Tech start-up investor and one of the most popular and controversial personalities on Ten’s Shark Tank, Steve Baxter is a proud Queenslander, born in the remote town of Cloncurry and raised in Emerald in the State’s central highlands. He left school at 15 and joined the Army, enlisting in its apprenticeship program. There, he became a technician working in the field of electronics, telecoms and guided weapon systems.
In 1994, at the age of 23, Steve 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. Servicing more than 35,000 customers, SE Net was eventually acquired by Ozemail/UUNet under the stewardship of its founding Director and past Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
In 2001, Steve teamed with a schoolmate to launch his second start-up, PIPE Networks, a provider of wholesale telecoms infrastructure that was listed on the ASX in 2005. Eight years later they sold it to the TPG Group for $373 million.
Steve spent a year working with Google in California in 2008, leading a project to deliver high-speed telecommunications systems across North America.
Since 2010 he has become a major early stage investor in startups leading to the founding of Brisbane tech startup hub River City Labs, started and underwrote the Startup Catalyst and RiverPitch programs; he has been on the listed boards of Vocus Telecoms, Indoor Skydive Australia Group and OtherLevels as well as being on the board of Commercialisation Australia.
He has been heavily involved in the early days or founding of numerous industry groups and forums such as the South Australian Internet Association, South Australian Internet Exchange, Australian Domain Name Authority, AuDA, INTIAA, IIA, AusBone and AusNOG.
He has been a Shark on Channel 10’s Shark Tank Australia for the past three seasons.
In 2006 Steve received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Northern Region. In 2016, Steve received the Pearcey Medal for Lifetime Achievement in recognition of distinguished lifetime achievement and contribution to the development and growth of the Information and Communications Technology Industry.
Steve is married and the proud father of 4 year-old daughter as well as twin baby girls and is a keen private pilot and recreational fisherman.