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This anniversary I apprehend an email (full argument below) from Julie Trell, advertisement the end of Muru-D in its accepted form.

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The email was adept and talked about the change of Telstra partnering with startups, but the autograph is on the bank for the aboriginal eyes of Muru-D as a startup accelerator.

Here are my recollections of the beginning.

As a Telstra agent at the time Muru-D was in development, I was alerted to its actuality by a alarm from acclaimed Telstra ‘fixer’ Freddie Jansen Van Nieuwenhuizen (or Freddie JVN as he’s accepted in the company) allurement for advice architecture a website for it.

As addition who’d been affianced with the startup ecosystem, the abstraction that Telstra was starting an accelerator affronted my interest, so I started digging. I learnt we’d assassin Annie Parker to arch up the team, who had done the aforementioned affair for Telefonica in Europe.

Then I heard bounded startup fable Mick Liubinskas was abutting the team. I was sceptical, but I arrested the email arrangement and there he was, appropriate abutting to Wayne Liubinskas, his brother who already formed at Telstra. ‘A ancestors babble maybe?’

I abstruse that a colleague, Ben Reid, had been appointed as the ‘Telstra interface’ for Muru-D, allotment of his job about actuality to authority aback a tsunami of amicableness and absorption that would abuse to beat the accommodation of any startups who entered the program.

Ben said to me: “Telstra could adulation these guys to death. I charge to accomplish abiding they absorb their time actuality focused on what we can do for them afterwards that time actuality blood-soaked up in well-intentioned but ultimately abortive meetings.”

Muru-D’s above Telstra interface Dale Cohen with Ben Reid (L to R). Source: supplied.

Ben’s apropos didn’t administer to me of course! So afore the aboriginal accomplice of startups were selected, I went over to the Telstra Exchange at Paddington area the final accoutrement for the Muru-D amplitude was actuality done on the high floor.

The amplitude was actual nice, and set in Paddington, area I had formed beyond the alley at a startup alleged Ninemsn. It was a actual air-conditioned location. There was aloof one affair with the choice: Paddington Exchange is one of the primary analytical credibility for the internet in Australia, so architecture aegis was appropriately tight.

In the continued term, that would prove one of two key issues that acquired Muru-D to move to the Liverpool Artery office. The added affair was the ambit from the CBD was aloof abundant to be a affliction for alluring bodies to black events.

In those aboriginal canicule though, with apprehension building, and the balmy alarm of not alive if Telstra could cull it off successfully, the aboriginal aggregation of Annie Parker, Mick Liubinskas, Ben Reid, Rachel Bui, Gordon Carr-Gregg set about architecture up a startup accelerator.

I asked Mick Liubinskas what he hoped would be the aftereffect from Muru-D. His acknowledgment was startlingly frank: “To accomplish bigger second-time entrepreneurs.”

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The actuality that he advised the acknowledgment for Telstra abundant beneath important than the acknowledgment for the ecosystem was brilliant… and bare to be protected.

So I set about creating an centralized narrative, that the advance in any alone startup was extraneous and should about be advised a write-off. It was a portfolio investment, we would own stakes in abounding businesses over time, and it was the accomplished that should be beheld as the mark of success.

I additionally fabricated the point that Telstra’s aggressive advantage was the adeptness to advance actual accommodating capital. Given the amount of an alone advance was absolutely immaterial to Telstra’s antithesis sheet, we didn’t ‘need’ a acknowledgment on an advance in a specific timeframe. We could finer booty a abiding stake, while others were buying-in with an avenue strategy.

Ben Reid was meanwhile active architecture a anecdotal about the accessory allowances to Telstra about things such as abacus a birr of ‘cool’ to Telstra, acquirements agency of assignment that admixture in a ample organisation, and acceptable our address to hiring new graduates.

Ben said to me: “If Telstra got 0.1% added able by accepting commodity like Muru-D, what would it beggarly to the basal line?”

He formed out it could be as abundant as $17 actor per annum of aberrant account to the aggregation as the aftereffect of accepting an accelerator in the business.

Ben’s admonishing about Telstra admiring the startups to afterlife was alone one ancillary of the blueprint though. There was affluence of opportunities for Telstra to accommodate allowances to the startup businesses and the ecosystem generally.

The aboriginal affair we set out to do was authenticate amicableness and acquire some artery cred. A affair I’d had a year or so beforehand with Rory Ford who was at Pollenizer at the time had ashore with me. I’d asked him what his better affair was, and he responded: “Red tape, tax rules, government.”

So I alleged up Dan Mandaru in Telstra’s authoritative team, and explained that to be taken seriously, and appearance the ecosystem what we could do, we bare to arrange Telstra’s weapons of state, aimed in the appropriate direction. Helping the little guy, I said, would advice us. “Leave it with me,” he replied, and afore I knew it, Annie and Mick were against a board about tax rules for startups.

Once the startups were in the building, Ben and I set about award the appropriate admission that would add value. Ben was appropriate assimilate the acknowledged aspects. His cerebration was that if we could get Telstra’s best acknowledged minds alive on things such as actor agreements that were fair to the startups, they could become a arrangement for the industry.

One of the startups in the aboriginal accomplice was Zed Technologies. Speaking with co-founder Ross Wright, it became bright the startup bare advice with bazaar allocation and pricing. As you can imagine, Telstra has the best aptitude it can appoint for pricing, but their assignment isn’t consistently thrilling. Back I alleged up Ben Yi, Fred Olive and Ben Cooper from our appraisement team, they about sprinted beyond to Paddington.

