JACK DELOSA argues the COVID-19 situation is rightly described as a fight for life – both physical and economic. Times like these call for courage and innovation in business, argues the battle-hardened business expert and entrepreneurship advocate, whose mantra right now is: “Decisive action will enable a swifter recovery.”


AS THE COVID-19 pandemic rages, all eyes remain, understandably, on the prospect of ‘crushing the curve’.

However, even as Australian homes and hospitals deal with unprecedented levels of fear and anxiety, it seems that business leaders are not immune to the coronavirus’ wrath, with business confidence sustaining serious body-blows in mid-March, and plummeting to record lows, according to the Roy Morgan Monthly Business Confidence Index.

Jack Delosa is a renowned Australian entrepreneur, investor, and founder of Australia’s largest training institution for entrepreneurs, The Entourage. After spending 2016 and 2017 fighting back from a commercial near-death experience, and then spending the last three years rebuilding, Mr Delosa is one of the most battle-tested entrepreneurs in Australia today. 

He is now leading hundreds of thousands of other entrepreneurs as they ‘fight the good fight’ against COVID-19 and the economic havoc it is unleashing.

“I know first-hand the fear and uncertainty that can arise in times of crisis and I can tell you that the businesses most likely to survive in this tough economic climate are those actively engaging in proactive decision-making and future-focused action,” Mr  Delosa said.

In 2016, after unexpected government changes to the education sector in Australia, Mr Delosa found himself and The Entourage three months away from a monthly loss of $800,00.

“We were months away from losing just under a million dollars a month. We needed to take drastic action, and quickly,” Mr Delosa said.

Taking swift and decisive action, Jack Delosa restructured The Entourage – painfully reducing his team of 90 to just 40 in a single day, redesigning the business model, and beginning the long fight back to full fiscal viability. Today, Delosa says The Entourage is healthier than ever.

“We're growing faster than ever, we’re more profitable than ever, and our members are happier and more successful than ever,” he said.

“It was torturous, but you learn a lot and that sets you up for higher levels of success.”

For business leaders currently battling economic uncertainty, Mr Delosa has these points of advice:

Take action:​ “More is lost through indecision than wrong decisions, so don’t just bury your head in the sand and wait for the storm to pass. The longer you choose to do that, the scarier and harder it will become to take decisive action. If you are lost, turn to trusted advisors for guidance and advice.”

Model positivity:​ “This COVID-19 crisis is an opportunity to offer ‘contagious leadership’. We are all fearful at the moment, but savvy business leaders are ‘positively fearful’. This means they are alert and confident, and are acting decisively, despite their fear. In my experience, people are silently waiting to be led. This is true all the time but, now, more than ever, the world needs leaders who model conviction, decisiveness, and positivity.”

Nurture consumer relationships:​ “It’s almost certain your current and potential consumers are at home, right now, so you have a captive audience via social media and digital content. Even if sales are declining, now is an optimal time to build your audience, strengthen consumer relationships, and build trust and loyalty. In that regard, I would be advising every business to be providing helpful, credible and compassionate digital content to their online audience.”

Keep an eye on the future:​ “The current business turbulence is tied to a health crisis – it’s not inherently an economic crisis – and what we learned from SARS and MERS is that the economic recovery will be quick once the health concerns start to decline. The businesses who act decisively and positively, now, will be better placed to thrive when the economy bounces back.”

Vitally, Mr Delosa advises against imitating others’ actions or adopting a one-size-fits-all solution.

“Everyone should take contextually appropriate action,” he said. “Some businesses are fighting for survival; others are booming. Every business has different needs but all of them require immediate action.

“The best analogy for business leaders, now, is to be like any seasoned boxer in the ring; be instinctive and adaptive, react swiftly to micro-mistakes, believe in your ability to endure, and ensure you are constantly on the front foot.” 


