SDS43: Peter Bradd, The Beanstalk Factory, CEO
Simon Dell: So, welcome to the show, Peter Bradd. Thank you very much for joining me today.
Peter Bradd: Awesome and thanks for having me, Simon.
Simon Dell: So, I’m going to go straight into it because when I do the research about who I’m talking to and all those kind of things, I was having a look at your university career. And I’ve got to say, it seems a strange mix if the things that you started your life doing in terms of agricultural economics, finance and corporate law. It seems a bit of a strange mix.
Peter Bradd: In terms of those two subjects going together?
Simon Dell: Yeah.
Peter Bradd: Yeah. So, I went to university at Sydney University and I did an applied economics degree… I have a twin. My brother’s name is Matt and we did the same degree. I was always interested in economics and business, really. And so, we decided to do an applied economics degree to agriculture which is essentially running small and big businesses. It’s domestic, it’s international, it’s finance. It’s a whole lot of cool stuff.
The corporate law side I think came from my dad who works in the law industry and I just took a subject in it. It actually really helped me when I created Fishburners. I wrote the constitution for the non-for-profit and many of my other businesses, that sort of corporate law. When you enrol in degrees and you kind of get a list of stuff to pick, I thought that might be cool. And so, I ticked the box and took a semester in corporate law.
Simon Dell: There’s not many people that think corporate law is cool, but you know. I did three years of a law degree and got out and thought I’m never, ever doing that again.
Peter Bradd: Yes. I only spent six months doing it and I didn’t carry on.
Simon Dell: What sort of geared you towards the agriculture side of things? Did you have a background, or experience, or family in that area at all?
Peter Bradd: No. My dad lived in the country when he was younger and I used to go there every Christmas to see my grandparents. That was a country town called Young which was famous as Australia’s cherry capital. And so, we always go to the cherry farms and things like that. That’d probably the only time I’ve got to agriculture. It is just the only applied economics degree. So, if you don’t want to do — that I knew of, if you don’t want to do just applied commerce degree, then that’s sort of what the option was.
Simon Dell: Right. Prior to that, the question I tend to ask everybody on the show is about their first job. What was the first thing that you did in terms of a job that somebody paid you for?
Peter Bradd:As an entrepreneur, my brother and I used to go around and wash cars and mow lawns, probably my first job. In terms of working as an employee, I worked at the local milk market or 7/11 store. Not for long, the guy fired me, didn’t think I was very good and I ended up getting a job in a… I did two things. I did a stint in a seafood store called Costi Seafood over Christmas and worked a 36 hour-stint at the age of about 14, and then I got a job at Video Ezy.
Simon Dell: There’s all sorts of laws being broken there.
Peter Bradd: They didn’t pay me much. The minimum wage for that age was about $5, so my parents were a bit gobsmacked when they saw the pay check that I brought home, but I was impressed and I went out and bought myself a TV. From those two things, I learned a lot. So, I learned that the owner of Costi Seafood and the owner of the media store that I worked in would just come in. They drove Porsches. They would come in, take the money out of the till and walk out. And I was doing all the work and not the glamorous jobs at that age. That sort of planted the seed for me in terms of my business career; that you need to own a business, not work for one.
Simon Dell: Was there anything else? When you and brother were out sort of building your own business in terms of mowing lawns and things like that, what kind of made you want to do that yourself rather than go and get a paid job?
Peter Bradd: I think we’re just too young to get a pay job at that stage. I think we were probably like 11 or 12. Yeah, so pretty young, just wanting to make a buck on the side and I don’t know, do whatever you do when you’re 11 and 12. I don’t even know what we spent it on, but we would get paid, you know, $30 a car and you could do a couple of cars on a weekend and you might get $50, $60 which at the time was pretty good. It was a lot more money than I had.
Simon Dell: So when you came out of university, after you’ve done the corporate law and the agricultural economics, what were you thinking at that point as you came out? Was it just find a job or build a company? What was in your head?
