It’s common to think of startup founders and entrepreneurs as being bold risk takers; they are often categorised as people who seize opportunities and immediately take action. But any seasoned professional in this field will tell you this isn’t exactly how it works.
Boris Novak is an experienced entrepreneur living in Newcastle. In 2000 he founded his company Dexata in Port Stephens and exited in 2018. Prior to that he worked for the Australian Defence Force. He’s worked as an electrical/electronics engineer and in tactical communications.
“At the end of Dexata we had 14 high-end professional engineers. It was expensive. At one stage we had 19,” he says. “Exiting from the business allowed me to finally explore other ideas that had been milling around in my head for some time. My wife said ‘take some time off’, so I did.”
It was fantastic timing for him to pause to learn more about his options and the startups around him. He said the Integrated Innovation Network (I2N) and others in the innovation ecosystem allowed him to immerse himself, reconnect and map the landscape. He quickly failed a few of his early business ideas, which, at face value, might not sound good, but he was glad to quickly determine that they wouldn’t hold up to further scrutiny.
He was glad he explored them, and he has more to explore. He’s learnt a lot about succeeding startups.
Boris finds it’s important to mingle within the pond while immersing himself in learning the latest available Entrepreneurial and Startup science.
“We’re trying to improve our odds for succeeding,” Boris says of startup ideas. “It’s like having a degree or a trade; there are no guarantees of landing a great quality of life, but it improves your odds in getting there. Similarly, working hard doesn’t guarantee things either, but again, it certainly improves your odds. There are some great ideas that are now buried because their conceivers lacked the knowhow and goodwill to share them in a considered fashion.”
Boris has completed a range of Immersives with I2N and found so many useful tips and various algorithmic business approaches that he could have used 20 years ago. He learnt good tools were available which hardly cost him anything apart from his time.
The value he got out of the Immersives was not only meeting pivotal people, but also listening to the lessons that people are prepared to share. He was able to learn more about the contemporary tools and practices that I2N and others offered.
He came out of the Immersives with a different mindset, particularly around structuring a company for future investment.
“Traditionally business consultancies successfully marketed the idea of a business plan, but most business plans get shelved,” he says. “New businesses can capture the most important elements of how a business will operate on a business model canvas. Startups can be formulated in 20 minutes and validated, or invalidated, by going out and testing your assumptions with the very people you think will benefit from your product or service.”
Currently, Boris is working as an industry advisor for HunterNet and is interested in starting new projects or potentially assisting others who might not have a business background.
I2N has definitely helped him meet a range of people in the innovation sphere, and he found they provided a conduit from the experienced to transfer knowledge to the inexperienced.
“I2N can act like a triage for people to get enough knowledge to know where to go to next; often you don’t know where to start,” he says. “They give people a starting point.”
The closer you look in the Hunter Region, the more you’ll find talented experts sharing their knowledge and experience. And so many people are eager to learn more; it’s a symbiotic relationship. The rules of innovation, entrepreneurship and startups are not always what you might expect, as Boris and many others have found.
To learn more about Boris’ expertise, background and ideas, find him on LinkedIn.
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