Jack Delosa​ is one of Australia’s top entrepreneurs and investors, founder of Australia’s largest training institution for entrepreneurs, ​The Entourage​, and host of the hit Foxtel series, ​Entrepreneurs ​ Mr Pelosa has been listed in the AFR Young Rich List five times, and contributed to the development of the curriculum for The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is a high-profile investor in growth companies such as Q-Biotics, Martin Jet Pack (ASX:MJP) and eMerchants (ASX:EML), and is co-founder of MBE Education and The Entourage Beanstalk Factory. His highly-acclaimed first book, ​UnProfessional, reached best-seller status within three weeks of launch. His latest book, ​Unwritten ​outlines the unconventional wisdom he has s become known for, to living a life on purpose and making the world a better place. ​Unwritten ​became Australia’s best-selling business book in one week.


By Leon Gettler >>

SYDNEY THOMAS is in the business of empowering women in business.

She is an associate of Precursor Ventures, a US classic seed-stage venture capital firm investing in long-term relationships with founders. It targets companies in a pre-launch pre-marketing phase.

Ms Thomas has also been involved in the Girl Geek academy and she recently came to Melbourne to meet female entrepreneurs.

The academy is committed to getting female entrepreneurs to the next stage.

She said women have difficulties raising venture capital. 

“I think the hard part about venture capital is that it is much more an art than science,” Ms Thomas told Talking Business.

“What that means is often people will get introduced to VCs. The VCs will sometimes decide to invest based on data and sometimes based on gut – and a lot of these subjective decisions are often ruled by the sub-conscious, which is often not as thoughtful as the conscious.

“The sub-conscious can often lead to making decisions based on fear, or things we think we know best,” Ms Thomas said.

“That means a white guy can decide to invest in his friend, who is another white guy, just because he is a friend and trusts (him) – but there’s this unknown woman who is a little more scary, a little more untested and so they are less likely to invest in that woman.”

The result: only 2 percent of venture capital dollars went to women in 2018.


Ms Thomas said there was a high demand from female entrepreneurs for venture capital, but they often do not have the networks and access to money that their male classmates and colleagues have access to.

Women are now finding greater access to venture capital through their networks with women who are already working in venture capital.

Ms Thomas, however, cautioned about relying too much on those women in venture capital.

“The change really happens when you have allies across the whole community,” she said. “Male VCs need to be accountable for investing in women just as women do.”

Ms Thomas said women of colour and ethnic women have even more difficulty raising funds.

She said black women raise less than 1 percent of all the venture dollars as they are ostracised from the groups that draw white female entrepreneurs.

This is something particularly pertinent to her, as a black woman.

“The good thing is people are starting to talk about it. Race has been a very taboo topic and we starting to acknowledge that race exists and should be addressed,” Ms Thomas said.

The key, she said, was to build networks with more diverse pipelines.

This is one of the areas that Precursor is looking into, she said, for Precursor is about “building bridges with people across the country”.



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

By Leon Gettler >>

BLUECHIIP is an unusual company that has created unique and patented technology combining secure wireless sample tracking with integrated temperature reading, for use in extreme environments.

It is a technology that wirelessly tracks the identification and temperature of valuable samples, such as tissue, blood, serum and plasma, which are used in research, developing drugs, in vitro fertilisation (IVF), and viral therapies, all stored in environments such as liquid nitrogen. These materials are put into stasis and stored for a long time.

It is a unique and patented technology built into a Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) unit which works in harsh and aggressive environments of minus 196 degrees Celsius. 

Typical electronic devices and radio frequency identification (RFID) technology cannot operate at those temperatures. The technology for Bluechiip devices also survives sterilisation which is important for the tracking of such materials.

The end customer for Bluechiip would typically be IVF clinics, pharmaceutical companies and researchers – but that is a broad market – so the target markets for Bluechiip are original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners which make the consumables, such as blood bags and plastic tubes, that already have a captive market and distribution channels.

The Bluechiip tracking system in the form of MEMS, can read the samples rapidly, even through frost. It can also be moulded into any plastic.

Bluechiip devices are sterilisation resistant, including from gamma radiation. This reduces human error and increases productivity.

Bluechiip also has a multi-sample or multi-viral reader which allows users to read up to 100 samples at once. In these extreme temperatures, the micro-electro-mechanical device will read the sample where a barcode or RFID won’t work.

Without the Bluechiip micro-electro-mechanical device, the user would have to use their finger, or thaw the sample, which is a productivity issue.


