By Leon Gettler >>

AIRTASKER has had spectacular growth because it feeds the ‘gig’ economy, creating new jobs and careers.

Airtasker’s vice president of engineering, Yaniv Bernstein, said one of the great things about Airtasker was the Australian-bred company allowed new types of activity to be added to the economy. 

“The example I use is that if you are a song composer in the past, you might find that’s a passion of yours but you can’t get paid for it so it has to remain a hobby,” Mr Bernstein told Talking Business.

“Our mission statement is to empower people to realise the full value of their skills. That’s something we’re really passionate about, so now this person can make an income doing what they really love, what they’re good at, what they care about.

“It’s part of this business to allow people to run small businesses or be self-employed.”

He said the full profile of taskers included people who actually make a living on Airtasker.

“You have handy people, tradies who find Airtasker a great platform for what they’re doing, removalists and people like that,” Mr Bernstein said.

“And at the other end, you get people who like to have a bit of pocket money or get some flexible work around other commitments in their lives such as parenting or studying. They might do things like assemble Ikea furniture on the weekend.

“It’s not about volume necessarily but about ease of customer acquisition.”


Mr Bernstein said thousands of jobs are now posted on Airtasker and completed every week, including unusual jobs.

He said the key industry verticals for Airtasker, where there is a lot of work, included areas like house cleaning, furniture removal, gardening and personal shopping.

He said Airtasker has had remarkAble growth in Australia over the last few years, reaching several hundred percent.

The growth has been so spectacular that Airtasker is now looking to expand overseas. 

“It is an Australian company and that’s our core market that we’re excited about,” Mr Bernstein said. “But what’s really thrilling is that over the last couple of years especially, ss the company has recognised the success it’s had in the market and the global potential of it.

“I think we have set our sights more broadly.”

Airtasker has now launched in London and it is seeing huge growth there, Mr Bernstein said.

“Compared to the early years in Australia, because our product is more mature and we’re mature operationally, the growth in the UK is far more rapid than we had in Australia so we see massive potential in the UK and other foreign markets as we expand.”

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at


By Leon Gettler >>

WITH THE BANKS retreating from finance in the wake of the Royal Commission, investment firm Mayfair 101’s IPO Wealth Fund is now moving into the breach, funding Australian start-ups and businesses – even helping them expand overseas and build their markets.

Much of the money is coming from self-managed superannuation funds and high net worth individuals looking for investment opportunities and somewhere to get a better return on their funds than what the banks are offering. 

“There seems to be a big shift away from the banks at the moment, particularly with a lot of fintech companies coming online, and banks are not recognising this tidal wave of people, particularly younger generation shifting away from the banks,” Mayfair 101 CEO James Mawhinney told Talking Business.

“We thought we would be well-positioned to set something up,”

Mr Mawhinney said the fund had raised just over $40 million. Investors are buying units in a unit trust and Mayfair has investments around the world.

Apart from Australia, Mayfair also has investments in India, the UK, the US, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Israel and Italy.

It is very much in the fintech space – shorthand for financial technologies – and payments related companies.


One of the companies Mayfair 101 has invested in is the Israeli smart city tech company Bright Innovations. Bright approached Mayfair looking to list their company on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).

Bright Innovations has a platform that enables a range of applications, operating in a way similar to an app store, which is progressing now to an initial public offering (IPO) on the ASX.

“We have provided them with some pre-IPO financing,” Mr Mawhinney said.

The company has also invested in the Melbourne-based start-up Liven which allows people to use their phones to pay at hundreds of restaurants. Mayfair is helping the company roll out its initial coin offering and is helping the company expand into London.

“We are definitely on a formula that’s working very well,” Mr Mawhinney said.

He said the company was now taking more interest in the real estate space to balance its portfolio,

“We have very much a sweet spot where we work with a finite set of clients,” he said. 

Mr Mawhinney said Mayfair101 had a network of top level executives and former chairmen of major investment banks that it had appointed to boards of its client companies.

