Perth’s status as the most isolated city in the world is no longer a barrier to attracting top executives, with COVID encouraging WA companies to pitch globally for talent.
Former Flybuys chief executive John Merakovsky told The West Australian that the pandemic and the consequential shift to hybrid working meant more Perth businesses could hire big players from anywhere in the world.
“Entrepreneurs in Perth now have everything going for them. There’s no barrier,” he said.
Melbourne-based Mr Merakovsky noted that being able to recruit talent from overseas “levelled the playing field” for WA startups, who in the past may have lost out on potential candidates to Eastern States businesses.
“Nobody in Australia owns the title of startup capital now, it’s a free for all,” he said.
Mr Merakovsky, who exited Flybuys in April this year after three years in the role, was appointed as chairman of Perth-based tech platform Orijin Plus last month.
The Orijin Plus tool was founded by WA brothers James and Rhys Williamson and supports exports of their Latitude 28 beef brand to China. It uses blockchain technology to trace a product’s journey through the supply chain.
The startup also appointed Kai Klippel to the board, who has served multiple roles, including chief executive of German loyalty giant Payback.
Plus, former Airbnb software engineer Nathan Baxter has joined the company as chief technology officer.
James Williamson said he and his brother had always considered Flybuys to be a highly successful multi-brand loyalty program, and decided to try and schedule a meeting with Mr Merakovsky to pitch their business.
“Somehow we managed to pull a meeting together. He had very limited time but he immediately liked what we were doing and it progressed from there,” he said.
Mr Merakovsky, who has extensive experience working in the Asia-Pacific region, said he was struck by the brothers’ innovative idea and business model.
“The talent needed to build out a business like this is important. In the past, having to relocate for a company would be a hindrance,” he said.
“We’ve got Kai on board from Germany and Singapore, myself on the east coast … you can assemble an A-team from anywhere that’s passionate about the idea.”
Mr Baxter said taking a global approach to hiring was beneficial for WA startups, with Perth’s talent pool lacking experience in growing out large-scale tech businesses.
“People with a San Francisco background have a different way of looking at problems. They think very intentionally about growth,” he said.
“It’s not necessarily that anyone in Perth is doing things wrong. Perth has very smart, technical people, but those methods for growing a tech business are just a little bit different.”
Mr Baxter said WA’s coastal, family-oriented lifestyle could convince overseas talent to either relocate or return to the State.
“It’s more affordable, the weather is great … people who have left for other jobs should come back,” he said.
“A few businesses manage to make it work locally, but those who have gained global experience need to come back here and share their knowledge. Then Perth will grow quicker.”
James Williamson said having the Orijin Plus team spread internationally brought different perspectives to the company.
“Our reach is vast and there’s no reason why every company in Perth or anywhere in the world can’t be looking for global talent,” he said.
The startup is in the process of on-boarding a number of brands to its platform and is set to enter the Singapore market later this year.