The technology was developed in Melbourne and has been patented across jurisdictions including the US and Europe and Bluechiip is moving into Asia.

Bluechiip managing director Andrew Maclellan said the company’s major market is North America which accounts for 40 percent of the global market. Europe is the next major market, which is at 30-35 percent. The company is also moving into Japan and China. 

Mr Maclellan said major customers include vial manufacturer Labcon North America, which manufactures 1.5 billion consumables a year for the life sciences sector.

He said while there were a number of other industries Bluechiip could target, such as food production, it was now focusing on the bio-preservation market.

“We know there are a number of associated industries we can enter but for us it’s about securing our target market, we maintain a strong focus,” Mr Maclellan said.

“When we’re talking about 300 million-plus samples going into store, and for us each of the chips that we place in there is best to think around $1, so we value our market at around $200 million.

“So if we can penetrate that bio-preservation market and get a good share there, we can run into the delivery of tens of millions of chips a year into that market place – we have a good launching pad to enter into adjacent market places.”

And as he pointed out, Bluechiip is the only company that can identify the sample in those harsh environments.

“There is no other technology that can do what we do,” Mr Maclellan said.



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

By Leon Gettler >>

IMAGINE if you could power lights with a battery that generates its own power when activated by dipping it in water.

Hydra Light’s products are aimed at reducing the waste associated with single-use batteries and raising awareness of alternative energy solutions.

Hydra Light has developed technology that can harness the electrons liberated from a magnesium anode, when immersed in water, into a useable direct current (DC) power. The Hydra Light system is a revolutionary technology that creates power using a chemical reaction between metal and water.

All you need to make it work is water and air. 

The HydraCell uses this reaction to efficiently capture electrons released during this process, with the water acting as a catalyst to create this reaction once it comes into contact with the HydraCell.

HydraLight CEO Gerry Comninos said the company’s technology had been patented around the world and it was now in the process of commercialising the product.

“At the moment we have got a range of products that we can use the fuel cell in. So lanterns, lights, torches and power devices which would charge mobile phones,” Mr Comninos told Talking Business.

He said it could also be used on laptops and even miners’ hats.



As opposed to a traditional battery, the HydraCell generates its own power.

And unlike a normal a single HydraCell, would have 250 hours of use. If you left a torch on for eight hours, the batteries would be used up. The HydraCell life would be the equivalent of about 30 AA batteries.

Mr Comninos said the HyrdraCell is recyclable and they are working on one that is biodegradable.

He said it is perfect for communities off the grid or remote communities.

As a result, there is a growing demand for the HydraCell in the Third World.

There is also a big market for the product in the US, among with the survivalists.

He said statistics show there are 1.3 billion people around the world who do not have electricity or who have intermittent electricity

“They are dependent on candles which are dangerous and start fires, kerosene lamps which give off poisonous gases and/or batteries – so we are a cheap alternative,” Mr Comninos said.

He said while the company was based in Melbourne, it had a research team in the Philippines and a contract manufacturing factory in China.

It also had a presence in Canada and the USA and was looking to open an office in London. 



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


THE Story Bridge is 78 years old. Sydney Harbour Bridge is hitting 95. Australian bridges are designed for a life span of 100 years. Thankfully a clever group of structural engineers are on the case.

“The designers of these bridges allowed for the growth of traffic and load consideration, so safety factors for material strength were built into bridges like the Story and Sydney Harbour bridges,” QUT civil engineering professor Tommy Chan said.

“The Sydney Harbour Bridge is being fitted with 2400 sensors to monitor its structural health. 

“While this bridge has had regular maintenance, strengthening and tests to ensure it is safe, the use of sensors to detect damage caused by traffic, wind, temperature, vibration and extreme events add an extra level of safety by alerting asset owners to timely maintenance.

“Some defects or damage may not be detected using visual inspection only and a sensor system can let us know whether the structure is performing as expected,” he said.

Prof. Chan said the latest Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) technologies provided 24/7 monitoring of large structures and alerted asset owners when some part of the structure needed attention.

“SHM technologies add extra safety measures beyond the traditional method of routine scheduled, visual checks,” he said.

