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A chat with INCITE Ambassador & WA Startup Champion Charlie Gunningham!

“Everyone knows Charlie Gunningham” is often the response we get in the WA tech and startup community when you ask them “Have you met [or do you know] Charlie?”

In case you don’t know Charlie… here’s a little bit of impressive background history.

Originally from the UK, Charlie worked in Singapore for 8 years before landing in Perth in 1997. Graduating as top MBA student from UWA Business School in 1999, he co-founded, an online real estate business. He ran the business for 10 years until it was acquired by REIWA (Real Estate Institute WA) in 2010. He then ran before joining Business News in 2013, becoming CEO in 2015.

Charlie then worked for the federal government’s Accelerating Commercialisation program, funding pre-revenue startups and innovative businesses. He now works in an advisory capacity through Damburst Advisory for multiple tech and other businesses, is managing editor of Startup News and co-host of the Startup West podcast.

Charlie has been a major supporter of the INCITE Awards and this year is also helping out the 30th year celebrations as an INCITE Ambassador. We chat to Charlie about the importance of showcasing and supporting WA tech!

Question: Why are you interested in supporting and showcasing WA technology and innovation?

Charlie: I’ve been in the Perth startup scene for more than 20 years, as a founder through to exit, as an investor, board member, advisor and even writer. I love the potential of a team taking on an incumbent industry, seeking to do things better, faster, cheaper. Looking to disrupt, change the rules, create great products and services for customers with real world problems. The scalability of tech startups makes them exciting, the kind of value and wealth creation not possible in earlier generations. And it’s a lot of fun!

Plus WA has to get serious about backing our own tech companies, rather than welcoming overseas-owned, well-backed digital disruptors in that are eating away at all our industries, not paying much tax and not employing many Australians. Where are the WA/Australian tech companies?

Question: What future goals would you like to see when it comes to WA technology?

Charlie: I would like to see WA as a tech centre on this side of the world. A great place to live and work (which it undoubtedly is, covid has only proved that yet again), but also a place where tech businesses are welcomed, encouraged, backed and celebrated. Not just miners!

Question: Why did you decide to become an INCITE Ambassador?

Charlie: To help encourage the sector, give back if I could. A lot of really great people backed me when I was setting out on my startup journey in 1999, and since. Great mentors, investors, advisors. I think it’s beholden on those who get out the other end, to look to return the favour.

Question: What advice have you got for any of our local innovators looking to start something or grow their innovation?

Charlie: Go for it. You can do anything you put your mind to; but my best piece of advice is always to focus on a large customer problem that you can solve. Don’t focus on your product or its features. Customers don’t buy products or features, they buy solutions to problems. So fall in love with your customer problems, not your product! (So many entrepreneurs get that the wrong way around).

Thank you Charlie for your support, not only for the INCITE Awards but also for your advocacy and passion for WA startups, innovation and technology.