AS EXPLOITATION of wild fisheries and marine environments threaten food supplies, Flinders University scientists are finding sustainable new ways to convert biowaste, algal biomass and even beached seaweed into valuable dietary proteins and other products.

In one of several projects under way at the Flinders Centre for Marine Bioproducts Development, researchers are looking to extract value from crayfish shells and other marine waste via a ‘green’ fluidic processing machine developed at the university.

“As world populations grow, so will demand for dietary proteins and protein-derived products and this cannot be met using traditional protein sources,” Flinders University professor Kirsten Heimann said. Prof. Heimann said millions of tonnes of sea catches produce bycatch, shells, bones, heads and other parts wasted during the processing of marine and freshwater species. 

Seafood processing by-products (SPBs) and microalgae are promising resources that can fill the demand gap for proteins and protein derivatives, the researchers wrote in a new publication.

“These biomaterials are a rich source of proteins with high nutritional quality while protein hydrolysates and biopeptides derived from these marine proteins possess several useful bioactivities for commercial applications in multiple industries,” Flinders University co-author Trung Nguyen wrote in the paper published in Marine Drugs.

“Efficient utilisation of these marine biomaterials for protein recovery would not only supplement global demand and save natural bioresources but would also successfully address the financial and environmental burdens of biowaste, paving the way for greener production and a circular economy.” 


Value-adding also looks promising with many of the bioactive protein-derived products gaining attention to promote human health including in drug discovery, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical developments.

Estimates of the commercial value of these therapeutic protein-based products in 2015 was US$174.7 billion and is predicted to reach US$266.6 billion in 2021, leading to a two-fold increase in demand of protein-derived products.

Globally, 32 million tonnes of SPBs are estimated to be produced annually which represents an inexpensive resource for protein recovery while technical advantages in microalgal biomass production would yield secure protein supplies with minimal competition for arable land and freshwater resources.

This comprehensive review article analyses the potential of using SPBs and microalgae for protein recovery and production critically assessing the feasibility of current and emerging technologies used for the process development.

The nutritional quality, functionalities, and bioactivities of the extracted proteins and derived products together with their potential applications for commercial product development are also systematically summarised and discussed in the free online paper.

The Flinders research team aims to provide sustainable solutions and a strong business case for expanding Australia’s marine bioproducts industry to become internationally competitive and attractive to investors and export-oriented markets.

The project used patented technology, the vortex fluidic device, that represents a new chemicals processing capability, enabling new synthesis strategies with a diversity of research and industrial applications.

The article, Protein Recovery from Underutilised Marine Bioresources for Product Development with Nutraceutical and Pharmaceutical Bioactivities by Trung T Nguyen, Kirsten Heimann and Wei Zhang has been published in Marine Drugs, 2020 (DOI: 10.3390/md18080391)


Dr Trung Nguyen and Professor Kirsten Heimann, from the Centre for Marine Bioproducts Development at Flinders University, testing southern rocklobster shells with the Flinders vortex fluidic device processor to produce a pure protein powder.

By Dr Gavriel (Gav) Schneider >>

WE HAVE ALL been disrupted by COVID-19 and the way we do business has changed forever. Now it’s up to us, as to whether we are able to produce some positive outcomes from these challenging times or not.

Regardless, of the challenges we have all faced (at different extremes) we have within ourselves, the ability to thrive, no matter what the future holds. But (and it’s a big but), if we continue to do the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result, we are almost guaranteed to be disrupted ourselves.

COVID has created a unique opportunity to level the playing fields somewhat, in that we have all been disrupted and made uncomfortable to one degree or another – and as uncomfortable as it has been, (and will likely still continue to be for some time), this is often where the best opportunities lie. 


So where do we start? In order to drive positive outcomes, it’s important to understand where we are currently.

