It’s 400-years since Dirk Hartog from Holland set foot in Australia…Now it’s my turn

In the year 1616 Dutch sailor Dirk Hartog was one of the first Europeans to set foot on Australian soil. Now four hundred years later I’m happy to join the Royal Economic Trade mission to Australia to celebrate this historical event. We even have an official reception at the Sydney Opera House and yes we have to bring our tuxedo…

Doing business in Australia

This spring there was a “Doing business in Australia” event in The Hague organised by the Dutch Government. For those who know me it’s no secret I love this far and away country and that I’ve been Down Under many times before. The event earlier this year had this positive feel to it like something was about to happen. His Excellency, Brett Mason, Ambassador of Australia even had a sip of our local Dirk Hartog beer brewed by Joppe in the Netherlands. There were some rumours that an economic mission was in the making and that “you’d better be there in November”.

Timing is never good. There’s always work to be done, but this was an offer that couldn’t be refused. At least not in my case. So I signed up. Knowing that if the Royal pair is joining there’s always a lot of economic and media attention around.

Lessons learned: Better be prepared

Finally my participation was officially approved and I had to choose the specific mission sector. Time to get serious and launch our community building solution Down Under. I’m on a mission:

“We aim to support local governments, cities, entrepreneurial communities and brands in their ambition to create added value by providing a community building SaaS solution”

In The Netherlands we”ve been doing that since 2006 for example with We’ve created a platform for Royal Association SME Netherlands (MKB-Nederland) with over 250.000 monthly visitors and an active community of 55.000 members. It’s become a real data provoking engine that provides useful insights to all stakeholders involved.

From building communities to Smart Cities

Although a smart city is a term that refers to all sorts of initiatives, in my opinion it’s about finding out the ‘binding factor’ of any community and build a demand driven network around it that adds value. In the end there has to be a good business case to have a long term effect. Local authorities can stimulate initiatives to set up communities and the Australian Government is serious about it with a 1 billion dollar budget.

I find this Bime analytics map a good example of how content about “doing business abroad” on SME Servicedesk turns into a useful insights.

As you can see, because Australia is not on the map, there is work to be done Down Under for Dutch Entrepreneurs. Let’s make it happen and turn Australia into a red zone on the map of the world!

During our visit between October 29th and November 13th I’ll be visiting Adelaide, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane so if you’re interested please let me know.

Here’s my Mission profile. Feel free to share or download! There is always time for a coffee or a beer 🙂