Peter Bradd: My thought was, which somebody gave me a tip for, was to… If I don’t go travelling right now, I’m probably never going to get the opportunity to go travelling. So, my twin brother and I took a year off with one of our best mates and we travelled the world. My brother and I went for a year and just backpacked pretty cheaply as we took some credit cards out and racked up our credit card debt. And we’re comfortable doing that knowing that we would come back and get into a corporate career. My twin brother, when we came back, got a job pretty quickly in agricultural economics, in a commodity trading firm, and I started my entrepreneurial business, my first business, which was a partnership with Qantas. And that was an idea I came up with when I was travelling around the world.
Simon Dell:Yeah, I saw that. ScribblePics was the company.
Peter Bradd: Yeah.
Simon Dell: Do you want to just give us a quick overview as to exactly what that did and what that entailed?
Peter Bradd: Yeah. So, I was travelling with my brother. The first country we went to was Peru. It’s back in 2016, so 2006, so 12 years ago. We did Inca Trail to when I saw Machu Picchu, came back to Cusco which is this beautiful little town that everyone starts at. And we went to buy a postcard to send a postcard home to our loved ones and all the postcards were pretty terrible. And there just happened to be a Kodak printing machine next door where you could put your own card in from your point and click camera and a physical photo would be printed out of the bottom.
And so, we wrote on the back of that, and that’s the genesis for that idea. When I came back to Australia, I got in touch with a number of printing companies. One of them was Fuji Xerox who introduced me to Australia Post, and they said they could print and post those postcards for 8 cents a unit and at the time 50 cents for postage, so I thought 58 cents for the production, the manufacturing of these postcards. I can probably sell them for $3 or $4 – I’m onto a winner here.
And the guy from Fuji Xerox said to me, “How are you going to get customers? Because you can’t buy a customer for $2 or $3.” And so, I had a bit of a B2B sales background from a couple of jobs that I did when I was in university and I said, “I’ll call Qantas and we’ll pitch you to them.”
So, I called Qantas’ head office, said, “I have an idea. I want to get in touch with your marketing team?” They gave me the firstname.lastname@example.org email or whatever it is. I sent an email to them saying, “This is the offer. I want to create Qantas postcards for you.” And one day, I was driving home and I got a call from a company called Cover Point Marketing who’ve been set out to take these inquiries for Qantas and they said, “We really love your idea. We want you to come in and pitch to Qantas.” So, about a month later, I went into Qantas to the head office over in New Sydney Airport and pitched to about 16 people in the room talking through the idea, what I wanted to do, and they loved it and said yes sort of on the spot. And so, Qantas postcards was born.
Simon Dell: The sequence of events that you’ve said there, I mean, bear in mind, how were you then? Probably 23, that sort of age?
Peter Bradd: I was 23, yeah.
Simon Dell: 23, yeah. That seems… The way you’ve described it sounds very easy. You found someone at Xerox, they introduced to someone in Australia Post. You cold call Qantas, they actually responded. Was it that easy or was there harder steps within that, or is it just that fortuitous that these things happen?
Peter Bradd: Yeah, that was easy. It was fortuitous, I suppose, that things happened. And in terms of the business, there was lots of things that I found very difficult. For example, finding a partner to build the service for me, the technology, and I was very lucky, again, in meeting a guy called Greg Johnson who was an incredible entrepreneur and even today one of my best mentors who decided to help me out with it. That was probably the hardest thing for me in getting that business up and running.
He brought an incredible amount of experience dealing with a company like Qantas. And if you think about me as where I was in my life, I was a uni grad. I’ve never worked for any major companies before. I’ve never run a tech startup before. I’ve never run my own business beyond some very small hobby-based businesses, and there I was running Qantas postcards for one of the largest companies in the world, and a very iconic company. Yeah, so…
Simon Dell: Do you remember what you said on the phone to actually get a response out of Qantas? Was if simple as just, “I’ve got an idea and I want to talk to someone” or was there a way that you phrased it? You mention you’ve got a bit of a sales background, but I mean, cold calling is hard at the best of times and people get rejected a lot. So, is there a way that you would suggest people phrase these things or pitch these things?