Experts have stated that we are now entering the 5th Industrial Revolution, which focuses on leveraging ‘human capital’ (our people, the potential and resource that we, as people, arrive with and develop), combined and supported by all the benefits that our technological advancements bring.

In terms of the human capital, we are starting to see signs of the need to prioritise and put the ‘human element’ at the centre of our organisations. We see it coming through in Royal Commission findings (especially around areas such as risk culture), we certainly see it in the Bushfire Royal Commission, looking at community engagement and response; and we see it in a myriad of other examples – not least of which is COVID, where the human element has been elevated even beyond global economic well-being.

What makes things so different now is the increasingly co-dependent and integrated link between technology, systems and human capital, and their need to work together at a pace that has never been demanded or required before.


Regrettably, many Australian organisations are still built on business structures and models that were designed for the previous era(s) – most of which rely heavily on red-tape and outdated, cumbersome systems and procedures.

Because of this, these organisations are struggling to adapt and keep up in such a disrupted business landscape.

This is primarily as a result of our comparatively highly regulated  and compliance centric approach to business where, for the most part, Australian businesses and government bureaucracies have not been looking around and forward, and have instead been dominated by risk aversion, over-regulation and an outdated position.

This has not only made things difficult from a strategic and operational perspective in this brave new world, but has also made us non-competitive in areas such as manufacturing – and we see the consequences of this with off-shoring.

To add insult to injury, aspects such as reactive, hyper-conservative, blame-based or compliance-focused cultures have made adaption even more difficult, especially in larger organisations.


It’s not all doom and gloom though. Many business leaders actually feel these frustrations every day but find it difficult to articulate, and even harder to action.

As it has been described to me by many a senior executive: We know we need to do things differently, to drive a more strategic, agile and adaptable approach but how do we do it?

Outdated governance models, such as the Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) approach, no longer work effectively in a world that requires agility, adaption and innovation to be built into our systems and people.

So in order to thrive in a world where uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity are now the norm, we find the golden key embodied in a new approach – the Presilience[1] Approach [Presilience is a is a registered trademark of the Risk 2 Solution Group].

We need to move past the perceptual barriers and outdated compliance-based, reactive approaches, to a new way (which doesn’t throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water), which merges the best of the old with the best of the new.

In essence, Presilience is an approach that focuses on integrating three key aspects to create enhanced productivity. These are:

  • Enhanced Decision-making / Robust Risk Culture;
  • High Performance (including high productivity);
  • Effective Leadership.

It is important to note however, that Presilience is not about “out with the old, in with the new”. It’s not about ignoring aspects such as compliance (which would clearly be disastrous).

Rather, it’s about accepting that there is a maturity journey we should all be on. To better explain this we like to focus on what we call the Presilience Maturity model. The model highlights three states of operation or approaches that we need to look at for our businesses to evolve and grow:

  • Compliance – this is the basic minimum we need to operate in any given sector. If an organisation is compliance focused only it will be highly vulnerable to rapid changes and be very slow to adapt.
  • Resilience – the next step up is a focus on resilience where it is accepted that things could go wrong, but we are prepared for this with the aim of trying to return to business as usual as quickly as possible. The resilience mindset is a great step forward from that of compliance but is still defensive and negatively biased by nature.
  • Presilience – The optimal state is that of Presilience. This is where we incorporate the best aspects of compliance and resilience, but Presilience focuses not only on the opportunities to bounce back more effectively when things go wrong, but also constantly on positioning ourselves and our businesses to adapt, innovate and improve wherever possible


Essentially, the Presilience Approach works on a building blocks method that focuses first on the individual, then at the team level and finally at the organisational level. Only by taking this kind of approach – one which focuses on the individual as a part of the whole – will we gain a genuine societal benefit – one resultant from more resilient and productive businesses.

The goal should be to embed these behavioural characteristics in ourselves and everyone who works with us and strive to have them inbuilt into our systems and processes.

We must look at the systems in play in our organisations and ensure that our governance structures are practical, well thought out and do not become roadblocks to innovation and adaptability.