“Using SHM we can determine when structures need a retrofit, rehabilitation and strengthening.

“This is why the Australian Network of Structural Health Monitoring (ANSHM) is promoting SHM systems to be implemented to existing structures and built into new structures.”

“SHM uses various sensing devices and ancillary systems to monitor the in-situ behaviour of a structure to assess and evaluate its condition,” Prof. Chan said.

“We have developed extra SHM technologies to detect, locate, and assess the severity of damage and deterioration in not only bridges and but also buildings, dams and towers. 

“Spending 1-5 per cent of the construction cost of a structure on installing SHM during the build, can provide minimum to comprehensive levels to monitor structures for timely maintenance.

“It is an effective way to detect structural problems and also predict the remaining life of structures.

“Vibration-based damage detection uses accelerometers to identify the dynamic characteristics of bridges, such as frequencies and mode shapes,” Prof. Chan said.

“On suspension bridges we use anemometers to monitor wind speed and direction because there is a lot of aerodynamic interaction between wind, structure and traffic.

“We measure the traffic load and the bridge’s responses to know whether it is performing according to the design assumptions – the system gives an alert if it is not performing properly.

“With a concrete bridge, for example, we need to know the temperature inside the concrete as well as the outside in order to estimate any developing thermal stresses because if a structure needs to expand and it is stopped from expanding it adds stresses to the structure.”

Prof. Chan said bridges deteriorated at different rates depending upon bridge design and materials used.

“This means different SHM systems for different levels of monitoring need to be considered and implemented,” he said.

“The latest SHM technologies could help to determine what needs to be replaced, retrofitted, or rehabilitated.”

Prof. Chan said his ARC-funded research project on the development of prestressed concrete bridges using moving force identification would have been applicable in testing the Morandi Bridge in Genoa that recently collapsed.

“This bridge was the first modern prestressed, concrete cable-stayed bridge. The project developed three different methods to identify prestress force of existing bridges which will be useful to evaluate the loading capacity of existing prestressed concrete bridges.”

Prof. Chan and professor David Thambiratnam, together with other SHM experts in Australia established the Australian Network of Structural Health Monitoring (ANSHM) in 2009 at QUT to promote SHM technologies and raise general community awareness on its need and its value. Prof. Chan remains ANSHM founding president.




By Peter Marix-Evans >>

ACTIVITY-BASED working (ABW) has moved from workplace experiment to corporate standard in just a few years. But if you’re looking around your office and wondering why the shift hasn’t delivered on its promise – it might be because you’re doing it wrong.

Research found nearly two-third of companies plan to adopt a shared-desk workplace strategy by 2020, an increase of 30 percent. In addition to saving space and reducing commercial overheads, businesses are looking to transform their culture with a new way of working.

By its very nature, ABW is a design-led approach, allocating different types of spaces to suit business need. For example, if collaboration is a key aspect of your commercial success, dedicating spaces for people to come together makes sense.

It’s also driven by the need for greater innovation in the face of increasingly global and digital competition. ABW sets out to foster better collaboration and harness diversity of thought, increasing the likelihood of finding innovative solutions to business problems. 

Sounds great, right? But when it fails, ABW becomes a major source of frustration for employees, hindering their ability to get work done and, at worst, giving them a reason to leave.

A growing number of studies and horror stories are shedding light on the impact of getting an ABW strategy wrong.

If you’re implementing an ABW strategy or have one in place already, how do you ensure yours is a catalyst for transformation and not a reason for your staff to leave?


One common issue is that businesses with ABW plans end up hot-desking instead. One is based on design principles to improve working conditions; the other is focused on using real estate more effectively. 

ABW is about creating a workspace to suit the type of work activity. For some people this could be collaboration spaces, for others it’s about regular access to a computer with multiple screens.

Hot-desking and ABW are not mutually exclusive – it makes sense for some staff to swap desks based on the activity they’re currently working on.

But it becomes a problem when all staff are expected to adopt a hot-desking approach, regardless of whether it makes sense for their work. Rather than motivating your employees, this often has the opposite effect.

Ensuring you’re not forcing employees to move around your office for the sake of it is key to a successful ABW strategy.


