As a child I spent all my time on computers, programming them or making games. I thought I would get bored if I studied that at university. I chose ship science at Southampton because it was a good course and I would be able to windsurf. I was heavily involved in the windsurf and ski club. I was on the committee for both and competed a lot. Some of the guys I used to compete with are now on the world tour.
I moved to Perth, Australia after graduating, and started earning money that I wanted to invest in something. I taught myself how to invest in the stock market and was appalled at how hard it was and how difficult for someone with a technical background like myself. It took me six months to make my first transaction. I started building tools to help me invest, and a few friends saw them and thought they were cool. That got me thinking.
At school I sold sunglasses that I ordered from China and, at Southampton, I made money through building web sites for people. There were societies around entrepreneurship but I just wanted to do it, rather than talk about it. Also I was pretty distracted with windsurfing. It was in Perth that I started to have the itch to run my own business, and I knew I had these programming skills that I wasn’t using.
We were accepted onto AWI Ventures’ FinTech accelerator programme in July 2014. They invested Aus$100,000 for 10 per cent of the business, which at the time was not much more than an idea and an app. We released the app in November 2014, and it was received well. We recently closed our second round of funding, which raised Aus$600,000. It’s exciting that we now have a web site that people love. We have 14,000 subscribers, of whom 3,000 are monthly active users.
We are still in the beta stage so the site is currently free to use. This latest round of funding is to work out how to make money through subscriptions. We have five more people on the team, so we have resources now.
We are thinking of moving the business to either New York or UK. London is the capital of finance and a gateway to Europe. It also has tax benefits for entrepreneurs. We are also meeting investors, and gauging the appetite for partnerships.
Raising the second round of funding. We probably did 70 pitches, during which time the app didn’t change as we had to spend all our time pitching, updating the business plan, sending out documents. It was a real slog.
It’s also hard working out how to spend your time as there is so much to do, a lot of which you haven’t done before. For me, the easiest choice was to carry on developing, as you feel it’s adding value and you know you can do it. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.
If you want to do something, you can make it happen. In my final year we had to do a huge project. The options available were around research that would assist the University, but I wanted to design a sailing dinghy that would fit in the back of a superyacht. I had to propose it and then find tutors who would opt to supervise it. It became the most successful project of the group as we were all interested in it. It’s true of anything in life: if you want something to happen, don’t talk about it, go and do it.
My job now is so much fun it doesn’t feel like work. I’m working incredibly hard but it feels like I’m building Lego all day. But I do still love windsurfing, and I have been Australian freestyle champion for the last three years.