It is possible (and in fact necessary), to be both compliant and adaptive at the same time, but while it’s not easy in an over-regulated environment, it is possible.

The single biggest opportunity for Australian business to grasp is that of Presilience.

As business leaders, let’s use the disruption of COVID to build Presilience in ourselves, our organisations and ultimately our society, so that we are better off for this experience.  

 Dr Gavriel (Gav) Schneider is CEO of the Risk 2 Solution Group and the program director of the Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Postgraduate Program in The Psychology of Risk. [1] Presilience is a registered trademark of the Risk 2 Solution Group.




By Peter O'Halloran >>

THE GLOBAL SPREAD of COVID-19 has had seemingly unimaginable consequences on business. Entire industries have been shut down. Workforces have been sent to work from home. And many businesses are scrambling to shift their operations online.

It’s kind of ironic that as the world slows down and stays indoors, how quickly businesses respond to the impact of the coronavirus is critical.

But speed has always been a competitive advantage in business. It’s just that now the stakes are much higher. Today, speed may be the thing that keeps businesses afloat. 

Albert Einstein famously said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” And businesses sure have to be imaginative right now, which leads to the question: what if technology could work as fast as the imagination?

Why is speed important right now?

Even before the coronavirus, organising for speed was important in today’s consumer market. With new technologies, trends and ways of shopping, the landscape was changing rapidly.

But how many times has a great idea just taken too long to implement? Many an idea quickly drops in appeal to the Innovator audience, then Fast Follower, and even Laggard. 

Changes are now light speed. Consumer behaviour has rapidly changed, government policies are constantly shifting in reaction to the crisis and there’s clearly no such thing as business as usual. Speed is everything in this current market.

But rather than something to fear, organising for speed can be an opportunity.

We need speed to market

Businesses have the opportunity to quickly learn what many start-ups and businesses challenging the status quo already know – embrace disruption. The accelerating pace of technological change is a creative force and opens up tremendous opportunities, but only for those that get there first.

For example, traditional bricks-and-mortar banks need to get to market fast because they are competing with neo banks that can build and rollout new service offerings very quickly, with lean technology and responsive customer service. It doesn’t matter what kind of bank they’re working in; when it comes to gaining market share, it’s an even playing field and speed is an advantage.

To compete, businesses need to adapt, and the current climate is the time to do it. One large bank recently launched an important customer-relationship-management (CRM) program in record time, for instance. 

During COVID-19, the value of being able to access data and information quickly is being recognised. The demands on technology are high, and those systems need to work exponentially faster.

We need speed to be agile in a volatile world

As this pandemic continues to impact our lives, consumer needs will continue to evolve as we face ongoing volatility and likely a prolonged downturn. Businesses need to act quickly and get the right platforms in place to support these evolving needs. 

It all comes down to being agile enough to respond to changing customer circumstances. This can include accelerating time to market, rapidly prototyping and iterating, and releasing innovations in their minimum viable state, rather than waiting to perfect them.

This may mean offering the same products through a new channel. For instance, Chinese cosmetics company Lin Qingxuan launched a large-scale, livestream shopping event after closing 40 percent of their stores – this led to a staggering 120 percent increase in February sales this year compared with last year.

Or, as is the case for many start-ups, rapidly innovating a new product to meet a new need. Seoul-based diagnostic company Seegene, developed a diagnostic kit for Covid-19 to get results in a quarter of the time. The company used an AI-powered automated production system to produce tests more quickly and now supplies around 80 percent of tests in the country.

We need speed to service customers better

In an online world, consumers are increasingly impatient. In fact, a slow response time is the most common complaint among buyers. Customers want it fast, and they want it now. And they want a customer experience that matches their expectations, or they’ll go to a competitor.

Businesses need to have the systems and processes in place to meet customer expectations – and the faster the better. With online volumes spiking and workforces being disrupted, virtual solutions and AI channels are increasingly critical for maintaining responsive customer service.

