Meet the Seed Space team: Dirk Steller

Nov 01, 2020
SeedSpace Team

Welcome to Seed Space’s series of profiles introducing the core members of our team. First up is Dirk Steller, Seed Space Founder.

How did you come to this point in your career?

My career has spanned a multitude of different countries, organisations and different sectors, but with one continuous theme of building financial systems, whether they were management / governing body reporting tools; investment tools or even HR tools. Over the years it became clear to me that financial technology was going to be very important, so about 4 years ago Will (Lawson), Tobias (Snoad) and I got together and started a detailed review of the FinTech sector and decided to kick off our own investment vehicle focusing on this space. We formally launched Seed Space Venture Capital in late 2017 and it’s been a really fantastic experience so far with plenty more to come.

What is great about working in venture capital in general and FinTech VC in particular?

VC is great because it’s about building new things. I really like being involved in the creation of something lasting, and so that’s really exciting for me. Because VC is an exciting and dynamic space it tends to attract smart, dynamic people with lots of energy, and I love working with people like that.
In terms of FinTech it’s an ideal fit for me personally, with the skillset and experience I’ve gained over my career as well as my network of colleagues. We have all been involved in financial services and financial systems in one form or another, so when we overlay the exciting dynamic of bringing those skills to the table to build new things in the fast moving Tech sector, it’s very cool. We really believe that FinTech is changing the face of financial services forever and it really exciting to be a part of that.

What’s one of your favourite moments from your time at Seed Space?

When we see companies we invest in doing well, that’s really what it’s all about. We met Divipay, for example, right out of their accelerator program, and they’ve gone on now to have ANZ bank`s venture arm leading their latest round which was a proud moment for us.

I also really loved the moment our brand went live — after two years of planning, seeing ‘our baby’ on the web and in front of people, with its own presence, was a great moment.

We also sponsor the two of the key FinTech awards programs in Australia and being able to acknowledge the best and brightest in Australian FinTech is always a highlight.

What would you tell someone who asked you for career advice?

I have passed on many times the advice given to me in a graduate program many years ago. One of the CEOs mentoring our graduate group said “there is no such thing as job security. There is only career security and you build that yourself by securing the skills and experience that make you valuable. That means moving around, building a network as well as a skill set, and making yourself a well-rounded, valuable contributor to a business.”

What keeps you busy when you’re not at work?

I have four kids — need I say more?! It’s the reality of having a bigger family that I’m either on work time or Dad time. We are very outdoorsy — right now I’m teaching my five and four year old boys to surf, and it’s a great pleasure seeing them stand on their first wave. Our family all ski as well, I used to ski race competitively, so skiing is a really big part of our life. My eldest son is a ski racer too, and the smaller ones are very keen — the third was skiing most of the mountain before he was three. Skiing with the kids is one of my very favourite things to do. We also sail quite a bit and enjoy hiking in the mountains — lots of action and exercise, getting those kids out amongst nature and having a great time!

What’s the best holiday you’ve taken, and what’s your ultimate dream trip?

I love heliskiing, my best holidays have involved jumping out of helicopters into the snow on various mountains. I hiked Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania some years ago and that was a real highlight for me as well. In terms of a dream trip, I think a couple of weeks heliskiing followed by two weeks on a luxury liveaboard in the Maldives chasing the perfect wave. Of course, right now a trip just about anywhere sounds amazing…!

What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever been to?

Turin in Italy is a secret jewel in gastronomic terms. It’s where white truffles come from, amazing Barolo red wines, and it’s an only hour and a half from the coast and all the exquisite seafood from the Mediterranean. There’s a fantastically elegant place there called Del Cambio — Cambio means “exchange” in Italian and it’s where the merchants of old went to see and be seen. It’s gastronomic style Italian food in the most extraordinarily elegant old building with vaulted ceilings, gorgeous frescoes — just the ultimate in historic grandeur.

What sport or hobby would you love to take up if time and money were no object?

I’m a keen golfer, but the time it takes to play a round means there is very little chance of that fitting in to my life for a long time!

What was your favourite place to travel on business, back in the good old days when we could?

I love coming home back to Australia and Sydney. Sydney is an amazing place to work, every CBD meeting has a view of the harbour, and I love being able to have business lunches in incredible restaurants with views of the harbour or the beach. Another place I love to go on business is Tel Aviv — it has a special feel, the dynamism of its startup ecosystem is unrivalled anywhere else on the globe and that’s really exciting. London is great to visit too, there’s just so much going on and the depth of the FinTech talent and government support for the sector is inspiring.

What three essential items would you take to a desert island?

Firstly a satellite uplink so I have internet! I’m assuming there’s waves so I’m taking my surfboard. And depending where it is, probably a lot of fresh water, and maybe a beer 😊