HatchThat - A Collection of Entrepreneurial Interviews

In our ongoing series of interviews where we are interviewing CEOs, Media Personalities, Philanthropists and VCs, today we bring our interview with Ross Hill, Founder of HatchThat. HatchThat is a blog that interviews entrepreneurs. Ross's other startup Yabble will also be launched sometime soon.

Let us explore what Ross has to say about his startups and also about Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Australia.

• Please tell us about yourself, your background and interests?
I'm 20 and was accepted to RMIT's Entrepreneurship program straight out of High School. I'm in the final year now, but have had a web design business for 6 years. I'm interested in social media and where that is going to take us in the future. More recently I have started developing my own websites including an entrepreneurial interviews blog at HatchThat.com, a CD cover search engine at CoverHunt.com, and the latest which hasn't been launched yet at Yabble.com.au.

• What is the name of your venture/company/start-up?

• Please tell us about your venture/company/ start-up?
HatchThat is a blog that interviews entrepreneurs. My aim is to get a wide variety of people from all sorts of industries.

• Who are the people behind this and how it started?
I have done all of the interviews so far but I'm open to guest interviews.

• How long it took before it was up and running?
One rainy afternoon. I had the idea, set up a WordPress installation, and made a quick and simple custom template. I wanted to get it up and running as quickly as possible so that I could focus on getting the first few interviews online and prove that the concept was popular. Now that I know it is I am working on a redesign to give it a more interesting interface which has room for growth.

• What is the main objective/mission behind your venture?
To interview lots of interesting people, and create a blog that is useful for other entrepreneurs and people in business.

• How many people are using your services?
There are around 400 subscribers right now, but there will be a redesign and relaunch in the next few weeks which should increase that substantially.

• What sort of marketing you are using to spread the word?
The most important thing is to try to make interesting interviews, but I am trying a few things with StumbleUpon and Twitter.

• How are you measuring the success of your venture? Are there any special mechanisms/tools in place to monitor the progress?
I'm measuring subscribers as the main metric, and using Google Analytics for other statistics.

• What is the monetizing/revenue model? Is there any new model, which is being tried?
I'm going to start selling banner ads privately in the redesign because Adsense while being easy to implement doesn't pay very well.

• Which are the main competitors or major players in this market segment?
Well, you seem to be doing pretty well with your interviews :) There are plenty of blogs out there but only a few that focus purely on interviews. Competitors don't concern me as long as they post interesting stuff for me to read.

• What are the main technologies used behind this venture?
WordPress is open source and runs on PHP and MySQL. I use a couple of plugins but it is a pretty standard installation.

• How often do you catch up with others trying similar things and where do you catch up? Do you have dedicated communities in your city?
I go to three or four networking events each month, including The Hive of which I am a founding member. Cam Reilly's MODM is another good one.

• What's your thought on being an entrepreneur? How tough it is to start a venture in Australia?
It really depends on the scale and industry of the venture. If you are starting a blog you can do it from anywhere in the world, the same goes for any online venture. It might be easier in some areas than others because of the networks that exist, but I don't think location is a barrier to getting started.

• What do you think of new ventures and innovation coming out of Australia?
I don't think we hear enough about Australian startups - for example, not many people know that Google Maps actually came from a startup here.

• Any new ventures you think are worth keeping an eye on?
Yabble of course!

• Do you think we can create a new Google in Australia?
Why not? I'm sure there are people already trying.

• Which city in Australia is more vibrant and can be regarded as the Silicon Valley of Australia?
I'd have to say Melbourne since I'm just down the road in Geelong :) But really, there are interesting startups all around the country.

• Do you have any thoughts on our TAFE/Universities and their curriculum in terms of promoting and encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation?
I'm in the final year of RMIT's Entrepreneurship program, which is focused on entrepreneurship and innovation - but I think more entrepreneurial subjects should be offered in other areas of study. A lot of graphic designers will end up running their own businesses, doctors have ideas they would like to commercialize, and computer science students might try building their own software and selling it. More business concepts should be taught across the board so that fewer small businesses fail. It should start at high school.

• What do you think the government (federal and state) should do to improve the culture of innovation and the telecom industry?
At one stage a few years ago Internet access was rapidly decreasing in cost, but over the last year, nothing has happened. I talk to people overseas and I have to explain the concept of download quotas, and they wonder why our definition of broadband is so slow. If everyone had access to true high-speed broadband it would open up a lot of potential for developers. The same goes for mobile. At Mobile Monday last week game developers explained that if they sell a game for $4 the consumer still had to pay about $10 to actually download the thing - which makes it ridiculously expensive. If the communications infrastructure gets cheaper it will provide a more competitive environment for developers which can have a massive impact on everybody.

I am looking forward to the results of the Review of the National Innovation System and hope that the new government supports innovation in Australia.

• What do you think can we expect from the Rudd government for IT and the Telecom industry?
When I heard about his plan for ISP-level filters I was very concerned both for freedom of speech and also from a technical perspective how it is even possible.
I don't think we have seen much so far in regards to broadband speeds but it was an election promise so hopefully, there is some action on that soon.

• Any thoughts on who is going to get the network coverage for the launch of the iPhone in Australia?
If it is an exclusive deal then my money is on Telstra, and hopefully, Apple can talk them into a good data plan. I think it is quite possible that it won't be an exclusive deal though.

• Do you have any advice for people who want to start their venture?
Start today.

• How many business partners do you have?

• Which City you are based in?
Geelong, near Melbourne.

• Do you have any business advisor/mentor?
I think we can learn from everybody that we meet - I love sharing my ideas with a wide range of people and hearing their perspectives.

Thanks, Ross for sharing your thoughts. We look forward to hearing from you in the near future. All the best.

For coverage on other Australian startups, innovation, and tech trends check this out our coverage on interviews can be found here