We need speed to fail

As businesses pivot, adapt and evolve in an uncertain market, failure is inevitable. Businesses need to be able to fail fast, learn quickly and build better.

Quick, decisive failures save businesses from sinking additional resources into a losing proposition, helps them establish cause and effect, and helps move them towards the end goal goal by ruling out what doesn’t work.

Failure is only helpful when you can learn from it. Data – and the insights it gives – is critical to ‘successful failure’. And data is only useful when it is accurate (there’s no point in being fast if the information isn’t correct or it’s duplicated), compliant (a platform needs to have a compliant back end), secure (in this new market, we need to open the doors a little bit wider, and we need to do it fast. That opens up vulnerabilities so there needs to be rigour in the back end) and accessible (fast, ‘always on’ access for anyone who needs it).

If the current pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the future will change quicker than we can even imagine. So we need technology that works as fast as our imaginations.

Imagine then, how different things could be.


Peter O’Halloran is a sales engineer for InterSystems, a creative data technology provider.


By Angus Dorney >>

WITH fintechs and neobanks posing an existential threat to the Big Four banks, the incumbents are scrambling to launch their own digital ventures to try to fend off the disruptors – but are they doing it wrong?

Volt, Xinja, and 86 400 are just some of the new digital-only fintechs to clear the largest hurdle to entering our market – receiving deposit-taking licenses from APRA (Australian Prudential Regulation Authority). With the largest regulatory obstacle out of the way, this new breed is poised to change the face of Australian banking forever.

Even with the significant uncertainty from COVID-19 – and there will be casualties and delays in the short-term – the long-term, technology trend is still in their favour. In fact, a recent report from deVere Group indicates that in Europe, which has a more mature Fintech market, COVID-19 has already driven a 72 percent uptick in the use of fintech apps. 

But the competition facing the Big Four doesn’t end there. The rapid proliferation of buy now pay later (BNPL) options has changed the way we spend and almost two million Australians have signed up.


With both neobanks and BNPL, Gen Z and Millennials are the largest users. This cohort is set to become the economy’s biggest spenders – particularly in the face of an ageing population.

Again, even with the current uncertainty, as the banks look toward the future, they see for the first time in their history a world in which real competition exists. 

One advantage: they still have strong balance sheets that they can leverage to respond decisively to this emerging player. The question is can they actually leverage this strength?

In a bid to compete with the likes of Afterpay and Zip Co to enter the BNPL sector, the Commonwealth Bank recently invested $300 million for a 5.5 percent stake in Swedish BNPL company Klarna. 

While many are lauding Klarna’s entry into the market, given its lack of merchant fees and the ability to use the service anywhere through its ‘Ghost Card’ feature, the question has to be asked: why did Australia’s largest bank have to buy innovation?

And why did it have to buy that innovation from overseas?


It’s worth noting that CommBank could have bought Afterpay many times over for that amount when it went public in 2016, seeking to raise $25 million.

Instead of jumping in early, CommBank waited to see if the Afterpay model would work. When Afterpay’s $10 billion plus market capitalisation showed that it did, the bank decided to opt for a ‘buy instead of build’ approach via its investment in Klarna.

Imagine how many digital products or new ventures CommBank could have built with a $300 million war chest? So why didn’t it build innovation? Most likely because the value of building a startup from scratch, especially in a green fields space, is much more difficult to justify and measure using traditional RoI and investment models. Finance and risk departments can readily determine a return on capital when looking at a traditional investment stake in an established company, but they can’t do the same for startups.


The approach for successful venture capital (VC) in the technology space is very different. This philosophy is about placing several, well-calculated investments/bets across different startup businesses.

As the Harvard Business Review has vividly demonstrated, some of the most successful venture capital companies see only a handful of their investments bear fruit, but the return on the most successful investments far outweigh the loss on the duds.

