Five Young People Who Managed To Found A Start-up That Actually Makes Money
This is one of those articles your mum will send you for "motivation".
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No previous generation has had more of an obsession with start-ups, and the personal autonomy and expected freedom that comes with them, than this one. The intense desire to create something new, the explosion of crowd-sourced funding and the transformative impact of the internet has created a generation of entrepreneurs.
But it’s a tough road — paved with good ideas but littered with the wreckage of people who didn’t quite make it in the open market. We spoke to five young Aussie start-ups that have been able to turn clever ideas into innovative careers by taking an fresh approach to everyday problems.
Fred Kimel – Handkrafted
Fred Kimel has built an entire personal ethos around the great Australian imperative of ‘having a crack’, while actually risking a fair bit at the same time. Flush with a career at Macquarie Bank (yep, that’s the millionaires factory), Kimel quit his lucrative job to found Handkrafted in 2014.
Handkrafted is like ‘Freelancer for craftspeople’ — a platform connecting people with artisan craftspeople to commission furniture and handmade goods. It’s a mindset that directly against the idea of filling your house with bulk IKEA modules that may not last very long.
“I find it so rewarding to be building a business with purpose that celebrates the many independent artisans in Australia who are committed to producing high-quality and original pieces made to last a lifetime. I’ve become friends with many of our makers and I’m continually inspired by their skills, passion and commitment to their craft.“
But Kimel says the true value of a commissioned item, which doesn’t come cheap, is so much more in this disposable era. “Buy less, buy well,” says Kimel. “I feel like that’s really important if we’re going to consume more sustainably and consciously.”
Ben Johnston – Josephmark, Undrtone
Ben Johnston is an Australian entrepreneur with more start-ups and businesses than he can name — his main business, Josephmark, spans Brisbane, Sydney and the US. Josephmark famously won the MySpace re-design back in 2013. Remember when MySpace was briefly a thing again? That was Ben.
33-year old Johnston is a hugely likeable sort. When I spoke to him he began by explaining how he was set to become an Air Force pilot in high school and was a high achiever in maths and physics, before cruelly being told he was too tall.
He lost his focus for some time (read: partied) until he picked up a uni course doing Industrial Design, later moving into Digital Design and IT. Sometime during his degree he was passed a copy of a ‘business bible’ from the alternative business school, KaosPilot, that comes out of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Without even attending the school, the bible gave him the inspiration he needed. Johnston dropped out of uni to set about on a course to embrace new business ventures. He founded Josephmark at 21, and quickly discovered that working on a bunch of “crazy shit” at all hours of the night for clients and ventures was “fucking awesome”. His most recent venture is the recently released ‘Instagram for Music’, Undrtone, designed to share and discover music.
“It’s going to be hard – there isn’t a start-up that’s not hard,” says Johnston. “You’re going to be working at all hours of the night. You’re going to spend your last dollar on your credit card.
“Start-ups might be the flavour of the month, but just like in music, some bands just never make it to stardom. It’s all really difficult. It’s all encompassing.”
Final words of advice? “Fricking love what you do.”
Kimberly Teo – Neighbour Flavour
Kim Teo is one of the people behind the app that has tastebuds tingling in Neighbour Flavour, where home cooks can serve up food to hungry people who happen to live nearby.
Teo, 28, is one of four in a young team who are currently working hard on launching the foodsharing app Australia-wide, starting with Melbourne in April. It’s not Teo’s only start-up — she also runs Simply Borrowed with her sister Valerie, offering a cost-effective way for bridesmaids to hire dresses, potentially saving thousands.
Teo studied a Bachelor of Economics and Biomedical Science at Monash Uni and said passion was a huge driver when asked about what inspired her to leap off the beaten career path.
“I want to create something that matters with people that inspire me. A start-up is exhilarating when truly passionate about the vision, it really can’t be just about the money,” says Teo.
“If you are looking to make the leap, start your learning journey now, in preparation for when the big idea strikes.”
Emily Boyd – Remember The Milk
Emily Boyd, now 33, was one of Australia’s genuine web pioneers, striking out to launch MatMice, a webpage builder used by millions of children, back in the year 2000. Boyd was awarded the NSW Young Australian of the Year in 2003 for her work. Sick of forgetting things and needing bits of paper to write down reminders, Boyd started work on to-do app Remember The Milk with her partner Omar Kilani in 2004. Their site launched in 2005 after a year of coding together.
Remember The Milk grew quickly to a distributed team across the globe supporting their apps across PC, web, iOS, Android and pretty much every other device you can throw at it. The iOS app was the first third-party app to integrate with Apple’s Siri, which is definitely a Big Thing for a little Australian start-up. In 2016, an incredible six million people use the app daily to stay organised, productive, and, well, never out of milk.
Emily and Omar are now based in San Francisco, just outside of Silicon Valley. “Working with your partner as your co-founder can definitely be challenging,” says Boyd. “We’re together all of the time, which makes it difficult to keep work and home separate. Plus, working from home makes it tempting to work crazy hours, which can get unhealthy.
“I think the most important thing is that we love working together, as it would be pretty easy to go insane otherwise! Our skills are very complementary, which helps.”
Alex Tassone – Bud Chat, Built.Digital
Alex Tassone is just 24, and already has a string of start-ups, investments — and, yes, unsuccessful ventures — behind him. He started Built.Digital at age 20 and remains Managing Director.
Tassone, a UTS graduate in Project Management, has just launched his new start-up Bud Chat which offers anyone with the app their very own “personal city expert”, where any question can be answered with a personal response. Ideal for travelling professionals and tourists, it’s currently in private beta, launching in mid-March.
“As an entrepreneur you have to be in it for the long haul and understand that ideas change. It can emotionally drain the shit out of you, and you really have to be in for the pain that will come,” says Tassone.
“Stick out the bad times. And if you’re in a full-time job, try starting your idea as a side project to find out if it can work, and how much you don’t know yet.”
It’s refreshing to see so many home-grown, young entrepreneurs redefining their industries. Coors is all about innovation — William “Bill” Coors was credited with inventing the recyclable aluminium can! Visit Coors and follow on Facebook