Interview: Rosie Kennedy, CEO, OnMarket
OnMarket is a unique, crowdfunding and venture advisory business that is helping democratise finance for investors and bring new, early-stage funding to startups and small, scalable businesses. The company recently completed its 100th IPO and introduced the world’s first App for crowdfunding IPOs, and was one of the first to receive the new crowd-sourced funding licenses in January 2018.
We spoke to Rosie Kennedy about how her traditional finance background led her to help build the OnMarket business.
As a professional, and now an entrepreneur, you have a wonderful mix of experience across traditional finance, financial governance and disruptive fintech. What are the highlights?
I began my career in the money market, then ran the government bond trading desk for what is now UBS.
My next major role was heading up business development at ASX, where my focus was on trying to allow retail investors to invest in fixed interest securities, or debt securities, because Australian investors are traditionally very equity-focused.
I went on to work at ASIC in the area that supervises exchanges. I also helped simplify the prospectus regime for debt issuers – again hoping to free up the debt market so retail investors had an opportunity to participate.
Then you met your co-founder at OnMarket, Ben Bucknell, who was trying to do something very similar in the equity market?
Yes. My passion came from being intimately involved in the bond market, and seeing the importance of diversification of portfolios. It was clearly apparent that retail investors were not being given the same opportunities to diversify their portfolios as institutions. Ben had the same vision in the equity market.
Initially we licensed our intellectual property to ASX, to build ASX BookBuild. This system was built within ASX’strading platform and was a tech-driven solution to improve the pricing on equity issuance by listed companies and improve participation for investors.
As this was a B2B model, we really needed some firms in the big end of town to grasp the opportunities arising out of digital disruption in financial markets. But remember, when we were launching ASX BookBuild, it was before the word ‘fintech’ was in common usage. The reality was that there were a lot of powerful, vested interests in the existing process, and it was not easy to get support for an innovative new approach.
Ironically, that lack of support drove us to develop OnMarket, which is a B2C service on desktop and in the App Store. It’s simple, and a far cry from what we were originally doing, but it seems to solve a real problem for investors (by giving them access to discounted IPOs) and companies (by providing a cost effective way of reaching investors).
What companies do you think stand out in the crowd-financing area?
We’ve had a few firsts. We closed Australia’s first equity crowdfunding offer, Revvies, in March 2018. And we’ve completed the largest crowdfunding deal in the world in terms of the number of investors. The company is called DC Power. They got 15,000 investors, and previously the largest number of investors globally was about 6,200.
One of our more interesting offers is The Cup eXchange (TCX) – which is a sustainable, coffee cup business which is solving the disposable cup conundrum. This offer opened in November 2018, and the minimum raise was covered in the first seven days.
It’s a subscription model where consumers are given two cups and they exchange those cups via scanning. Each cup has an identifier, and they scan the cups for credits. Once the coffee is finished, you pop the cup back to that particular café, or to another participating café.
That cup can be used by any participating café, and it never finds its way to landfill because if the coffee cup is ever damaged – which is unlikely because it’s made in a durable way that is very sturdy – it’s crushed down and made into another one.
It’s on trial in Sydney and Barangaroo, and in Melbourne as well. And they are the first-to-market with this product – there is no reason it can’t go global.
Does a crowdfunding raise also help with marketing and awareness of a business?
Definitely. The smaller companies can also use this process to engage their whole stakeholder chain – from employees, to the suppliers and the customers who really embrace the product and engage with the whole process – it’s a nice way of tying all the stakeholders in. For example, we completed a successful crowdraising for PT Blink – a technology company that is revolutionising the construction process. The key benefit for that group was getting referrals from customers. People saw their story whether they invested or not. As a result, large building companies got in touch with PT Blink to use the product.
You expanded your business to Tower Two at International Towers in 2018. You were previously based in Bligh St in Sydney’s CBD, what was behind the move?
We were looking to scale our business – and the tenant model at International Towers was beautifully configured for that kind of progressive growth.
Also, OnMarket is very much in the innovation business and the incredible strength of the innovation community at International Towers was a big attraction for us. We were drawn to the powerful community of enterprise and growth companies and the partnership approach International Towers takes with its tenants.
I think it’s a great benefit that we’re able to work together in such a collaborative environment, especially on our floor. As an example, with The Cup eXchange I spoke to fellow tenant partners, the Green Building Council Australia about relevant contacts in the sustainability area. They connected me with a terrific person at one of the large accounting firms, who has since put us in touch with a facilities manager, and as a result they’re about to sign a large partnership deal.