Your staff are not a homogenous group. While some thrive in noisy, vibrant workspaces, others are happiest with a desk of their own in a quiet area of the office.

Ensuring the flexibility for staff to work in a way that best suits them is critically important.

This means having a workspace designed specifically for the type of activities your staff requires, including collaboration spaces, breakout rooms, quiet areas and relaxation stations. Ensuring people have a choice about where they’re working has a big boost on productivity.

With technology providing us the tools to work from anywhere, staff don’t always need to commute to the office to get things done either.

Providing the flexibility to work from home, the café or the local park is good for productivity and will also help with staff retention.


ABW is not only a driver of culture – it’s impacted by it too. There’s no point in having a fantastic setup for a raft of different working styles only for your staff to be too scared to use them. 

This is where culture is key. Business that are focused on output rather than presence have a far greater chance of successfully implementing an ABW office.

The right culture allows people to work in a way that suits their activity and their personality. A constructive culture is key to any workplace transformation and ABW is no exception.

When done well, ABW is a fantastic driver of business culture. It boosts productivity, improves collaboration and drives a more innovative approach to business problems.

But it only works if it’s designed to add value, rather than to cut costs.

This means ensuring it’s designed and built to meet the needs of your staff.



Peter Marix-Evans is the CEO at SHAPE Australia, a commercial fitout and refurbishment specialist known for its innovation, needs interpretation, and delivery of large-scale projects that require Australia-wide resources.


THE Australian Academy of Science is proposing the development of a new ‘downward-looking telescope’ that could look at least 300km beneath the Earth’s surface to unlock Australia’s hidden mineral wealth.

The proposal is one of several in a 10-year plan for Australian Geoscience (2018-27) launched by the Academy’s National Committee for Earth Sciences.

The 10-year plan highlights how the world’s shift towards mobile device technology, renewable energy sources and electric cars will involve massive increases in demand for copper, cobalt, gold, rare-earth elements and other specialty metals.

The committee’s chair, Professor Sue O’Reilly, said one of the challenges for Australian geoscience in the coming decade is to ensure the right infrastructure was in place to know how and where to explore for the critical resources needed for Australia’s future.

“This is where the downward-looking telescope comes in,” Prof. O’Reilly said. 

“A piece of infrastructure like this would transform our minerals sector by making deep Australia visible. It would give us a new understanding of the vertical makeup of the continent and allow us to direct our mineral exploration efforts in the two-thirds of Australia that aren’t currently cost-effective to explore.

“By 2030 global demand for cobalt will be 47 times what it was in 2016 so, unless we can become self-sufficient in this strategic metal, Australia may be held to ransom with massive price increases and chronic shortages,” Prof. O’Reilly said.

“This exemplifies the need to generate new geoscience knowledge that will allow us to explore successfully in the covered areas of Australia.”

The plan also draws attention to the weakness in geoscience in Australia’s education system.

“Geoscience is largely absent in Australia’s school system because of a lack of teachers with qualifications in geoscience. Geoscience should be embedded as a core subject within every level of Australian STEM education and earth science graduates should be incentivised to obtain education qualifications,” Professor O’Reilly said.

The Australian Geoscience plan also calls for an expansion of Australia’s national computational capability to ensure that Australia retains and extends its lead in geoscience simulation and modelling capability.  

The National Committee for Earth Sciences has been supported in the development of this plan by the Australian Research Council, Geoscience Australia, the University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland, Macquarie University and the Australian Geoscience Council.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) estimates that within two decades 16 percent of cars – about 282 million – will be electric, which equates to about 2.8 million tonnes of cobalt.

Set against a current global annual production of cobalt of only about 100,000 tonnes – and Australia’s annual production is around 6,400 tonnes – the world will not be able to move en masse to electric cars without an enormous increase in finding and producing cobalt. Currently, 63 percent of the world’s cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its market share is currently set to rise to 73 percent by 2025.

BNEF has estimated that by 2030 global demand for cobalt will be 47 times the demand in 2016. Unless Australia can become self-sufficient in this strategic metal, the country will be held to ransom with massive price increases and chronic shortages.



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