Co-Founder & Partner
Melbourne — Australia
What one thing inspires you every day at Square Peg?
We are genuinely making a difference in all the economies we invest in. There is a lot of talk of jobs disappearing in the decades ahead and there is some truth in that. The businesses we work with are the flip side of that coin, and are hiring rapidly. I believe that the more fast-growing businesses created and nurtured, the more our society will get in ahead of those potential future problems.
What’s the essential role of a founder?
To know all the roles that they must be great at! Rather than one single role, there are multiple roles that need to co-exist: a laser focus on the customer and their needs, an ability to find the very best people to help serve the customer and the know-how to get that team to execute on the plan.
Why should someone build a startup?
A desire just to build a startup isn’t enough. A founder should only start a business if they have a view, belief and commitment to achieve their dreams for whatever product or service they believe in. They should only do that if they have conviction that there are a large enough number of customers for that product or service who are willing to pay enough to enable the business to one day be meaningfully profitable. They should only leap off if they are willing to bust through walls to achieve their objectives.
Where’s the joy in your work?
Finding and working with the very best people – best defined very broadly.
Where did you learn the most in your career?
A number of years in professional services and advisory at KPMG and Merrill Lynch provided a sensational basis for my various roles to follow. Large organisations have a great way of developing young professionals who don’t learn enough at university. Following those stints, in a joint venture between two of Australia’s largest media companies (that went very badly), I generated dozens of learnings, most of those about people and relationships; I learnt about how people work as a team in times of crisis, how some people thrive in those circumstances and how developing a business too far ahead of its time can end pretty badly.
Who’s accomplishments have impressed you?
Craig Winkler's, both in business and philanthropy. He built one of the greatest tech businesses in Australia in MYOB and, after it was acquired, he brilliantly invested in Xero, MYOB’s disruptor. That shareholding is owned by a charitable trust and will create one of the largest philanthropic programs coming out of Australia.
What tech do you avoid in your personal life?
Anything that can blow up… long story.
How should a company define its values?
The process should be organic and evolve naturally. That might take place at the very inception of the business by the founders or it may be some time into the journey before the values take shape. In either case, those values need to be based in truth and cannot be artificial and should not be contrived. I’ve seen an investment bank create a set of values which didn’t quite match what was actually going on at that bank at the time. I’ve also seen a tech firm 15 years into its journey codify the values that they had lived by to help the growing team understand what it meant to be a part of that organisation.
What’s your greatest frustration?
Zero proficiency in a second language or musical instrument – both are a work in progress.