Fresh from his departure from KPMG, digital veteran Anthony Stevens has launched a new company, Digital Asset Ventures, which aims to transform the way companies operate and compete in the digital age. Based in Melbourne, Digital Asset Ventures is an advisory, research and software development business, focused on three key areas: distributed ledger technology, artificial intelligence, and big data and data networks, aimed at early-stage ventures looking for technology leadership and implementation support.
“Having founded two start-ups, and worked for businesses of different shapes and sizes, I have consistently seen the challenge faced by companies with digital transformation – understanding how to take risk, where to prioritise and, in many cases, just move from zero to one,” said Stevens.
“Our goal is to provide strategic and execution capability to support corporate ventures underpinned by technology. There is a massive opportunity to support the shift many companies are undertaking as they move into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
Dynamic Business had a chat to Anthony Stevens about his new venture and lessons learned.
Stevens has a lifelong passion for technology, a head for business and an entrepreneurial spirit.
“In today’s world, this felt like a goodmix to run a business. I’m inspired and motivated by innovation, change and moving really fast, so running a business has given me the freedom to seize opportunities without too many constraints,” he said.
“Also, I’m lucky to work with some truly fantastic people, which has allowed me to build a culture built on merit and diversity of thought – two values fundamental to me. The chance to work with some new faces, as well as some familiar faces, was the tipping point for me when I made the decision to start my own company.”
Stevens said his time at KPMG really helped shape him as the leader he is today.
“[KPMG] is one of the most influential and successful brands in the world, with some fantastic leaders at the helm. I learnt a great deal during my five years at KPMG, and had the opportunity to try and address some significant challenges for the firm locally and globally,” he said.
“A great insight was the working of a partnership – encapsulating governance, decision making, collaboration, and the high level of trust that’s necessary to get stuff done locally and around the world.”
Being a veteran in the industry, Stevens has seen many mistakes made by startups in the past.
“In many cases, there’s an overemphasis on engineering and product design, and not enough focuson product and market testing. The faster you can get to market, the better. Also – and this is especially true for those with corporate backgrounds – start-up founders can get carried away with internal modelling and plans in a bid to convince themselves that the hockey-stick graph will come true. Meanwhile, the hard facts and need for an absolute customer focus are overlooked,” he said.
“Start-ups and any disruptive innovation efforts are really tough. They often take a long time to get to scale and so investors need patience, as well as clear, mutually agreed expectations around return.
“The worst approach is to constrain innovation post-investment in a way that compromises the original strategy.”
It’s only been a few months now for Stevens’ startup but he says it has been a great start so far.
“We’ve got a quickly growing team of over ten locally now, across a range of technology and service capability. We are bringing the best of both worlds together – the agility of new technology and thinking, teamed with the consulting discipline and understanding of big business that careers in professional services provide,” he said.
The founder has always been focused on execution. “Now more than ever, I know this is critical to success. Prioritisation and risk management are right up there for me in terms of my focus every day.”
“I’ve learnt about the importance of diversity in the workplace, and had the chance to reflect on what this means and form my own take on the issue. There’s a lot of discussion on this topic right now.”
Stevens said that the most important thing you can do for your business is to find the right people who have the passion and skills to conquer challenges as a team.