“Australians have the world’s highest rate of gambling, but need protection when investing in startups via crowd funding.”

In a year that has been called shocking for venture capital in Australia[1], CAMAC[2] state that Australia has 'fared reasonably well post the GFC in comparison to the USA and Europe and therefore it is less certain that CSEF (crowd sourced equity funding) will ever have an equivalent influence in Australia"[3].

Over 80% of Australian adults engage in gambling of some kind, which is the highest rate of gambling in the world[4]. We have over 20% of all the gambling machines in the world. On a per capita basis, Australia had roughly five times as many gaming machines as the United States[5].

Yet here we have a review into investment-based crowdfunding suggesting that Australians need protecting from making risky decision on investing in startups.

This is a really alarming statement for a number of reasons.

Firstly, access to finance for startups has almost dried up. According to the Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association’s (AVCAL) 2013 Yearbook[6] the last financial year was a bad one for local private equity and venture capital industry with fewer deals, less investment and weak capital raising.

Secondly, this statement infers that crowdfunding is a method of temporary economic stimulus. The traditional VC model is failing in Australia, and crowdfunding is a solution.

The other positive aspect that is not mentioned in the CAMAC report is that the crowd provides validation of a business model and a market. By no means perfectly, but better than getting your Mum to say your idea is brilliant!

Despite the rather bold statement that we dodged the GFC[7], we still need to build a future beyond the mining boom. Technology based startups offer one route to this future. PwC research, commissioned by Google, to identify potential ways to accelerate growth of the Australian technology startup sector found it has the potential to contribute $109 billion or 4% of GDP to the economy and 540,000 jobs by 2033[8]. This will not happen without access to finance for startups, which can only happen with Government encouragement and incentives.

The more damning thing is that the CAMAC report seemed totally hung-up about how we protect the investor who may make an investment that fails. They caution that investors may not be able to determine if something is a good investment and whether founders will be capable of delivering. This sort of negative skepticism hardly encourages people to start a business or invest in others. The very nature of business, startup or established, involve risk. The level of risk can be assessed through informed decision making.


Culture, skills, opening markets, funding and regulation are the five main areas of action that can accelerate the growth of startup ecosystems.


Culture and community and more entrepreneurs are the ones the matter most for Australia. [9]


There are great things going on in the Australian startup ecosystem, but a fear of failure and a lack of access to finance will stifle all that good work if there is not a collective effort to succeed.

Government can contribute by easing the regulation around crowdfunding and introducing tax incentives for investing in startups as seen in the UK and other countries.

Discouraging investment because it may go wrong is another version of fear of failure. In a country overwhelmed by gambling it seems cowardly to treat crowdfunding as just too risky.

[2] the Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee (whose role is to “provide a source of independent advice to the Australian Government on issues that arise in corporations and financial markets law and practice”)

[5] http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/13686/technicalpaper10.pdf

[6] http://www.avcal.com.au/news/2013/private-equity-shows-resilience-avcal-2013-yearbook

[7] Global Financial Crisis

[8] http://www.digitalpulse.pwc.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/PwC-Google-The-startup-economy-2013.pdf

[9] http://www.digitalpulse.pwc.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/PwC-Google-The-startup-economy-2013.pdf

All material copyright David Hulston Associates Ltd.  @davidhulston1
Meet the team

David Hulston

Indycube Ventures

Indycube Ventures offers funding and expert advice to entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs and small-business owners based at coworking space network Indycube are being offered access to a half-million-pound annual funding stream and expert advice.



"We have benefited greatly from David's experience, counsel and contacts on a wide range of issues. His past experience in the IP space is particularly useful to Inngot, but even without that, he is just the sort of investor and non-executive director a high growth business needs. He sees potential, makes connections, and keeps us focused on the things that matter."Martin Brassell, CEO, Inngot Ltd