...which in an enterprise world is very fast-tracked?
Unbelievably. That all happened in 3.5 weeks. That’s a classic example of the working environment, but also of the collaborative nature of the people here. It’s certainly early days, but the camaraderie we’ve already experienced is fantastic.
Interview: Nicole Sullivan, Senior Manager – Green Star Solutions, Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA)
In October 2018, International Towers, Tower Two and Tower Three, launched its Commercial Building Volume Certification Program. It is the first commercial property in Australia to streamline certified, individual Green Star tenancy ratings for each of its tenants. Nicole Sullivan, Senior Manager – Green Star Solutions, at the Green Building Council Australia (GBCA) explains what this means for sustainability and what’s still on the horizon.
Interview: Maria Claudia, Samambaia, Florist and Owner, Samambaia flowers
For all the scientific research that supports the concept of biophilia - an innate and genetically-determined affinity of human beings with the natural world – the simple reality is that flowers have an ethereal ability to make us feel happy and at peace and, like a timeless work of art, transcend the boundaries of language or culture to unify us all in an appreciation of beauty.
For florist Maria Claudia, the delicate (and often challenging) art of creating floral installations of scale is both a passion and privilege. Her bespoke installations at International Towers combine an absolute commitment to sustainability, as well as a desire to showcase the unique native flora of Australia where possible in a creative and inspiring way.
Tell us a little about your story. How did you come to be involved with floristry?
It all began very serendipitously. I was studying jazz music in New York City while working in a restaurant in Tribeca. The restaurant kept having issues with their florist, and one day I said to the manager, “I think I could do better than that...” as you do... and she invited me to have a go. I started going to the Manhattan flower district in the middle of the night and started arranging flowers for the club every week. People were impressed and would ask who had created the arrangements. That was the beginning of my career!
You’ve worked with International Towers for a few years now. What have been your inspirations for the installations you’ve created for the Tower Two and Tower Three community?
My inspirations always come from what I see in nature. Working with International Towers has been such an incredible journey as sustainability is always our first priority (and how it should be for everything we do in life). That is where the project begins, and all the elements I source have to fit within this framework. It means we try and only source locally, and source plants and flowers that are sustainably grown. We also try and use plants that can be dried and reused for future installations. As the plants age, they take on completely new forms and colours, so they continue to live on.
Tell us about the community of growers you work with. What are the most important aspects of your relationships with growers?
After 15 years of going to the flower markets and dealing with growers from all around Australia directly, they do become part of your “flower family”. I see most of these people at least three times per week and could be in touch with them over the phone five times a week. I see more of them than my close friends. The respect, appreciation and understanding of what they do is the most important part of our relationship. Florists would never be able to achievewhat we do if it wasn’t for the community of skilled and dedicated growers that supplies us with the beautiful, seasonal flowers that bring joy to so many people.
How can you be sensitive to sustainability, without compromising your creative vision?
That is the challenge, and thatis the beauty of the end result itself. To be sustainable takes a lot more work. We are saving and reusing every single, possible material that we can and that means taking it all apart, storing it, protecting it and starting again. You just have to say “no” as much as possible to anything that isn’t sustainable and see what you are left to play with.
The art is in making something new with things you’ve used in the past. Many of the plants we use are just as beautiful when they are dry as when we first picked them, especially many Australian natives.
How do you feel the community benefits from experiencing a floral installation?
It’s a simple thing, I genuinely believe flowers and plants make people feel good. Having floral installations of this scale allows people to possibly experience some varieties of plants and flowers for the very first time in their lives. Some of the plants we source grow naturally in the outback, so many people who live in the city may have never come close to some Australian natives. The fact that people in the community can take a minute or so out of their busy day to just pause and enjoy a presentation of nature and the things that grow on the land, I believe, can have a very positive and powerful impact on how they feel for the rest of the day.
An appreciation of flowers and nature is something everyone has in common, regardless of our age, culture or lifestyle. These installations are more than just about celebrating an event such as Christmas – they start conversations, and they give the entire community something to enjoy and appreciate equally.
Procurement - the what, how, where and why of buying goods and services
Procurement - the what, how, where and why of buying goods and services - can play a significant role in the health and sustainability of communities, and the environment all over the world. An insatiable desire to prioritise quantity over quality, and a single-minded focus on cost reduction over the past several decades has created long-lasting, environmental and social effects all over the world, most often in communities that already struggle with poor living standards.