This approach simply does not fit with a traditional enterprise investment model.

CommBank seems to understand that there is also value in the ‘build’ a startup approach. In recognition of the wisdom of not putting all your eggs in one basket, it has partnered with Microsoft and KPMG to launch its fintech venture capital play, X15 Ventures.

This now means all of Australia’s Big Four have separate innovation arms. Whereas Westpac, ANZ, and NAB aim to buy innovation through their ReInventure, ANZi, NAB Venture VC funds respectively, the ‘yellow bank’ hopes to take a more hands-on approach.

Through X15, CommBank aims to manage, rather than buy, innovation. By taking a larger initial stake up front and providing the platform and operational support needed to scale – with all the transactional infrastructure, analytics, and compute power that entails – the goal is to bring 25 new ventures to market in the next five years.


Frankly, this is where the real returns are. Enterprises need to start building now despite institutional risk aversion and both internal and external headwinds.

Big enterprises can build innovation and build it well, but from our experience they need to do three things:

Explore new financial and risk models to justify the investment. Once they’ve recognised this value as measured by a different metric, they stop clinging to traditional investment and risk management models that only hamstring new ventures. For example, we have supported a company in property development who is looking to leverage their massive knowledge to develop a unique property technology (or ‘prop’ tech) that can be sold around the world, creating a multi-billion dollar business from one without a single dollar of revenue.  

Get out of their own way and find out how to short-circuit the politics, culture, and bureaucracy that can cause every single dollar spent to be questioned to the enth degree – even though the figures invested when building are always a fraction of a percent of the figures thrown around when buying.

Avoid simply turning to another big enterprise to outsource the development. If you want to build a startup technology you need to bring a startup mentality with superb, not outdated, technical chops into your business. We need to end the era of one big enterprise trying to help another big enterprise create a small and nimble one.

We’ve seen incredible value unlocked when these three things have been done. More enterprises should be doing this now, especially in uncertain times when every dollar should be well spent, going lean and spending fewer dollars to grow something you can control, especially when it has a big upside, is the safer and more profitable bet.


Author Angus Dorney is co-CEO of innovative Australian cloud service company Kablamo.




JACK DELOSA argues the COVID-19 situation is rightly described as a fight for life – both physical and economic. Times like these call for courage and innovation in business, argues the battle-hardened business expert and entrepreneurship advocate, whose mantra right now is: “Decisive action will enable a swifter recovery.”


AS THE COVID-19 pandemic rages, all eyes remain, understandably, on the prospect of ‘crushing the curve’.

However, even as Australian homes and hospitals deal with unprecedented levels of fear and anxiety, it seems that business leaders are not immune to the coronavirus’ wrath, with business confidence sustaining serious body-blows in mid-March, and plummeting to record lows, according to the Roy Morgan Monthly Business Confidence Index.

Jack Delosa is a renowned Australian entrepreneur, investor, and founder of Australia’s largest training institution for entrepreneurs, The Entourage. After spending 2016 and 2017 fighting back from a commercial near-death experience, and then spending the last three years rebuilding, Mr Delosa is one of the most battle-tested entrepreneurs in Australia today. 

He is now leading hundreds of thousands of other entrepreneurs as they ‘fight the good fight’ against COVID-19 and the economic havoc it is unleashing.

“I know first-hand the fear and uncertainty that can arise in times of crisis and I can tell you that the businesses most likely to survive in this tough economic climate are those actively engaging in proactive decision-making and future-focused action,” Mr  Delosa said.

In 2016, after unexpected government changes to the education sector in Australia, Mr Delosa found himself and The Entourage three months away from a monthly loss of $800,00.

“We were months away from losing just under a million dollars a month. We needed to take drastic action, and quickly,” Mr Delosa said.