Peter Bradd: Yeah, absolutely. I haven’t codified it or was one of my business partner, Jack Delosa talks about sort of ‘bottled the magic’. I have done a lot of cold calling in my life. I worked for Westpac at the time selling life insurance over the phone and got a lot of rejection. So, I have, I suppose, a lot of experience in being able to navigate a call and do the objection handling. I don’t think the process was too difficult. It was really be nice to the receptionist, explain what you want to do, get the general email. At the time, the offer was quite compelling and I didn’t get a lot of… I didn’t find that very difficult or that there was much to it. And I think today, it’s much easier than it used to be because everybody is now on LinkedIn, and Twitter, and you can find out exactly who they are, what they’re like, and you can send communications that are quite personal to them.
One tip in sales is it does take… Don’t be put off if your first response is no response. I was lucky in that sense, but often you have to follow up up to 13 or 14 times. And so, it’s just sort of being tenacious and persistent is very important.
Simon Dell: Obviously, when you launched, you had already made customer-partner with Qantas there. What other marketing did you do to get the brand out there and let people know about it?
Peter Bradd: Not much. Qantas was responsible for the promotion of the product. It was a Qantas-branded product, so they promoted it through their own channels, their emails, their website, the in-flight magazine. We did some promotions at the lounge, that sort of stuff. When the iPhone came out in 2008, Qantas was quite slow to release their own iPhone app. So, they didn’t release their iPhone app until about 2012 from memory. And people stopped using point and click cameras. My customers wanted to use their mobile phone and they wanted to take their photos from that phone and put them on the postcards.
And without an app, I wasn’t able to do it. So, I did the same thing. I cold emailed at the time Expedia and TripAdvisor who had the biggest travel apps on the app store and went through the same process. Once I had Qantas behind me, it was much easier. I was a bonafide entrepreneur, I suppose, and had worked with the big brands. So once you have that endorsement from a big company, it definitely made those future partnerships of which I had over a dozen really easy to at least get in the front door.
Simon Dell: You eventually shut that business down, didn’t you, when you saw that the market was changing?
Peter Bradd: Yeah. We shut it down in 2015. It was probably automated probably from around 2011. I tried a number of things to make it work but the technology just kept moving so quickly. One of the things I didn’t have was a mobile developer early on enough, and this is the time when apps like Instagram and alike were being created. I probably missed out on some of the opportunities. Not saying that we would’ve been the next Instagram, but I definitely missed out on some opportunities around some really cool technologies. I never made my own brand so I only ever had channel partners and that’s probably a regret. I probably should’ve tried to do something myself just to give us a bit more freedom and flexibility over it.
Simon Dell: Do you remember the point when you realized that was the end of the road for that?
Peter Bradd: By that stage, I had created Fishburners. I was one of the founders of Fishburners and the initial CEO. I had done StartupAUS. I was almost into this sixth company, The Beanstalk Factory. So, I’ve run a number of other companies before I shut that one down and I was able to do that because the majority of the business was automated. Somebody else was doing the marketing. Their technology would print the post cards, and so I was a bit fortunate. And it just got up to the point where the revenues dipped. People stop sending postcards. And so, instead of trying to change that business model, my attention was already elsewhere. So, it wasn’t… I didn’t have yet that kind of experience.
Simon Dell: Okay, so StartupAUS, where did that idea come from? Was that a collaborative idea with other people or was that just something that came to you?
Peter Bradd:It started out of an event, the Australian Startup Ecosystem held in Sydney back in 2012. We ran an event at PwC The Difference to really try and… We went for a process called Scan-Focus-Act which is an MG Taylor kind of facilitation technique run by High Support House Coopers. Google Australia had just commissioned PwC to do a big report on the impact to the illustration economy that startups could have in Australia, and it came out with some pretty big headlines in terms of being able to add over $100 billion to the economy and over 500,000 jobs to the economy. It was a 10-year timeframe. And so, 50 people from Startup Ecosystem came together.
I was invited onto the working group by Google Australia because of my role at Fishburners and being the managing director there at time. And after that event, one of the action items was to create a group that could provide a bit more of a coordinated approach to government, because government didn’t have anybody that they could talk with, and that’s the way that the government likes to interface with industries, sort of through an association. So, we launched StartupAUS. I was the founding director with Alan Noble who ran Google’s R&D, and Bill Bartee who is a venture capitalist and currently runs Siris Venture Capital Fund.
But we quickly expanded the board to include very prominent entrepreneurs from around Australia, people like Steve Baxter, and Janet Mathews, and Glenn Smith to join the board. And now, the board of that organization is actually quite large. I think it’s about 10 people or really prominent people from around Australia.
