Why we chose Fortitude Valley over Silicon Valley

Alex Ghiculescu

14 June 2015    |   

We loved Alan Downie’s recent piece on why Macropod kept their startup in Australia, it resonated well with similar conversations we’ve had at Tanda. We started Tanda because we wanted to make it easier for a bar we liked to pay their staff. 3 years on it’s great that we’ve been able to solve that for them, and over 10,000 other Aussies. But like any other business, we’re always asking ourselves if what we’re doing is best for the future, and a common question that pops up is that of where we should be based. Late last year I was invited on the inaugural Startup Catalyst mission, where Shark (and all round nice guy) Steve Baxter took 20 under-25’s to San Francisco and Silicon Valley to check out the biggest startup scene in the world. It was fascinating, eye-opening, and a really worthwhile trip, but at times I found it equally amazing and uncomfortable how different Valley culture is to what we have back home. We’ve always felt that if you make a really good product, then you’ll be able to successfully sell it, support it, and market it from wherever you like, and eventually you’ll have a really good business. We also think that the best way to make sensible product decisions is to fund the business from our customers, because it forces us to only build things that people actually want. VC’s and accelerators in Silicon Valley seemed more concerned with getting all of the users, than getting any of the customers. A particularly striking moment for me was when one VC asked me why we had charged our customers money, and why we had even bothered with revenue, when we could have just given the product away to drive adoption. That approach might work for some of the unicorns out there, but there’s many more successful businesses doing things the old fashioned way – still creating lots of jobs, and adding a lot of value to their customers at the same time. We felt more inclined to do that. A lot of people, upon seeing a group of young Aussies abroad, would ask “so when are you all going to move your startups over here?”. For us it’s an interesting question – and the answer is “not for a while yet”. A lot of startups in our field have taken on overseas money and put it all towards capturing US market share, and time after time we found their product because less useful for Australian businesses. Paying staff in Australia is a highly regulated chore and to do it right you need software that’s built specifically for the task. For exactly that reason, we’re more excited by the very tangible prospect of being able to fix payroll headaches for every Australian business, than by the possibility of striking it rich in a Californian gold mine. It’s a hard decision to make and one that each startup will have to consider on its own merits. We get most excited by the prospect of working with our customers to build a great product that solves problems that they have, and that we understand, in a market we know and love. And that, in a nutshell, is why we stayed in Australia.

We loved Alan Downie’s recent piece on why Macropod kept their startup in Australia, it resonated well with similar conversations we’ve had at Tanda. We started Tanda because we wanted to make it easier for a bar we liked to pay their staff. 3 years on it’s great that we’ve been able to solve that for them, and over 10,000 other Aussies. But like any other business, we’re always asking ourselves if what we’re doing is best for the future, and a common question that pops up is that of where we should be based.

Late last year I was invited on the inaugural Startup Catalyst mission, where Shark (and all round nice guy) Steve Baxter took 20 under-25’s to San Francisco and Silicon Valley to check out the biggest startup scene in the world. It was fascinating, eye-opening, and a really worthwhile trip, but at times I found it equally amazing and uncomfortable how different Valley culture is to what we have back home.

We’ve always felt that if you make a really good product, then you’ll be able to successfully sell it, support it, and market it from wherever you like, and eventually you’ll have a really good business. We also think that the best way to make sensible product decisions is to fund the business from our customers, because it forces us to only build things that people actually want.

VC’s and accelerators in Silicon Valley seemed more concerned with getting all of the users, than getting any of the customers. A particularly striking moment for me was when one VC asked me why we had charged our customers money, and why we had even bothered with revenue, when we could have just given the product away to drive adoption. That approach might work for some of the unicorns out there, but there’s many more successful businesses doing things the old fashioned way – still creating lots of jobs, and adding a lot of value to their customers at the same time. We felt more inclined to do that.

A lot of people, upon seeing a group of young Aussies abroad, would ask “so when are you all going to move your startups over here?”. For us it’s an interesting question – and the answer is “not for a while yet”. A lot of startups in our field have taken on overseas money and put it all towards capturing US market share, and time after time we found their product because less useful for Australian businesses. Paying staff in Australia is a highly regulated chore and to do it right you need software that’s built specifically for the task. For exactly that reason, we’re more excited by the very tangible prospect of being able to fix payroll headaches for every Australian business, than by the possibility of striking it rich in a Californian gold mine.

It’s a hard decision to make and one that each startup will have to consider on its own merits. We get most excited by the prospect of working with our customers to build a great product that solves problems that they have, and that we understand, in a market we know and love.

