The next big things in on-demand

Cabs, meals and even romantic partners are only a swipe away these days – what’s next? We spoke with three University of Melbourne business and economics alumni who are leading innovations in the fast-paced on-demand industry.

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Jamie Olsen (BCom 1997(Hons): Founder and Managing Director, CMB Capital

After 10 years working in investment banking and corporate development, in 2010 Jamie Olsen took the plunge to start his own boutique corporate advisory and investment firm – CMB Capital – which invests in and advises small digital media and technology companies. Jamie has advised market leading on-demand companies such as Dimmi – now part of TripAdvisor – while supporting exciting start-ups.

We asked Jamie about his experiences working at the forefront of this innovative sector.

How does your business operate?

I’m fortunate to work in a job where I’m always learning new things, and witnessing first-hand the disruption that technology is causing across all facets of the economy. I help businesses grow by providing strategic and financial advice, and assisting their capital raising efforts. When you invest in these businesses, it’s completely different to the stock market – you could literally be investing for more than 10 years. You are in for the long haul so it’s not for the faint-hearted. I also advise on the exit of companies I have invested in – the most notable being the sale of restaurant-booking site, Dimmi, to TripAdvisor in 2015.

How have you seen the on-demand economy evolve?

I’m seeing a tremendous amount of innovation and activity in digital innovation. A key driver is that the barriers and costs of getting a digital business up and running are next to nothing if someone in the founding team can code.

I’m seeing a tremendous amount of innovation and activity in digital innovation. A key driver is that the barriers and costs of getting a digital business up and running are next to nothing if someone in the founding team can code.

Over the last 10 years, there has been a big growth in the digital sector and we are now starting to see the next generation of market leaders emerging. I think we’ve got a wave yet to come and it’s really exciting to be a part of that.

What is driving such fast growth?

Things are moving extremely quickly in the on-demand space, and that is really being led by the consumer. The smartphone has completely revolutionised the way people do things. People now expect to do almost everything on their phone – if they can’t, they go somewhere else.

On the other side, you’ve got large corporate organisations which have largely not invested, and they quite often are poorly equipped to innovate themselves. In coming years, those companies will seek to leapfrog themselves to a digital position. So we’re at the beginning of a wave of mergers and acquisitions in the technology sector that will create significant value for investors and the economy.

How has your honours degree in finance helped shape your career?

The grounding and fundamentals I was taught at Uni have always given me confidence in the way I’ve gone about doing my job as an investment banker. There was a strong practical element to the course – and when you look at areas like corporate finance and acquisitions – where I have spent most of my career – those principals still hold today, 20 years later.

After doing my honours year at the University of Melbourne, there wasn’t a job I wanted that I didn’t get an interview for. It’s the five-star tick you hope to have with an honours degree – it’s recognised with employers and gets you through the door.

Read the full story in Pursuit