KPMG is adding to its startup efforts, announcing the launch of a new High Growth Ventures practice in Australia to be led by Amanda Price, formerly vice president of innovation for Advance and founder and CEO of consultancy ausEmerge.
The new practice will look to address the core needs of startups gearing up for growth, and “bring the rigour, expertise, and connections” of a global professional services firm to help them with acceleration.
A veteran of the startup community, Price began working with KPMG through the elevate61 program, developed and delivered in conjunction with Advance. Through this process, she said she was able to see what KPMG was doing and how startups were understood – or misunderstood – internally.
“The first year we did the program it was quite hard to get internal engagement; people asked, what are we doing with startups and why, and what’s the program for? In the second year things had really shifted, and I was really surprised by that. I’d never worked for a corporate, so I’d just assumed it would take forever,” she said.
With commitment levels around the program rising over the years, Price began looking at other ways in which KPMG could further get involved with the wider startup landscape.
The core issue is the fact that KPMG, of course, is geared towards working with larger organisations, which meant staff didn’t quite know how to work with small startups, or what to sell them.
“The entrepreneurs get bounced around a lot because people want to help, but they don’t know how to help,” Price explained.
“We can’t sell services to these entrepreneurs, we need products, and we need our pricing models to work according to the funding stage a startup is at.”
Price’s solution was a new division within KPMG that will work to sell what she calls “business design” to startups; that is, helping startups design their businesses from the beginning to give them the core foundations for fast growth, looking at the likes of business structure, IP, financial literacy, patents, and so on, with these priced according to the startup’s size.
“They’re all those things that we in here do normally, but we’ve productised that and priced accordingly for these entrepreneurs,” Price said.
“I want them to feel that we’re in the trenches with them and that, as they grow, we’ll grow. In terms of revenue, if people say, why would KPMG do it, there is actually something in it for us; as the startups grow, if they IPO or do a big raise, they will need our other services.”
The High Growth Ventures practice team, made up of five specialists, will work to vet incoming startups and direct them to the right person to help, with the goal to help the startups tap into the firm’s global networks, customers, and capital as they accelerate.
Beyond the potential payoff down the line as the startups grow to require other KPMG services, Price believes creating a specialised division that can help the firm’s personnel better work with startups in a more streamlined, cohesive way will help boost the understanding of innovation within the firm itself.
“The average age of our staff is 25, so a lot of people are really interested in engaging with startups but they didn’t know how to before…I think it’s critically important that our people are out there and understand that movement,” Price said.
KPMG’s partner base, Price added, is interested in looking at what staff can learn from startups that will help the firm further develop relationships with its broader client base.
“It’s looking at how can they help our clients, how can we bring opportunities to our client base, are there startups we should be connecting in, are there startups that can be helping them solve problems?” she said.
Ken Reid, national managing partner for innovation at KPMG Australia, said the launch of a dedicated practice supporting the national startup ecosystem is a “natural progression” for the organisation.
“Being a founding partner of Stone and Chalk and through launching pioneering accelerator programs such as elevate61, Energise and mLabs, we’ve built an understanding of how KPMG can best engage and support entrepreneurs. KPMG’s new High Growth Ventures practice is the next step – and will help the next generation of Australian entrepreneurs go global,” he said.
The High Growth Ventures practice will launch internally in April, with a market launch in May.
Image: Amanda Price. Source: Supplied.