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September 22, 2018

Startup ecosystem needs flywheel for growth: former FinTech Australia chief

PUBLISHED : May 29, 2018 - 15:29

UPDATED : May 29, 2018 - 15:32

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[THE INVESTOR] Danielle Szetho, the inaugural CEO of FinTech Australia stepped down from her post in March this year. Since then, she has been traveling around Asia to meet like-minded individuals who are passionate about changing the world with technology, seeking new opportunities to contribute to the growth of Australia’s startup community.

Talking about her past experience, Szetho said that the major factor in helping startup ecosystems to grow is momentum, the so-called “flywheel effect” that gets businesses rolling and also has a spillover effect on the entire industry. 


Danielle Szetho (center), former CEO of FinTech Australia



“The startup ecosystem in Australia, particularly in the last two years, flourished and many talk about startup ecosystems being very much driven by this flywheel where you need increased capital investment, triggering smart people to get into the industry, who want to develop a startup and to be able to fund those ideas to grow,” Szetho told The Investor in a recent interview. 

“Successful businesses create more successful startups because the original founders become wealthy and they become investors for the next generation.

The former fintech association chief noted that the Australian government is now seeing the generation of those initial types of businesses that are expected to become a boon to fledgling companies. Graphic design startup Canva and Airwallex, an international B2B remittance company with offices in 15 different locations around the world, are some of the prime examples.

To find the next unicorn and also to invigorate the local economy, the city and state governments are making huge investments in startups as well.

All the major Australian cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are focusing on growing their own startup community. For example, Brisbane is home to many of coworking space companies like River City Labs, backed by Shark Tanks judge and entrepreneur Steve Baxter. The city also has some 50 small businesses that now take payments in cryptocurrency. By the end of this month, 70 percent of the merchants at Brisbane airport will also accept digital coins.

Sydney, on the other hand, is a place where more than half of the fintech startups in the nation are headquartered, and Melbourne these days is better known for blockchain tech as well as medical tech.


Danielle Szetho (left), former CEO of FinTech Australia



Szetho recommend governments not to pick winners to directly invest into specific startups, but instead to support the infrastructure and R&D projects to reward those who are investing time and energy into creating genuine innovation as opposed to innovation in theory, or superficial attempts.

Touching upon some of the traits often found in successful CEOs and businesses, she said being resilient, knowing when to quit, and understanding customers are some of the keys to success.

“I think the ability to know when to step away from something is just as important as knowing when to keep going.”

Under Szetho’s leadership, FinTech Australia grew into one of Australia’s largest associations representing the financial technology industry with around 250 members

By Kim Young-won (wone0102@heraldcorp.com)

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