And that, in a nutshell, is why we stayed in Australia.

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This article is about the 2015 event. Go to hack.tanda.co for 2016’s event details! The Tanda Open Data Hackathon is upon us! Programmers, designers and developers are flocking to Brisbane for Tanda’s first Open Data Hackathon. In a digital era where everything is reachable from the click of a button, it’s no surprise there are now marathons and competitions for the digitally oriented too. Hackathons, e-conferences and everything in between can be a great way to meet new faces in your industry and carve out your own opportunities in the workforce. You can come along as a lone wolf hunting down open data, or bring a pack of friends to brainstorm together. On the first night after pitches, that’s when you’ll have a chance to form your final teams and get ready to compete. Tanda’s Hackathon will be taking place over two locations. Day 1 will see us at our own Tanda HQ for meet’n’greet, drinks and pitches. Then, a fresh start (and a free breakfast) on Saturday morning will begin at Brisbane’s River City Labs.  The great facilities at this space will hopefully give all attendants the comfort they need to execute a great pitch. It’s a Learning Experience The main drive of these types of events is that everyone should walk out feeling that learnt something. Whether it’s something a team partner has shown you while trying to create something awesome under pressure, or a competitor reveals a clever trick in their presentation. There’s no point to an idea if you don’t share it. It’s a Networking Opportunity Whether it’s the company hosting the Hackathon or a fellow competitor at the event these are the kind of industry events where you can actually stand out for future employees. Instead of selling yourself in an annoying verbal resume at some cocktail event you can show potential employers your skills in action. It’s a push in the Right Direction Not only will you meet new people, you will receive feedback from the two judges for Tanda’s Hackathon. The first judge will be Tanda’s very own Adam Lyons who spends his time all over Australia helping to implement savvy programs for growth in Australian businesses. Our Guest Judge for the Tanda Open Data Hackathon is Keran McKenzie. Keran has been on the scene helping take start-ups to sky heights for the past 20 years. He’s come up all the way from Melbourne to assess your ideas and test your skills. It’s a chance to help a Great Cause This Hackathon is a “Hack It Forward” kind of event. All proceeds made in this event will go back into student funding for IT, programming, and related student clubs at QUT and UQ. As a Start-Up company ourselves Tanda knows the ideas start with you guys – the students, the idealists, the dreamers and the young entrepreneurs.

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Mossman State High School graduates Tasmin Trezise and Jake Phillpot are hoping to set up a head office in Far North Queensland for their rapidly growing tech business, Tanda (Previously PayAus). The software and payroll processing company is currently based in Brisbane and is helping organisation of five and upward staff significantly reduce their labour costs. “Tanda deliver a digital answer to traditional time sheets,” founder Tasmin Trezise said. “Our system eliminates time theft and produces unbelievably easy reporting and businesses save money from day one as there is no upfront cost.” The system involves installing a managed hardware device into your business and employees record their start and finish times by entering a unique four digit. The system will send the data back to the central server where organisational rules are applied and time sheets are calculated effectively reducing labour costs. “It’s not a choice anymore, small to medium businesses need to be thinking about their staff costs all the time and we are able to help them do it.” Mr. Trezise said. Tanda founder Jake Phillpot said growing up in local small business families meant the pair were passionate about bringing technical innovations back to far North Queensland. “We made Tanda to be the most powerful and economic payroll and cloud timesheeting solution on the market for small to medium size organisations,” he said. “It’s about keeping family business strong, simple and together.” Visit www.tanda.co for more information.

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Sneaky New Feature: Get an SMS When Someone Arrives at Work

We’ve all met Dave. Dave is “always on time” and “never calls in sick”, except when he knows his manager won’t be in the office and thus won’t be able to check on him. What can you do about Dave? Tanda (PayAus) can now send you an SMS when Dave clocks in to work! The SMS will only send if Dave clocks in through a hardware terminal, so you know Dave is actually there. Didn’t get the SMS when you expected it? Call Dave up and yell at him. Check out our user guide for all the details. Just another way Tanda helps you keep tabs on your business. Sorry Dave.

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About the author

Alex Ghiculescu

Alex is Chief Technical Officer and co-founder at Tanda. He leads the Product Team in delivering groundbreaking workforce software to thousands of businesses across the world.

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Mossman State High School graduates Tasmin Trezise and Jake Phillpot are hoping to set up a head office in Far North Queensland for their rapidly growing tech business, Tanda (Previously PayAus). The software and payroll processing company is currently based in Brisbane and is helping organisation of five and upward staff significantly reduce their labour costs. […]

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