Peter Davison reflects on his journey with UTS Startups
First investor in PayPal, co-founder of Fishburners - Australia’s largest startup community, and serial entrepreneur, Peter Davison has been an integral part of the UTS Startups community mentoring the next generation of entrepreneurs. Before heading to the UK for the next stage of his career, Davison reflects on his time at UTS Startups and what he has learnt about entrepreneurship, especially diversity.
Having reached the heights of entrepreneurship with PayPal, and mentoring for multiple startup communities throughout his career, Peter says UTS Startups forced him to redefine what entrepreneurship really means, showing us there is always something to learn, no matter where you are in your journey.
When asked what about UTS Startups was different to other communities he’s worked in, his answer was, “diversity”.
“I haven’t come across the same diversity, ethnicity, gender, age-experience, way of thinking, education background in any other startup community. So, I’ve had to open my mind and break down my preconceptions about what an entrepreneur is,” he said.
As a mentor, Peter says the level of diversity in people and their ideas has led him to focus more on the founder than the business itself.
“I stick to the person rather than try to give them all the answers about business and I think they really appreciate that,” said Peter.
“Each person I’ve spoken to has something special about them and they know that … They know there’s something that defines them and when you’re an entrepreneur you sort of have to bring that out a bit. Seeing people connect with that has been really rewarding,” he said.
The importance of self-expression
For Peter, this element of personal expression and individuality has become a key part of his rediscovery of what entrepreneurship is all about.
“In the industry, you’re trying to fit into a structure that’s trying to repeat itself. The industry has a formula … and often, you’re trying to suppress the things that make you different from the formula,” says Pete.
Peter says this has made him reflect on how far the industry has come since he first began his career.
Embracing the possibilities
Having watched the startup landscape shift and change over the years, Peter says the types of people interested in pursuing a startup now is much broader than it used to be. Compared to the narrow, linear career progressions that defined a career 40 years ago, there are very few rules about what a career should look like now and Peter says, the possibilities are endless.
“When you come into a place like UTS Startups and you see all the diversity and these different ways of thinking and understand that it’s all possible and that it might all work, hopefully that can open your mind about where your life could be.”
“What UTS Startups has taught me is about dealing with diversity and understanding there are so many paths. It’s opened my mind to what’s possible.”
During his time at UTS, Peter Davison says the university’s commitment to providing all its students with a taste of entrepreneurship is clear and he says this approach is unique and important.
There’s a commitment from the top to help as many students get that experience and know whether this is the right thing for them and never have to be wondering ‘should I have tried?’,” he said.
“I think that’s particularly important for people who think ‘I’m not an entrepreneur because I’m not like Steve Jobs’. That’s just one very, very small part of what entrepreneurship is and it’s glorified, but most entrepreneurs are nothing like that and there is no general rule of what they’re like, they’re all different.”
Such is the impact of Peter’s contribution to UTS Startups we have another blog post coming up where he offers his top three tips for startups.
UTS Startups has many experienced mentors, as well as other resources such as networking events, workshops, boot camps, and access to our startup collaboration spaces, all designed to help you launch a business. Apply here.