How an Australian inventor made it big

No one can accuse David Budge of thinking small. The Perth entrepreneur has invented greenhouses that boost plant growth, synthetic rubies, and almost indestructible linings for mining pipes. Last year, his ideas hit the big time when his 3D printing startup Aurora Labs, became the nation’s top stock launch, going up 15-fold.

For years, 3D metal printing has been touted as a game changer for manufacturers. But the big problem was always cost. So Budge and his team did something remarkable – they invented a way of printing metal parts using precise lasers and metal powder. This revolutionary method was far cheaper than their competitors. And the breakthrough has seen everyone from NASA to major mining companies knock at Budge’s door.

Printing 3D metal parts.

Learning to survive as an entrepreneur

Budge is a long-time inventor and dreamer. As a university student, he spent night after night peering through telescopes, looking at the stars. He’s taken this fascination with ‘thinking big’ into his career – even when he’s come crashing back to Earth.

“One of the key things with being a serial entrepreneur is being able to deal with the incredible highs and lows that are just part of everyday life,” he says. “If you can’t manage that you will not survive as an entrepreneur.”

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“Have a clear focus on what you’re trying to achieve and take significant action towards it every single day.”

Essential lessons for small businesses

With his company growing to incredible heights in 2016, Budge has a lot to teach up-and-coming small businesses. It’s no surprise that he champions collaboration, keeping focus and seeking investment at the right time. “You can’t do it alone,” he says. “Collaborating with a small group of friends and working towards the same goal was essential for me.

“Everyone thinks they’re right and everyone thinks they know everything and that’s OK – as long as you allow others to have their own view.”

Budge also advocates a laser-like focus on the goal. “If you’re looking to expand, have a clear focus on what you’re trying to achieve and take significant action towards it every single day. Find out the most important thing you have to do in the immediate future and do it first.”

The importance of nurturing innovation from within

Bill Gates once said that as we move into the future, “leaders will be those who empower others.” And Budge has adopted this leadership philosophy within his company by empowering his staff to come forward with their own ideas.

“Innovation must start from the top and be encouraged to grow from the bottom,” he says. “Most companies have a lot of innovative people working for them, but there is no incentive for people to bring an idea forward and give the company an opportunity to use it.”

“A large chunk of the inventions to date have been by me. But in the last few weeks, new ideas have come from employees,” he says. “A culture of innovation is starting to take root.” And with Budge’s ability to make big ideas come to life, it’s exciting to imagine where this culture of innovation might take his business.

Budge’s top 4 tips for budding entrepreneurs

1. Encourage staff to bring innovative ideas forward
2. Take action towards your broader business goals every day
3. Learn how to deal with the highs and lows
4. Collaborate successfully by giving everyone a voice