2018 -

Online Offline

2014 -

The 5TH

General Manager
2017 - 2018


Freelance web design


Freelance web design


Digital Marketing
2015 - 2017

Barney Cools

Digital Marketing
2015 - 2017

Subtype Store

Digital Marketing
2015 - 2017

Online Store Guys

2013 - 2015


2013 - 2017

Plan Lab

Sold 2013

When you’re stuck, ask these questions

When you’re trying to make something big, bold and innovative, there will inevitably be times where it doesn’t seem like things are going your way. Growth is slow and you might even start having doubts about whether what you’re doing will work or is worthwhile.

Those doubts creep into my head every now and then. Usually they’re fleeting but if they stick around for long I know to trust my gut and ask the hard questions.

This is a summary of the questions that I think every startup (maybe even every business that wants to grow or be better) should be on top of, or at least consciously thinking of:

Are people using it?

How often? For how long? What’s retention like?

What do those that use it love about it?

Focus on maximising this.

Who are the ones using it?

Can we define them? Can we get a dialogue with them?

Who do we think should be using it? Why aren’t they?

This reveals more than nearly every other question.

Where are we going?

What’s our vision? What’s the focus to work towards?

What do we need to do to get there?

Define steps. What needs to happen?

Who else is gunning for the same vision?

Keep an eye on them, but back yourself.

What changes in the market are coming soon?

Does your vision align?

What features are missing?

Is there a common feature that users want? What does your gut say?

What experience is missing?

What emotion does your product evoke? Where’s the wow?

What value are we delivering?

What do I get out of using it? Is it obvious or does it take weeks of usage to obtain that value? Is it a unique value in your market?

What forms habit in our product?

Do I have to remember to use it? Is there something more to it?

What questions do you ask to collect your thoughts and understand the big picture?

What would a hungrier version of you do?

Same knowledge.
Same circumstance.
Same options available.

If there was someone in your position, but with absolute determination and burning desire, what could they achieve?

Why can’t that be you? Do you have the desire?

It sounds like I’m getting all Dalai Lama on you now but that’s the question I’m asking myself with BodyWise right now.

To do extraordinary things every now and then you need to take stock and challenge yourself to push harder.

I’m asking myself if I’m committed enough to put in the time for a few extra design iterations that might make the difference. Am I too lazy to go to that event where I could learn something? Am I committed enough to form those relationships with journo’s that might bear fruit sometime in the future?

I can do more.

Inspiration for this post

Blog post by Bryce Roberts: Most People Won’t

This tweet:

Life gets in the way – a BodyWise update

Edit Aug 27 – I’ve made some minor edits to the post. Upon reflection it didn’t tell the story as it was intended and came across harsher on our developer than I meant or felt.

At the end of the day, I haven’t led us to funding or significant-enough traction to pay him what he needs or deserves.

A team consisting of a product designer, personal trainer and a developer release an app.

App launches.

Developer’s personal circumstances change at about the same time. Suddenly, priorities change, things slow down, users find bugs and we find ourselves stuck.

Occasionally life throws things at you that completely change plans. The kind of things that aren’t anyones fault. Sometimes they’re the kind of things that are wonderful, yet counterproductive to your goals.

Here’s some notes on the past few months working building BodyWise


The last thirty days at BodyWise have been the toughest by a mile. As a guy that can design, make web things, has plenty of ideas and studied entrepreneurship, I’ve felt that my best ability was the ability to ship. I could come up with an idea and have always found a way of making it happen.

That skill-set has seen us launch a big app like BodyWise for less than $30k.


The lead up to launch

Our developer was on board for a mix of sweet sweet cash and a bit of equity. The equity was more to signify that we welcomed him to our team as one of us and a key cog in building out our vision. With a wife, mortgage and joining us a few months in, he didn’t have the same burning passion as us and was understandably always more motivated by the cash than Dave and myself who had the usual bills but no major commitments.

