Interview with Steve Glaveski
My passion lies in helping organisations become more adept at experimentation so that they can not only survive and thrive in an era of rapid change, but create more impact and give their people more fulfilling work lives in which they are free to challenge the status quo and create impact.
Formerly a frustrated intrapreneur, I know very well the challenges of corporate innovation and I work with organisations to diligently bridge the gap between what they're built to do - deliver - and what they need to do - discover.
I run Collective Campus
, an AFR Faster Starter and corporate innovation and startup accelerator based in Australia and Singapore that’s been home to over 100 startups that have raised more than US$25M and has worked with the likes of Village Roadshow, BNP Paribas, Clifford Chance, Microsoft, MetLife, KWM, NAB Sportsbet, Australian Unity, Mills Oakley and others on their corporate innovation programs
Could you please introduce Collective Campus and what led to your founding the company back in 2014? How is today's iteration of the company different from what you initially imagined the company would look like?
Hi guys, my name is Steve Glaveski and I'm the co-founder of collective campus a corporate innovation and startup accelerator based in Melbourne Australia that works with brands all around the globe. Since 2015 we've worked with over 50 large brands globally such as BNP Paribas and Clifford Chance. And we've also incubated close to 100 startups who have collectively raised about 25 millionU.S. dollars.
Now when we started out I myself was coming off a startup venture called Hot Desk which was an office sharing platform but prior to that I'd spent almost a decade in the corporate world with companies like KPMG, EY and Macquarie Bank where I was effectively a frustrated entrepreneur. I wanted to create new value but the processes systems and values of those organizations simply didn't permit it.
So collective campus was established to unlock the latent potential of people within organizations to create new impact for humanity and lead more fulfilling lives by applying a lot of the methods tools and frameworks that I learned during my entrepreneurial journey with Hot Desk back into the corporate world. So when we started out we were running classes on topics like Lean Startup and design thinking for corporates as well as corporate innovation theory, but we quickly evolved into running corporate startup accelerator programs as well as startup matching programs where we basically combine the domain expertise assets and networks of large organizations with the talent tech and speed of startups to create new value for the world because we truly believe that innovation happens at the intersections of different disciplines people and organizations.
How did you initially build the networks and partnerships needed to found a company like Collective Campus? Do you have any advice for professionals looking to establish their own startup?
So when we first started Collective Campus we obviously didn't have a brand, we didn't have an e-mail database, we had nothing, and so we had to partner with established organizations to tap into their databases, so we looked for organizations where we could add value.
For example, we partnered initially with an online meetup called Data Science in Melbourne which had over 3000 members, but one thing they didn't have was classes or value ads for their members of that persuasion. So what we did is we put together a data science course that they promoted to their 3000 members and for every ticket sale we got Data Science Melbourne would get 15 percent of our ticket sales simply for sharing the events with the database. So we did this with few organizations basically to open ourselves up to a large database and start building our own mailing list. That is one thing that I am a big believer in many many moons ago I actually ran a heavy metal nightclub believe it or not called Madhouse and we would absolutely pack out the place when we partnered with concert promoters who would promote our venue as an after party event. So if you had a ticket to the show you'd get access to the nightclub for 50 percent off. Now when we didn't do this we had way less people come through the doors.
Advice for people looking to start their own company is to test your assumptions because you'd be surprised how often we're actually wrong about things that we are certainly humanly sure of. So always be testing your assumptions and make friends with adversity make friends with the word no because it's probably you hear it 99 times for every Yes especially when you're starting out and you haven't got the brand collateral behind you. So just be comfortable with that, and don't overthink it, just get started.
How does Collective Campus balance its time between Melbourne and Singapore?
So how does Collective Campus balance its time between Melbourne Singapore and all of the other cities we work in. Well at its core it's really about being a lean team that's distributed so all our quilting sits in Melbourne. We have facilitators contractors consultants you name it that are based all around the world and these are not part of our full-time payroll but they're part of what we call extended family. So if we have a design thinking gig that comes up in Philadelphia we've got people on the ground on the East Coast of the USA and we can call on to deliver that work if we need someone to deliver a data science session over in Singapore we've got someone on the ground that we can call to. This means that we keep our overheads low but our reach high we can deliver a number of different training modules for organizations across the world, but our core team is still quite small. So we can behave like a large consultancy without the need to spend like a large consultancy which I truly believe is where the world is going. We're moving towards a freelance economy where 50 percent of the American workforce, for example, will do some form of freelancing by 2020. So organizations who are adapting to these realities I think will stand at least maybe not the test of time but have a much higher likelihood of succeeding for the next five to 10 years whereas organizations who are operating on say the entrenched 20th-century mention of philosophy based business models and work models. I think their time is limited. I tend to spend about one-third of my time traveling with two thirds back home in Melbourne Australia. And that just gives me the variety I need to keep things fresh and keep those energy and enthusiasm levels higher because I find that if I have variety in my destinations and my work I tend to just be a much more positive person and way more productive.
What are some of the hackathons Collective Campus has run since it was founded? What were the outcomes of these hackathons?
Since founding Collective Campus we've run a number of hackathon for organizations where we basically expose executives at large companies to the methodologies such as the lean startup and rapid prototyping and we've run afterthoughts for organizations such as SportsbetF.W. de insurance in Hong Kong beverages in Melbourne as well as Australian Unity which is an insurance company in Melbourne. We've also run a hackathon for Fox Sports over in Sydney. Now the purpose of the hackathon at its core is really about shifting mindsets behaviors methods within these larger organizations rather than veracious planning and making sure we have all the people on the bus and outsourcing accountability and taking a few large bets throughout the year. What we're trying to support is a shift towards taking many small bets across countless assumptions so that organizations can double down on the opportunities worth pursuing and avoid having what we like to call New Coke moments. So we've had a number of proud moments. One of the most proud moments I had running ASAI was with a site whereby they wanted to improve customer engagement in pubs and bars. Basically, what they call on-premise venues now they had all these grand schemes and ideas about building augmented reality prototypes and they thought that something like that would take months. But with the right thinking the right tools and within one day we were able to build a number of augmented reality prototypes and we were out there in pubs and bars which was fun. By the afternoon testing these prototypes with actual people. And we recorded the interactions the interactions are positive and on the back of these videos, senior executives actually sponsored the team with five hundred thousand dollars to start spreading this type of methodology throughout the organization. So I was really proud of that.
What's next for your work with Collective Campus? What are the main projects, markets and sectors will you be focusing on in 2019?