If anyone exemplifies the new entrepreneurial culture and enthusiasm which is afoot in Geelong it is Jake Munday. The Geelong born Gen Y-er overturns what some might see as a conventional path to entrepreneurialism and success, namely the need to move to progressively bigger cities and supposedly markets or even offshore.
Twenty-six-year-old Jake did not do well at school, choosing instead to enter the workforce early. He was managing a staff of 18 in the Melbourne retail outlet of a telecoms company by age 21 when he chose to return to Geelong, the city from which he has launched five new business ventures, both online and bricks and mortar, in as many years.
He launched his first online venture, a Facebook page for dog lovers through which he aimed to sell dog-related products, primarily into a US market. The page grew quickly in terms of followers but as Jake quickly discovered, to continue to grow the business, it was essential to keep up with the changes in Google’s search algorithms.
He soon sold this business and as a keen golfer, drawing on his initial online expertise, he could see the potential for a locally developed golf training aid to be sold online, despite its developer thinking otherwise. Seizing the opportunity and eyeing the potentially lucrative US golfing market Jake purchased the product. Another business, serving both the Australian and US markets is Pearly Whites, Jake’s online business for in-home teeth whitening kits.
Next, deciding that he wanted to re-connect with customers face to face, he decided to step away from Google, a screen and keyboard, purchasing a hand car washing franchise located in a Geelong shopping centre. Liking to learn from experience he says he got actively involved in the car wash business.
It could be said that the sum of these experiences laid the foundations for his latest venture, Social Fuel and Social Fuel US, businesses which help other organisations navigate the social media space.
The experiences have certainly enabled Jake to compile a list of guidelines for aspiring entrepreneurs, the first of which is to find the right people to partner with.
“Some partners do not pull their weight and money has a habit of changing the dynamics of a business relationship,” he says.
“So, to avoid the involvement of lawyers charging substantial hourly fees, I recommend a partnership agreement at the outset.”
Despite the cost of sorting out a less than successful partnership he says it has nevertheless been a great learning curve
For an entrepreneur operating in the online space Jake recommends trademarking any business to reduce the possibility of jealous competitors poaching a concept, a situation he confronted with the Pearly Whites business.
“Intellectual property is very important so get protection for your IP as soon as possible. Even a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) affords some protection when floating an idea for a new business to external parties,” he says.
He also recommends that entrepreneurs surround themselves with good advisors such as bankers, accountants and mentors so the business owner can focus positively on the business. Asked what qualities he looks for in a mentor he says essentially it should be a like-minded individual with whom you can connect
And how should young people get started on the entrepreneurial journey? He suggests maybe a video to outline the concept for the business, crowd funding or finding someone with money who will back an innovative idea
As a Gen Y entrepreneur he has enjoyed the support and backing of older people, something he attributes to the fact that they are attracted to the energy a young person demonstrates.
On the issue to putting time into a business he says “ whatever you do, don’t procrastinate. If you can do it today, do so.”
He also acknowledges the advantage of his youth, combined with being single with no family, as enabling him up to work whenever he likes, even if it means the odd hours required to run an online business across different time zones.
In his entrepreneurial journey so far Jake has not looked for Government support although he is aware that such support may be available if he exports to the US.
“We are currently developing an app for which some government funding would be good. I would love it if the government provided more support to innovators,” he says.
As regards the day to day running of his businesses he encourages people to automate for efficiency, citing the example of a web site which enables business to automate the process of posting to social media. This he says removes the time required to do it manually.
Looking forward to the future of the city of Geelong he would like to see many more start-ups and along the way wants to hear and see more about their experiences because “socialising and talking leads to new ideas,” he says.