“It gives us a good opportunity to work with businesses that want to expand their horizons into overseas markets where we can provide not just access to expertise and contacts but also access to funding.”

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at


AUSTRALIAN firm Greyscan has developed a unique device capable of rapidly detecting homemade explosives – and it is being developed to provide global security agencies with a powerful new tool against terrorism.

The United States Transport Security Administration is planning to trial the technology as part of its aviation security measures, recognising that inorganic explosives trace detection is a capability gap which the GreyScan technology fills.

Minister for Defence, Christopher Pyne, recently launched a prototype of the Greyscan explosive detection device while visiting the Grey Innovation Group facilities in Melbourne. 

“I commend Grey Innovation Group on this pioneering product which will help make Australians safer. It is yet another example of Australian innovation delivering critical capability,” Mr Pyne said.

“This is an exciting technology which addresses the growing need for detection capabilities at high risk locations such as Defence and police facilities, cargo handling facilities, entry and exit points for large events and of course in the aviation market.”

The Greyscan technology was developed by the University of Tasmania and matured with funding from the National Security Science and Technology Centre which is now part of Defence Science and Technology.



AUSTRALIAN doctors are looking to virtual reality (VR) to change health care to better suit modern-day needs, thanks to home-grown startup company, Vantari VR.

Vantari VR is developing cutting edge technology to convert CT, MRI and other medical images into virtual reality, signalling the end of two-dimensional (2D) black and white medical scans.

The Australian-made technology is being tested by NSW doctors who are showing patients their scans using VR headsets, bringing medical imaging to life. The company is also exploring other ways to use this technology, including using virtual reality in surgical planning and to train junior doctors. 

Vantari VR was founded by two doctors, Vijay Paul and Nishanth Krishnananthan, whose combined experience in emergency medicine and surgery inspired them to solve a common problem.

“Health care professionals go through years of training to learn how to read standard medical scans,” Dr Paul said.

“There is no surprise that patients often struggle to decipher what the colourless blurs mean during a short medical appointment. We’ve worked at medical centres and hospitals across Australia, and noticed that this was a common issue at all of them, so we decided to do something about it,” Dr Paul said.

Knee surgery patients at Sydney’s Campbelltown Private Hospital will be some of the first to experience this technology during a six-month trial.

At Westmead Hospital in Sydney, Vantari VR is being piloted for procedural training where junior doctors and trainees are able to learn from immersive simulations hosted on a sophisticated VR platform.

Vantari VR is also being tested at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital where surgeons are turning traditional scans into virtual reality and using VR headsets to plan surgical procedures. According to research by Stamford University in the US, using virtual reality for surgical planning increases accuracy by 10 percent and decreases planning time by 40 percent.


When Vantari VR was in its prototype phase, Dr Paul and Dr Krishnananthan participated in the HCF Catalyst program, an accelerator that helps health care startups and scaleups to develop their ideas into investment-ready businesses in 12 weeks.

The doctors’ program mentors encouraged them to look at different ways health care professionals could use virtual reality in patient care.

“The HCF Catalyst program helped us see the greater potential to use virtual reality to not only educate patients but drive better understanding across the health system,” Dr Krishnananthan said.

“We want to be part of the movement that progresses the Australian health system into today’s modern technological world. It is important that we encourage doctors to use technology that can improve patient outcomes.”

HCF and venture fund Slingshot select businesses that share a vision of making health care affordable, understandable, high quality and patient centric to participate in the yearly accelerator program. Program participants receive mentoring, marketing and infrastructure support.

HCF Catalyst gave both Vantari VR founders education on the business side of running a heath Startup.

“As doctors we had clinical acumen and a good work ethic, but we needed support to learn new business skills,” Dr Paul said. “The HCF Catalyst program taught us how to create a sustainable business model and fundamental professional business skills like sales and pitching.”

