My story as a serial entrepreneur

In some circles, I’m known as ‘That Startup Guy’. Over the last five years, I’ve built a global following on LinkedIn of more than 300,000 people. 

Now I can leverage this vast network to help you get better, faster and higher returns on your ventures.

You’ve probably learned a little about how The Starting Block system can help you succeed. If not, check out our free resources to get started. You can also become a member or Join our Facebook Group.

Our goal is to make your venture investable and turn your great idea into a successful business.

Here’s an outline of my professional journey so far.

My lightbulb moment

After a decade as a sales professional, I joined a major company in 1993. My role involved giving sales expertise in their logistics hire services business.

In 1996 I discovered an opportunity which required setting up a new division in their business.

Over 12 months I researched, planned and tested my market offering. Subsequently, I ran and expanded the team to five people.

This division grew an annual recurring revenue of about $10m. This would have a venture value of more than $50m if it was a saleable enterprise.

I considered this my first success. And I imagined if I could do this for someone else, I could replicate it for myself.

I found my purpose

During my career, I learned much about the challenges of building successful enterprises.

I studied hundreds of business models and discovered the pillars for business success.

So, in March 2000, I wanted to build my own commercial venture and tap into the Dotcom boom based on my success. Unfortunately, this occurred one month prior to the Dotcom crash in April 2000.

I returned to corporate life in 2001 to learn more about the technology industry. I did this while I built my next venture part-time after hours.

The next step in my career.

The next phase

In 2004, with the agreement and support of my wife, I left to start my own consulting business.

In the meantime, I discovered the path to success for my 2nd venture.

In 2006, that venture and the attached consultancy failed. Unfortunately, logistics services were too expensive to scale up the venture.

My startup obsession continued

In 2005, I led two separate not-for-profit ventures:

  • One scaled from one location to 14 within 18 months.
  • The other, a local residents association, grew from 500 to 3000 members under my guidance.

I began marketing a consulting business in 2008 to find a path to success for my third venture.

In 2007, that venture ceased. A marketing consulting business – plus an e-commerce enterprise – continued until 2010.

From December 2007 until Feb 2011, my wife returned to work after maternity leave. I worked from home, caring for my fourth child while developing other business ideas.

In 2008,  I became a potential part owner in a new startup in the $150m gelato industry. The father and son team expected it to become a venture worth approximately $100m.

One of the founders died before signing major sales contracts in late 2009. The business collapsed soon after.

I found an opportunity to fix broadband blackspots in the internet industry in 2008.

The venture failed due to competitive pressure in the NBN/Telstra supply agreement.

A similar South Australian venture was not subject to the same restrictions and sold in 2013 for $60m. Adam’s Internet used the same method and technology as our startup.

In 2010, my bid for a seat in the Victorian Parliament as a member of the Legislative Council failed. Winning 15,000 votes I came sixth in a five-horse race, missing out by about 2,400 votes.

Personal tragedy

My son Christopher, then 17, contracted acute lymphoblastic lymphoma in April 2011. He had a 40% chance of survival.

I spent most evenings in hospital with Christopher and my days caring for Grace. So I put my businesses on hold.

Christopher contracted a spinal infection in late 2012 – a major life-threatening episode. He went into intensive care and became a complete and permanent paraplegic. His condition required constant and full-time care and support.

Never quit sign

Back on the horse

In the meantime, I designed and built two platform businesses and teams. These both closed due to lack of access to willing audiences.

In 2014, I started an internet social media business and created a prototype with a team of six others. It generated strong commercial interest, but no funding was available in Australia.

Our team could not move to Silicon Valley to access capital for such a high growth, high-risk project. So, the venture folded.

Samsung India invited us to restart the project 18 months later with their support. But the team had all taken other positions in large firms and did not come back to take the risk.

The President of  Melbourne Angels invited me to join his team in 2015 and invest in more than 10 ventures.

I learned about the intricacies of divert investment in ventures. But I have no guarantee of receiving a return on my initial investment.

These investments have taught me about many of the fundamentals of venture investment.

They gave me a deep knowledge of the challenges faced by founders and investors.

I experienced age and role discrimination, severe depression, and venture failure.

How I used this knowledge

In 2015, I identified a key opportunity in supporting founders to achieve success.

The Starting Block – after many iterations – is the realisation of that project. 

I’ve written extensively about the challenges of entrepreneurship and investing. Almost 150 articles and 500,000 words is the basis for two books.

In 2016 I mentored two cohorts of students at my former grammar school. I joined CEOs of major Australian companies to support their entrepreneurial program.

So far, I’ve mentored more than 200 people seeking to build their own successful ventures.

I’ve been a speaker 11 times on Australian and international podcasts.

I have since spoken to more than 20 groups at events with audiences of up to 150 people.

My experience is invaluable to share with other entrepreneurs and founders. 

So, I invite you – and others in your network – to join me at the Starting Block and learn from my personal experience.