Where Are The Punting Angels?

About Two weeks ago during the Melbourne Cup week, I slipped into Victoria to attend the Oaks Day Races at Flemington. I have to apologise to friends and family in Melbourne for not advising though as it was a bit of a last minute decision so please dont hate me for not popping in to say hello, (especially Uncle Collin & Aunty Meko).

I got into Brisbane on a Wednesday where I caught up with my friends who had invited me to come along. They had scored some tickets from Adam Trescowthick the Chairman of ‘Third Screen’ a mobile phone marketing business. So we headed down to Melbourne that lunch and ended up booking in to the Grand Hyatt that afternoon.  

That night we ventured down Collins Street to Shark Fin restaraunt in China Town. Ed, one of the three of us, loves Peking Duck and although I had thought I had had Peking Duck already in Port Moresby, it seems it’s a little different in Melbourne. The duck was delicious nevertheless and after going through 3 rounds of Peking Duck we proceeded to wash it down with a bottle (or two) of some tasty Shiraz . Later that night while having a ‘white russian’ at the RU-CO bar in the Hyatt, I thought to myself…what the hell am I doing here? One minute I was ducking PMV’s  around Port Moresby in the dusty heat and by night I was sitting in a $15 a drink bar in Melbourne. Awesome! but I had to go to bed early, tomorrow was another day. 

The next day we suited up andlooking like a million bucks we trotted down to the train station to be met by a stampede of beautiful women and smart looking men who piled into the train with us like a box of packed dolls. What I didn’t realise was that the racing season actually goes on for several days so the Melbourne Cup wasn’t just one race in the year, it was a number of them and the Oaks Day on Thursday was the other big race which we were now headed to.  

Finally at the races and after some calls to the guys inside, my ticket for The Rails section of Flemington was brought out  to me. We proceeded in past several other Tent locations and the statue of Phar Lap and we eventually ended up at The Rails Carpark which as the name suggests is a carpark right up againts the railing of the race course. We eventually located Adam’s tent which like everybody else’s there was basically some small tents with chairs setup besides their Range Rovers and Mercs etc with catering staff dishing out the Moet, Beers and fingerfood.

As I mingled around chatting about business and the Kokoda (it seems I always meet someone in Australia that is thinking about doing the Kokoda Trail), I began to notice from the stories that you had three types of people here at the invite only section of the Flemington. The ones with the money and the entrprenuers with the ideas or a mixture of both. This is where I could see in the flesh what angel investors looked like and how they fit into the bigger picture of business in Australia.

What was evident here was a fairly developed mentoring or angel investing type culture which certainly does not exist in PNG.Sadly from my personal experience it appears that our own successful PNG businessmen (I only say men because they are the majority here)prefer to spend their extra money on extra wives and runnning for politics. As someone said to me recently ‘the politicians want to be in business and the business men want to be in politics’ which ultimately means no consistency in growth for either side when trying to grow a country. Think of how many people who have lost money just running for politics, believe me I’ve seen this first hand.What iflocal businesses supported local businesses in PNG, so that money is not wasted on ego trips and good investments can produce returns for everyone to benefit.

Obviously its a two way street and the entreprenuer asking forinvestment money should have a solid plan for his or her request but maybe because our country is small we’re still looking out for our immediateand provincial families first before we can begin relating to each other purely on idealogical terms. I guess the downsideto our strong traditional cultural ties is that we do not see each other as Papua New Guineans but rather as Sepiks and Highlanders and so on.

But back to the issue of business and especially business funding, angel investing would be a welcome financing option as opposed to going to a bank, (let alone robbing a bank). Minimum wage in PNG has not increased and with housing being at critical levels, there is almost no way an entreprenuer would have any money to put aside for investing in a future business idea. Even an entreprenuer in the village with no rent to pay will not get a foot in the banks’ sliding doors because they have no tangible assets that the bank can recognise.

I’m not saying that angel investing should be shoved down succesful PNG business people’s throats because it is a complicated way to do business and it’s a very hands on type investment but the rewards can be worth it for angel investors. A good example is Janine Alliss of Boost Juice, she got her break from a Geoff  Harris the largest shareholder in Flight Centre (Geoff is worth $452 million). Geoff was walking down a Melbourne shopping centre in 2001 when he noticed a ‘Boost’ store ‘trading its head off’. So recognising an opportunity he got in touch with the founder Janine and offered his assistance. Within a week he handed her a cheque for K780,000 for 26% of the business and joined as a co-director. 240 Boost Juice shops later Geoff sold most of his shares in the company for $13.1 million earlier this year.  

Yes, yes I know what you’re saying…PNG is a different type of market, but it could be done on a smaller scale, because its certainly a case of different horses for different courses. But as an option its a nice way to grow PNG and hopefully the PNG LNG boom will see more of this practice come into play so that our money stays in PNG to grow PNG. Again it’s not everyones’ cup of tea, but hell…weigh up the odds and take a punt.


3 thoughts on “Where Are The Punting Angels?

  1. I like the idea, just like someone metioned ealier on in sme blog on face book, this concept will trigger conglomerates of businesses and truely PNG’s can really keep the money in PNG…

    May be it is already here, like e e.g: Hagens for the Hagens etc.. but It was good you shed some light on it, with emphasis.

  2. At least someone’s thinking along those lines I am. Been trying to locate PNG angel investors for quite a while and it’s like finding a needle in a haystack from where I am.

  3. and now Peter O’Neill talks about it. Lets see if something will happen soon?

    Source: PNG Village
    Existing successful businesses in the country must help expand local businesses, guide and train new entrants who want to expand and who seek partnership with existing businesses.

    Prime Minister Peter O’Neil challenge more than 50 heads of businesses houses during the Chamber of Commerce 1st Breakfast for 2013, calling on the Chamber of Commerce to take the lead.

    O’Neil said, it is something the government and the private sector should really make an effort on, adding that he would welcome ideas from the Chamber in doing so.

    “We also need the private sector to get itself in order so that we can together build a stronger, fairer and even more united nation”, O’Neil said.

    He said, “We can achieve real economic development and strong social progress if we work together”.

    Meantime the Chamber of Commerce has welcomed the challenge and will take the lead in mentoring upcoming businessman and woman in the country.

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