Jessica Huddart is the CEO of Australian digital venture studio Josephmark. From a small time studio in Brisbane, Josephmark has taken its business global, responsible for the redesign of Myspace and the cofounding of Twitter acquisition We Are Hunted, among many other ventures.
From being mates with Justin Timberlake to rubbing shoulders with Pharrell Williams, Huddart has experienced her fair share of Hollywood stardom and the movement from Hollywood out of film and into tech, and the lessons Australia can learn from the film hub.
“I think that Hollywood knows that the Hollywood of old is not going to last forever. Technology is affecting and disrupting every industry, so it’s just that Hollywood as an industry in LA has been the bread and butter and the livelihood of a lot of the population there and it’s now quickly changing. It’s having to adapt in a new world where technology enables a lot of new things to happen,” said Huddart.
“Technology also decreases the costs of production, so it’s just about that industry readapting. I think it’s the same in finance in Australia for example, in being one of the first real industries to feel that pinch.”
Compared to Australia, Huddart explained that the States is “on steroids” when it comes to the creation of new tech startups. This movement is what prompted Huddart and her team at Josephmark to look to accelerate things back in their hometown of Brisbane and also Australia as a whole.
Huddart first started with Josephmark in 2005, and for the last five years has been living in the States to work on various products and tech startups. She landed in LA rather than the world’s tech hub Silicon Valley, helping her see how industries outside the tech bubble are embracing startups.
“The Josephmark team have been working in Hollywood which is fast merging with the tech scene in LA. It’s been a great part of the journey to work with incredible people like Justin Timberlake and Pharrell Williams,” she said.
In 2009 Huddart became part of a team that cofounded We Are Hunted, a music discovery platform that grew to a few million users before it was sold to Twitter for $30 million in 2012.
“We Are Hunted scraped sentiment from a few hundred blogs that wrote about music and from that it created a chart of 99 songs that had been deemed worth listening to according to the internet or according to authorities on the internet,” said Huddart.
Back in Australia in 2008 Josephmark also founded a company called Gilimbaa, an Indigenous design studio that aligns Indigenous people with corporate Australia.
Josephmark was also responsible for another Australian project called The Global Mail, an independent journalism hub.
“If we saw a gap in the market and we thought we could fill it than we’d give it a go. So innovation and startups has always been in our DNA,” said Huddart.
The latest Australian Josephmark investment is a new startup platform called Vest. The platform uses an algorithm that inputs social media mentions to showcases the top most talked about Australian startups.
“Australia’s not known as a ‘start-up country’ internationally, so we wanted to celebrate what is here,” Huddart told the AFR.
“In light of the Turnbull government’s ‘ideas boom’ announcements and the incentives that are coming for startup investors, we thought there should be a place where they can come and see the sorts of opportunities on offer.”
Because Australia is mostly isolated in terms of geographic location from the rest of the world, Huddart believes it’s important that platforms such as Vest highlight what our country has to offer in terms of innovative startup ideas.
With Huddart’s Hollywood and LA startup experience, Australian entreprenuers have the chance to pick up the momentum on a global level. Huddart said it’s about time that Australia really picks up the pace and, like Hollywood, moves into the world of tech.
Image: Jessica Huddart. Source: Supplied.