Simon Dell: When you think about the Australian startup space, obviously, we’re a smaller country in terms of population, not necessarily actual space, how do you feel it is? Do you think we have a healthy ecosystem here in terms of the startups, or are we lagging behind the US and the UK and other countries?
Peter Bradd: Yeah. I mean, there’s Startup Ecosystem measures around the world and they kind of do it on city. Sydney is I believe, still in the top 20. I’m not 100% sure what are the latest statistics. Australia has, just like the rest of the world, we’ve all significantly changed in the last seven years. So, when we created Fishburners in 2011, there was no technology coworking spaces for entrepreneurs. There was no organization like StartupAUS. Venture capture funding was very low and limited. And over those seven years, we’ve gone from a very small amount of venture capital funding being available to startups to a huge amount, so over a billion dollars being available.
So, there’s been some changes in that. One of the reasons I personally want to start StartupAUS was, as an entrepreneur with global ambitions, you’re competing on a global playing field and you’re playing against competitors that have different rules. When we started StartupAUS, entrepreneurs weren’t allowed to issue their stock options without paying tax, and it’s sort of like paying tax on a lottery ticket.
And so, now we’ve changed those rules, with Malcolm Turnbull in 2015 in creating the National Science and Innovation Agenda. We’ve changed the rules so that now it’s more of an equal playing field and we’re having some really amazing startups come out of Australia that are globally recognized as world leaders. You have companies like Atlassian and others that are unicorns. They’re in the unicorn club and they’re happening right out of Australia.
Simon Dell: A lot of people would know Atlassian and those kind of people. Are there any others that you see that are, for want of a horrible expression, sort of bubbling under that you think will become — that will achieve that kind of status within the next few years?
Peter Bradd: There are heaps and StartupAUS is launching our Cross Roads report on the 5th of December, so in about a month it’ll be available on the website, StartupAus.org. And we map out the startup ecosystem. So, we keep an up-to-date list of all of the big tech startups. So, I won’t spoil the surprise but in there is a list of all the companies to watch. It’s probably something I’d even compounding, we often go to those well-known examples of Atlassian, where there are some really other big amazing startups that are out there that we need to increase the visibility of them so that the people understand that it’s a viable career.
Simon Dell: There’s a lot of talk and a lot of things that you read these days certainly coming out of Silicon Valley and the rest of the US about innovation slowing down and a lot of the ideas that maybe will have been created 7-10 years ago by two guys in a bedroom. We don’t have the capacity to create those kind of small scale things that can scale very rapidly, that two guys in a bedroom or two people in a bedroom, not being sexist, those days are gone. Do you believe that, or do you think there’s still the opportunity for a small group to affect a massive change?
Peter Bradd: Yeah, I understand that viewpoint and I don’t agree with it. I think there’s a huge amount of opportunity, if not more opportunity, than there was looking back over the past 20 years and looking forward over the next 20 years. You’ve got assistants like Amazon Echo, or Alexa, Amazon Echo or Google Home that are allowing you to create skills, the Internet of Things allowing you to do a huge amount of things with data. You’ve got wearable technology that you can interface with. There’s so many of these emerging technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality or robotics and artificial intelligence. If you look at the Gartner hype curve, there are 5 to 10 truly world-changing technologies coming at us in the next 5 years, 5 to 10 years, and they’re providing entrepreneurs and large businesses with incredible opportunity just like the iPhone did moving to a mobile platform, and just like 20 years ago with the internet exploding, those sort of opportunities are about to come to us right now.
Simon Dell: If you had to pick one emerging technology to put all of your money into, what would your preference be?
Peter Bradd: I think in the short term, I would be really looking at the Amazon Alexa platform. I think that’s got incredible power. If you look at the way that companies like Google or Facebook make money from visual display advertising, when people move to voice and using home assistance like Amazon Echo, all of that market changes. It’s an entirely new market. Consider this, you’re thinking of buying something from Amazon because Amazon just make it so easy that you don’t want to go anywhere else.
