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Entrepreneurs of Australia: Steve Baxter

Hyundai is all about new ideas and thinking outside the box – which is why, in this new series, we’re taking a closer look at Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs.

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Hyundai is all about the pursuit of ideas and creating possibilities. We’re all for thinking outside the box – Asan, the founder of Hyundai, was an entrepreneur himself. That’s why, in each edition of myHyundai News, we’re going to be profiling Australia’s top entrepreneurs.

 

He has backed and mentored countless tech startups, spent a year in Silicon Valley working with Google, co-founded a company that eventually sold for $373 million, and even sunk his teeth into the role of a ‘Shark’ on Channel 10’s entrepreneur investment show, Shark Tank Australia. But back in 1994 Steve Baxter was an unknown 23-year-old about to launch his first startup with $11,000 in life savings as capital. It’s a multi-million-dollar success story that just keeps getting better.

 

ROAD TO THE TOP

Steve Baxter was born in 1971 in a remote Queensland town called Cloncurry, and raised in Emerald, in the state’s central highlands. He left school at the age of 15 and joined the Army’s apprenticeship program, where he quickly made his mark as an electronics and telecoms technician. Fascinated by all things tech and networking, Baxter decided to kick start his own internet service provider (ISP), SE Net, using six dial-up internet telephone lines in the spare room of his Adelaide rental house. The result? Six years and 35,000 customers later, Australia’s seventh largest ISP was acquired by now Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull’s OzEmail.

You might be thinking Baxter used the funds to jump straight into the next exciting project, but you would be wrong. In fact, he took a year off to go fishing on his new boat, before being lured back into business by a schoolmate to launch PIPE Networks, a startup helping companies save by sharing bandwidth and splitting costs. PIPE Networks was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2005 and sold to the TPG Group for $373 million in 2013. Meanwhile, in 2008 Baxter went to California and led a Google project to deliver high-speed telecommunications systems across North America.

 

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BUSINESS SUCCESS

These days Baxter continues to live his dream as a tech investor, entrepreneur and industry advocate. He has been offering advice and seed money to startups for the past seven years, with his latest venture – not-for-profit co-working space, River City Labs – providing Brisbane tech startups and entrepreneurs a place to connect with each other and share essential resources. As a member of the startup advocacy group, StartupAUS, Baxter proudly supports Australia’s tech sector.

The pioneering Australian entrepreneur has also founded or played important roles in a number of leading industry groups and forums, including the South Australian Internet Exchange, South Australian Internet Association, Australian Domain Name Authority, AusBone, AusNOG and more. In 2016, Baxter received the Pearcey Medal for Lifetime Achievement, an award recognising his considerable contribution to the growth of the information and communications technology industry.

WORDS OF WISDOM

Steve Baxter has never been afraid to dream big, take risks and work hard for ideas he believes in. So what does he say to budding entrepreneurs about the challenges ahead?

“There are three common actions that I see successful founders taking, as they endeavour to set up and grow their business,” Baxter wrote in a 2105 Financial Review column, The 3 things every startup founder must do. “My advice for people deciding whether to startup or not to startup is to ask yourself: ‘Can I be super focused, make short-term sacrifices, and be willing to listen even to the harshest advice?’ If the answer to those questions is ‘yes’, then don’t die wondering. Get out there and give it a go.”

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Which Australian entrepreneur would you most like to read about in the next edition of myHyundai News?

This poll is closed.

Total Votes: 0

  • Naomi Simson: Founder of RedBalloon
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  • Russian Kogan: Founder of Kogan.com
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  • Janine Allis: Founder of Boost Juice
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  • Mike Cannon-Brookes/Scott Farquhar: Co-founders of Atlassian
    0%
  • Kate Kendall: Founder of CloudPeeps
    0%
  • Nick Palumbo: Founder of Gelato Messina
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