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Tales from the Appster Crypt : How to grow and destroy a $58M company

Business Agility Australia 2019

Appster was the darling of the Australian startup scene. Started in 2011 by two 18 years old entrepreneurs, Mark McDonald and Josiah Humphrey, Martin joined the company in July 2013 as CTO. At the time the company was a small team working in an old distillery tower in Collingwood and a few developers offshore struggling to deliver a modest portfolio of projects. Over the subsequent 3 years, the company grew to 350 people in three countries, with monthly revenues of over $1 million and 50 projects in flight at any one time. At its peak, Appster was valued at $58 million but collapsed into liquidation in December 2018.

This is the story of how the company grew to that size in that time, the things that were done well, the things that were done badly, the lessons learned and, ultimately, the reason the company failed.