News, insight and events
from across the Group.

Australia's technology scene is growing rapidly, and local startup accelerators like Startmate are recognising the opportunity for budding tech Founders. However as technical skills, on the whole, remain in short supply in Australia; many of the companies we partner with require us to hunt for people globally in order to scale their teams effectively. We regularly source and place candidates from tech-hubs such as Silicon Valley, New York, Berlin, London and Dublin into new and exciting businesses in Sydney and Melbourne.

As the first point of contact many of these expats have with someone in Australia, we often get asked about the local culture. Here at Mitchellake we take such enquiries very seriously, and therefore our resident foodies (the Melbourne office, of course) have huddled together to come up with six of the best eateries, drinkeries and things to do in the culinary capital. Enjoy!

“Mindfulness” isn’t just one of Mitchellake’s core values, but an integral part of our company culture and daily lives. It allows us to operate with positive intent, and show genuine empathy to our clients, candidates, and colleagues. It allows us to show up, be truly present, and make the biggest impact. Being in tune with ourselves as well as our network, we continue to be driven by purpose and focus on being transformational rather than transactional.

You would have to be living under a rock in Sydney to miss the rumblings that a few digital consumer banks are on the way in Australia. Xinja just this week announced their entrance loudly to the market through their raise via Equitise. A new way to bank is coming to Australia. So when I recently travelled back to the UK I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit down with one of the pioneers of New-age banking - Anne Boden. Anne is the CEO of Starling Bank the UK’s first ever “NeoBank” to provide a Current Account. Through our conversation we were able to discuss the creation of how NeoBanks came to be, why Anne decided to “just build a bank” and some great lessons along the way for future bank builders in Australia.

As the career landscape has changed, with employees no longer staying with one company for the bulk of their career, corporations have been turning to contract workers on a larger scale. Many Millennial tech employees spend the first years of their career purely in contract jobs that may last months or years. For many, it has become a way of life. The practice has not taken off with small business to the same degree, but there are reasons a small business shouldn’t ignore the concept of contract workers.

When I saw Colombia on my Remote Year itinerary I was very excited because I had previously worked with one of Bogota’s most experienced startup founders, Alex Torrengra, when he brought his company, VoiceBunny, to San Francisco and was looking to hire a Chief Marketing Officer. I had a great experience working with him and his team and was always curious about the country's push to rebrand from its notorious drug trade to an emerging technology center.

Fintech Inteviews: Spriggy


In my final FinTech CEO interview, I sat down with Mario Hasanakos, co-CEO of Spriggy. Spriggy has been a true FinTech, startup success story, joining the first H2 accelerator back in 2015, and recently raising their Seed round of $2.5 million. Their much loved product educates young people on how to manage money with a prepaid Visa card linked to app that parents and kids use together.

I sat down with Mario to get his full cradle to Seed round story, and some insight into this experience.

When I initially heard that some aeroplanes were introducing wifi to selected flights, my immediate thought was - why? What is so important whilst in transit that it can't wait till landing? Is this removing the modern worlds final place of total freedom from hashtags and likes?

Admittedly, on a recent Emirates flight to the UK I got lured in fifteen minutes prior to my first layover by two-hours of free wifi. I was curious as to what all the fuss was about and it was handy arranging my airport pick up ahead of time. However, was it really necessary? There are two primary methods to enable a passenger Internet connection on an airplane; if you want to know what these are, you’ve come to the wrong article.

I'm a huge advocate for new technologies that simplify and improve our lives; and there are some pros to having wifi access on planes. If it is a business trip, it could reduce time wasted travelling and increase productivity. However fellow opposers argue that it could actually inhibit productivity with the added distraction of people making phone calls, and unlike being on the underground, you can’t move seats when you’re on a plane.

Year by year we use our screens considerably more - we order food from them; handle our banking; we even use them to work out. These are all arguably very useful additions to our app-store; however there has been a lot of persuasive research lately about the effects of smartphones on mental health - anxiety, depression and disturbed sleep are a few of the many linked side effects. I will chat through some of these in the paragraphs to follow.

Like a smoker going cold-turkey, the vast majority of smartphone owners experience anxiety and distress when they are without their device. This is added stress on top of the day-to-day stress of normal life, and is not something we need if you ask me. As Hooked author Nir Eyel powerfully stated, “we use our booze and our tech for the same reason - an escape from restless reality.” And this is coming from a guy who wrote a guideline book to teach technology people how to build habit-forming products.

