Channel 10’s Shark Tank Investor Steve Baxter! Last week we had the privilege of having Steve Baxter visit the DeLorean Project! Steve is one of the five ‘Shark’ investors on Channel 10’s popular ‘Shark Tank Australia’ show and is passionate about innovation in Queensland and had some excellent advice to share with our DeLorean Project students.
A proud Queenslander, Steve grew up in Emerald, and after serving for many years in the Australian Defence Force, he stepped into the arena of business, technology and innovation when he decided to start up one of Australia’s first internet service providers. Equipped with a diverse background and skillset, Steve is keen to encourage the next generation of young people to pursue their passion, and be courageous enough to take more risks when it comes to figuring out what they want to do with their futures. Steve commented that one of the biggest challenges facing young people today is not to settle for the status quo. “We have to be more prepared and comfortable with our children not necessarily attending University and getting a decent education!” With so many pathways to success in the workforce, Steve believes we need to be careful to not pigeon hole young people into the University paradigm as the only goal or pathway to employment success. It is becoming less and less relevant for so many industries in terms of gaining employment.
Steve Baxter’s input into our DeLorean Project 2019 commenced with a brief overview from Steve about what he does and why he was keen to spend the morning with our students. “Young people have the best ideas!” Steve said, as he explained that many of the ideas and people he is most interested in supporting are often under 21 years old. Following the introductions, we had the dynamic duo of Josh and Daniel, co-founders of Koowinda.com, pitch their idea to Steve in front of the whole cohort. A BIG shout out to Josh and Daniel for stepping out of their comfort zone and into their courage zone to take this amazing opportunity to share their project idea with Steve and work on their pitching and communication skills. Steve Baxter was impressed by their idea saying: “I think it’s got legs!”, but that there is still a lot to do to get it off the ground. The Koowinda boys received some great feedback and direction, and now have to make some decisions about the best way forward for their startup.
A number of our DeLorean teams took the opportunity to have a ‘mentor meeting’ with Steve, who spent the next hour hearing ideas and what teams have achieved so far this year. Insightful, practical advice was shared on how to move forward and continue to effectively execute their ideas. “Ideas are just ideas, they really don’t mean much… unless there is execution behind them!”, were some of Steve’s comments, as he encouraged teams to just get out and actually “do stuff”, and take action wherever possible. It’s sometimes said that most people can talk about something until they are blue in the face, but few are willing to take action on their talking. This has been our experience in the DeLorean program when we share with students the challenge of moving from an idea into making it a reality – where it takes courage to move out of the comfort zone and take action.
Many of our teams wondered if Steve would like a presented idea enough to prompt him to take action and support a team further. Most felt that this would be unlikely given that he would hear ideas all day every day, and that it would take a lot for him want to support one of our student’s ideas further.
Emily, co-founder of Ocean Treasures, has started a jewellery brand that takes plastic waste found on the beach and re-forms it, incorporating it into beautiful jewellery pieces. Emily is passionate about her startup but didn’t think that Steve Baxter would be interested in it because he is all about technology. However, with a free spot at the end of the mentoring session, Emily decided to just go for it! She met with Steve, gifted some of her jewellery to him for his daughters (great marketing strategy!) and shared with him her passion for her startup and the impact it will have on our beaches. What Emily didn’t realise is that what Steve is most interested in is supporting people, not ideas. He was really impressed by Emily; her passion and her ability to articulate her ideas. Emily was the only DeLorean student who prompted Steve to take action to support her idea further, and before she knew it he was on the phone with his Personal Assistant to get Emily in contact with a plastics manufacturing expert that he knows, so that Emily can improve her processes in handling and re-moulding the plastics into her jewellery. We are so proud of Emily for taking the risk she did to meet with Steve with only a moment’s notice and leveraging the opportunity to gain support for her startup.
Steve’s time with us concluded with a Q & A fireside chat, where our DeLorean students asked some awesome questions, trying to glean whatever wisdom and advice Steve was willing to share with them. His final words to our young people? “Just get out there and do it! Lost opportunity is the worst thing you’ll ever do.”
When we launched the DeLorean Project program in 2016 we had envisioned that maybe one day we might have one of the Sharks from Shark Tank visit our program… So to actually see it come to fruition was pretty exciting for our DeLorean Facilitators and definitely a milestone for the program. Providing authentic, real-world opportunities for our DeLorean students to interact with people like Steve Baxter, is what our program is all about. Our students have amazing ideas and our vision for DeLorean is that we help them realise that their ideas can become a reality now if they back themselves, have confidence in the skill sets they are developing throughout our program and are prepared to simply get out there and give it a go!
We’ve provided some photos from Steve’s visit, as well as a link to our wrap-up video interview with him (below). We hope you enjoy them. If you’re interested in seeing more of what we do in the DeLorean Project, please check out our Facebook Page and follow us on Social Media (Instagram & Twitter) by searching @thedeloreanproj.
Rob Steffler, DeLorean Project Director