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Getting To Know The Entrepreneur Supporting Melbourne’s Local Start-Up Talent - Chris Hall
By Kiarne Lewis
Welcome back to the “Perfect Pitch Show” where Brandon Burns, Head of Community – Runway Virtual, interviews small business founders/entrepreneurs about the secret sauce to their successful start-up journey.
Setting up a company is a daunting process and it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and money. That’s why Chris Hall, one of the founding members of The INNovation Crowd, developed a program to support local start-up businesses in Melbourne’s South East. The program offers a range of support services including masterclasses, mentor support programs, monthly themed training sessions, boot camps with intensive mentoring and regular meetups.
Chris shares with us his experiences, challenges, and advice with the hope to inspire other regional entrepreneurs to start up their own business. We hope our regional readers can take inspiration and motivation from Chris’s story and empathize with his vision to support local start-up businesses.
Typical Day for a Start-Up Mentor
Chris gave us some insight into what a day in his life is like. He likes to begin each day with a cup of coffee, before diving into the day’s work. Chris’s day consists of meetings with various start-ups in either the capacity of being a standing board for them to understand where they are at, partnering them up with mentors or helping them join the dots. The second part of his day is filled with intense spitball sessions, as Chris likes to call it. This is a fancy term used to describe a room with a huge whiteboard where start-ups break down their ideas and flesh it out to highlight key areas that need to be addressed.
Chris says, an important part of his job is understanding the community needs and working to fulfill those needs to encourage the idea of collaboration. He explains that he doesn’t want any ownership or bonuses for his efforts, but he does want to give people the best opportunity to start up their own business.
World Record Dream
Chris shared with us one of his biggest achievements from his start-up career - setting a New World Record. Chris explains that he and his team were curious in terms of the opportunities surrounding crowdfunding and crowdsourcing. So, after 2 years of planning, they ran a 29-day campaign and raised $2.4 million around pre-sale sales of a product, that at the time, effectively had the core technologies built, a 3D model and a very firm business.
Chris states that the record was held in the space of the IOT (Internet Of Things) and at the time the major player Smart Things, who held the record, ended up being acquired by Samsung. Chris and his team effectively doubled the figure Smart Things achieved on their campaign and set a New World Record. Chris says, that it was a great learning experience and opportunity to grow both personally and professionally.
Chris strongly believes in the principle “Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast”. Move Fast - yes, Think Big - yes but starting small and understanding how you can move at a pace where you are in control is paramount, he says. Chris explains that now that we live in a global economy, it’s easier than ever for anyone to operate within an extended marketplace if they have the right product offering. With that being said, he strongly believes that it’s crucial to have a product with the potential to fit into unfamiliar, foreign markets to remain competitive in a saturated market.
Chris states that it’s not just about understanding the ability of your product to reach local markets, but understanding how you can own the pieces of your product that are of most value. Chris believes Facebook is a great example of this. Chris explains that the value of the company is based on the platform and IP that is held within America. So, although it is a product built for the local market, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the money gets injected back into the local economy because they own the idea and the platform. In fact, Facebook could effectively be based in Australia as much as it can be in San Francisco. This is because the value and worth of the Facebook brand are not dependent on a specific location or market.
Chris shared with us his biggest challenge when he was asked to run The INNovation Crowd, a program intiated by the Local Government. Chris admitted that in the early stages of his start-up, he tended to make emotionally-driven decisions. Chris strongly advises against making these kinds of decisions, because if you do, you start to find ways to rationalize it and convince yourself that you’ve made the right decision, even though the logical part of your brain tells you it’s probably not. Chris says, that being able to separate your emotions from your decisions is a skill that develops over time and with experience.
He also believes that if you have a truly innovative idea and you want to position yourself on the market you have to take risks. The entrepreneurs behind some of the world’s most successful organizations have one thing in common: They’ve all embraced the positive potential of risk-taking. Chris says that once you get comfortable with the idea of taking risks, you can find the opportunity to embrace it. However, he reminds us that some risks may not pay off, so it’s important to remain positive and look at failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Last Pieces of Advice
During our interview, we asked Chris what the best and worst advice he has ever received was. The best piece of advice he had received came in the form of a quote from a good friend, “There are three things you need in life and that is a good doctor, a good lawyer, and a good accountant”. Chris explains that aside from these three elements, you should have control of everything else in your life and have the ability to make changes to get you to where you need to go. For example, when you’re faced with a health challenge you will need a good doctor because it requires a skill you don’t have. So, it’s important to recognize there are going to be areas in your life where you’re going to need a skill set behind the most challenging moments.
On the other hand, Chris says that taking wisdom for its literal translation without giving a second thought to the deeper meaning is the worst advice anyone can give. He explains, that as a society we tend to believe that we can package up wisdom into little bite-size pieces that we can all take on board and take as gospel. While there is a lot of wisdom in those, if you take it for its literal translation you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities. Chris says that the “Fail Fast, Fail Often” concept makes sense because you’re much better to fail than sit around and wonder if you’re going to succeed. However, he says that while the principle will serve you well, he advises against using it as a length to say when an idea fails it doesn’t matter because it does.
Chris’s final piece of advice for regional entrepreneurs is “If you’re looking for something to tap in on, the community is there, you just need to reach out and see what’s available.” If you would like to get in contact with Chris, you can contact him directly using the links below.
The INNovation Crowd