HCF chief executive officer Sheena Jack is the driving force behind the health care accelerator program. She believes Vantari VR is a great example of how technology has the power to make health care more understandable and high-quality for patients. 

“We run the HCF Catalyst program to support entrepreneurs like Dr Paul and Dr Krishnananthan, who are using technology to make complex health care processes easier for Australian patients to understand and have potential to improve patient outcomes,” Ms Jack said.

“We think there is significant opportunity for the health care system to be using more advanced technology, like virtual reality, as research continues to show that it can benefit Australian patients.”


DATA security and compliance specialist Semafone is opening an Australian office to support its global contact centre customers.

The company’s third global customer support hub is in Canberra and Semafone CEO Tim Critchley said it would enable more efficient around-the-clock customer service and support while driving the company’s continued international growth.

“Opening our third office location is a testament to Semafone’s growth into a truly global organisation,” Mr Critchley said. 

“Our new Canberra office gives us the opportunity to provide around-the-clock customer service and support and to make critical updates to clients’ systems without any business disruption or inconvenience.”

Semafone is a leading provider of data security and compliance solutions specifically for contact centres. The Canberra office will serve as a customer support hub to customers based in Australia and Asia while assisting Semafone’s global customer base.

Mr Critchley said the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) requires merchants to regularly carry out updates and upgrades to payment software, such as Semafone’s Cardprotect solution.

However, in most instances, these updates need be completed at night to avoid workday interruptions and allow customers to continue business as usual. The Australian office would enable Semafone to perform time-critical security patches when it is most convenient for customers around the globe.

With Australia’s growing focus on data security standards, exemplified by the recent enactment of its Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) Scheme, Mr Critchley said Semafone was broadening its footprint in this region at the perfect time.

He said the Canberra office’s primary focus would be on customer support, but the its close proximity to partner SecureCo, a key player in Australia’s secure payments market, would provide additional in-region expertise and partner support.

“Semafone’s new Australian office will not only help strengthen our partnership but will also ensure our customers receive the best possible in-region support and expertise,” SecureCo chief operating officer, Peter McCormick said.

“We look forward to our continued partnership with Semafone as we work together to simplify PCI DSS compliance, keep data secure and uphold brand reputations.”

The new Semafone office at Braddon, ACT, has come just two years after opening Semafone’s North American headquarters in Boston.

Semafone was founded in 2009 and now supports customers in over 25 countries on five continents. Semafone’s extensive customer base includes companies such as AO, AXA, The British Heart Foundation, Rogers Communications, RNIB, Santander, Sky, TalkTalk and parts of the Virgin Group. 

Major investors of Semafone include Octopus Ventures and Business Growth Fund (BGF).


JUST ONE YEAR after Recon Solutions’ 50 percent acquisition by People Infrastructure (PI), the recruitment company is increasingly dominating in the ICT recruitment sector – and since the purchase, PI shares have more than doubled, from $1 to $2.30.

Leading up to the acquisition, Recon Solutions consistently achieved 200 percent year-on-year growth over its six-year history. Recon was also recognised as the 12th fastest growing company by BRW magazine in 2016 and was awarded Growth Company of the Year at the annual Recruitment International Awards in 2017.

In recent years, the Recon brand has become renowned for its support of worthy sporting and community causes.

Director and CEO, Steve Scanlan, attributed Recon’s achievements to the company’s hunger to keep improving, as well as its robust culture.

“We’re driven by relationships, not transactions, and our focus is on openness and honesty in business,” Mr Scanlan said. “This is relevant more than ever now that we’re accountable to shareholders in addition to our clients.”

Recon Solutions is also making a name for itself as a good corporate citizen, supporting and sponsoring numerous worthy causes.

Perhaps most notably, Recon is now the major sponsor of Tonga National Rugby League. The investment has helped propel the national team, Mate Ma’a Tonga, to new heights and a level of professionalism which sees them ranked fourth in the world, and set to play Tier One nations in 2019.

