Too many office managers, too few computer scientists: Freelancer’s Matt Barrie pinpoints our start-ups’ problems

Michael Bailey Deputy editor

Too many office managers, too few computer scientists: Freelancer’s Matt Barrie pinpoints our start-ups’ problems

Published 28 January 2014 10:34, Updated 29 January 2014 09:29


Matt Barrie: searching hard for computer science graduates Louis Douvis

Australia’s relatively low number of graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as its habit of shunning failed entrepreneurs, are two factors harming our start-up ecosystem according to founder Matt Barrie.

“We are trying to hire computer science graduates by the metric tonne [but] when we place a job ad, we get perhaps one or two applicants per day,” Barrie said in a case study accompanying a World Economic Forum survey in which Australia’s start-up environment rated poorly.

“By contrast, I posted a job for an office manager and got 350 applicants in two days.”

Barrie blames the lack of “robust” technology education in primary and secondary schools.

“We need significantly more people entering the industry otherwise companies like us will be forced to set up offices offshore to find talent,” he warns.

Barrie says he may have struggled to attract talented people to Freelancer in its early stages had he not been an Adjunct Associate Professor in Engineering & IT at the University of Sydney.

Meanwhile, Australia remains a long way from the Silicon Valley attitude of celebrating failure.

“Although it is changing, Australia still doesn’t embrace failure in entrepreneurs,” Barrie says.

“Early on, the negativity surrounding me leaving my last company – which ironically is still going, but wasn’t a knock-the-lights-out success and had a lot of internal conflict – made it a real challenge to raise the first round of capital to get going.”


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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