Shark Tank judge Steve Baxter to bite into new government gig

Mr Baxter said success was about letting people “get on and do business without getting in the way”.

“That’s when the best business gets done,” he said.

But asked whether enough work had been done to cut red tape, Mr Baxter said business people should not make excuses.

“I think people should stop being lazy and blaming rules and regulations, they’re there, never stopped me starting some business,” he said.

“It’s part of business, research it beforehand, if you don’t like, don’t start a business.

“Should we get rid of them? Yes, we should, it should not stop you from starting a business. If it does, you weren’t cut out for it in the first place.”

Mr Baxter founded internet service provider SE Net in 1994, co-founded PIPE Networks in 2001 and set up River City Labs in Brisbane in 2012.

SE Net was eventually acquired by OzEmail/UUNet under its founding director and now Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

PIPE Networks was later sold to TPG for $373 million.

Mr Baxter said he was a huge believer in networking.

“So I believe there’s very little you can teach a good entrepreneur, you have to introduce them to the right people,” he said.

Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch said Mr Baxter would bring 'razzle dazzle' to the job.

Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch said Mr Baxter would bring ‘razzle dazzle’ to the job.

Photo: Glenn Hunt

Mr Baxter’s best advice in business was “to start”.

“The hardest thing you’ll ever do is go from zero to one. And then once you’re in business, the hardest thing to do is to stay focused,” he said.

“Until you make that leap you just don’t know what’s going to happen, you’d hate to be 65, 70 years old and be saying ‘I could have been that, should have been, one day’.

“I’d much prefer to be able to say, look I gave it a crack and it didn’t work, and gee, I met some great people, I learnt some great lessons.”

Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch said everyone knew Mr Baxter as a shark on the Network Ten show Shark Tank.

“So he’ll bring a little bit of razzle dazzle as well to the work over the next 12 months, a little bit of super star kind of quality to it,” Ms Enoch said.

Mr Baxter has taken on the job pro bono, like his predecessor, but Ms Enoch said funding was allocated to the Office of the Chief Entrepreneur.

Ms Enoch said almost 20 per cent of the nation’s start-ups were in Queensland and half of those were in regional areas.

But she said she wanted to see the trend continue, and encouraged people to embrace entrepreneurial skills.

“We know that innovation is absolutely something that we need to focus on in everything that we do in our current industries and of course in those industries that are on the horizon,” she said.

“So the Chief Entrepreneur is somebody that absolutely is going to be working with people across our state to enhance entrepreneurial activity, to be able to enhance the ability to create start-ups in this state.”

The role also involves providing advice to the Queensland government about supporting entrepreneurs and start-ups, and help current industries innovate.

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