It was further announced this week that Mate Ma’a Tonga is top seeded alongside England, Australia and New Zealand in the revamped 2021 World Cup. 

Also noteworthy is Recon Solutions’ early support of Brisbane-local and boxing champion, Jeff Horn. Five years ago, Recon’s sponsorship allowed Horn to train full time and ultimately go on to become a world champion.

Recon Solutions was there when Jeff Horn took on reigning world champion Manny Pacquiao and was also there 18 months later when he defeated Anthony Mundine on November 30 at Suncorp Stadium.

Recon Solutions further supports a wide variety of organisations including the Queensland Ballet, West Fiji Dolphins Club, Children’s Hospital Foundation, the Petero Civoniceva Foundation, and Rochedale State School, among others.

This past spring, Recon raised over $50,000 for the Starlight Children’s Foundation, of which Mr Scanlan sits on the state advisory board.

Most recently, Recon Solutions signed Irish-born and 2018 WBO Intercontinental Champion Dennis ‘Hurricane’ Hogan for a platinum sponsorship.

“He’s quickly becoming boxing’s rising star, and our team believes he’s on his way to a world title win,” Mr Scanlan said.


BRISBANE’S CBD has been augmented by one of Australia’s most exclusive ‘co-working spaces’ with the launch of Christie Spaces’ $4.5m Common Ground facility.

Aimed at businesses requiring immediate access to a fully-equipped CBD base that can help drive innovation as much as introductions, Common Ground in Adelaide St acts as a centre for collaboration. 

The design and layout provides a hub for new technology and innovation, according to Christie Spaces national brand manager Fusun Batey, and will bring together "thinkers and doers" from all sectors under one roof, ”unlike anything Brisbane currently has to offer”.

Mrs Batey said Common Ground offered so much more thana stylish hi-tech office, with elite services and resources, digital platforms, space flexibility, networking opportunities, “and most importantly, a sense of community”.

“Collaboration and community have emerged as popular reasons that businesses seek out co-working spaces, and recent studies have also revealed that employees in a co-working environment are happier and more productive,” Mrs Batey said. 

She said co-working spaces had moved beyond the realm of just offering access to fast internet and good coffee and were now a global phenomenon, giving workers an advantage in a knowledge-based economy that was fuelled by an increasing need for information and connectivity.


Common Ground was designed to be collaborative, Mrs Batey said, with spacious shared amenities such as bathrooms, kitchens, lounge areas and meeting rooms, as well as being contemporary in design with curved steel finishes, high ceilings, and luxe lighting throughout its 1750sqm..

“Sustainability is also a big factor in the decision-making processes with businesses not only able to cut costs on items like energy, data, printing and more, but also reduce their environmental footprint as a result,” Mrs Batey said.

“Another key factor in the rise of co-working is rapid advances in technology. Co-working facilities allow businesses to operate with up-to-the-minute digital trends they may not otherwise be able to afford. 

“With a spend of $250,000 on IT infrastructure alone, Common Ground provides an unparalleled tech offering, as well as ongoing support.”

Coworking spaces are also no longer just the domain of freelancers, startups and small businesses seeking to share costs and establish networking opportunities, with big corporations increasingly jumping on the trend, according to research by Christie Spaces.

“Large companies, particularly those geared towards the millennial generation of worker, see co-working as both a cost cutting measure as well as an opportunity to attract and retain talent by providing an environment that cultivates networking and idea generation,” Mrs Batey said,

“Common Ground is home to large project spaces ideal for collaboration, not to mention mod-cons such as a podcast room, a photo wall for video content creation, and even a wellness and relaxation area.

“With studies showing that co-working results in a significant increase in employee productivity and happiness, and with the flexibility and cost-cutting it offers businesses, the allure of co-working spaces shows no sign of slowing down.”

Common Ground will open in October at Christie Spaces – 320 Adelaide St – close to Central Station, with bicycle racks and end-of-trip facilities on the premises.


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