Podcast: A Serial Entrepreneur

Day One | The Podcast for Aussie founders, startups & the organisations that support Australian entrepreneurship

The History of the Australian Start-up Ecosystem with Evan Thornley

A serial entrepreneur shares his intent to transform the Australian housing ecosystem with the Day One podcast. 




Evan Thornley- Founder of ‘LookSmart’

Evan Thornley is a fully-fledged serial entrepreneur with decades of experience founding and leading start-ups. One of Evan’s first ventures in 1999, ‘LookSmart’ was accoladed as Australia’s first listed on the NASDAQ and the twelfth most frequented site in the world with 10 million users.  


LookSmart was just the beginning for Evan; his diverse career included a vast range of ventures that have all led him to LongView. LongView is a company aiming to transform the Australian Property landscape in which Evan is the Executive Chair and Co-Founder. The ‘Day One’ podcast takes us through the highs and lows of Evan’s journey as an entrepreneur. 


How it started


Evan’s first start-up was during his time at Melbourne University, at age 22. While studying law, he was very involved in politics and was the president and co-founder of the student union. During this time, he set up a business so that the student movement would have an independent source of income. This business included a chain of computer stores on campus that turned over 2 million dollars annually and employed nine full-time staff.  


Evan has always lived by the rhetoric that; you see a problem and do something about it. He was raised on the idea that if something needed to be done, it was up to him to do it and that no one would do it for him or anyone else. 


Following the bouncing ball 


In these early years, Evan realised that he was good at what he calls ‘following the bouncing ball.’ By this, he means he can usually anticipate where trends are heading. It is all about being ahead of the curve and anticipating trajectories. Evan quotes Wayne Gretzky, telling us, “Don’t skate to where the puck is. Skate to where the puck is going to be.”  


This mindset of following trajectories led him to start the highly successful start-up, LookSmart. 


 Evan describes his time in silicon valley during the dot com boom as ‘an undiscerning market that threw money at everything.’ He tells us that when the crash happened in 2000, there were a small handful of survivors. Following that, only the truly great companies such as Amazon and eBay went on. Shortly thereafter, companies such as Google became immensely valuable, and their valuations look trivial compared to where they are now. 


Evan wanted his young family to grow up in Australia, so he followed his burning desire to fix the Australian Labour party and made the move. Looking back, he describes this aspiration as a ‘full hearty’ one.  


Evan’s next big venture


When asked if Evan has any unpopular opinions, it sparks him to talk about what he is currently working on with LongView. 


He says, “The entire Australian housing ecosystem is a disaster.” 


“Australia is the worst country in the developed world to be a tenant. It’s one of the hardest countries in the world to save for a deposit to buy a home and there is absolutely no one that’s there to help anybody to either; buy their own home or be a successful property investor.”


He continues, “to use your phrase, an unpopular view; it must be because basically, no one else is doing it. We’re about to launch our first shared equity offering to help folks get the deposit they need to buy a home.” 


Evan acknowledges that a few start-ups are undertaking similar initiatives but still believes the field is relatively ‘hidden in plain sight.’ Evan is working with his team at LongView to fix the problems in the Australian housing landscape for both tenants and investors. LongView started working on shared equity as a critical affordability tool for young people to buy homes about a year and a half ago and find it validating that other companies are taking on similar initiatives as it reaffirms that they are onto something worth doing.  


Reflecting on past failures, Evan tells us that each loss humbled him back into the idea of pursuing one thing at a time. This is why he is investing all of his energy into LongView. He admits that residential property is a long game, but one worth playing.  


If you are interested in our shared equity initiative, read more about YourHome here.