Taking swift and decisive action, Jack Delosa restructured The Entourage – painfully reducing his team of 90 to just 40 in a single day, redesigning the business model, and beginning the long fight back to full fiscal viability. Today, Delosa says The Entourage is healthier than ever.

“We're growing faster than ever, we’re more profitable than ever, and our members are happier and more successful than ever,” he said.

“It was torturous, but you learn a lot and that sets you up for higher levels of success.”

For business leaders currently battling economic uncertainty, Mr Delosa has these points of advice:

Take action:​ “More is lost through indecision than wrong decisions, so don’t just bury your head in the sand and wait for the storm to pass. The longer you choose to do that, the scarier and harder it will become to take decisive action. If you are lost, turn to trusted advisors for guidance and advice.”

Model positivity:​ “This COVID-19 crisis is an opportunity to offer ‘contagious leadership’. We are all fearful at the moment, but savvy business leaders are ‘positively fearful’. This means they are alert and confident, and are acting decisively, despite their fear. In my experience, people are silently waiting to be led. This is true all the time but, now, more than ever, the world needs leaders who model conviction, decisiveness, and positivity.”

Nurture consumer relationships:​ “It’s almost certain your current and potential consumers are at home, right now, so you have a captive audience via social media and digital content. Even if sales are declining, now is an optimal time to build your audience, strengthen consumer relationships, and build trust and loyalty. In that regard, I would be advising every business to be providing helpful, credible and compassionate digital content to their online audience.”

Keep an eye on the future:​ “The current business turbulence is tied to a health crisis – it’s not inherently an economic crisis – and what we learned from SARS and MERS is that the economic recovery will be quick once the health concerns start to decline. The businesses who act decisively and positively, now, will be better placed to thrive when the economy bounces back.”

Vitally, Mr Delosa advises against imitating others’ actions or adopting a one-size-fits-all solution.

“Everyone should take contextually appropriate action,” he said. “Some businesses are fighting for survival; others are booming. Every business has different needs but all of them require immediate action.

“The best analogy for business leaders, now, is to be like any seasoned boxer in the ring; be instinctive and adaptive, react swiftly to micro-mistakes, believe in your ability to endure, and ensure you are constantly on the front foot.” 


Jack Delosa​ is one of Australia’s top entrepreneurs and investors, founder of Australia’s largest training institution for entrepreneurs, ​The Entourage​, and host of the hit Foxtel series, ​Entrepreneurs ​ Mr Pelosa has been listed in the AFR Young Rich List five times, and contributed to the development of the curriculum for The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is a high-profile investor in growth companies such as Q-Biotics, Martin Jet Pack (ASX:MJP) and eMerchants (ASX:EML), and is co-founder of MBE Education and The Entourage Beanstalk Factory. His highly-acclaimed first book, ​UnProfessional, reached best-seller status within three weeks of launch. His latest book, ​Unwritten ​outlines the unconventional wisdom he has s become known for, to living a life on purpose and making the world a better place. ​Unwritten ​became Australia’s best-selling business book in one week.


By Leon Gettler >>

REMOTE working will change workplaces and the world.

Some companies are doing it very well and Australian software vendor LiveTiles is leading the pack.

The born-in-the-cloud company has been doing remote working since it started four years ago. Back then it was operating in six countries with 20 people.

Now LiveTiles has its global headquarters in New York City and has 19 offices in eight countries. It is dispersed across the world, everywhere from Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, the US and of course Australia.

“From our perspective we had to, whether we liked it or not, work remotely, work flexibly, and I like to think we are best practice in our class,” LiveTiles co-founder Karl Redenbach told Talking Business.

“We are also used to operating in strange time zones.

“One of the secrets to our success is that, from day one, we have been happy to work flexibly with all our employees.”


Mr Redenbach said LiveTiles has simple rules and techniques in place for working remote when it comes to dealing with customers, to make it as personable as possible. 

The number one rule for its employees is to use video. It is also sharing desktops and remote sharing.