The strong and significant association between social media use and depression is also widely recognised and tested. A US-based study found that levels of depression increased with total amount of time spent using social media and number of visits to social media sites per week. Although some other studies have produced mixed findings, it is easy to see why the constant use of "likes" could cause people to continually seek validation from others to bolster their self esteem; or why scrolling through other people's holiday snaps could make a relaxed weekend at home feel slightly less appealing.

What else is really worrying is that, according to a study published in September 2015, the amount of caffeine in a double espresso has less of an effect on sleep quality than bright light exposure from smart-phones at night! My boss recently bought an old-school alarm clock, and leaves his phone in the living room before bed at night for this precise reason.

In summary, although there are some obvious benefits to having wifi access on aeroplanes for business use; surely on the whole it is more beneficial to protect the last remaining refuge we have free from constant mobile interaction. I can think of a few more useful ways we could be spending our aeroplane time - sleeping, meditating, journaling; or whatever happened to getting stuck into a good book?

Do you see air travel as a safe haven from screen-time, or are you counting down the days until airplane mode is a thing of the past?

FinTech Interviews: Proviso


Last week I sat down with Luke Howes, serial entrepreneur and notably, CEO of Proviso. Proviso is now a staple of the FinTech ecosystem in Australia; from a consumer perspective perhaps one of those businesses you’ve not heard of but had a massive impact on your life, and from a client perspective, one of the most important tools for accessing customer data to improve the quality and speed of lending. Either way, Proviso has an awesome impact on Financial Services business across Australia. But that’s enough from me, let’s hear hear what Luke has to say about building this Adelaide-based FinTech business.

In case you have been living under a rock for the past 20-odd years, you will be well-aware of the ecommerce giant Amazon. In fact, it is the largest online retailer by market share and sales in the world.

The question is, are Australian retailers fearful for the impending launch of Amazon in Australia; and if not, why not? They very well should be.

Perhaps I am more concerned than others, growing up in the UK, where if you couldn't get it from Amazon; it pretty much didn't exist. Amazon have been using clever tactics to get users on board ever since they announced their Aussie launch in 2016. I've already signed up and am receiving email updates; I only wanted to buy an Audio book.

There are of course question-marks around what the launch will look like in reality. Luckily for some it has been pushed back almost a year until late 2018, instead of the original date of September this year. Will they undercut the main electrical goods retailers? How will the logistics work? Will deliveries be shorter? Will they pay all of the Australian taxes? One thing is for sure, this isn't going to be a hasty move; and no doubt they’ll put their best foot forward for all of the above.

Those who are actually concerned about the launch, which was revealed to be only 14% of retailers in a survey conducted by Commonwealth Bank; what are they doing to retain their customers?

I recently had a chat with the Head of Marketing for one of the leading Australian electronics giants, and their tactic is all about retention. Unable to undercut Amazon on all product prices or compete with their technical expertise, keeping loyal customers happy is their chosen lifeline. This can be achieved through loyalty discounts, free delivery offers and exclusive deals for returning customers. Take note from startups like Rewardle who are killing it in the customer loyalty space. This I suspect will be a successful method, at least for a while.

When push comes to shove, all customers really want is their chosen product, at the right price, in their hands as soon as humanly possible, right? As such it is a no-brainer that cutting delivery costs could and should be an option for vulnerable retailers. However, it might be worth noting that last year Amazon charged its customers USD $4bn for deliveries that cost them USD $8bn. With that in mind, retailers should be prepared to invest. Myer and David Jones see this as their biggest challenge to profitability.

Like Australian organisations across the board, retailers too are beginning to realise the value in investing in CX (Customer Experience). New and innovative digital products, for example Apple's new iBeacon app, gives shoppers personalised messages while they’re in store, as well as micro location services. For me, technological advancements to the customers in-store experience is one method that bricks-and-mortar retailers can use to compete with overwhelmingly powerful pure-play retailers like Amazon. 94% of sales in Australia are in store as opposed to online (compared to 72% in the UK) - therefore there must be something to be said about improving in-store customer service and switching the mindset to improving the customer journey in its entirety (store; email; online; returns, etc).

There is always a silver lining. Amazon is one of the largest employers in the United States; which means thousands more jobs for Australians are set to come out of the launch. Interestingly, digital marketing agencies are predicted to benefit from the ecommerce-giant's’ presence in the Southern Hemisphere thanks to a goldmine of opportunities for internet marketing. Although the situation look does appear bleak for some retailers, experts don't think there will be much to be seen in the first five years (which means ample time to get fearful).