Hi Reece, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a 26-year-old entrepreneur. I have been running different businesses since I was 12, one selling skateboard parts out of my parent’s lounge room to my friends. As an entrepreneur, I can freely express myself without conforming to any standard, shape my own destiny and have the power to make a positive impact on the world. I co-founded 'Black Diamond Promotions & Events' with a friend because we didn’t like how night clubs were run, founded 'FindMy' and 'Unique Home Theatre'. Currently, I am the founder and managing director of South Australia's fastest growing startup – Delivery Boyz (#DLVRD). We have recently formed a partnership with South Australia’s largest privately owned company ‘Peregrine Corp’ to bring their chain of convenience stores, On The Run (OTR) and food products straight to people’s homes and offices.
Have you always wanted to become an entrepreneur?
From a young age, I was always trying to get involved in business. I found it increasingly difficult to sit still in a classroom. I’m street smart, very observant and I don’t miss a single thing around me. My lessons come from real world experiences, not from classrooms.
‘’Despite what everyone says such as 'You are an idiot for trying that’, deep down they applaud you and wish they had your courage to try new things’’.
What is it like being an entrepreneur?
I love the exciting and consuming world of business. I sleep and wake up thinking about business. My mentor Shane and the CEO of "On the run" works almost 24/7 so I know I’m heading in the right direction. I am lucky enough to have them as my mentors. Being an entrepreneur is a 24/7 job and traditional employees struggle because they turn off when they finish work at 5. You need to accept the fact that this is your life now and if you cannot face this fact then get out because you won't last.
Most people want to make a million dollars in their first year in business. Do they even know how hard it is to make a few hundred thousand dollars? An entrepreneur will constantly scale an uphill battle and the view is pretty good from up there but most give up too early. Many people go into this game wanting instant revenue and a high valuation. Focus on adding more value to your business and the money will come.
‘’When you tell people about your business and failures occur, people will say ‘I told you so’. Do not even give them this pleasure’’.
How did you start your journey?
In high school, my journey took shape when we undercut the school canteen by selling cola cans to kids after buying them at a cheaper rate from Coles. People thought I was weird but took me seriously once I gained traction. At 19, I started my first legitimate business where I didn’t know what I was doing but I had fun. I started to make serious money with my second business while acquiring commercial business knowledge. Completing corporate contracts on time was stressful which helped me realise that even though I was no longer in school, doing business required discipline.
'Delivery Boyz' is my latest project. I was hanging out with my friends one night and wanted some food but we all had too much to drink. We thought it would be cool to have people pick and deliver things for us. Later on, we started to put a plan together and invested a bit of money. Our Facebook page was launched weeks before the official website and our first order came in on the first night which was impressive. As we gained more momentum, we invested even more money and effort. When our investors joined us, we had already invested thousands of dollars.With revenue and great branding we owned 8% of the market after some market research. Right now, we are dominating the South Australian market and I would not be surprised if new market research showed us at 40%.
‘’Some people no longer take pride in their work. Do a great job and results will come, not the other way around’’.
What challenges did you face when starting out Delivery Boyz?
I was in a very difficult circumstance when Delivery Boyz started. I was working on another project that had $150k overhead annually, while managing debt when revenue was greatly decreasing and then I got into a car accident.
It was ridiculously hard losing money on one business when I still needed to invest into other. When the bank rejected our overdraft request, I was sitting outside King William Road with my head in my hands thinking, ‘how the hell will I get through next week’s bills? What am I going to do?’ I had to ask all my closest friends and parents to borrow money. It was one of the hardest times I had been through. Eventually, things always work out and results are a reflection of how hard you push through hard times.’’
Winning 2014 Majoran best startup award
What does the future hold for Delivery Boyz?
We are going to further penetrate the saturated South Australian market and continue to establish our brand as a household name. We are perfecting our model before going nation-wide. Once it is perfected, we have large scale investment plans.
Why do many people fail to start their ideas?
Most are too petrified to fail. The truth is that no one cares. If you fail 6 months later, I would say, ‘good job, you had a crack at it, now you learnt something valuable'. Despite what everyone says such as 'You are an idiot for trying that’, deep down they applaud you and wish they had your courage to try new things.
"People will not help you just because you give them your business card. They help you based on the relationship you share and the respect they have for you. So many people in Adelaide fail at this’’
Do you have to be an introvert or an extrovert to be a great entrepreneur?
My therapist says that I am both. There are dangers in being too much of one type. You must balance between introvert & extrovert activities. Extreme extroversion means going out too much without enough thinking time. I have days when I want to speak to no one, stay at home, get work done or troll on the internet looking for ideas. Other times I want to let my hair down after 40-50 or more days in a row of solid 18-hour days of working…
Do you believe that entrepreneurs are born?
You are either an entrepreneur or you are not. From the bottom of my heart, I honestly believe we are born with different passions but once we unlock them, success will come. My two brothers and I were raised in the same environment and yet we are great at different things. I picked up the entrepreneur gene while my brother is a wonderful carpenter who has won awards and all-round 'Apprentice of the Year'. My other brother is getting job offers from every single nightclub in Adelaide because he would be up there with being the best bartender in town, That’s a skill in itself. We are all different but we put 100% effort in whatever we do.
Do you hear a lot of business pitches?
When people pitch and ask me to convince my investors then this is the message they are sending me: “I have a great idea that I have done absolutely nothing for, have no traction, no money, no revenue, raised no funding but I want you to raise it for me while I still own 90% of it.” Without action, great ideas are cheap. If you want money then show us 12 solid months of blood,sweat,tears and revenue. It’s typical of people the have an idea and ask for money without producing anything. We spent thousands before asking for any money from shareholders in my first project.
