Home » Shark Tank star Steve Baxter is getting ready to party after helping nearly 500 entrepreneurs since 2012 with his River City Labs

TURNING FIVE

Brisbane tech entrepreneur Steve Baxter is preparing to crack open a bottle or two of bubbly.

His River City Labs is celebrating five years of running an incubator project that has helped almost 500 innovators and hosted
about 16,000 guests at special events.

The millionaire Shark Tank star will throw a birthday bash on July 7 at Labs’ spiffy new headquarters in the historic TC Beirne Building, which has been transformed into a start-up precinct.

Plenty of guests are expected to quaff down beer and pizza that night, including Paul Martyn, Jamie Merrick, Johnny Cheng, Sonia McDonald and Chris Drake.

Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch and the state’s inaugural “chief entrepreneur’’ Mark Sowerby are also tipped to swing by.

Steve Baxter illustration by Jonathan Bentley.
Baxter, slightly fuzzy with jet lag after returning from London Tech Week with an 18-strong contingent, recalled the humble beginnings yesterday.

Back in 2012, his lab opened in a 500sq m space on Wickham St, in the Valley, which he described as “a dark little hall’’. Now he has almost 1400sq m of space and plans to add a daycare centre for staff.

“We’ve seen a lot of change. It’s been a lot of fun,’’ Baxter told City Beat.

“We’re seeing a groundswell of action behind tech entrepreneurship.

“We’re very keen to see more of this happening in Queensland.’’

GLOBAL GO-GO

When he is not mentoring the next generation of geniuses, Baxter keeps up a punishing travel schedule.

He is off again next week to China to check up on an investment. Come September and he will jet off to California with a gang of high net worth folks keen to check out Silicon Valley. Did we mention the extended fishing trip on the Great Barrier Reef later this year?

The flurry of activity comes as the third season of Shark Tank kicks off tonight on the ailing Channel 10, which has been chewed up by predators. It sounds as though the cash-strapped network, which called in administrators last week, could use a dose of
Baxter’s acumen.

Asked about the dicey situation yesterday, Baxter was guarded but optimistic.

“I think, like many industries, they have suffered a fair bit of disruption. Voluntary administration is a process to help them through. With the right partners and new structures, they can come out of it even stronger,’’ he said. Stay tuned, as they say.

SILVER FOX

Fresh from launching his new Doo-Bop Jazz Bar in the Brisbane CBD on Saturday night, legal eagle James Stevens is preparing to unveil a second hospitality venture just a few blocks away.

His Silver Fox Wine Bar opens tomorrow in the space formerly occupied by the Nant Whisky Bar, on Edward St. It is probably a good thing there is no formal opening night bash since all eyes will be glued to the pivotal second game in the Origin series.

Anyway, Stevens said he had received great feedback on Doo-Bop, especially from jazz tragics who can get a fix until 3am every day.

“I’ve spent 17 years as a lawyer and nobody ever hugged me. Now I’m getting hugs,’’ he said.

With no focus groups or formal market research, Stevens relied strictly on his gut that it would fill a void in the city. “Some people think it’s genius and some people think it’s madness.’’

There appeared to be just one sour note, so to speak, on Saturday night.

Stevens’s white Ferrari, complete with licence plate “Doo-Bop’’, got hit with a parking ticket outside the club in the wee hours. “Cheaper than parking!’’ Stevens said.