Why Australia has the Right Mix for Business Growth — AfterPay | Scale up

Published on
November 3, 2022
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Whilst every country has had their fair share of socio-economic challenges this past year, Australia remains steadfast in circumventing complex hurdles on every front regardless of radically changing landscapes.

Despite having major COVID-19-related struggles at the beginning of 2020, Australia’s economy readily bounced back in the September quarter and has had a slow but steady increase since compared to most developed nations.

In a recent Edelman Trust Barometer report, Australia is the only country that has had a record-breaking uptick in trust across all its institutions, with Business taking the lead as more and more small- and big-scale CEOs prove they are worth their salt when it comes to providing both psychological and economic safety for their employees.

This begs the question: What factors contribute to Australia’s thriving business environment?

A Case for AfterPay

Afterpay is a global Melbourne-based fintech provider that pioneered the digital “buy now, pay later” payment scheme industry. It has had spectacular growth over the years since its inception in 2014 and even doing superbly well during 2020’s economic downturn.

AfterPay raised $25 million at $1 per share when it was floated in 2016 — less than a year after being established. Today, the company’s shares trade at over $115 (as of March 10, 2021).

While AfterPay’s ability to start and scale as fast and as successfully as it did had a lot to do with its founders’ talent and skills, without the local resources readily available to them — such as access to a well-supported financial landscape, a tech-savvy liquid market, and a skilled talent pool — scaling would have been a much bigger challenge.

Here are some of the ways we believe Australia’s thriving start-up and scale-up landscape was key to AfterPay’s staggering success.

AfterPay share prices from March11, 2020 to March 11, 2021

Australia has a Savvy, Culturally Diverse Consumer Market

With three in ten locals being born overseas, Australia has become the global epicentre of cultural diversity. This opens the door for more opportunities to cater to a variety of needs across all major industries, making Australia the Western world’s most ideal taste-tester and the perfect place to launch a global company.

Australians also pride themselves on getting right on the heels of cutting-edge developments and their ever-growing number of highly profitable on-shore scale-up companies are a testament to this.

Studying this vast, savvy market presented one stand-out issue that AfterPay sought to address — its founders theorised that Millennials have a total aversion to credit cards because they can lead to compounding debt. AfterPay was a novel way to sway this market by presenting a four-part, interest-free way to pay for products and services.

Banking on this first-mover advantage, as well as AfterPay’s obvious practicality, the company won over its credit-averse target market because they saw a problem that needed to be solved and acted on it before anyone else, establishing strong brand recognition and product loyalty right off the bat. Had they waited or got delayed due to lack of resources, other entrants might have beaten them to the punch.

Australia has a Well-educated, Highly Specialised Workforce

Australia ranks 13th under the World Economic Forum’s Skills pillar, which means it has the ability to accommodate businesses of all kinds and sizes. This is largely due to the fact that their educational system produces experts in every field and industry.

This allowed AfterPay to have access to a highly competent team. AfterPay’s founders, Anthony Eisen and Nick Molnar, had the perfect combination of skills and resources — Eisen, with his vast network, street-smarts, and expertise in corporate business, coupled with Molnar’s natural talent for innovation and entrepreneurship made for a great working relationship. They were also joined by a skilled supporting team that impeccably positioned AfterPay for staggering growth less than a year later.

Australia’s desirability as a global destination — whether for tourism or migration — enables its job market to constantly grow and tap into even more industries in the foreseeable future.

Australia Receives Solid Government Support

Thanks to the Australian government’s quick implementation of monetary and fiscal policies, the repercussions of earlier labour force crises were mitigated and allowed many citizens and businesses to keep themselves afloat.

Australia has also been providing some of the world’s best government incentives for angel investors well before the pandemic struck, including reducing their tax bills by 20% and forgoing capital gains taxes altogether.

This helps magnify interest in Angel investment as an asset class and, ultimately, is good for start-ups and scale-ups alike — such as in the case for AfterPay, which received around $35.4 million in total funding by the time they launched in 2014.

BeingIconic is a growth consultancy based in Sydney. This article is the first instalment to our “Why Australia has the Right Mix for Business Growth” series, where we explore the uniquely Australian factors that contributed to the success of AfterPay and other global scale-ups like Atlassian, Canva, The Iconic, Prospa, and Sendle.
Tune in next time as we break down how Atlassian disrupted software industries across the globe.