You say to Amazon Alexa, “I need some more Finish dishwashing tablets” and Amazon Alexa says, “Well, actually, considering your preference, you probably want to use this more environmental-friendly brand. It gets great reviews. Do you want to try it out? I’ll give you a 20% discount.” And you say, “Sure. I’ll do it. Let’s give it a go.” And all of a sudden, boom, they’ve shifted you from Finish over to something else.
And I think that’s going to be incredibly powerful. If I was to think of another technology or industry, specifically around health. I think the health industry has a lot of advantages to be gained from a number of those emerging technologies. And the big giant companies like Google and others that are putting all of their money into the health space. And as a consumer or a human, that data that’s enabling us to make more informed decisions, and not be manipulated through marketing and brand, and making better-informed choices and the ability to have better health outcomes, I think the future is just with those two leaders, is going to be much, much more amazing for us than in the present.
Simon Dell: I want to get around to talking about fish burners, because obviously, I think it’s a brand that’s become recognized, widely-recognized within the startup industry across Australia. But I first want to talk about your current project, The Beanstalk Factory, and I’m hoping you’ve got someone called Jack working for you because his email address would be cool. So, talk to me about… When you go and read the blurb on your website, I’m interested to understand why companies call you guys in. And I don’t mean that in disparaging your lack of experience and ideas, obviously, but why are a lot of these big companies not able to tackle innovation themselves? Why do they need external people to do it for them?
Peter Bradd: There’s probably a couple of questions there. Firstly, my business partner was called Jack Delosa, so he did have…
Simon Dell: So, is that where the beanstalk came from?
Peter Bradd: The beanstalk name came from my wife, and it was just around the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, and they had an unproductive cow, stopped producing milk. And so, he went in and had to sell it; sell your business, sell your asset. And instead of doing that, he traded it for some magic beans and became wealthy. And so, the story behind The Beanstalk Factory is if you’re with industry and large organizations, your asset’s coming less productive and maybe even running out of the ability to create that revenue for you, that milk, what do you do?
And so, our whole value proposition was around creating, which is the reason we have factory in the name, giving you a tried and tested methodology and approach to be able to create that value. So, that’s where the name came from. I also learned a thing. If you looked at the names of my business, ScribblePics, if we ask some of the listeners today, we’ll probably get five or six different versions of the spelling. Fishburners, what is it about? Is it burning fish? How do you spell it? StartupAUS, A-U-S, O-Z? So, I learned a lot about naming businesses, The Beanstalk Factory being one of those well-known fables but also very easy to spell was a tip there.
In terms… I created the business after doing StartupAUS and Fishburners because I didn’t think the industry was participating well enough in the innovation ecosystem. The government spent lots of money in change policy, all these support infrastructure was coming up, places like Fishburners, and BlueChilli, and all these incubators and accelerators. Venture capital money was coming in, but the corporate Australia wasn’t playing. And Australia had the lowest industry research collaboration results in the OECD, and I thought somebody needs to do something about this.
Because as an entrepreneur, a corporate is two things to you. They’re either customers like they were for me with Qantas, or they acquire you, which would’ve been nice if Qantas had done. And in Australia, if we’re not acquiring, when you run a business, you’ve got four options. You either shut it down, you run it as a hobby business, you do an IPO, or you do a trade sale. And around the world, the majority of exits for entrepreneurs are trade sales, and in Australia, we just don’t see them. And the reason we don’t see them is because, there’s a number of reasons, but one of them is just large organizations don’t have the knowledge dispersed throughout to have that maturity.
So, The Beanstalk Factory is all around helping you create innovation environments to get innovation done and moving you up the maturity curve. Why can’t they do it themselves? What we’re doing is enabling people that can do it themselves to do it better. We’re bring more firepower to the inertia of some of these large organizations. We’ve got extra unique things about us, including our networks and just the sheer depth of experience that our team has.
And our approach is doing capability uplift, where if you compare us to some of the other tier one consultancy firms, it’s a common model and it’s sort of a lobotomy approach where they do everything for you but they won’t do any IP transfers. So, you’re left without the skills yourself. And so, our approach is very different. And so, that’s why organizations hire us; we come in, we’re genuine, we’ve got a great brand. I’ve done a lot of successful stuff. We know what we’re talking about and we get and show results early and get it done.
