Forbes 30 under 30 - Behind The Scenes
Accolades such as Forbes 30 under 30 can present an airbrushed view of the founding journey. We thought we’d enrich the record with a behind-the-scenes interview of six Aussie's honoured in 2022.
Earlier this year, Alex and Adrian were genuinely humbled to be named in Forbes’ Asia’s 30 under 30 list. When we were younger, we looked up to the entrepreneurs and investors named to these lists and assumed they had it all figured out.
We now know from first hand experience that this assumption is often far from the case. Accolades such as Forbes 30 under 30 sometimes present an airbrushed view of the founding journey, so we thought we’d enrich the record with a behind-the-scenes interview of six people honoured this year:
What’s the funniest comment someone made about you making Forbes 30 under 30?
Justin: “What is that? When are you getting a job?” - Mum. “How does this get us more GMV?”- Sandy, my co-founder.
Alice: “I bought the AFR but couldn't find the section?” - Oma. “Did you pay them for this?” - Dad.
Zara: “Does that mean you’re the 30th richest person in Australia?” - Grandpa
Max: “Not the Forbes list I was hoping you would join, but for now this is good” - An investor in Serenade
Adrian: “When did you become so lame?” - former colleague. “You’re a spice weasel” - former colleague. “Rigged, stop the count” - former colleague. “Congratulations 30 under 30, clever boy” - my uncle.
Alex: “Thanks for the update, Son. I will always support you.” - Anonymous
What was the first thing you did when you found out?
Justin: I shared it with our investors and team - Sandy and I couldn't have gotten it without them.
Alice: I sent the article to some friends and family, silenced notifications, and kept working.
Zara: I called Sam (my co-founder), who hadn’t yet received an email (there was a 1 minute delay) so we sat in silenced panic together for a full 60 seconds.
Max: The email came through as I was on a call with an artist for the very first time, and so of course I told her. This said, she didn’t seem to know about the list, care much about it, or want to discuss anything other than her music. So, we did just that.
Adrian: I headed down to Modus Coffee for a brew and canele with my mum.
Alex: I was midway through a call with a startup founder so had to frantically reject a few calls from various family members calling to congratulate me.
What would you rank 8 billionth in 8 billion at? In other words, what are you worst in the world at?
Justin: Cracking jokes that are actually funny.
Alice: Concentrating - not many people realise this but I have the attention span of a goldfish.
Zara: Anything that relies on real world smarts. Leave me on a desert island and you can bet I won’t survive longer than a few hours.
Max: Social media. Watching Adrian and I battle for the title of world’s least enthusiastic online presence would be tragic viewing, but given the audience around Luxe Listings, hey, we might just get some solid ratings.
Adrian: Posting on social media - whether for work or in a personal capacity. I’ve always recognised the value in building a personal brand through LinkedIn or Twitter (or even TikTok in Alice’s case), but I freeze every time I go to post something.
Alex: Regularly committing to hobbies - especially when I love them. I’m probably the world’s least reliable yogi/home cook/runner.
In a parallel universe, what are you doing right now?
Justin: I’d probably be running my own cafe or bar.
Alice: Milkrun delivery bike rider. If things don’t work out, this is where you will find me.
Max: Unsuccessful fiction author who smiles at his own words and lives in Santorini
Adrian: In an alternate universe I am a beaver building a dam. I would be a pedantic beaver who feels out of sorts when a twig is found to be out of place.
Alex: I’ve always wondered what my life would have been like if I had remained a full-time mathematician. Every once in a while I’ll find a lecture on YouTube with ~160 views (no doubt from grad students desperately trying to wrap their head around a new topic before an exam) and reminisce on the good old days.
When have you thought, “Woah, I have no idea what I’m doing”?
Justin: Back in 2018, when Pushas was bootstrapped, we took on a lease for our second office/storage facility with 3 weeks of runway left. We’d outgrown our first space, so we knew we had to expand (and potentially die) or just die. So we YOLO’d with Option 1. Every week we’d extend the runway by a few days by hacking something together to drive revenue. Somehow we made it here. Looking back, I don’t know how we did it.
Alice: Paying for medical device tooling with a manufacturer that had no regulatory credentials. RIP money.
Zara: Day One of The Daily Aus being our full-time gig. Sam and I met up at a cafe at 9am, looked at each other, and the realisation dawned that we had no idea how to be our own bosses. We had both come from rigid corporate settings and had to acclimatise to running our own startup.
Max: My very first exposure to a challenging HR situation. Boy, that stuff ain’t fun.
Adrian: On of the first times we met the OwnHome team over Zoom, I was in Sydney to meet with prospective investors, and we didn’t have an office set up. I vividly remember taking the meeting in a park, next to a man who was roasting a whole leg of lamb on a public BBQ. Jessy and I had to relocate midway through the meeting when the lamb started burning. I remember thinking, “How are we going to transition from this to running a professional fund?”
Alex: Adrian and I started ‘broke angel investing’ in 2017. After doing our desktop research on ‘what to look for in great early stage investments’, we mustered the courage to pull the trigger on our first investment. We received a swift lesson in the legalese surrounding M&A transactions. I remember furiously Googling “What’s the difference between a preference and ordinary share?” and “Am I supposed to read this shareholder’s agreement cover to cover?” We’ve come a long way from those blunderful years.
What’s been the most unexpected joy of starting your own thing?
Justin: Building a team around you that cares for and loves the business just as much as we do. It feels great to be able to share in building something so special and which means so much to so many people.
Alice: Being able to say fuck it - let’s do it. Want to go whale watching with the team on a Tuesday afternoon? Fuck it. Want to buy a silly merch product for the team but the minimum order quantity is 1000 units? Fuck it.
Zara: The joy and privilege of building a team of talented young people who also believe in your mission wholeheartedly.
Max: As someone working in the music industry, there are any number of expected joys I benefit from on a daily basis. This said, I had no clue I’d have the joy of creating an environment that would allow brilliant colleagues to become even more spectacular under my watch. This unexpected joy has become the most rewarding of them all.
Adrian: Getting to take one baby step at a time, growing through solving problems, all alongside my best friend (Alex).
Alex: Being in charge of your own destiny. When things get stressful it’s easy to think the juice isn’t worth the squeeze. In reality it’s the effort that makes the wins feel 10 times more valuable.
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