There are even people who “pitch” concepts without revealing the idea because they are afraid that others will steal it. In my opinion, everyone is too busy to steal your idea. If I stole every person’s idea that pitched to me I wouldn’t have a good reputation for helping others. We have helped raise money for loads of people but I never once thought about taking their ideas on my own. Remember the person with the idea is the person with the vision. They are the fat controller at the start. They might not be the best person for the role later on but definitely in the beginning. There will be a time when DLVRD needs someone else to step in and help manage it.
‘’You cannot be the CEO of a company forever. There will always be someone more ambitious with a brighter idea gunning to take you down. Be alert and ready to evolve. You have to learn how to step back when the time is right’’
What is your entrepreneurial approach?
Be first or be the best. If your concept is not the latest then make sure it offers the best value. Be ambitious, be bold and believe in what you are doing so badly that it would probably come across as being arrogant.
Should people go the extra mile?
Most people say they want to be successful without having the proper mindset. They want more money while working less. You can’t have both. Try working for an hour or more everyday to get more work done and you will probably end up with a promotion. Can you imagine how much better our economy will be if every single South Australian employee did that?
Some people no longer take pride in their work anymore. Do a great job and results will come, not the other way around. Regardless of whether you earn 50k or $1 million annually, take pride in whatever you do. I have been to Thailand and Bali seeing people get paid very little, but doing a great job at what they do because they take pride in doing it.
What does the future hold for Adelaide?
Currently, we lack innovative industries that can create big impacts on our state. If things do not get better in the next five years, people will lose faith and move away. It is ridiculous to think how we have gatekeepers who make $150K annually making decisions affecting millionaires and billionaires in business. The gatekeepers are too protective of their positions, avoiding risks and are afraid of being ridiculed for failure. While great entrepreneurs are making great things happen, gatekeepers sit there twiddling their thumbs. They need to step aside and let the real entrepreneurs make the decisions.
What advice do you have for those interested in this path?
‘’Never give up. Never be scared to ask. Never think something you’re thinking is stupid. And never let other people influence you in a bad way’’
The best thing to do when starting a business is not talking to anybody about it. Their opinions can cloud your thoughts and judgement. Trust your own instincts. Your subconsciousness is so powerful that if you believe it will work, it will work.
We could not afford official market research, and therefore I had to do my own online research and number-crunching. My own gut-feelings told me I was onto something special. People rejected me with all sorts of reasons when I asked them to invest. Now that Delivery Boyz has taken off they regret turning down the chance to invest. When you tell people about your business and failures occur, people will say ‘I told you so’. Do not even give them this pleasure.
‘’Many people go into this game wanting instant revenue and a high valuation. Focus on adding more value to your business and the money will come’’.
No substitute for smart hard work
In my Linkedin post “What does it take?” I mention most people thought great entrepreneurs like Richard Branson or Mark Zuckerberg reached success because they came up with a new idea. All they did was turn their passion into a business that they put tons of smart and hard work into them. Facebook was just better then MySpace and Virgin was better then most airlines.
It is never as bad as it seems
There were times I thought about jumping off a building and I did not know what to do. Looking back, I can now easily deal with all those hard situations while being blindfolded. In the end, it is all in your mindset.
Evolve or face extinction
We are in a transition period in business where huge corporations which once dominated their industries in the 80’s to early 2000's are now going broke. I have a '30 years philosophy', where if businesses do not evolve after this time period I believe they will fail, and this gap is closing. A great example is 'Kodak'. They used to own the camera and film market and naively believed that the digital world would not disrupt it. Now, Kodak is no longer around. In the next 5 years, I believe lots of fast food corporations will struggle unless they evolve their concepts. Some industries are dying because other industries are taking over. Uber is killing the taxi industry. I give them 10 years or less. Unless they evolve.
‘’Most people say they want to be successful without having the proper mindset. They want more money while working less. You can’t have both’’.
You cannot be the CEO of a company forever. There will always be someone more ambitious with a brighter idea gunning to take you down. Be alert and ready to evolve. Look at the airline industry, for example. There were great airline companies dominating the 50's to 70's without evolving and then Virgin appeared and crushed them.
I would not be where I am now had I not hustled and built a great network. Adelaide is like a boy's club, where great entrepreneurs I know can walk out onto the street and know almost every restaurant owner’s name and have politician's numbers in their phones. If your network is small, you will hit a barrier that cannot be overcome. There will always be someone who will have the power to make a big decision. When you know the right people on a personal level then things will get done. The best advice I can give anybody would be to spend most of your time with motivated individuals and people who have a common interest in the community.
Be a good person and form friendships. No one likes rude individuals who make others feel uncomfortable. Do not go to a networking event to get business. Focusing on helping people. I would throw your business card in the bin if you pitched to me within the first 5 minutes. People will not help you just because you give them a card. They help you based on the relationship you share and the respect they have for you.
‘’The first group of Delivery Boy drivers’’.
Have the right team
I am a big believer that you are only as good as your team. A bad team equals a bad business. I have the best business partner, team and mentor I could ask for. I am a born leader. When I see something that needs to happen, the next step is having the right person to do it. Do not settle for second when first is an option. Hire people with vision. You can tell whether the individuals have vision in the way they talk and act.
Leaders motivate others
If you are not motivated then how can you motivate others? Learn to motivate yourself and your team every day. I spend most of my time on the phone doing what I like to call ‘Poking people with a stick’. Everyone needs to be pushed, even me sometimes. I spend 5 minutes with my mentor which motivate me to take over the world and then I then share that motivation with my team when I can.
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