Kim Walker has spent the best part of two decades helping a myriad of businesses get themselves ready for commercialisation.
He talks to Grant Titmus about his journey.
If you have a start-up and are looking to get it off the ground, Kim Walker may well just be your solution. Walker heads up the commercialisation consulting team at the Prime Financial Group which specialises in the commercialisation of new technology, primarily through assisting an SME or inventor to take their intellectual property to market.
“It could be at conceptual stage, but usually we come in when there is a prototype and a patent application. We are consulted very early in a company’s life. About 50% of the people we see have yet to make a sale.”
Walker said he and his team filter prospects through the judgement of the team – whether that is judgement about the business owner or creator or the product or service itself. There is no one-size-fits-all as every business is different.
“We also need to look at the product or service and determine the value proposition – will someone buy it – and can you make money out of it. A lot of people have some great ideas but have little idea on whether it will actually sell and how it might get to market.”
Walker’s team initially looks at creating a credible business plan and how to make the business look like an investible proposition.
“We look at how much we think the entity needs to raise and the potential sources of those funds. We have a pool of investors that we may approach, whether they are well-healed individuals, crowd funding and/or venture capitalists or potential business partners.
“We then match the company with what we believe to be the most appropriate investor or partner.”
Walker said the company’s commercialisation specialisation stems from its experience in traditional strategic planning – so they understand the position of the business within its market and also the business structure so it can make the most of that market.
Walker has been at this caper a long time. The former mechanical engineer was, post MBA, a strategy consultant at Anderson Consulting, and has had a range of executive and consulting roles in strategy and marketing.
Fifteen years ago he started Capstone Partners with fellow commercialisation evangelist Dr Alexander Gosling (OA), a business that provided general strategy and consultancy services for start-ups. Capstone Partners helped a range of firms (device oriented, med-tech, manufacturing processes, etc.) to be “investor ready”, while also providing strategic services to larger corporates, research organisations and Government.
In 2016 Capstone merged with the MPR Group, and now with MPR’s merge with Prime Financial it has become part of that firm.
Coincidentally, both Capstone and MPR were located in the same building in Southbank – MPR on the 19th floor and Capstone on the 23rd. “I was crossing paths with MPR MD Matt Murphy either in the corridors or because we are assisting the same businesses. When we talked to each other it seemed there was a natural fit and alignment. It has been of great benefit to the clients of businesses on both sides,” Walker recalls.
Research-based organisations and early-stage companies need assistance and mentoring to successfully commercialise new intellectual property. The commercialisation pathway requires a broad range of skills from technical to strategic. Until recently the venture capital position in Australia was problematic. With a relatively small local market and a scarcity of early stage capital, it was difficult for start-ups to find an appropriate capital pathway.
DIRECTOR, PRIME FINANCIAL
Walker says that until recently the venture capital position in Australia was problematic. With a relatively small local market and a scarcity of early stage capital, it was difficult for start-ups to find an appropriate capital pathway. Government grants were, and still are, an important method for start-ups to cross the “valley of death”. Australia is now more mature with regards to incubators and accelerators, angel groups and crowd-funding platforms which can provide useful sources of early stage capital.
Nonetheless, research-based organisations and early-stage companies need assistance and mentoring to successfully commercialise new intellectual property. The commercialisation pathway requires a broad range of skills from technical to strategic, and companies such as Prime Financial can effectively provide the missing elements, whether that is expertise or capital.