Jordan Duffy's journey so far

Jordan Duffy

Startup. Innovation. Collaboration.

Probably the top three buzzwords of 2016 and Jordan Duffy’s got a firm grasp on them all.

The Brisbane entrepreneur had a startup well before the term was hip. He’s gone from selling earphones to fellow primary school students with his mate (business partner) Alex Buckham to starting Buckham and Duffy consultants.

Formed in 2011, the company has grown from a two-man band to a 20-strong innovation strategy and software consultancy with staff in Brisbane, the Philippines and Italy.

They’ve identified a sweet spot in the startup sector – helping startups further develop their big ideas and introducing them to the right audience.

Duffy said that while the next generation was bursting with ideas and busy questioning the status quo, there was a real disconnect with those who could finance or properly utilise the opportunities.

"Typically speaking, Gen X and baby boomers were geared to work, to deliver stuff. Your job is your job and you do what you do, but questioning things in the line of hierarchy traditionally was not a good thing. Over time that has started to erode, which is good," Duffy said recently.

"What millennials seem to bring is that whilst they don’t really care too much for the authority, which can be bad in some cases, they question things that others would go, ‘oh well look the boss has said that’s how it is’.

That’s what gives them this unique ability to find new innovative ways of doing things, almost naturally. Where they lack is enterprise execution and integration.

"The people I meet are people from 17 and one of the most successful startup owners I know, all the way to 60 who’ve had corporate jobs, had other businesses, got bored and thought ‘what better way to keep my brain active than pursuing this business idea I’ve always wanted to do’."

Duffy said one of the biggest trends he had noticed was a real lack of desire to make money for the sake of it and, more often, to make a difference.

He is seeing, "all different types of ages, different aim for the businesses, some couldn’t care less about commercialisation and some need commercialisation to fund it because they don’t want funding from others".

"It’s not just people wanting to make a million dollars in the western world."

Jordan Duffy

Still only 21, Duffy already has an extensive resume (these days better known as a LinkedIn profile) listing a swag of tech-related achievements, including an official role as one of 20 youth delegates representing Australia at the G20 in 2014 and participation in Brisbane Marketing’s pre-G20 thought leadership event Brisbane Global Cafe.

He recently returned from a global entrepreneurship conference in Colombia with startup operator Jock Fairweather from Little Tokyo Two (a co-working space Duffy uses and can’t rate highly enough) and was also in Cuba sharing business basics with a whole new startup audience.

He’s running a global business from Brisbane but is honest about some of the barriers he and business partner Buckham have faced by being based here.

"If you’d asked me three years ago I’d say yes (we’ve faced barriers). And yes, we still do have a barrier (in that) most of our revenue does come from other cities. However, people have started to put decision-makers in Brisbane now, put people here who can action things," he said.

"There is a shift of decision-making power coming to Brisbane.

"We probably have 10 per cent revenue from Brisbane and we’re a Brisbane company – the risk appetite in Brisbane is lower than down south."

In March the Australian Financial Review’s Matthew Cranston described Buckham and Duffy as a "startup for startups (that is) aiming to become a matchmaker for corporations and unknown startups".

Duffy told the AFR their service wasn’t the only offering in the space.

"I think we will see lots of businesses like ours pop up very shortly – it's just a matter of time. People are asking for it and the demand will drive it," he told Cranston.

“It’s two different communication methods. Researchers don’t talk commercials. Startup doesn’t talk enterprise, government doesn’t really talk much," he told Brisbane Marketing.

"They need someone to be the connector. Emerging technology doesn’t have the security and the enterprise architecture and integration that it needs to be ready to just adopt quickly. So we fill all those gaps."

Somehow Duffy still has time to pursue his own startup goals as well.

"We have a number of other startups, some of them funded, some of them not, that work separate to B and D – and if we see a really good idea that we think can benefit all our clients, as long as we are not under contract and delivering it as their IP, we will pose the questions: ‘should we take the risk on this for you and build this as a product to licence to you’.

"We have about eight of those in the works right now and another 15 in the backlog."

Jordan Duffy’s journey has only just begun and it seems clear that this is just the type of entrepreneurial individual Brisbane should champion.

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