Thankfully, this is changing. As technology continues to shrink the global marketplace, and simultaneously improve the transparency and awareness about how things are made, companies and individuals are increasingly empowered to make better choices and insist that provenance and ethics are the solid foundation on which procurement decisions are made.
As is often the case, profound change often begins in small, simple ways; fuelled by a determination to do good. It was a small group of coffee-roasting entrepreneurs who began sourcing beans directly from farmers to ensure they received fairer remuneration that sparked consumer demand for ethically sourced product and the birth of Free Trade coffee, which is now a standard for major distributors all over the world. This in turn has enabled increased investment in small farming communities through way of improved infrastructure, education and equipment; ensuring the long-term sustainability of thousands of micro- farms around the world.
The fashion, technology and food industries have had similar recalibrations relating to the role of ethics in recent years, as consumers collectively demand increased transparency in provenance, forcing global brands to take greater responsibility for supply chains and to improve the wellbeing of the millions of people tasked with making the things we
use and rely on every day.
“Change can only come about if we insist on it,” says Liam Timms, Fund Manager, International Towers. “If we only do business with people and organisations that share our values, and if we refuse to purchase from those that don’t, we’ll see changes in behaviour that will ultimately be better for everyone. Someone needs to be the first to take a stand before others follow.”
International Towers has been committed to the highest standards of sustainability, diversity and inclusion from the very beginning of operations. In fact, a Responsible Procurement Policy was developed well in advance of the community coming alive and outlines a detailed and robust commitment to the responsible and sustainable procurement of goods and services. The policy reflects the international conventions and frameworks, such as the UN Global Compact’s principles on Environment, to which a number of International Towers’ tenant partners are signatories, including Accenture, David Jones, Lendlease, KPMG and Westpac.
In the current globalised economy, it’s reasonable to assume that many products may have been manufactured overseas and that business standards can vary widely across Australia and internationally.
By asking questions of our supply chain, we aim to better understand and support suppliers who are committed to business practices which enhance the environmental and social outcomes that align with those of International Towers. These questions ensure the products we source are: responsibly produced and from socially sustainable sources; avoid contributing to or directly using forced, bonded or involuntary labour; provide workers with safe working conditions free from bullying, physical, verbal or sexual harassment; pay staff appropriately and in line with all applicable laws; ensure no child labour or illegal labour is employed in the business; remove any discrimination on the basis of gender, faith, ethnicity, age, disability, marital status or sexual orientation.
The policy also extends to supporting our local Indigenous communities. The long cultural tradition and heritage of First Australians has a deep influence on every aspect of life at Barangaroo and, as such, International Towers is committed to improving Indigenous participation in the workforce by either directly employing Indigenous staff, or sourcing goods and services from Indigenous-owned or controlled businesses.
In a tangible example of our commitment to support Indigenous communities, we commissioned Indigenous artists from the Northern Territory to create 44 unique Dilly Bags to adorn the lobbies of International Towers, Tower Two and Tower Three, during the festive period.
The installation brought the work of Bula’bula Arts Aboriginal Corporation in North East Arnhem Land, home of the Yolngu people, to Barangaroo, the traditional home of the Gadigal people.
Dilly bags were historically used by Aboriginal people to gather food, carry tools, babies and receptacles for various cultural purposes, but today have a more decorative purpose. The artists from the Ramingining community craft their work to convey the region’s ritual and spiritual significance.
The artists, who hail from clan families and language groups in the area, used natural materials - Pandanas leaf from the Screw Palm being the essential material. The Pandanas leaf is dried and dyed using pigments from the surrounding country, compounded and applied by the artists using ancient knowledge and techniques.
The story of Australia is inseparable from the story of migration itself
Australia is often described as a nation of migrants. Apart from First Australians -
our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities - our population has its origins
in a uniquely diverse mix of other lands and cultures. The story of Australia is inseparable
from the story of migration itself, a tale that marries despair with hope, struggle with opportunity, and oppression with freedom.
In their search for a new life in a better place, Australia’s migrants have given
so much more to their new home than they’ve received. Despite an enormous
diversity in language, culture and beliefs, there is a commonality amongst
all that have settled on this land: an inspiring determination to succeed,
an entrepreneurial work ethic, and an unblemished optimism and belief in the
moral value of a ‘fair go’.
