Andrew Coates: Founder of MoneyTribe and Cloudsuper

In our second interview this week, we’re chatting to Andrew Coates, founder of Moneytribe and CloudSuper. Andrew started in media sales at Nine Network, MBA’d up then worked at Accenture’s Strategy practice until the first Dot com boom.  In 1999 he co-founded personalisation company AgentArts, moving the company to the US and licensing their technology to media & entertainment companies as well as telcos such as Telstra and Verizon.  AgentArts was acquired by enterprise search company FAST Search in 2007 and Andrew stayed on at FAST for two years as a personalisation evangelist in the Asia Pacific region.

“Ideas are easy.  It’s the execution that’s where the real value is.”

FAST was acquired by Microsoft so Andrew left in 2009 to start two new companies, CloudSuper – a mobile platform for super funds – and Moneytribe, a mobile social financial products service.

As well as running two businesses, Andrew performs as part of Melbourne band, Black Cab.

What are you working on right now?

My primary focus currently is on social finance service Moneytribe which we soft-launched in July.  We’re now enhancing our product, working on monetisation processes, technology and partnerships as well as looking for Series A financing.  I’m also doing background sales and strategy work for Cloudsuper, helping a few large clients design and build mobile strategies.  I’m also working on the fourth Black Cab album that should be out next year.

How do you make ideas happen?

You have to stay focused, execute to a plan in small steps, and quickly learn from engaging with customers and consumers and adjust where and when appropriate.”

Ideas are easy.  It’s the execution that’s where the real value is.  If you get real close to any industry there are invariably some areas that are ripe for some form of disruption (like the Australian superannuation industry for example) given changes in consumer behaviour and underlying technology. And for an industry like financial services there are opportunities a plenty.

The challenge is building a company, products and services that can realise this potential and make an impact that can scale and this comes down to the team and its ability to execute and then learn quickly what works and what doesn’t. You have to stay focused, execute to a plan in small steps, and quickly learn from engaging with customers and consumers and adjust where and when appropriate.

What does your typical day look like?

Up pretty early, kids to school, into the office, check email and work out priorities for the day, meetings or stand-ups with the team, then into whatever chunky thing needs a few hours; tracking down contact people for target partnering & setting up meetings, working on wireframes or user stories for the product, tidying up our IM and presentation material and so on. Then pick up kids, feed them, worry about stuff, give wife vodka and tonic when she gets home from work, cook for her, maybe work on some music, then fitful sleep.

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business in Australia?

Business development in the US is a high art but in Australia it can be a slog unless you have a great network to help you get to the right person first time.”

It’s a consumer small market plus for enterprise sales it’s often hard to break through to the right decision maker.  In financial services there seems to be layers upon layers of really average management who are threatened by change and innovation who can block access to the right people are simply refuse to engage to listen to new ideas. Business development in the US is a high art but in Australia it can be a slog unless you have a great network to help you get to the right person first time.

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

Someone needs to do a 100% digital super fund that you can install and open via a mobile App and which doesn’t charge a fee if the fund goes backwards.  In a space with rock bottom engagement and almost zero innovation, this product would cut through.

What people/companies do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia, at the moment? 

What about internationally?

What role do you think creative people should play in affecting social change?

Same role everyone else should play. Try and maker a difference in some small way every day.

Name 3 apps you would recommend to our readers?

Name 3 Australian’s we should follow on Twitter? 

I was a compulsive Twitter devotee but haven’t looked at it for a month or so. It’s kinda like trying to drink from a firehouse – just a torrent of information that makes it increasingly difficult to follow a few individuals.

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

La Cicciolina’s in St Kilda, Mission Café in Prahran.

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