Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Aymever Days - a Xmas shot

Over on Facebook I added the following photo. Comments follow. IMG

This is what I wrote on Facebook. I think that it helps explain in part where I am coming from.

"Aymever Christmas Party 1989. One of the big industry development issues at the time was the way in which clustering, the grouping of start-ups around a node, could create growth and grow new skills. This photo is a case in point, if on a small scale.

From left to right Scott Williams, Philip and Susan Mendes.

After Scott left us he went on co-found Petals, growing the business to become the fourth largest global competitor to Interflora within three years. Petals was sold last year to Teleflora, bit is still Armidale headquartered. Scott is now Deputy Chancellor at UNE.

Philip had just set up as an Armidale solicitor. We put him on retainer. He is now a successful IP lawyer in Brisbane providing highly specialised advice. Years later, I used Philip on complex patent issues for a Sydney client.

By Xmas 1989, there were more than twelve Armidale based high tech start-ups employing directly and indirectly several hundred people, all on growth trajectories. Growth had started to become self-feeding, Aymever itself had a staff of seventeen with a much larger global network of associates, including a dozen UNE academics. By the mid nineties, much of this was gone.

There were particular local factors at play, including instability in UNE and the difficulties we all experienced in breaking through in an environment where to be non-metro based was to be classified as second rate. You had to be better just to survive. But there were also broader national issues, for the same pattern was replicated elsewhere in Australia. Burned by the recession that struck Australia and by a hostile environment that denied that Australia could do this type of thing, the large entrepreneurial flowering of the 1980s diminished like flowers caught by frost.

In a comment, I added:

"This photo is one of a series. I am adding linked material on my personal blog. While the scars of our failure are still unhealed, I haven't forgotten our dream and still campaign for improvement as best I can. I am not alone, for the knowledge of what is possible still drives many of us."

I think the last is a key point.


Briefly amplifying my last point, its not so much that scars are unhealed in regard to particular successes or failures. Rather, it's a feeling that many of us have of a lost general opportunity, of having come so close collectively to breaking through. I will discuss this in more detail later, for it is relevant to some of the material I have been writing. 

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