Aleksandar Svetski

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In this episode we dive deep with Aleksandar Svetski, CEO of Amber, into:

  • Making a fortune and losing it;

  • Impact of family on goal setting;

  • What really happened in the breakdown of iRecruit;

  • What Aleks really thinks about ICOs notwithstanding Amber is playing squarely in the cryptocurrency evolution;

  • Do people judge CEOs for startup failures, and

  • The importance of morals and integrity in the nitty gritty world of startups.

Tim Walmsley

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Tim Walmsley is the CEO and Founder of BenchOn. What I love about this conversation is how Tim lets us into not just the problem BenchOn is solving, but the personal side of it all.  Things like what it’s like working with his wife Katie in what is a small team and the impact of this on life at home.  If you work closely with a relative then my chat with Tim will surely resonate with you.  Tim and I also chat:

  • Running a company while doing a round of fund raising  at the same time – how to juggle them;

  • the struggles and the anxiety that come along with being a founder of a company;

  • the difference is from a start up company to scale up company, which is what BenchOn is now;

  • getting your customer message bang on.   

Sally Prosser

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Sally is one of those people so passionate about what she does and understands her “why” so well that it pervades all that she does – you can hear it in her voice.  That may be no co-incidence as Sally is a Voice and Presentation Coach to corporates and broadcast journalists alike. Many of the first and second impressions we create are a result of how we sound when we speak (the saying “… and then he opened his mouth” comes to mind!). Sally turns to her 17 years of experience in this field to help people communicate better through their voice.  Communicate better in the boardroom, on TV, on stage and in your personal life. Yes, it goes that deep and we chat about this in spades on the podcast. 

For someone like me who is obsessed with great conversations knowing that our voice can be trained to adapt to situations (without necessarily trying to be all posh about it) was truly enlightening.  Find out what I am talking about and more in this episode with Sally Prosser.

Ben Godfrey

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Like many of my guests, Ben tried to have a normal job but that wasn’t the life for him.  Ben is an entrepreneur, non-executive director, techo and deal maker all wrapped up into one package. 

Ben speaks about the art and skill of raising money, knowing your numbers backwards and not being afraid to invest in creating a solution to a problem that is keeping his business from scaling – and then giving it away to others for free!  You can tell Ben is a deep thinker on a quest to always do better than his last.  But I think he also one of those guys who doesn’t take himself too seriously and just gives everything he does a bloody good crack.

Michael Phillipou

Michael Phillipou is the co-CEO of Lodex and Blockloan – the future of global banking (as its website says!) But Michael’s industry changing solutions are backed by 18 plus years of experience in traditional banking. I guess that’s where so many great ideas come from – in your own backyard.  In the last year Michael has had an extreme change in focus by creating his own loan market place, Lodex, which now has a over 50,000 registered users. This has now led into Blockloan which is a blockchain platform that enables lending of Cryptocurrency throughout the world.

Michael’s team uses a system of social scoring which is very different to the typical credit scoring progress has looks at meta data from your social media platform. This feature is used not to look at what you’re posting but what your subject lines are and how long takes each user to reply on social media – all to work out your capacity to repay. Michael will also go into more detail about smart contracts and how they are the next big thing and what happens with borrower defaults on their loans and the tech to go along with smart contracts.

Michael Ryan

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Michael is the go to guy for infrastructure advisory work around rail, port, water and energy for bulk commodity producers.  That’s the power of being super niche.  As Director and part owner of Balance Advisory, Michael is grateful to see the recent doldrums of the resources sector behind him.  But being super niche does mean though you are tied to the economic cycles of your industry which is why it’s wise of Michael and his co-owners to be now investing in early stage companies in a variety of sectors – diversification!  

Michael’s network is enviable and valuable, and is known for seeking to add value to his network more than seeing what he can take from it.  Many listeners have probably benefited from Michael’s willingness to help and leverage his network without putting his hand out for anything. When you work in an industry where economic cycles and infrastructure contracts are long it pays to play the long game … Something we should all be thinking of.

Brad Moran

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Brad is the Founder & CEO of the Citrus Ad Platform. He is startup founder, marketer, digital innovator and hands on leader who enjoys building great products, but most of all great teams. His career began in the arena of elite sport playing football for the Adelaide Crows before entering into the world of business. He started his first tech company in 2011, which he tells us ended in a lot of tears, heartache and mental health scars.  Clearly oozing too much entrepreneur for a standard office job he figured he might as well have another crack at creating and growing another startup.  Brad and Citrus have hit the jackpot with their scalable, personalised ad serving platform designed for retailers.  Chances are it is the tech running in the background of your online grocery and other online retail shopping experiences.  Citrus has serious unicorn potential!

Brad on likening the role of CEO founder to Frodo with the Lord of the Rings, being bashed up in business and then bouncing back bigger and better than before.

Nicholas Heaney

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Nick Heaney is CEO of Skrilla, an e-fantasy gaming website that recently completed an initial coin offering (ICO).  Take any of those and consider “who wakes up one day thinking that’s what I want to do for my career”?! Probably no one is the answer.  And that is the prelude into what drove Nick to abandon his cushy life at PwC doing management consulting and choose the path of the entrepreneur. A path that is seldom predictable, can often require you to pivot your entire business in order to survive (which Nick had to do) and never cushy.

We chat about Nick’s journey from consulting to Stepsie, then Puntaa to Skrilla and what he learnt along the way. I personally didn’t know much about the e-sports industry, but boy did Nick sell me on it. It’s a large, relatively untapped market which is why Skrilla has such potential and is a ‘watch this space’ sort of play. Nick also delves into Skrilla’s ICO and how the tokenised ecosystem can empower your platform’s users. He also tells us why raising capital through an ICO was the right move for them but also discusses the problems faced through token use, particularly in regard to exchanges. I have been doing a lot more legal work in the ICO and utility token space of late, so if you looking to know more then this is the interview for you. 

What I love most about Nick is that he doesn’t profess to have all the answers.  He is humble and not afraid to stick up his hand for help in what is unchartered territory for even the most seasoned CEO. Enjoy.

Richard Brimblecombe

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Richard Brimblecombe is the CEO of StockCo, the largest specialist livestock financier in Australia. When listen to Richard speak you can see there is a real urgency in what he is doing and that he has no intention or resting on laurels when he achieves his next lofty goal. There is always something more ambitious on the horizon which invariably involves biting off even more than before.  You get the feeling that to strive for anything less would be boring for Richard.  I think it all boils down to passion for the individuals and industry his work directly affects – and for the last 20 years that has been farmers.  Richard is super busy guy so I appreciate him taking the time to come and chat with me!

Paul Engeman

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Have you ever really wondered why and who decided gold would be a stable store of value?  And what about crypto currencies like Bitcoin – are they theoretically any different? And for all of you out there with diversified portfolios, do you hold any gold bullion – and if not should you?

This week on Executive Stories, I chat with Paul Engeman, Director at Ainslie Bullion & Reserve Vault about all of this and arrive at some very interesting answers. Paul is not a gold bullion or crypto evangelists and prefers to go by his trade marked mantra “Balance your wealth in an unbalanced world”.    I have never held bullion other than the wedding ring on my finger, but after this conversation with Paul think that is something I will have to remedy.  

Alan Jones

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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!

Lloyd Heinrich

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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!

Stuart Clout

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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

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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!

Dr. Glen Richards

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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 Starr

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!

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Joel Edmondson

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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 Bransgrove

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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!

Ray Merlano

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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!

 

Remy Brassac

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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.