To succeed in business you have to learn from your mistakes. Every entrepreneur goes through ups and downs, but it’s about how we respond to them that matters. And what we have learnt from your own setbacks. By listening to other entrepreneurs who’ve been through the mill, you can glean the knowledge you need to take the steps toward being successful. I’m a strong believer in sharing stories – both the wins and the losses. And in the inaugural Lead Investor podcast, my co-host and co-founder Emlyn asked me to describe my own journey.
Since day one, I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I’ve always been driven to help people solve problems and make a positive impact in the world, and for me business seemed like the most natural way to do it. And so, when a friend approached me with a business model that could ultimately do good for people and the planet, while at the same time making a profit, I jumped at the chance.
Having worked in Singapore for my brother’s business for two years, I was eager to start something of my own. I was 23 and the venture that I was about to embark upon was called RioLife. Our plan was to sell Acai berry-based products, sourced from the Amazon, to stores in Australia. The company became a huge success. Our products were distributed to over 2,000 stores in Australia, and in 2010 we were named Australia’s Fastest Growing Business by My Business Magazine. On top of that, we donated 1% of our revenue to a school in the Amazon, while providing work and maintaining habitats in the local area from which the Acai berries were sourced. It was everything I’d always dreamed of in business. We were successful and making profits, and we were making a positive impact too.
However, there was a constant struggle during my time at RioLife. After one year in operation, we’d merged with a major supplier to help get the company well and truly off the ground. The problem was that in doing so we’d sacrificed overall control of the business. It was a tough position to be in. Even though I was CEO, I was a minority shareholder and didn’t feel that I had the leverage I needed. When we failed to raise our Series A round of $1m due to having too high a valuation, I offered the chairman an ultimatum: either allow me to work my way into a controlling position in the company or I leave. And so unfortunately my time at RioLife came to an end, and I was looking for my next opportunity.
I took some time to reflect and realised that I needed to return to my original aim that was making every step count. I joined the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance (G20 YEA) as President for Australia – a position where I felt I could make a real difference in educating the world around the power of giving people entrepreneurial opportunities. And it was through my work at the G20 YEA that I met Emlyn, and we would take the first steps in setting up and launching our business, CapitalPitch.
While the lows of my entrepreneurial journey were difficult at the time, looking back with hindsight I realise just how important they were. My time at RioLife taught me a significant amount about setting up and scaling a business and as much as I learned from our successes, I learned even more from the mistakes we made.
Without those experiences, I never would’ve been able to assist the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance in helping millions of businesses worldwide and influencing the G20 leaders to put a focus on youth employment and entrepreneurship; and I wouldn’t have gained the expertise to help investors find their perfect opportunities with CapitalPitch.
It’s not only important for us to share our stories, but also to reflect on them from time to time. That way, we get to see how far we’ve come and remind ourselves of the vital lessons we’ve learned. In the Lead Investor podcast, we’ll be listening to loads of fascinating stories from industry leaders and investment experts, so be sure to subscribe to keep up to date with everything you need to know about the investment world and if you've enjoyed this podcast, we'd love it if you left us a review.