Alan Jones is the current QUT CEA entrepreneur in residence for the Collider Program 2018. What does that even mean? And what is a well known VC from Sydney hanging out with #startups at QUT? Alan and I grabbed a few rays of sun in a Brisbane city park for bit of a pop up podcast where he tells me all about it and his new VC fund M8 Ventures. Nothing like being spontaneous!
For those that know me, they know I love wine. It is a passion of mine and it’s the reason I know my latest guest on #ExecutiveStories with Lloyd Heinrich, CEO of The Wine Society. We, of course, had to conduct the interview over a few glasses of wine (Bindi Original Vineyard Pinot Noir and a Deep Woods Single Vineyard Cabernet – which was amazing so seek it out!). Lloyd has had a fascinating career journey. He is onto his 5th career now and is bringing a wealth of experience to it. In this episode we discuss:
o Lloyd’s journey which started out as him being an engineer
o His MBA and transition to Boston Consulting Group – ever wondered what it’s like to work in place like this?;
o His career with Coles and Red Bubble; and
o The Wine Society and how it has transformed from a not-for profit to a corporate entity that is allowing wine producers from all over Australia to be competitive in the market and allow us, as consumers, to try some of the very best wines. Oh he, also runs the market place www.fromtheproducer.com through the Wine Society which he co-founded and built from the ground up.
There is vibrancy and colour to this conversation that I just didn’t want to call short. Listen to this over a glass of good wine if you are lucky enough. Regardless, listen because it’s a good one!
This week on Executive Stories we chat with Stuart Clout, the CEO of thedocyard, an online deal M&A management system. Stuart is a former lawyer turned tech entrepreneur who set about forming thedocyard when he couldn’t find a solution in the market place to run his M&A deals better. M&A deals tend to be weighed down by Word checklists buried in reams of emails resulting in all the deal stakeholders (buyer, seller, investor, lawyers, bankers, accountants and bankers) having little visibility of who is up to where in the deal.
His transition from law into business means that he has personally experienced the different mindset required to run a SaaS company compared to a traditional law firm where he cut his teeth and formed his bad habits (I can say this as it takes one to know one!). Stuart has deferred the dream of sitting on the beach at Peregian and gone all in to turbo charge thedocyard by moving his family to Sydney (where we caught up). After all that’s the epicenter of where his target clients are.
We chat about the problem, the tech solution, sales techniques and experimenting with different pricing models as Stuart finds thedocyard’s niche and fine tunes it into a future global company.
Being an M&A lawyer myself I have taken up thedocyard to run my deals and can personally recommend it!
Justin Fischer is the CEO and Founder of Brüllen Pty Ltd, a business that manufactures and exports soft service ice cream and frozen yogurt machines. You may recognize his name or his business from the Married at First Site TV show. Justin’s appearance on MAFS is certainly a talking point in our conversation but we also delve into how he started his first business, what life experiences lead him to where he is today and what drives him. Relationships are of course, an interesting topic for Justin, and he is extremely open with his separation with his de facto partner many moons ago and the effect that it had on his business.
If you ever wondered whether the guy portrayed on a reality TV show is the same or any different in real life – then you will have to listen in and make up your own mind!
We all know Dr Glen Richards as the founder of Greencross Vets, not to mention he is also one of the Sharks on the TV show “Shark Tank”.
Glen’s entrepreneurial journey is inspiring and impressive and probably why we all know him so well. My conversation with Glen delves slightly from his conventional story. We start our chat taste testing a Monday Food Company pumpkin loaf, one of Glen’s portfolio companies, I had cooked the day before. This launches us into a conversation on where food is going, why we should be interested in our health and the price you pay for quality. Glen also delves into:
- what other investments he has that solve a problem surrounding food or nutrition;
- why he decided to join Shark Tank - and Steve Baxter’s role in his decision;
- how he now uses his experience - successes and hard learnings – to benefit the next waive of CEOs and founders
- what life is like post Greencross.
Thanks to Glen for giving up his time to come on the show and to Vmation for their fantastic filming as always.
Ben is the CEO of eagle.io, a cloud-based data acquisition and streaming analytics platform for environmental and industrial monitoring and control applications. Sounds complicated? I agree. Don’t worry Ben gives us the rundown of what eagle.io’s technology does and explains what the internet of things means in real terms and how software like eagle.io can improve environmental and industrial outcomes.
Ben started out as a consultant and has a great journey of how he built O2 Group. He became involved with Eagle.io because he was one of their customers who was searching the world over for a solution his business needed. He loved the solution so much that after he left O2 Group and he became their CEO.
Although a tech CEO now, Ben is still passionate about the environment and provides some thoughtful opinions about how it is being legislated and how this legislation is being enforced (or lack thereof!). He’s a smart startup founder and inspiring CEO. I hope you enjoy!
This week on Executive Stories, I chat with Joel Edmondson, CEO of Q Music. I loved my chat with Joel because it’s not often you get to delve into the creative side of life. We chat:
- music and the arts – should STEM by STEAM?
- politics (why not?!)
- economic impact music has on the economy; and
- the controversial lockout laws and the effect they have on the music industry.
