BUSINESS TALK: Steve Baxter will head back home to Central Queensland in his new role in government.
BUSINESS TALK: Steve Baxter will head back home to Central Queensland in his new role in government. Contributed

Shark Tank star set to head back to his CQ roots

THESE days Steve Baxter is a household television identity and millionaire business owner, but he was once just a local Central Queensland boy who "wasn't the best student" at his local high school.

The tech start-up investor and Shark Tank television star will be returning to his roots in Rockhampton and Emerald next week to share what he's learnt over his years in business.

Mr Baxter who took up his new role as Queensland's Chief Entrepreneur this week will be meeting with a Rockhampton investor group, attending a lunch-and-learn event and speaking at the Central Highlands Business Excellence Awards.

Landing in the region on Thursday, October 26, the businessman is also planning to drop into North Rockhampton State High School, where he was a student from Year 8-11.

"I wouldn't say I was the best student North Rocky has seen pass through the doors, but my high school experience certainly helped shape my ideas about what I wanted to get out of life," Mr Baxter said.

Born in Cloncurry, Mr Baxter spent his childhood in Central Queensland, attending primary school in Emerald and high school in Rockhampton.

He left to join the army at age 15 as an apprentice working in the field of electronics, telecoms and guided weapon systems before finding his feet in business.

Former Rocky student Steve Baxter is now a Shark Tank star and Queensland's chief entrepreneur.
Former Rocky student Steve Baxter is now a Shark Tank star and Queensland's chief entrepreneur. Rob Williams

In 1994, at the age of 23, Mr Baxter put his life savings of $11,000 on the line to launch his first start-up, the pioneering internet service provider SE Net, from the spare room of his Adelaide home and the rest they say is history.

After many years in business, Mr Baxter said he was keen to hear from locals during his first regional visit as Queensland's chief entrepreneur.

"There's renewed buzz of activity around the Central Queensland region at the moment," Mr Baxter said.

"The announcement regarding Rockhampton being one of the workforce hubs for the Carmichael Coal mine has given the region a boost, and the city is building an impressive new Smart Hub for start-up businesses which I want to keep an eye on."

The first engagement on the Chief Entrepreneur's itinerary is a meeting on Thursday, October 26 with a local Rockhampton investor group, which is looking at the best ways to invest in the region's emerging technologies, start-up and scale-up businesses.

Shark Tank hosts L-R Steve Baxter, Janine Allis, Andrew Banks, Naomi Simson and John McGrath
Photo Lisa Benoit / The Morning Bulletin
Shark Tank hosts L-R Steve Baxter, Janine Allis, Andrew Banks, Naomi Simson and John McGrath Photo Lisa Benoit / The Morning Bulletin Lisa Benoit ROK

"The missing piece of the Queensland start-up ecosystem isn't a lack of ideas or expertise, it's the lack of a sophisticated investment community, and that's one of the key areas I'll be focusing on in this role over the next year," Mr Baxter said.

On Friday, October 27, Mr Baxter will head along to the Rockhampton Regional Council and industry group start-up Capricorn lunch-and-learn event before visiting North Rockhampton State High School.

On Saturday Mr Baxter will then travel to Emerald where he is speaking at the Central Highlands Business Excellence Awards.

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said Mr Baxter was a keen supporter of regional innovators and entrepreneurs.

"Steve Baxter will bring that extra something to the Palaszczuk Government's $420million Advance Queensland initiative designed to transform the state's economy, create knowledge jobs of the future and build Queensland's reputation as a global innovation and investment destination," Ms Enoch said.

"I'm looking forward to seeing how he will help nurture Queensland's growing start-up ecosystem and promote it to the world.

"Our inaugural chief entrepreneur Mark Sowerby was an extraordinary asset to us. Having another chief entrepreneur from the private sector of the same calibre is great news for Queensland as we cement our position as a centre for innovation."



List of Metro Builders victims grows longer

premium_icon List of Metro Builders victims grows longer

Claims builder became insolvent when he bought $2.6m mansion

Surf pool ready to roll out the waves

premium_icon Surf pool ready to roll out the waves

Swells rolling out in succession to cater to 40 surfers per each set

Rail funding puts Adani mine on track

premium_icon Rail funding puts Adani mine on track

Crucial funding was the final hurdle

Local Partners