The Startup Playbook

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Ep157 – David Shein (General Partner – Our Innovation Fund) on lessons from building Australia’s first unicorn

I’m delighted to be welcoming back David Shein, the Co-founder and General Partner of Our Innovation Fund, as my guest for Episode 157 of The Startup Playbook Podcast.

We last spoke on the podcast a year ago, where David shared his lessons and journey as the Founder of Com Tech, a business that over 14 years he grew to 1,400 staff before being acquired by Dimension Data for $1B.

We also spoke about David’s role as the Co-founder & General Partner at our Innovation Fund, an early stage VC fund that has just closed it’s 3rd fund worth over $100M to invest in exciting Australian startups.

David is coming back on the podcast to discuss his recently published a book titled; “The Dumbest Guy at the Table: How I founded Australia’s first unicorn” to uncover many of the lessons he picked up from his time as a founder & investor.

Not only is the book full of fantastic insights and lessons, the book is supporting a great cause as well with 100% of the proceeds from this book going to The Black Dog Institute to raise money for mental health research.

In this episode we discussed a wide range of topics including:

  • The importance of keeping A players and how to deal with bad hires
  • What David looks for in early stage investments
  • Lessons from having legendary sports starts such as Bob Dwyer and Ian Chappel on the Com Tech Board
  • Why founders should keep it simple
  • & much more

Ps – as mentioned at the end of this episode, I will be doing a giveaway of a few copies of David’s book. To enter, head over to the LinkedIn post here and share your favourite lesson from this or any previous episode of The Startup Playbook Podcast.

Alternatively you can buy David’s book here


  • 2.45 – Introduction to David and his new book
  • 6.07 – How David started his first company and how business has changed since then
  • 7.30 – Knowing when your business isn’t working out and when to leave it 
  • 11.41 – Why someone isn’t always an expert just because they know more about something than you
  • 14.14 – Managing people and the importance of letting people go when they aren’t the right fit
  • 18.16 – Why you should hire for attitude and teach specific skills
  • 20.53 – What David looks for in founders and a founding team to invest in
  • 23.55 – Making intuitive investment decisions 
  • 27.40 – Building culture and why an Employee Share Option Plan (ESOP) isn’t the answer to all company culture problems
  • 31.19 – Implementing company culture effectively 
  • 37.29 – Focusing on getting a core product right before doing too many different things
  • 40.47 – The similarities between sport and business culture
  • 46.02 – Defining the business focus and whether the systems or people are most important 
  • 50.36 – Why profits are made on the buying, not the selling
  • 53.24 – What David believes will always be true and relevant in startups 
  • 57.23 – Where to find David and how to get a copy of his new book 

Links Mentioned 

David’s Links: 

People Mentioned:

Companies Mentioned 

Other Links Mentioned

Past Episodes Mentioned 

Feedback/connect/say hello:
@RohitBhargava7 (Twitter)
/rohbhargava (LinkedIn)
@rohit_bhargava (Instagram)
My Youtube Channel


Music: Joakim Karud – Dreams

Other channels:

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