The main theme from our conversation is why music is so important to society and the economy in general. Joel provides some great insights and interesting opinions (without opinions life would be boring!). I hope you enjoy.
Susanne was my first guest to join me for an Executive Stories Live Stream. For those that missed the live stream you can watch it here http://www.executivestories.com/live-stream but I am guessing the reason you are reading is because you want to listen to the podcast version.
Back to Susanne, founder of Families in Transition, a management consulting company focusing on family and privately owned businesses. Susanne has a passion for working with families and privately owned business who want to make positive change to improve the way their business is run. What I wanted to explore with Susanne was how she has brought her life’s experiences to truly and empathetically advise her clients in what is not only a business matter but a deeply personal one too. After all Susanne is from a family business so is well placed to tell us and her clients about the actual emotional and business pressure points of a family business.
This personal overlay gives her a unique ability to advise her clients on creating more sustainable family businesses and how to focus on governance, leadership and all the other people aspects of a business.
My chat with Susanne is a continuation of the Executive Stories mantra – real chats with executives and directors to find out what drives them and take a walk in their shoes. Enjoy!
This episode of Executive Stories delves deep into conversation with Ray Merlano, the General Manager (QLD) of Data#3 Limited. Ray still has his American accent but after 35 years here feels as Australian as Vegemite. He started off in science and math and it is this background in STEM which says has helped in thrive in the role of an executive at Data#3. Ray is big into sport and you can tell that there is a competitive drive to him, which is why you will see this GM at startup events and keeping his finger on the pulse for new business opportunities. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with Ray and I hope you enjoy it too!
This week on Executive Stories, I chat with Remy Brassac, the tongue and cheek title of “Head Honcho” at Rumble Creative & Media. Remy’s:
- had to make big decisions as a business owner which saw his previous fly to new heights when facing a downward spiral during the GFC;
- decision to sell his previous business to multi-national mega firm Clemenger after becoming a dominant force in Brisbane;
- realisation after a few years that his passion lay in running his own business and not for someone else – from which grew Rumble; and
- Importantly, views on family and working with the right people.
Jason is a young entrepreneur who is using his passion and determination to continue to grow his successful businesses. Jason co-founded Just Digital People 2013 as he saw a gap in the market with online recruitment. His role within JDP as Co founder, is to lead the business forward, keep the energy high, collaborate with recruiters, build meaningful relationships with clients, and have fun! Jason has a large social media following which he provides us with some valuable lessons about. Jason opens up about the importance of people’s personal brands vs the business brand and that if you are influential in the social media space, you need to be aware of how your actions directly affect your business. Jason also speaks to us about how his managerial style has changed as he has learnt and grown with his business. It is an honest and passionate conversation – I hope you enjoy!
Cameron is an energetic leader who enjoys corporate strategy and finding ways to grow. He is passionate about people and thrives off what teams can achieve when they work and develop together. Cameron has been on an interesting journey to his role as COO of Trademark Vision. Setting out to be an engineer then moving into aviation, Cameron soon found that his strengths and passions lay elsewhere. In this episode we discuss:
- Resilience that was built in the military;
- Working in a law firm in London without a law degree;
- How keeping an open mind can turn a competitor into an ally; and
- The journey of Trademark Vision;
Cameron values trust and places high importance on fun environments. His story is inspiring – I hope you enjoy it!
Chris Adams is the man that has done it all. From humble beginnings growing up on a farm in Pennsylvania, Chris has gone on to work with the likes of entertainment and media industry pioneers – Steven Spielberg, Al Gore and Jeff Scholl of Ebay to name a few.
Listen to Chris as he recounts his experience at Facebook in its infancy – and what it’s like to work with Mark Zuckerberg (and stand next to him at a water bubbler). He also talks through working in industries that were completely new to him, and trusting your gut.
- How to be both creative and commercially minded
- Learning to recognise burnout signs and juggling 4 balls instead of 15
- Different ways of working – why office 9-to-5 isn’t for everyone
- How to identify a problem, and create an outcome that makes a difference.
Jock Fairweather is no run of the mill guy. Having grown up in PNG, excelling in his studies at the London College of Fashion, working as a shoe designer in Geneva and then founding Little Tokyo Two in Brisbane – it’s clear that whatever Jock puts his mind to, he will succeed at.
That’s not to say it’s all been smooth sailing. Trying to forge his shoe designs as a luxury brand in Europe nearly mentally broke him, and now he wants to share his experiences to ensure startups at LT2 don’t have to go through the same thing. This episode is a must-listen for those who want to be inspired by Jock’s tenacity and ability when knocked down to stand back up taller than before.
Jock is a self-confessed ‘take him or leave him’ type of guy so he doesn’t hold back on anything in the interview, which makes for a gripping Executive Story.
- The importance of being a big thinker and a creative thinker;
- The belief that whatever you can envision, you can become;
- Working hard and fast at your passion;
- Picking yourself back up at your lowest point; and
- Being ruthless with your time and finding happiness in discipline.