Simon Dell:There was a really important word that you used in that segment there, was the word ‘inertia.’ You obviously see that a lot, but what are some of the reasons these big companies have that inertia, and what are some of the ways that you help them tackle it?
Peter Bradd: There’s a number of reasons that large organizations have inertia. One of the main ones is, it’s very difficult to run an ambidextrous organization or an organization that focuses on really, really profitable business models today that are churning out billions of dollars of cash and knowing that you’ve got a life limit on that business model, and at some point you’re going to need a new replacement business model to focus on that. Doing both is incredibly difficult.
And if you look at the case study of GE with their CEO recently, he focused really on Cred X, and he focused on building a future business and didn’t focus enough on business today. And so, he ended up having the corporate leaders come in and they closed down the entire innovation function and just focused on today. Because today, short-term, will be their cash. So, that’s part of it.
The other part of it is there’s just a huge amount of change that needs to happen in these organizations. Without a long-term approach… What we often see is people doing short-term, doing these things like hackathons or opening up an innovation lab and expecting long-term results. And so, what we need to do is create an innovation thesis to really understand whether they as the organization understand what the culture is that’s required to get there and be very clear on both of those things and invest in people’s capability. We’re doing things we’ve never done before we don’t know how to do.
There’s really low training and development budgets in Australia for these large organizations, and the best value is training your existing staff rather than just trying to replace them because they have all this latent knowledge about how you work, who your customers are, the intricacies of the process, and train them is actually not that difficult. If you hire people who don’t know your organization, it just falls flat on its face in terms of en masse, if that was the sort of strategy. So, it’s a longer shift. It’s a long game using some of those short-term levers to get you there, and that helps you overcome some of this inertia. But it is a battle. It is a long-term fight. You need somebody that’s got persistence, and resilience, and passion for the change, and you need support from the top. And if you don’t have support from the top, go somewhere where the CEO wants to get it done.
Simon Dell: If you’re a smaller business, if you’re down at the other end of the scale and they obviously would struggle to call in or be able to sort of fall to bringing in an organization like yourself, what are some of the things that perhaps a small business could do to start thinking about developing new ideas and innovation within a small team?
Peter Bradd: So, this is a small organization that wants to innovate. What can they do? There’s a number of things you can do. As a limited resource and it’s an organization, often small organizations are finding ways to either partner with other organizations. So, where can you lend your capabilities to another organization to assist them, partner with other startups or other small businesses to create new value. Running things like a contest for example. I had a lady that ran a jewellery company. She was a jewellery designer and she had reached capacity. There was only so much she could do.
And so, I encouraged her to run a contest, identify other jewellery designers that were young, come on and set up a sub brand where she’d find all the experience around creating the jewellery, the manufacturing, the brand, the marketing, but it was a different brand that would enable her to mitigate the risk to the other brand but still enable and mentor people. And she did that very successfully. So, that’s a way.
In terms of small organizations, you could participate in other people’s innovation events. So, if you’ve got clients in your industry, the big companies usually have things like hackathons and alike. So, just reach out to them and let them know that you’re interested in participating, and that gives your staff some exposure to what your clients are after. If that opportunity doesn’t present itself, I really encourage any small business to get into one of the innovation hubs. And no matter where you are in Australia or around the globe, there is a place like Fishburners in your capital city. There are tons of them.
And they’re not just in capital cities, they’re in rural Australia as well. And so, get in there, and meet other entrepreneurs, and start to go to things like pitch events on Friday night where you meet other people and just… There was a turning point by one of the entrepreneurs: ‘increase your service area of luck.’ If you want to be lucky, you’ve got to be where they can find you and, sitting at home or being in your own office just with your team is not going to make you lucky. So, get out there and be where luck can find you.
Simon Dell: We’ll just talk about Fishburners quickly, because obviously it’s been one of the major projects for yourself over the years. What was the toughest lesson you learned there with Fish? What was the biggest challenge you faced through the time with Fishburners? Sorry, you’re still with Fishburners but yeah, that was the question.
Peter Bradd: I work out of Fishburners but in my case, we would do it for the five remaining founding directors. We retired at the five-year mark. Fishburners is about seven years. And I’m really proud of Pandora Shelley, who is the current CEO. She started as a university student from UTS as our office manager and our first employee. I volunteered as the executive director to begin with, and so she’s gone from office manager as a student to CEO of a multi-million dollar charity that’s a real pioneer in Australia.
