Co-Founder & Partner
Melbourne — Australia
What do you know to be true about business?
Most companies focus on making money as a goal in itself. That isn't a very motivating goal and is self-defeating. If you set out to solve your users' or customers' most important needs and are passionate about solving them, you are much more likely to build a highly profitable and rewarding business. Business should be about solving important problems in a way that others can't do, with profit as an output of that.
What in your childhood made your career trajectory possible?
I realised I wasn’t any good at sport.
What’s the most under-appreciated skill in founders?
Curiosity; a desire to learn, a thirst for knowledge and a need to understand the “why” and not just the “what” is incredibly valuable.
What did you learn at SEEK that makes you a better investor?
Everything looks easy when you are an investor, and everything looks much harder as a founder. My background as a founder helps me understand it is much, much harder than it looks from the outside and hopefully allows me to really empathise with founders. However, I also understand that founders sometimes need to be prodded to go outside their comfort zones; I certainly need to be pushed at times. As investors, we are able to bring to bear perspective and a diverse set of experiences which can be utilised to support founders.
How should a company build its core values?
The values of an organisation should be the authentic embodiment of the things that are most important to the company. They need to be real and the company needs to consistently live its values. Values should be driven bottom-up; founders, of course, have an important input but every person in the organisation should have a say in formulating them and in ensuring that everyone lives and breathes the values.
Recall a memorable first meeting with a founder?
We are really excited by opportunities for disruption in financial services but you don’t often meet founders who “get” financial services and also have the capability and mindset to build a startup. I was excited when I first met Nathan and Michael from Athena because they possessed both attributes in spades and had a clear vision of how they were going to build an amazing business that would offer a fairer deal for home-owners around Australia. We get excited by world-class entrepreneurs and even more excited when they are making a substantial positive contribution to the community.
Why should someone build a startup?
You should build a startup if you have the wisdom to have identified the solution to an important problem, the resilience to overcome huge obstacles, the capability and mindset to surround yourself with a world-class team and the preparedness to accept failure as a possible outcome. There are very few more rewarding things in the world than building your own startup.
What piece of entertainment would you love to experience again for the first time?
I first saw Bruce Springsteen live in 1985 at the Melbourne Showgrounds and have seen him five or six times since. It was four hours of musical genius and passion. Each Springsteen concert has been amazing, but I would love to relive the magic of seeing that first show again.
Where did you learn the most in your career?
You usually have the steepest learning curve in the early stage of your career and in the early stages of a new role. My first few years at SEEK was an amazing learning curve. I was young and had never founded a company or even managed people. It was so much fun and an incredible experience.
Finish this sentence: Today I’m excited by…
…Talented and passionate founders who want to change the world.
Where’s the joy in your work?
In our job, we get to meet amazing people every day and get to learn about a diverse range of technologies. We are always learning and get to see different visions of the future. It is a great privilege, but we also feel an enormous sense of responsibility to support our entrepreneurs doing their life’s work.
What advice do you live by?
It’s better to be lucky than smart!