The Australian Brain Drain for Online Business Continues with Network 10 Reality TV Show “Shark Tank Australia”

au-business-gapShark Tank Australia, where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to business investors, set to air on Network 10 on Feb 8, is lacking key industry relevance. While great on concept, it lacks substance for the true epidemic in Australian business – a keen sense of direction and focus with online, digital businesses and expertise. The investors as part of the show, who judge the entrepreneurs pitch, and decide to either invest or not, consists of only one entrepreneur directly involved in the digital/online space.

This entrepreneur format is great for television, as entrepreneurs are pitching their businesses to the panel of high-value, cocky, venture capitalists. Who really only invest in what makes sense to them. It makes for great TV as the entrepreneurs are put out to dry on more than one occasion. The Shark Tank Australia version is based upon the highly successful United States show – Shark Tank, with such frugal, celebrity investors as Mark Cuban. It is also similar in format to the UK and Canadian versions of “Dragon’s Den”.

The “Sharks” are investors from throughout Australia, from a variety of businesses and industries. While this can be good from a TV perspective, it all has little to do with advancing the online businesses, and digital leadership.

  • Boost Juice Bars founder and Executive Director of Retail Zoo, Janine Allis.
  • Andrew Banks is one of the founders of Talent2 International, an HR outsourcing and executive search and selection company.
  • Steve Baxter is Australia’s king of tech start-up investments.
  • John McGrath, CEO and founder of McGrath Estate Agents.
  • Naomi Simson, the only digital focussed business, founded RedBalloon in 2001.

They are of course skilled in their field; there is not doubt about that. It’s not about assessing the flavour of the month however, with inventions that can be considered quite meaningless at the end of the day. It’s really about helping Australian businesses become competitive online, on the world stage.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australian businesses are given a failing grade for online implementation. Only 28% of Australian business are actually selling online.

The results of the most recent Summary of IT Use and Innovation in Australian Business survey reveal that Australian businesses, particularly small and medium businesses (SMEs), are still moving slowly when it comes to engaging online.

While 91.9% of Australian businesses had internet access, less than half (44.6%) had an online presence, such as a website. []

While the study is from 2013, the next formal industry survey will be released early to mid 2015. It will certainly become a hot debated topic in the ever evolving areas of online and commerce.

Online business is slow in Australia and it is not seeming to be gaining any extra traction. It needs all the help it can get. Perhaps it is because of the relatively slow internet speeds. The fact remains however, that if Australians want to compete in the world stage, they need to get their house in order. The issue is obviously bigger than speed, it is about how business is perceived online.

Unless Shark Tank Australia proposes a format of at least 75% of digital focused businesses that are presented and funded on the show, to compensate for the lack of digital expertise on the investor panel, the digital brain drain of Australia will continue. It will not expand at the same rate as other industries.

What do you think? Should online business be a focus of the current version of Sharktank, instead of just crazy inventions?

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