martin Wells, who moved to the Valley to launch Tangler.com and is now working on a new gaming start-up called Playcraft, said the "Aussie mafia" was now about 300-strong.

"It's uniquely Australian, and provides a way for all of us to stay in touch and help each other out," he said, adding his couch had seen "plenty of use".

"The group now has members that can provide support ranging from legal advice, introductions to investors as well as the more mundane, such as finding a book keeper, getting a visa or getting advice on where to live."

The Aussie mafia (L-R): Bardia Housman (Startup House), Ryan Junee (Inporia), Geoff McQueen (Hive Systems), Elias Bizannes (StartupBus) and Patrick Llewellyn (99Designs).

The Aussie mafia (L-R): Bardia Housman (Startup House), Ryan Junee (Inporia), Geoff McQueen (Hive Systems), Elias Bizannes (StartupBus) and Patrick Llewellyn (99Designs).

But the Aussie mafia is about to move to the next level. Southern Cross Venture Partners managing director Larry Marshall, an Australian living in the Valley, said he was working with Startmate founder Niki Scevak to create a new venture capital fund based on capital provided by other successful Australian founders.

He said it would be at least a $20 million fund, and "we have close to that soft circled already" after a tour speaking to potential contributors.

"I don't think you can solve the [funding] problem by having some foreign fund come in," said Marshall.

The Aussie mafia Facebook group ... entrepreneurs are helping each other get ahead in the Valley.

The Aussie mafia Facebook group ... entrepreneurs are helping each other get ahead in the Valley.

"It's great US investors want to invest in Australia, great, but we gotta do something ourselves, we gotta lift ourselves up, and that means a healthy risk-taking entrepreneurial group that's willing to invest in itself."

Wells came up with the Aussie mafia name as a joke over beers one night several years ago when Australian entrepreneur Dean McEvoy was struggling to get funding for his startup Booking Angel.

Wells said it would be much easier if they were part of the PayPal mafia or Google mafia, the term given to the early employees of those two giants who cashed in big and went on to fund the next generation of successful tech companies. It could be called the "Aussie mafia", Wells joked.

"The term stuck, and has become a relative loose moniker to describe the group of Australian technology entrepreneurs here riding the next wave of the internet," he said, adding the associated Facebook group is used to run dinners and meetups.

"Ironically, the Aussie Mafia is becoming what we joked it might be."

Several members of the Aussie mafia - not to be confused with the Sydney Ducks crime gang in mid-19th century San Francisco - are profiled in episode 3 of the Digital Dreamers series, which launched on this website today.

McEvoy's success highlights the benefits of being part of the Aussie mafia. He toiled away on Booking Angel for almost five years until one of the mafia's elder statesmen, Marshall, told him his idea was all wrong.

"I'll never forget saying to Dean, you know other people said the same thing, 'mate forget it, spend six months and find the next thing - you're in the ecosystem now find the next thing'," said Marshall from his home in Palo Alto.

McEvoy found the next big thing alright. Wells introduced him to an early investor in group-buying sites, and McEvoy soon ended up launching an Australian version of Groupon called Spreets, which sold to Yahoo!7 last year for $40 million.

McEvoy stayed at Spreets until last week when he finished up to look for his next big idea. He said support from the Aussie mafia was invaluable.

"They took me in, introduced me around, gave me a couch or a spare room to sleep in from time to time and were absolutely instrumental in a lot of what I learned and the people I met in the Valley," said McEvoy.

Find out more in Digital Dreamers Episode 3.

87 comments so far

  • Great to hear about.

    Can we put to bed all that nonsense about business being only about competition?

    Commenter
    Evan Hadkins
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    June 04, 2012, 11:07AM
    • Australia already passed up it's opportunity for ingenuity, competitive business development and investment when it realised you could retire at 40, flipping real estate with other people's money.

      The misallocation of wealth in this country is staggering and only equaled in magnitude by the failure to use debt for the purposes of sound business development and investment.

      Yes, good ideas will surface and the entrepreneurs with vision are abandoning this sick economy in droves now the downturn has begun.

      Australia was simply too high on it's sugary debt, fear and GREED to make proper use of capital when it mattered.

      Instead of learning from the mistakes of over western nations in 2008, we blew the coffers to go spend it up, get into MORE debt and then laugh and tell the world we were different.

      We're not different.

      We are simply behind the curve in our markets. We're still in the same mess we were before 2008, only now WORSE because we decided to ramp up the debt rather than take the loss through a short, painful recession and get back on track riding the mining boom.

      Now we are completely screwed as a nation. Our consumerist economy has run out of steam, our bank balances being run dry, savers sacrificed in one last pathetic attempt to save the debtors and it's only downhill from here until we can wash the system of the debt no one thinks exists.

      YOU WERE WARNED AUSTRALIA!

      You WERE warned this was coming and yet, you did NOTHING to stop it. You voted with your pocket books in mind, ramping up the tab and now we're left in a far worse position than what we had.

      We will reap what we sow.

      Commenter
      Educated Citizen
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 04, 2012, 1:21PM
    • Um, high Educated C. If it's not too much trouble, might I ask what's going to happen? It sounds pretty awful and I'm wondering if I should prepare by digging a bunker and stockpiling some food & Snuggies?

      Commenter
      Sigmoid
      Date and time
      June 04, 2012, 2:29PM
    • While I don't share E/C's view that we are 100% doomed (only about 85% at present) , I do believe the government screwed up royal with their TV stimulus packages.. instead of giving all Aussie a thousand bucks to spend overseas (which is where 90% of that liquid cash ended up BTW) they would have been better off building up the country building and expanding roads etc,, even if or even though the contractors who would have ended up building said projects were foreign owned the end result would have been a build up of Australia and her infrastructure.. 5 million LCD/Plasma TVs were never going to do much to stimulate the economy for the long term. Short sightedness from the rulers of the day will be the doom of the citizens of tomorrow. <-- PS my quote if anyone wants to steal it.. thank you

      Commenter
      Waffles
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      June 04, 2012, 4:21PM
    • Educated Citizen: I look forward to hearing 'kaboom' when your head explodes from so much rage. It must be horrible believing that 'we'll all be rooned'. Australia is different because the debt we have is minor and manageable. Calm down.

      Commenter
      f9gbvc
      Date and time
      June 04, 2012, 7:15PM
  • Obviously they're not investing in fashion...

    Commenter
    Craig
    Location
    Bondi
    Date and time
    June 04, 2012, 11:11AM
    • Actually Craig I think they look quite good....maybe a little ahead of where we are now!

      Commenter
      Michel
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 04, 2012, 11:44AM
    • Yes, It looks like Bill Gates has donated his cast offs to them!

      Commenter
      Pete
      Date and time
      June 04, 2012, 11:53AM
    • Grey cardigans are not ahead of anything.

      Commenter
      Craig
      Location
      Bondi
      Date and time
      June 04, 2012, 11:58AM
    • Yes I see your point.....but he is not wearing it well..........it could look good on a slimmer man......

      Commenter
      Michel
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 04, 2012, 12:34PM

More comments

Make a comment

You are logged in as [Logout]

All information entered below may be published.

Error: Please enter your screen name.

Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

Error: Please enter your comment.

Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

Post to

You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

Thank you

Your comment has been submitted for approval.

Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

Advertisement
Featured advertisers
Advertisement