This can also include taking control over clients desktops, iPads and phones and showing them how to use the software.

LiveTiles is also working closely with the elderly who are not used to computers or websites. This is critical for people who might be quite isolated

“What we tried out in Brisbane, and it’s gone really well, is that we have been able to have not only this face-to-face connection with the carer and the elderly person, but actually help them jump online and show them. We do this by sharing their computer screens and we help them click through the government websites and information websites and key in information that they didn’t even know how to get to – because they’re not used to using this technology.”

Mr Redenbach said this was the most challenging time for him and other tech leaders.

There were some big issues. The first was health – and people’s mental health when they are isolated.

One of the key innovations created by LiveTiles was a WhatsApp group providing people with the latest government information.

“The other thing is, how do we go about supporting the community? We’ve been lucky in our businesses in that most of our businesses have had some sort of remote working,” he said.

“And a lot of our businesses are used to working outside of a traditional office setting, so we want to try to impart the knowledge and help companies and businesses in the community on how to operate in a remote environment. That’s what we’re doing right now. We’re working with a bunch of governments, right now.”


Mr Redenbach said remote working would “change the world forever”.

There will be some learnings out of this, he said, such as how to support people if something like this happened again.

The other key learning was for companies to understand how to trust their employees to work from any location.

“People, when they have the right accountabilities, should be allowed to work from anywhere at any time,” Mr Redenbach said.

“They should be able to work in a café, they should be able to work from home and help their kids when they need, or support a family member that might need it, an elderly person,” he said.

“Whatever it is, we should provide that flexibility and I think the positive out of this is that business leaders, business owners, are going to have to start thinking: ‘How can we allow our workforce to have that flexibility? And ultimately, I think this is better for people’s mental health.

“It’s better for society and, ultimately, it’s better for workers.”


By Leon Gettler >>

SYDNEY THOMAS is in the business of empowering women in business.

She is an associate of Precursor Ventures, a US classic seed-stage venture capital firm investing in long-term relationships with founders. It targets companies in a pre-launch pre-marketing phase.

Ms Thomas has also been involved in the Girl Geek academy and she recently came to Melbourne to meet female entrepreneurs.

The academy is committed to getting female entrepreneurs to the next stage.

She said women have difficulties raising venture capital. 

“I think the hard part about venture capital is that it is much more an art than science,” Ms Thomas told Talking Business.

“What that means is often people will get introduced to VCs. The VCs will sometimes decide to invest based on data and sometimes based on gut – and a lot of these subjective decisions are often ruled by the sub-conscious, which is often not as thoughtful as the conscious.

“The sub-conscious can often lead to making decisions based on fear, or things we think we know best,” Ms Thomas said.

“That means a white guy can decide to invest in his friend, who is another white guy, just because he is a friend and trusts (him) – but there’s this unknown woman who is a little more scary, a little more untested and so they are less likely to invest in that woman.”

The result: only 2 percent of venture capital dollars went to women in 2018.


Ms Thomas said there was a high demand from female entrepreneurs for venture capital, but they often do not have the networks and access to money that their male classmates and colleagues have access to.

Women are now finding greater access to venture capital through their networks with women who are already working in venture capital.

Ms Thomas, however, cautioned about relying too much on those women in venture capital.

“The change really happens when you have allies across the whole community,” she said. “Male VCs need to be accountable for investing in women just as women do.”

Ms Thomas said women of colour and ethnic women have even more difficulty raising funds.

She said black women raise less than 1 percent of all the venture dollars as they are ostracised from the groups that draw white female entrepreneurs.

This is something particularly pertinent to her, as a black woman.

“The good thing is people are starting to talk about it. Race has been a very taboo topic and we starting to acknowledge that race exists and should be addressed,” Ms Thomas said.

The key, she said, was to build networks with more diverse pipelines.

This is one of the areas that Precursor is looking into, she said, for Precursor is about “building bridges with people across the country”. 

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at

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