Steve Baxter: From Army Officer, To $373 Million Dollar Exit From Pipe Networks, Aussie Tech Entrepreneur Reveals All

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Stephen Baxter is becoming a bit of an icon in my hometown of Brisbane.

Stephen BaxterHe’s put in his own time and money to foster the start-up scene with his River City Labs co-working space. He is helping a select few start-ups with advice and seed funding, plus he has the reputation of a tech entrepreneur who has exited from some big deals, the biggest being the $373 million sale of PIPE networks.

Although we were a little bit tight for time with this interview, Steve did manage to share a lot of the inside story behind his first success, SEnet, an ISP started in the late 1990s, and then PIPE networks, a player in the fibre networks industry in Australia.

The interview covers his younger days leaving school early and then joining the army, were he indulged his fascination with tech, in this case “army toys”, and then later computers when he began studies at university.

Steve explains how he started his ISP from a rented house with six telephone lines (back in the dial-up days) and grew it to the 7th largest ISP in Australia at the time. His company was acquired by Ozemail just before the dot com bust of the early 2000s.

Steve then took time off, bought himself a boat and went fishing. He was gone from business for almost a year, before he was lured back in to partner on PIPE Networks, a company that helped reduce bandwidth costs by connecting often competing companies together to share bandwidth.

Eventaually PIPE Networks floated on the stock market to help fund the roll out of cable infrastructure, resulting in a $14 million capitalisation. Steve later left the company’s day-to-day operations to work at Google in California, where he lasted for a year, before returning to Australia to help finalize the $373 sale of PIPE Networks.

Today Steve is the founder of the not-for-profit co-working space, River City Labs, a large office space where start ups can rent a table office, share resources and connect with similar entrepreneurs in Brisbane.

If you’re looking for a big multi-million dollar success story, this is an interview to listen to. Thanks to Steve for sharing and please leave any questions you have as comments to this post.

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  • It is nice to know about Steve Baxter story, I hope I can learn get get inspired on his story.

  • Congrats man!
    That is something not many can do in this world. Thanks for giving us your time to share your experience in this journey.

    I hope you have more success.

  • Hello Yaro,
    Sorry for Out of Topic. It seems the aweber link sent to Gmail does not redirect correctly to this post. Any idea why?

    By the way, it’s really inspiring to listen to this new podcast.

    • Hi Budiarno, you are the first person to have this issue, maybe it was a temporary server or network problem? Try again and let me know how you go.

  • Great story, very inspirational and motivational.

    Yaro, I see, that you are recently in touch with “big fishes” 😉
    Do you plan more interviews with multi millionaires in the near time?

    Thanks for sharing,

    • Yeah Chris, I certainly would like to interview more people like Steve who have some amazing stories of success. It’s a case of bumping into them or just asking, although I generally go with the networking flow and see who shows up.

    • Totally agree with you Chris. More of this kind please.

  • These stories are what drive me to achieve more… I think Stephen has so much more he could teach us.

    I have personally worked for a billionaire and often used to discuss his path from nothing to the massive success he enjoys now. While there is a clear pathway to his success, when I asked why he made certain decisions when he did, he told me that any decision would have been the right one. As long as he made a decision and committed fully, he could just about make it a winner every time.

    There was no goal setting, no concrete business plan, it was just a case of taking the opportunities as they came, recovering from the failures and keep moving fast… So fast he didn’t have time to consider the fear! Very interesting stuff.

    Like Stephen mentioned in the interview, sometimes it takes 14 hour days, 6 days a week and sacrificing your health to achieve a $370m payout.

    Ian McConnell
    Western Australia

  • Amazing story and great blog post, it’s inspiring to hear people like Steve sharing his way of doing business.
    thanks for sharing

  • It really needs hard work and determination to achieve that height. Great Job Done!

  • revi

    Another inspiring story. Keep up the good work. We need stories like that.

  • An inspiring story.

    Keep posting your real-world examples of successes – They are motivating to myself and the may others you help with your blog! 🙂

  • About to read it now and will comment if I have something to say, but just wanted to let you know that you’re missing a “million” in your 7th paragraph.


  • Very inspiring story 🙂 I love to read success stories from people from any walks of life…

  • Such great story! I am jealous! Lol! Better get to work…Thanks for posting this!

  • I wish we had gotten back to the VAX point, I have since done a co-investment in a company called OrionVM ( The other bloke in the investment is Gordon Bell who was the bloke in charge at DEC of the VAX program !

  • David

    Great episode. I probably listened to this more because of the history I shared as I worked for SE Net for Steve for two years before the company was sold. In saying that it was very inspirational hearing a more detailed history than I knew at the time.

  • What a wonderful work you are doing Yaro…. You give us inspiration. How I wished I could have started blogging 5 years more ago… I could have supposed to be one in your list of interviews. But I am just young as a babe learning from you all… Thank you very much… we do expect more.
    Alberto From the Philippines

  • Hi Yaro, I read the transcript completely and I absolutely loved it. He seems like a very grounded, earthy guy which I respect and admire. Thanks for doing this interview.

  • […] the insights from the judges. As Brisbane crew we know enough of the public side of Baxter’s journey building his first few companies and via some proximity have an understanding of his bias and […]

  • Olga Levit

    Great story, thanks for sharing.
    You are inspiring!

  • Very inspiring story, shows anything is possible, always.

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