One of the biggest lessons for me was in hiring staff. With a really high-growth organization, you can hire staff for the next six months. But if you’re growing very rapidly, you need to make sure that you’re almost hiring staff for that six month mark in the future for the next 18 months. And you support them for the next six months, but then they can take over and really start to assist you and getting that growth. If you hire somebody that’s right for today, your business is going to be limited by their abilities. It means you’ve got to have conversations about moving them out of business, and I’ve learned that lesson in many organizations. It’s probably one of the biggest key takeaways for me.
Is that if you look at US startups, and we helped them launch into the Australian market. At the time, Uber was coming to the Australian market. The ruthlessness of those organizations in terms of making sure they have the right people for their particular stage of growth. It’s just astronomical, and that’s probably one of my key takeaways, is hiring people. If you hire the wrong person, it costs you an arm and a leg, as you and I will know. And if you hire the right person, they can just make you so happy and remove some stress.
The wrong person really makes your life tough, and the right person does the opposite. And so, that sort of tip is hire somebody, if you’re a high-growing business, hire somebody for… You’ll have to support for the next six months where it really is out of their comfort zone but they have all the skill and that makes things… And with Alex McCauley at StartupAUS, we did that really, really well. He was amazing. And so, the board got in and supported him for that initial period. He learned to fly and he’s taken that organization in places that I couldn’t do.
Simon Dell: Right. So, I’m just going to wind out now. We’ve got a few more questions before we finish. Who do you learn from? Who is your inspiration? Who is the people that teach you every day?
Peter Bradd:I mean, I still work out of Fishburners, so I’m learning from more of the entrepreneurs around me. I learn from my clients. I’m very fortunate to be working with very senior executives day in, day out from a multitude of industries. I work across government, university, different industries and large and small organizations. But I also work with the doers, the people that do the work and they teach me an incredible amount as well. My wife is an emergency nurse and she brings a lot of experience from that world which I had no exposure to as well. I do read a lot, and watch YouTube videos, and listen to podcasts. I follow all of the Facebook groups for startups, and product management, and a whole lot of different Facebook groups as well. So, I’m constantly consuming stuff.
I love reading Harvard Business Review as a source as well, and I suppose I’m just lucky and fortunate to have a really amazing network of awesome thinkers that I have very robust conversations with. One of my staff members, who had just finished up with us in a full-time role, is doing some contracting, taught me a huge amount. He was out of AMD and AMZ and worked with me for a year and a half, and he taught me a lot. Jack Delosa, who is my business partner and founder of the entourage, incredible wisdom. And these people, when you surround yourself by their — I’m learning but they’re learning just as much and fast as I am. And so, there’s just so much growth in those sort of communities of people that are wanting to learn. Yeah, so that’s sort of what we’re up to.
Simon Dell: You mentioned the Harvard Business Review there and the Facebook groups that you’re in. Are there any books that you’ve read within the last 3 to 5 years that you would recommend people go out there and buy?
Peter Bradd:I love a number of books. One that I recommend to people is Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. So, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I found that book to be incredible. David Allen’s Getting Things Done in terms of productivity was great. This book, guy called Siimon Reynolds, called Why People Fail, that has a huge amount of tips just on absolute focus on what you want to and going out there, getting the life that you want. From a lean startup perspective, I’m a huge fan of Ash Maurya’s work, Running Lean and he’s got another book called Scaling Lean as well around the lean startup approach.
I really love a book at the moment that was written by a lady that used to be the president of Change.org and currently runs Facebook’s groups and communities. She wrote a book called Purposeful: Are You a Manager or a Movement Starter? And she’s just got so many incredible stories that sort of inspires you. I think that’s another really awesome book as well.
Simon Dell: What about some brands that you like? And they don’t have to be startups that you work with, but what are some of the brands that you look at that constantly, you constantly enjoy what they’re doing or like what they’re doing?