Sharon is a lawyer turned deal maker and now MD of InterFinancial. Whereas some of my guests are only too willing to jump down the microphone with their story, Sharon was a reluctant guest at first. As we discover, the reason for this is that Sharon is a very humble person looking to sing other’s praises before her own. Sharon has had a wonderful journey finding her niche in mid market M&A, private equity investment and funds management. Sharon provides us with a genuine insight into career paths and how learning your strengths and following a career that plays to those strengths can be extremely rewarding and beneficial.
In this episode we discuss:
- Sharon’s life as a single mum and lawyer at the age of 24;
- Her career progression and transition; and
- Her thoughts on social enterprises and her experience wither Foresters Community Finance.
InterFinancial has become a hugely successful company not just in its market and for its size, and seems very comfortable in its own skin with Sharon at the helm. Thank you Sharon for taking the plunge and coming on Executive Stories and giving us all a glimpse into the woman behind the MD of InterFinancial.
When I pitched Dominic for this interview he knew little about me or what I would publish from our interview. Most guests are a little self conscious about how they may present when played back. Not Dominic. He is a savvy operator who believes that if you are open and honest and only talk to topics you know about there is nothing to fear! Dominic seems to have it all, being a young dad and capable software engineer who possesses a rare technological aptitude for a highly commercial business executive.
Dominic launched Tow.com.au in 2014 in Eagle Farm, pitching it as "The Uber for Tow Trucks". In its first year of trading, the business finished with seven figure revenue with that continuing to grow. Tow.com.au is now operating nationally, having grown from four to 34 staff in less than 18 months. Setting this evident success aside, Dominic also embraces leadership with open arms and has openness with his employees which is indicative of his generation. You’ll have to listen to learn how old Dominic is - suffice to say he certainly has a “young guy charm”!
Before starting Tow.com.au Dom knew nothing about towing. What he did know was that technology is shaking the foundations of every industry. In this episode we delve into:
- Growing a successful business from a young age;
- Managing people; and
- Tech and startup companies
Dominic is passionate about technology, emerging markets, innovation, disruption, startups and entrepreneurship. This is evident not only in his success so far but that the passion he speaks with. I hope you can feel it too!
Anna is a vivacious, fun and the perfect guest to kick off Executive Stories for 2018. She has experience in events, finance, project management and startups and has completed her Masters in Entrepreneurship through the University of Otago where she wrote her thesis all about crowdfunding and her startup, PledgeMe
Her official title is PledgeMe's 'chief bubble blower.' Anna is clever and energetic. She knows what’s going on in the world and business and keeps her finger on the pulse in the face of changing technology. In this interview we decided to have a little bit of fun chatting about Anna’s biggest f*ck ups. Yes, there’s some expletives that could be beeped out but I decided to run with it in its raw form – maybe skip this episode if this might not be your thing. But do tune in if you want front row seats as we discuss some of Anna’s biggest mistakes, what she learnt from them and how we can learn from our mistakes as well. We also delve into the world of crowd-sourced fund raising and its benefits.
There is certainly a little tongue and cheek to Anna’s personality but when we delve a little deeper into the conversation you see she is a super smart business woman who takes a very honest and open approach to life and business - and was willing to share her f*ck ups for us all to learn from. I hope you like it!
Jade Collins is on a mission – to successfully run a profit making business that aligns with a social cause. Her website, Femeconomy, achieves this and more. As Co-Founder and Director Jade encourages women to use the power of their purse to support brands with women in leadership, in order to create gender equality.
Jade discusses what it’s like to have informed consumers, re-establish your identity outside a corporate environment, and be deeply personally invested in your job. For Jade, this episode is all about that customer focused conversation and trying to understand what people’s stories are – something which closely aligns with Executive Stories at its core.
- The criteria needed to be listed on Femeconomy and the types of businesses already on the site;
- The importance of consumer activism and where it fits in the startup space;
- Driving a small business – choosing between growth and profit;
- Changing Femeconomy’s business model; and
- What it’s like to align your brand with your identity and personal values.
For a lot of CEOs, the financials of their company is what drives them. For Ben Korst, CEO of Montserrat Day Hospitals, his approach is different. Ben recounts what it takes (with no prior experience) to step into an industry of highly skilled medical professionals, grow a relationship with them, and do so with his signature larrikin humour. Ben takes it all in his stride, providing insight to adapting to different management styles, limitations of the job, and ensuring decisions are right 100% of the time for the benefit of patients – without being serious 100% of the time!
- The importance of listening to everyone’s point of view for the best possible outcome;
- Juggling responsibility of seven day hospitals across Australia and rapid expansion;
- Knowing when to take a break; and
- Not taking life too seriously.
Mitch Lally, Managing Director and creative genius at Mitch Lally films, is an award winning wedding cinematographer. He has a unique vision for crafting powerful wedding films which has given him opportunities to work with passionate clients and capture celebrations all over the world. Mitch provides youthful insight into his journey from freelance filmmaker to presiding over a multi million dollar film company – and what drove him to start in the first place. Don’t let Mitch’s age deceive you: his business acumen and wisdom are well beyond his years.
We delve into:
- The influence Mitch’s dad had on his choice to start a business;
- The sacrifices Mitch has had to make;
- Making business smart promises;
- Recruiting the right people into a business where honed creative talent and attention to detail is everything.