Key Insights from 3 Gold Coast Young Gun Founders | Event Recap

The Gold Coast is home to an impressive list of entrepreneurial businesses killing it in their industry.

At the YP Gold Coast Entrepreneurs Forum three bright, young gun founders were brought in to discuss scaling a local business into a nationally recognised brand, building a thriving business in the midst of a global pandemic and the ever changing business landscape.

We sent one of our young community members along to soak up the awesomeness of the venue (Miami Marketta) and to bring back their top insights from each of the speakers at the event:

BECKY MORTON – PEONY SWIMWEAR

From a young age, Becky had a passion for design but decided to pursue a Law & Business Degree. After graduation, she secured a job with a high-profile law firm, but it wasn’t long before her life-long love affair with the ocean brought Peony Swimwear to life. Peony is now recognised as a global leader in sustainable luxury swimwear, championing sustainability as an eco-pioneer in the swimwear category.

My biggest challenge? Creating a beautiful product but balancing the sustainable and commercial interests.

“Stores in Europe and the US were shutting their doors and turning away custom-made stock, while shipments were lost, quarantined or not arriving. So, the pandemic gave us the opportunity to assess where our valuable partnerships actually lie. We pivoted to pulling back from wholesale and directing all our attention to online.”

Imposter Syndrome exists no matter how long you’ve been in the business.

“From initially not knowing how swimwear was made and what a pattern maker was, building confidence in this space and believing I belong here has always been a real personal challenge for me. 10 years in and having self-confidence is still an obstacle at times but I think it’s important for people to back themselves, their decisions and say: I’m meant to be here, I am good at this and I have the aptitude to keep growing and learning”.

Make it about the life you want to have.

Born and raised out of the Gold Coast Peony is not only one of the most successful Australian brands but also an inspiration for sustainable swimwear worldwide.

“I am proud to say we are born out of the Gold Coast. Peony is stocked in some of the best stores globally and that it’s proof of it not mattering whether you are based in a ‘big city’. So why not make it about the lifestyle and culture you want to have around you when building your business?”

 

CRAIG JOHNSTON – TCLH

Craig comes from humble beginnings.  He started his first business at just 10 years old from his family farm and worked 3 jobs to pay his way through commercial cookery school. Craig went on to work in the Hunter Valley in fine dining and became IHG Group’s youngest ever head chef at the age of 20, before seeking adventure and change and moving into the mining and resources sector.

Today Craig and his partner Lucy co-direct TCLH, a specialist remote hospitality organisation that employs 80 full time staff and provides their high-end services to major ASX listed mining companies and state government bodies. 

It was a just say YES, WE CAN moment.

“We knew we could do something better and add value to our customers, from there we just got more traction and were able to get a contract with Toll Energy. Toll were after 10 chefs to work out near the oil and mining rig, we had 2 but said YES, WE CAN and scrabbled together the rest and made it happen. Fast track 6 years later we now have 90 staff and just secured $3.5 in contract this week alone”.

Working from the Gold Coast is pretty F**king awesome.

“People have asked me why would you have an office on the Gold Coast? I ask them right back why not? We absolutely love the balance in lifestyle here; our first office was in Tedder Avenue and as much as we are expanding, we still plan on keeping the HQ right here. The people are a huge part too, coming from Sydney it was a shock at how much more laid back and friendly the people on the GC were too”.

Back yourself.

“From starting my first business on my family’s farm selling cow poo to selling another business at just 14 years old, going on to work 3 jobs to pay my way through commercial cookery school – you’ve got to back yourself. I am now proud to say that we are doubling in size year after year, retaining 100% ownership in the business, providing services to major ASX listed mining companies and government bodies.”

 

JARRAD BELL – MR. CONSISTANT

Jarrad Bell has been in hospitality for over 10 years, but likely not the areas you would automatically assume. He hasn’t been behind the bar, nor hasn’t been running venues; he’s been the guy responsible for getting you in the door!

Jarrad, who is a graphic designer and DJ, started off playing your favourite tunes in bars, clubs around Australia. Over time, he began combining the two. The idea for Mr. Consistent was dreamt up by Jeremy Davidson, Mikey Sebire and Jarrad – who became the co-founders. Opposing the ‘norm’ when it comes to marketing and branding is their secret formula for taking the beverage world by storm. 

“Do you like cocktails?…*shake, shake, shake*…”

Who is Mr Consistent? He’s me, he’s you, he’s your next-door neighbour and could even be your uncle Jack.

“Bars were shut. Venues and restaurants during the pandemic weren’t panning out and we didn’t know when they’d be coming back. We did however know people loved drinking our product at home, so we took the leap. We built our website in two days, found a food scientist to make our product stable and from the time we said, ‘LETS GO!’ it was a week until we launch and sold our first bottle.”

The 5 Year plan doesn’t exist.

We are finding as a business in this current pandemic influenced climate, that planning a year in advance, grinding it out, shaking it up and staying agile is the best way forward for us. We have just been through a period of rapid growth so it’s time to keep it up and sustain it.

My superpower would be to read minds.

“Transitioning from working for myself in four years and previously being a graphic designer, the shift towards managing people has been my biggest challenge. Understanding peoples emotions, trigger points and being able to work with 50+ staff and their problems and realising not everyone responds to the same strategies is something I wish I had more experience in.”

If we’re selling a lifestyle, we should be living a lifestyle.

Work should be a lifestyle. I spend 3 days a week working from home looking after my daughter and two days working down near the beach. The Gold Coast offers the infrastructure and everything all the big cities have. I find networking and meeting like-minded people here a lot easier than in larger cities like Sydney where everyone tends to stick in their own bubble and suburb.


Feeling inspired and ready to start your own venture? It’s time to connect to a community. The GC Hub has a fantastic track record and a wealth of mentors and connections. Take your business ‘band’ to platinum status with all of our key programs that can be delivered remotely, learn more about growing your business here.

 

April 14, 2021