Ross Wright demonstrating Zed Technologies. Source: supplied.

The ‘pricing masterclass’ they conducted was one of the best amazing affairs I accept anytime sat in. I anticipation I knew my being but I was in awe. I had never sat in a affair afore area the acknowledgment was about 30 abnormal of abashed blackout flipping to a abrupt clamour of questions. Like paparazzi stalking their prey, the Telstra appraisement aggregation had become superstars to the startups.

I had a day job, but for that aboriginal year, I was at Paddington as abundant as I could get abroad with. Annie and Mick were accomplishing an alarming job, accurate by Rachel and Gordon. We’d managed to get Muru-D off the arena in a way that had actuality and buy-in from the ecosystem.

All acceptable things charge appear to an end though, and afterwards several years now, Telstra has acutely absitively that apotheosis of Muru-D no best fits with their strategy. At atomic not in its aboriginal form.

The advertisement in the letter to ‘partner’ with startups is a axiological change from the aboriginal intention. Back Muru-D started, if you asked what had to be in it for Telstra back selecting a startup to participate in the program, Annie and Mick would accept said “nothing”.

This change agency a altered approach, and a timeline on back startups will charge to appearance account to the relationship. Telstra is absolutely advantaged to accept that approach, it is a business afterwards all, but it’s not the aboriginal eyes of Muru-D.

Good luck to the aggregation who takes it from here. I ambition you well.

Thank you to Julie and the aggregation who duke over the reins.

It was abundant while it lasted.

Dale Cohen

To our muru-D accompany & continued ecosystem:

You are advised one of our abounding absurd mentors, investors, founders or participants, who accept accurate the muru-D affairs over the aftermost seven years. Your captivation has been invaluable in ensuring the affairs and founders’ abounding successes.

The aftermost nine months accept activated our resilience. Beyond the actual claimed furnishings of restrictions and lockdowns, the communicable has, for some of our portfolio companies, appropriate a adamantine axis in business model. We’ve apparent some amazing achievements in a abbreviate aeon of time, which is a attestation to both the animation and accuracy of our founders and their teams. We additionally accede how demanding that has been on both their businesses and them personally. As we all are experiencing a about-face in how we assignment due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are committed to acknowledging founders and their companies area we can as we get through this difficult time, so amuse don’t alternate to ability out.

I’m administering an amend on area muru-D is and how we are transforming our organisation. Since ablution in 2013, Telstra has backed muru-D, one of the aboriginal and better startup accelerators in Australia, to abutment tech ambitious aptitude to body their businesses and booty opportunities to a all-around market.

Thanks to your captivation over the accomplished seven years, muru-D ran 17 cohorts beyond 5 locations and has accelerated 140 startups led by over 200 founders and co-founders consistent in the conception of hundreds of jobs. Added than 15 startups aloft over $1 actor each in allotment post-program and several accept addled up in adjustment to accessible operations in the US.

However, the bounded ecosystem has abundantly afflicted and there are now abounding start-up accelerators from adventure capitalists, all-around accelerators, university and government partnerships to advice aboriginal date companies advance their antecedent product.

As allotment of Telstra’s anniversary addition action analysis the accommodation was fabricated this year to advance muru-D and its anatomy and goals.

What’s next?

Telstra will use muru-D to accommodate start-ups with admission to our amount technologies and assignment selectively with added complete start-ups on partnerships with Telstra as either a supplier to us or as a go-to-market partner, including arresting and architecture new ecosystems about our arrangement APIs.

Moving forward, muru-D will become Telstra’s agent for partnering with start-up accelerators, universities and added participants in the Australian start-up ecosystem.

In adjustment to abide the abutment of our portfolio companies, we will be partnering with the bunch law firm, Pinsent Masons on the abutting appearance of muru-D’s development. The firm, with a aggregation led by technology, media and telecoms partner Alex Shepherd, will accommodate acknowledged casework and advice with the administering of our portfolio investments, replacing our internally run acknowledged support. You can still ability out to [email protected] or [email protected] with your updates and questions. Further capacity on how we will be administration authoritative and acknowledged affairs will be provided over the advancing weeks. So amuse accumulate an eye out.

I apperceive this is a big change. We are so appreciative of what muru-D has become; it has exceeded our expectations back we launched the affairs in 2013. I’ve been advantaged and honoured to assignment with abounding of you over the aftermost three and a bisected years. It’s been a best alarming adventure to watch you grow, pivot, pitch, improv, comedy and accord with all challenges that accept beyond your paths. It is now a time a change for me too, as I will be transitioning out of muru-D on to new adventures and opportunities. Watch this space.

Allow me to arouse to you Luke Harwood who will be the Telstra point being affective forward. He was allotment of the antecedent barrage of muru-D and one of the aboriginal mentors, who additionally added to the action that Telstra acquainted for accomplishing commodity unique, altered and future-focused. As was the case then, this new administering is about acknowledging the abutting appearance of bounded addition advance and I achievement you can accompany Luke and Telstra on this journey.

If you accept any questions, amuse feel chargeless to email Luke.

I attending advanced to seeing you thrive,


This commodity was aboriginal appear on LinkedIn and has been edited and republished with permission.

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The column In ablaze of Telstra affairs the bung on Muru-D in its accepted form, Dale Cohen shares how it all began appeared aboriginal on SmartCompany.

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