An award-winning entrepreneur has developed an innovative online tool that could pull the rug out from under high-priced consultants.
An award-winning entrepreneur has developed an innovative online tool that could pull the rug out from under high-priced consultants.

Former PM on innovative start-up’s long list of fans

BUZZING BRAIN

An award-winning Brisbane entrepreneur has developed an innovative online tool that could pull the rug out from under high-priced consultants.

Bruce Muirhead now hopes to raise up to $1m in a crowd-funding campaign this month to drive the growth of his start-up business MindHive, a cloud-based software platform used globally.

Fans include the likes of former PM Julia Gillard, operatives at the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland, QUT and Austrade, as well as Kate Carnell, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman. Deloitte has also signalled interest.

So what exactly is this thing that Muirhead describes as "a global Airbnb for brains''?

Bruce Muirhead, founder and CEO of Mindhive
Bruce Muirhead, founder and CEO of Mindhive

MindHive allows large groups of people to work remotely on a project in real time, essentially bringing the ethos of the share economy to problem solving.

It's especially attractive for big companies, including the big four accounting firms, that want to workshop issues without forking out the big bucks to outside consultants.

Like Spotify, users are able to access the site for free but they can also opt to pay $14 for a monthly subscription that provides a premium service with extra features.

EXIT STRATEGY

Muirhead, who previously spent five years running UQ's Boilerhouse research and innovation initiative, developed the MindHive concept in 2014.

But commercialisation didn't kick in until three years later, when the company raised its first $2m.

Among the current owners are QIC's Business Development Fund with a 10 per cent stake and Brisbane investment banker Steve Bizzell, whose Bizzell Capital Partners has an 18 per cent slice of the pie.

Steve Bizzell
Steve Bizzell

MindHive currently has more than 11,000 members around the world and it's growing by about 100 per fortnight. Annual revenue is tipped to reach a modest $100,000 to $150,000.

The goal is to have about 250,000 members by late next year, with about 8 per cent of those premium clients, and to scale up to more than 150 countries.

To drive that expansion, Muirhead said the company has embarked on its first crowd-funding campaign on the Birchal website as a result of limitations imposed by the pandemic.

The equity raising effort has already attracted 300 expressions of interest at an average of $2423 each ahead of the official launch of an investment memorandum next week. It will be open for just 21 days.

Even as the business remains on a growth trajectory, Muirhead freely discusses potential exit strategies by late next year when he expects the enterprise will be self-sustaining.

One option is for an ASX float, while another is a potential buy out by one of the big accounting or consulting groups.

WELCOME BACK

Efforts are under way to reconstitute the Brisbane Greeters program, which was scrapped earlier this year.

The popular initiative, launched by former Lord Mayor Graham Quirk in 2012, saw hundreds of volunteers show off the city to visitors, dignitaries, students and other guests.

But it got the chop when savage budget cuts and significant job lay-offs gutted Brisbane Marketing, which has since been rebadged as the Brisbane Economic Development Agency.

QST_WRH_GREETERS_WK8
QST_WRH_GREETERS_WK8

That prompted quite a bit of anger and disappointment among the regulars. "We can't believe that BEDA can't see the value of voluntary labour in promoting those areas of the city that are currently doing it tough,'' one told us.

It appears the agency is having second thoughts now.

In an email to former greeters this week, a BEDA operative says that "a new administrator'' will be appointed shortly.

 

 

"Please rest assured that we are taking the time and due care to ensure we achieve the best possible outcome for the Brisbane Greeters program,'' she writes.

"We appreciate that you are eager to get back to delivering Greets for the city and thank you for your patience as we work through this process. I look forward to announcing an outcome soon so this much-valued program can return.''

Originally published as Former PM on innovative Brisbane start-up's long list of fans


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