For the most part, he was fantastic and we got a hell of a lot done on a small budget. The project blew out from his initial estimation. Our penciled-in launch day came and passed. I told people the new date. That came and passed. Rinse and repeat.

Two months after the initial launch day I sent the email that I thought needed to be sent. “Fuck it. We need to launch” it said, or something along those lines.

He was nervous but I said I was OK with some bugs. I knew it was under-tested. I hadn’t even tested the FitBit/Jawbone integration that was so key to the user experience and that made getting data into the app easy.

So, we launched. The 14 days waiting in review with Apple were the longest 14 days of my life. A little nervous but mostly excited, ‘Your app is processing’ popped up on my screen. An hour later and it was on the phones of people in five continents.

Life gets in the way

We launched. As expected, there were bugs. Unfortunately, the bugs were pretty major. Facebook sign-up didn’t work for a lot of people (we pushed that as the preferred sign-up option) and syncing your FitBit or Jawbone didn’t work at all.

Being that we went out saying that BodyWise will make your Fitbit or Jawbone more interesting and useful, this wasn’t good.

About then I found out that our developer and his wife just learnt that they were expecting their first child.

His goalposts changed.

Suddenly, he seemed pissed off how much unpaid work he was doing. We started to talk about working as a freelancer so he could get paid.

I was OK with that. He had a family to look after and being involved with a start-up undoubtably effects your personal life. We needed a way to make both work.

Two weeks passed and we had no particular resolution. He was becoming harder to reach with his time spent on other paying projects. The bugs remained and took a long time to work through. Nothing seemed to be getting done on the back of a busy scheduled and time lost with the app in review with Apple. I was getting agitated.

I demanded a quote so we could put something in place and start working on the three parts of the app that we knew needed improvement, not to mention the two major bugs. The quote came back. “Fuck me mate, we can’t do that” I said to Dave. There was a sinking feeling that we had a major problem on our hands.

The quote had no discount. We were a self-funded start-up with limited cash. We’d sold businesses, put our income on the line and spent our house savings. We couldn’t afford the full-fee rates of a good developer after everything we’d invested. That wasn’t his fault, but it was the situation we were in.

We started to realize that his heart wasn’t in it as much as we wanted it to be. His circumstances had changed and as angry as I was, I knew he was doing the right thing by him and his family. If I was him, I don’t know if I’d be able to offer a discount or take on a project that was going to mean a little more stress on my wife, or having a few grand less in the bank to spend on my child.

At one point we even tried to pay him what he initially quoted, but by that point it was clear he wanted longer-term projects with more financial certainty.

Where the hell does that leave us?

The month or two since launch have seen bugger all happen on the development front. I’ve been scared, stressed and under-rested, wondering what is going to happen. For the first real time in my entrepreneurial life, I feel like things are out of my hands.

In a tech startup, all the best product design and management skills in the world don’t count for shit if you can’t get code written.

We needed a new developer but finding one proved 100x harder than I though it would. Not that I was experienced enough to realize it at the time but the decisions that I made earlier in development increased our risk and tied us closer to him. The more specialized your technology is, the narrower talent pool you have to pick from and with a single techie within a tech business, you have enormous risk.

What didn’t dawn on me that the iOS app & the backend server required separate skill-sets and that finding someone who is a gun at both and can pick up and understand the algorithms that we’ve built (but not yet released) would be incredibly hard in a place like Melbourne, especially without funding. Finding another talented Python developer with top notch Objective-C skills who isn’t snapped up by an agency or software company seemed impossible.

It would be easy enough finding a freelance iOS dev & a freelance Python dev but thats two sets of fees and potentially a dev-ops nightmare without a highly technical person left in the founding team.

Buying time

BodyWise can and I hope will be incredible. If we get it right, we will make tens of millions of people healthier and happier and make plenty of money for us and our investors in doing so. We can use the data from your iWatch, phone, FitBit, Jawbone or away-from-tech life to train you with more relevance, context and overall effectiveness than anything out there in the world.

Our product pathway is incredibly strong, we’ve got significant interest within healthcare, over 40,000 users and a decent position in a booming market at the heart of a major technology shift.