Global fintech TransferWise was inspired to create a photographic exhibition to
celebrate the achievements of Australian migrants and their incredible journeys.
The exhibition, ‘Faces of Australia’ - a portfolio of 20 curated images by
photographer Kurt Tilse, displayed in the ground foyers of International Towers,
Tower Two and Tower Three - inspired a panel discussion event, held to give a
voice to some of the individuals featured in the exhibition.
Opening the event, Liam Timms, Fund Manager for International Towers Sydney,
stressed the importance of providing a platform to support the diverse networks in Australia, such as through the exhibition and its ensuing spotlight on the importance of diversity.
“One person doesn’t do anything alone, corporate Australia has a big role to play. At International Towers, we are proud of the rich fabric of our community,” Mr Timms said.
Co-founder of TransferWise, Taavet Hinrikus said, “We believe being Australian is more about recognising where and who we are now and where we hope to go, as much as where we’ve
International Towers General Manager Tony Byrne said the inspiring exhibition was as much about the stories and storytelling as it was about the exquisitely-shot images.
“Diversity, in its truest word, means acknowledging all forms of background and identity. At International Towers, we are committed to celebrating the heritage, beliefs and values of our
diverse workforce and visitor base. We are proud to host this exhibition which shows on a macro level the contribution migrants make to Australia and, on a micro level, the diversity of
our own thriving business community,” Mr Byrne said. Many of the other exhibition subjects attended and shared how they were able to achieve their dreams, drawing on support
such as startup incubator Catalysr. Since its launch in 2016, Catalysr has helped 66 “migrapreneurs” start more than 15 successful businesses. Its professional community has more than 500 advisors and investors, who help these migrapreneurs with advice, support and forming valuable business connections.
Catalysr “graduate” Walid El Sabbagh founded vegan, Egyptian eatery Koshari Korner.
He arrived from Egypt in 2015 with experience as a marine engineer but couldn’t find work in his field. The change of course gave him a change to bring a piece of Egypt to Sydney.
Faces of Australia is proudly being exhibited at International Towers throughout summer 2018 /2019.
Sydney’s International Towers commissions works from Bula’Bula Arts Aboriginal Corporation
In the spirit of tradition, Indigenous artists from the Northern Territory have created 44 unique Dilly Bags to transform the lobby of International Towers Two and Three during the festive period.
The installation brings the work of Bula’bula Arts Aboriginal Corporation in North East Arnhem Land, home of the Yolngu people, to Barangaroo, the traditional home of the Gadigal people.
“Our ethos of inclusion comes to the fore during the festive season, a time when it is important to be respectful of people from all cultures and beliefs. The language of art is a universal one and we are proud to provide a forum for these talented Indigenous artists to share their inspiring stories,” International Towers General Manager, Mr Tony Byrne said.
Supporting indigenous enterprise
International Towers has proudly collaborated with Bula’Bula Arts Aboriginal Corporation in North East Arnhem Land to produce the traditional Dilly Bags within this installation.
The display is a modern Australian interpretation of the traditional Christmas tree, reflecting our respect towards multiple faiths, and is a completely sustainable creation.
In keeping with the values and traditions of Christmas; generosity, humility, inclusion and egalitarianism - it is made entirely by elements sourced from our local environment: flora including Christmas Bush, Red flowering gum, Coral Fern, Tetra Nuts, Kangaroo Paw, Eucalyptus Caesar, Woody Pear, Birds Nest Banksia plus sustainable LED lighting.
The Bula’Bula Art Aboriginal Corporation is known as ‘The cultural heart of Ramingining community’ representing approx.150 artists, providing materials, mentoring and business support, cultural maintenance, inter-generational learning programs as well as income and employment opportunities for the community. If you would like to understand more about Bula'Bula initiatives:
An interview with Harry Chemay, Co-founder and CEO, Clover.com.au
The financial advisory and funds management industries have been following the same playbook for decades. With governance, fees and transparency facing increasing regulatory scrutiny, and new technologies and a global market creating unprecedented investment opportunities, it was inevitable the existing model be disrupted.
International Towers is aspiring for Platinum WELL Building Standard Rating
The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) is leading the way for buildings and their
communities, seeking to implement, validate and measure features that support and
advance human health and wellness.
WELL Certified™ spaces and developments can lead to a built environment that helps to
improve the nutrition, fitness, mood, sleep, comfort and performance of its occupants.