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Alexandra Keating gave frank, practical lessons at Creative³. Photo courtesy of Clare Treston.

How to be a “non-startup” startup with Alexandra Keating

First amongst Alexandra Keating’s pieces of advice for budding entrepreneurs is flat-out not using the term “startup”, as it encourages a mentality to make mistakes early on.

Keating’s frankness and obvious success shamed a number of Creative³ guests, this journalist included, throughout her September 19th presentation. An entrepreneur since age twenty, when she launched non-for-profit fundraising platform GoFundraise, Keating stressed identifying both the practical and unnecessary elements of business in her “10 Rules on being a NON startup startup”:

  1. Don’t use the word “startup”
  2. No revenue means no business model
  3. You will have to pay to get customers, either directly or through PR/viral strategies – Keating values customers at $1.5 a pop
  4. No strategy meetings – if you have time for these, you’re not working fast enough
  5. Always be pivoting – pivot where the market is, at an average of 3 times per business
  6. You don’t need an original idea – “99% of successful startups don’t have an original idea; all [she] did was take an idea and make it more efficient online”
  7. Success is found in your team
  8. You can only launch once – know your landing goals, launch when the product works and not before, and send the media apps prior to launch to inspire emotional attachments and different angles
  9. Work towards business goals, not product goals – be wary of tech debt, and don’t over-engineer; if you’re not an engineer and you have a tech company than this is a big issue for you
  10. Know when and how to raise – don’t take dumb money, but the goals of business and product should be geared towards fundraising

Following on from number ten, Keating believes that while raising money can be hard, young businesses people don’t have to take any offers and that it can be hurtful to exchange capital for roles or benefits such as a board seats, first right to follow-on, chairmanship or extra voting rights.

Having grown up in Australia with her father, the former Prime Minister, Paul Keating, Alexandra is currently working in New York as co-founder and CEO of DWNLD Media, an app-creation-platform that recently received a $2 million investment. She chose to fly back to Brisbane’s Creative³ for a chance to reconnect with the local ecosystem.

“I’ve really lost touch with the Australian tech community and young entrepreneurs, and it’s something that I’ve really been trying to get back involved with,” Keating said. “But I haven’t had the luxury of time.”

“So [Creative³] was really a catalyst in a sense,” she said. “I’d been waiting for something to reach out to me that I could jump on, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity.”

And unlike the majority of the Creative³ speakers, Keating’s barely mentioned her own work or personal history in her presentation, instead choosing to focus on practical advice.

“I didn’t want to go too much into the product, Keating said. “Because I wanted to make it more about the lessons and less of a puff piece on me.”

But her newest business, DWNLD Media, is fascinating in its own right, a platform that creates applications from websites “within five minutes”. At a flat rate of $15 a month, it also offers the potential to upgrade with analytics tools and push notifications.

“Whether that be for a restaurant or a media company, each of those different industries have their own templates, which they can tweak and publish,” Keating said. “I believe the fifteen dollars is for 90% of people, and 10% will go to the other two things.”

“This is something I fought with my investors about a lot, they think I’m crazy, because if someone was to build one on their own it would cost them a fortune. But we really feel like anyone can have an app.”

Finally, on ways to improve Brisbane’s ecosystem, Keating stressed the big two, communication and funding.

“I think the biggest thing is connecting, finding those outstanding people, finding a way to help them and connect them with financial opportunities for them to further themselves,” Keating said. “So whether that be through incubators or whatever those platforms are, really give them the platform and connections for them to drive their own path.”

About Chris Woods

Chris Woods (@tophermwoods) is the Tech Street Journal's Editor-in-Chief. He lives in Brisbane, has worked in places like Sydney and New York (State of), and will someday update his media-news blog.