Peter Bradd:I mean, I’m an Apple fanboy, I suppose. I like their technology. In Australia, in Sydney, Barangaroo is a new kind of precinct that came online. Two of the three towns is run by a guy called Liam Timms. He runs International Towers and Liam is by far out thousands, tens of thousands of people that I’ve met, one of the most principled business people. And I’ve just thoroughly enjoyed watching him created a community in International Towers, which is probably about 90 to 100 floors of paid resident and retail space, so office space.
He’s sort of been really dogged and stood up to his investors and have to take them on the journey of, “We want to make a community and we want to make sure that our building is of a certain environmental standard and that we can trace the source and everything. These are principles that are important to us, and you’ll see the fruit of creating that kind of community.”
I’ve encouraged him and supported him, not that he needed it from me. He’s gone and created one of the most amazing workplaces and communities, and I hope that he becomes a bit of a case study for what he’s been able to do to inspire other communities, physical communities around the world. So, I think he’s one. I also love the founders of Stripe, which is a payments platform. I thought their marketing strategy was really good. They went after new entrepreneurs and new businesses. They said they didn’t try and convert people who already had payment platforms, they went after the new.
And so, people were bringing new businesses, new websites on board and they’ve grown to be a unicorn themselves. A couple of Irish brothers that flew over to the States for a summer season and ended up creating a unicorn just with that strategy. And I was really inspired by that approach. Because often, people look and say, “How do we change what exists?” They didn’t focus on what already existed, they focused just on new customers which I thought was really awesome.
Simon Dell: And they created a business which already had a lot of big, big established, and to a degree, big new players in there. I mean, PayPal isn’t a relative old company, but they still went after a space where there were some big dogs playing in that space.
Peter Bradd:Yeah, exactly. Another brand in Australia that I love is Koala Mattresses. Dany is a founder from Fishburners and he’s created an incredible business. They were doing $15 million in revenue in their first year just shaking up a whole industry with great customer service. I think that’s awesome. So, there’s heaps of Aussie startups that I love, and some of the big industries in terms of the big bricks and mortar companies like International Towers, which isn’t a sexy brand, but I’ve been very interested in the way that they’ve been able to create a new standard which is going to change the way that we all live.
Simon Dell: What’s next for you? Obviously, 2018 is almost finished. What are your plans for 2019?
Peter Bradd:Well, I’m enjoying thoroughly being a dad to two beautiful twin girls, and they keep me busy. And then I’ve got my wife, obviously. We’ve got a bit of trouble next year. I’m making a huge amount of progress with my clients in helping them do amazing things. We’re going to have relationships with our clients for many years. The work that we do takes a long time to get done. And so, I’m sort of working with about a dozen clients in a big way to make significant shifts in their business and thoroughly enjoying that. I have some startups that I’ve invested in too, and I probably will start or be involved in starting one or two new businesses next year as well, which I can’t tell you about today but look forward to, maybe if we catch up in the beginning of the year, telling you about them.
Simon Dell: I guess that was always fairly predictable that one of a twin would then have twins as children.
Peter Bradd:Yeah, so…
Simon Dell: I bet your wife, as soon as she found out you were a twin was going, “No, no!”
Peter Bradd:I’ve really enjoyed reflecting on my life as a twin and watching my girls have such a close relationship. I think it’s really awesome. And the community of twin dads out there, I’m on a Facebook group with 2,500 twin dads from around the world with multiple dads really strong supporting each other. I really love those kind of communities and places like Facebook and Facebook groups has really enabled these microcommunities to get together no matter where they are and support each other. I encourage everyone to participate in those communities, or go to meetups from meetup.com or sort of go out and find your tribe, find people that are similar to you and don’t stick with who you know from work or who you met at school. There’s plenty of amazing people out there.
Simon Dell: So, if people want to get a hold of you, if they want to get in contact, they’ve got a question they want to ask you, they’ve got an idea or they’re in a startup and they’re looking for support, where is the best place to come and find you?
Peter Bradd:Yeah. So, the best place is LinkedIn. I check it regularly. Just send me a message and add me on LinkedIn. Just PETER. My surname’s got two D’s, B-R-A-D-D.
Simon Dell:Cool. Wonderful. Look, thank you very much for joining me on the show. I know we’ve had a few technical issues, which is ironic seeing as you’re one of the most influential people in tech in Australia. But of course, that was going to happen today, so thank you very much for joining me.
Peter Bradd:Thanks so much for having me.