But, we’re on the ropes, spending our last dollars before going back to our personal assets and working out whats left to contribute.

We’ve got a developer on board for the short-term, building the three things that we feel the product desperately needs. Our old developer has been good and just about fixed the sign-up bug and sort of fixed the FitBit & Jawbone bug. Things are happening.

There’s no build it, learn, iterate, learn, iterate again approach for us with our resources right now though. We have to make some big calls on the product and hope to God we get them right.



I don’t know what will happen.

If you know a quality technical person wanting to take on the fitness training industry, FitBit, MyFitnessPal and the Jenny Craigs of the world, let me know.

We Live In a Side Project Economy

If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re in the top 30% of the wealthiest people in the world. Most Americans, Europeans and Australians like me are incredibly lucky. Sure, many (most?) of us live off our paycheque each week and don’t have access to a big bank account with all the funding we need, but we live good lives  and spend money on plenty of things that we can cut back on, as essential as they might seem at first.

Your average family or single 20 year old can quite easily cut back by eating in every night, holding back on saving for that little holiday, buying new music off iTunes or by disconnecting Foxtel. In a side project economy we’re lucky enough to be able to cut back on something that lets us invest in a side project that gives us a shot at following our dreams and obtaining financial freedom.

It’s an opportunity not afforded to enough of us, yet the side project economy is growing by the day.

The side project economy lets us:

  • Learn to code on Treehouse for $20
  • Buy materials for our Etsy projects off alibaba for a tenth of the cost of the store in your local shopping centre
  • Make our own eBooks using standard computer software
  • Start up your own website for $20 on Wordpreess, complete with a free theme that looks better than what $5,000 would have gotten you in 2009
  • Listen to interviews with successful people in your chosen side project market for free on YouTube
  • Apply for a credit card and buy a few things that we need to get started
  • Reach out for free to learn and network with people willing to lend a hand or tip on Twitter
  • Invest the $500 we managed to save over a few months in contracting someone on to make a basic version of your tech idea in order to see if it’s attracting any interest
  • Make a $20 site, write good content, attract an audience, set up Google AdSense and sell the site in Flippa for $1,000
  • Take annual leave to dedicate a bit of time to launch or head to the markets, sell and test the waters
  • Get a cheap iPod Touch off eBay and bum free wi-if from Maccas
  • Get lessons worth tens of thousands of dollars from Seth Godin on SkillShare for $37
  • Accept payments from anyone around the world via Paypal

If we live within our means, we’ve all got the opportunity to try side projects and increase our wealth and knowledge. Maybe nothing will come of it and maybe you’ll blow your dreams wide open. We live in an economy where we can at least try.

EDIT: If this post resonated with you, check out Chris Guillebeau‘s best selling book The $100 Startup. Also worth checking out Melbourne startup Side Racket – great place to list your side project or join another.

What I learnt in 2013

  • a lot – more than any other year in my life
  • Take a big break every 2 years – I took a 6 month break and hit the snow. Since I came back I’ve been 20x as productive as I’ve ever been, making 2 apps, selling one business, and co-founding a startup. Getting out and just living provides inspiration and renewed energy
  • Having a good network is incredibly valuable – none of my friends do what I do. In my cozy eastern suburbs life no one really gets what I do. I come out of a day pumped about what I’m working on, tell someone and get glazed over eyes. Since returning I’ve reached out and connected with many people that I’d previously admired from afar. They’ve taught me things, created new opportunities but most importantly made my life more enjoyable. A shout out to Murray Galbraith, Aylin Ahmet, Scott Kilmartin and Steve Sammartino for the profound impact they’ve had on my life this year
  • Invest in the 50/50s – not every investment has to be a sure thing. Sometimes the best opportunities come from taking a chance and exploring an idea. Whether it’s building a Lego car that runs on air or an app that has a small chance of ever making money, invest in things that inspire you, let you explore new markets and dream big
  • Put your time and money where your mouth is – I’ve come to detest ‘thought leaders’ that go around talking and blogging on professional and personal improvement without having the balls to practice what they preach. As @murraydg pointed out in this tweet, @sammartino is the ultimate example of the opposite of that

  • There’s more to every company than you think – I’ve started to listen to This Week In Startups interviews with founders as I work. What strikes me is that almost without exception, it wasn’t a completely unique idea or a great product that caused success but rather the founders ability to organise a great team, raise funding, network, scrap or fight when necessary and take a risk or make a big decision at a vital moment. With so many great Startups it’s not enough to have a great product
  • Being intimately aware of your psychology and how to get the most out of yourself is vital – I increased my productivity when I learnt how to structure my week and where I spent my time. I cowork or go interstate when I need to get creative. I work at a desk or lie on the couch when I need to just get a task done and I set myself up on a big desk in a brightly lit room when I need to be creative and solve problems. At different points I realise that I need assistance or a fresh view and grab a coffee with someone from my network and bounce ideas off them
  • Client work kinda sucks – it’s hard to put your best work into someone else. I love working with and for other people/businesses when you’re making a big difference but inevitably even the best client projects leave you inundated with tiny tasks and just getting things done

Merry Christmas!

This is what entrepreneurship is really like

I had a pretty crazy experience the other night. After years of studying entrepreneurship at university, evaluating what other entrepreneurs were doing and founding a few (albeit micro) businesses myself, I had a realisation that changed my perception of what entrepreneurship really is (scrap the perception of the risk-taking creative).

A bit of backstory

It’s been a big fortnight. I just sold The Blog Designers to invest some capital in BodyWise v2 and have a bit of cash to live off while I work on the app full time. Less than an hour ago we just secured the developer we wanted and kick off development of our MVP less than 48 hours.

My realization

I caught up with some friends on Saturday night, heading out to an 80s nightclub in Melbourne. We were all having a great time but at some point a product question crossed my mind. After one too many beers my memory is fuzzy but from that moment on, I couldn’t stop thinking of my start-up.

Would we secure the developer? Should we go for the really colourful UI or a simpler design with more white space? How much do we put into the MVP? Suddenly I stopped thinking about what I would say to the cute girl by the bar or how to not look like an idiot on the dance floor and was busy making product decisions while the standard of my dancing dropped.

Here I was in a world of my own while everyone laughed and drank around me.

It’s clear to me now that this is what entrepreneurship really is – entrepreneurship is living and breathing your start-up so much that little else matters.

Could Plan Lab have been made 5 years ago?

We’re at a pretty freakin amazing time in society. There are so many things that we couldn’t do five years ago. The rate of change in our world is scary and oh so exciting. The best thing? Things are only going to move faster.

It got me thinking about Plan Lab and whether it would have been possible without VC funding even just five years ago.

Five years ago:

  • Freelancer wasn’t on anyone’s radar, hadn’t won any of it’s awards and was just working on it’s product. I wouldn’t have had access to overseas developers.
  • Cloud software was barely around and rarely adopted. I would have had to absorb CD-distribution into my costs and set up distribution points around the world.
  • There wasn’t so much information around and so many idea-building tools to help me to visualise the concept.
  • Plan Lab simply wouldn’t have happened.

Books such as Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup and more recently, The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau have paved the way for small, ambitious businesses to change markets and introduce niche products on a global stage. Last month, on a $6,000 budget including development and marketing, i released Plan Lab. I want to shake up the online marketing plan software market that until now, has been dominated by large software companies.

The task was daunting. Five, or even three years ago, I probably couldn’t have contemplated something this daring. We see small business owners around the world using it to learn how to successfully market their businesses.

A world where a humble marketing agency can shake up a market dominated by a company a thousand times its size and produce something that helps businesses around the world to attain more profit and enjoyment out of their business, is truly amazing. I’m far from the brightest person building something like this. There are hundreds of bright, ambitious lean startups popping up every day, many without technical co-founders and large capital.

I personally can’t wait to see what the start up world is like in another five years.