Glen Christie: Founder of Beetlebox

Glen’s previous incarnation was as a professional in the finance industry where he worked in Sydney, New York, London, and Hong Kong before returning to Sydney to raise a family, and set out on a new venture starting a business.  It was in Hong Kong in 2009, while completing an MBA part time (in between working as an equity derivative broker), that Glen was exposed to a host of entrepreneurs and he was struck by the idea that he should start something new when he got back to Australia.  Arriving in 2011 with few contacts in Australia, and no/little local experience, he decided that there was no better time to give it a shot.

There is a myth among non-entrepreneurs that if only they had that great idea, then they too could start a fantastic business.”

Beetlebox launched in April 2012, after significant research into the Sydney market, and has been growing rapidly since then.  There are already expansion plans in the works for both franchise outlets, and corporate branches in NSW, and interstate.  Glen has spent an enormous amount of time in getting the architecture in place to allow for the business to scale rapidly, so you can expect an outlet near you shortly.

Glen has two boys aged 4, and 1-1/2, who keep him busy.  To let off steam, Glen plays ice hockey for the Sydney Bears, who recently won the state championships, and he is on the organizing committee for the junior club helping to encourage new players in this rapidly growing sport.

What are you working on right now?

Most people equate marketing with advertising, but it is much, much more than that.”

Beetlebox has taken up most of my time over the past 9 months and at the moment scaling the business for expansion is top priority. There are two key elements that underpin the growth strategy:

Marketing is paramount.  
Most people equate marketing with advertising, but it is much, much more than that.  Marketing involves setting prices, establishing strategic partnerships with other businesses, incentivising sales through multiple channels, and that’s just the beginning!

Setting up systems for growth.
I’m not convinced that a good business can be completely automated, but I am all for spending the time now to get a system right that will save me or an employee countless hours in the future.  There are many tools out there, but it is critical to choose the right ones.  At the moment I’m working on a central booking system, a new website, and a CRM to track customers, strategic partners, and corporate accounts.

How do you make ideas happen?

Get out there and talk to people, on the phone, in person, always be meeting new people, and talking about your ideas.”

I’ve been a fan of crowdsourcing for a long time.  Before it was actually called crowdsourcing, I realised that bouncing an idea off as many people as possible was a great way to get different perspectives.  Get out there and talk to people, on the phone, in person, always be meeting new people, and talking about your ideas.

What does your typical day look like?

…have some time face to face with customers on the front line…”

Wake early and put some time in on high priority tasks while the house is quiet.  At 6:30 my 1 year old wakes up, and we will have breakfast together, and play around a bit, until my wife and my 4 year old come downstairs.  After the morning peak hour, I’ll make some deliveries, in order to have some time face to face with customers on the front line, so to speak.  This is valuable time spent learning which direction to tweak the client experience.  In the afternoon, I’ll spend time at my home office dealing with system development, advertising, or managing consultants/contractors.  6pm-8pm is strictly family time, and after the boys go to bed, I might work on the website, analytics, Adwords, or FB campaigns, or maybe write a blog post.  Ice hockey training takes place late night between 10-11.30, after which I’ll head home and fall into bed!

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

All entrepreneurs face heaps of challenges during startup – probably the most challenging is not having enough hours in the day!  One funny thing that happened to me was on the day that I finally had my boxes first delivered from my supplier, some neighbours called the council to complain, and within half an hour, I had a ranger on site asking me lots of questions.  This was all happening basically on the launch day!  I had no idea what to tell him, except that Beetlebox would soon grow out the space in my garage, and we would have a proper warehouse, so the neighbours could rest easy.

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

There is a myth among non-entrepreneurs that if only they had that great idea, then they too could start a fantastic business.  The idea is 10% of a successful business, and the other 90% is in the execution.  But okay, I’ll play along by helping people come up with their own ideas.  Eduard De Bono is the father of lateral thinking, and has written books on how formalise the creative process.  Get a copy of Six Thinking Hats, and start generating your own great ideas!

What companies do you think are doing really cool stuff in Australia at the moment?

99 Designs, Aussie owned firm making waves in silicon valley and around the world

What about internationally? 

The way people buy and listen to music has changed already during the last decade as iTunes stomped all over the big record labels by giving people what they wanted: all of their music in their pockets all the time.  Spotify is changing that all over again, and will eventually make iTunes redundant.  People want more than just all the music they own in their pocket.  Now they want all of the world’s music all of the time.  It’s amazingly exciting to see an industry be reshaped twice so quickly.

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

Modern government is so fixated on polls and short term goals that it is ineffective at affecting long term change.”

Modern government is so fixated on polls and short term goals that it is ineffective at affecting long term change.  Business leaders are in a position to find an area that needs help, and make it a little better.  At Beetlebox, we are committed to offering an environmentally friendly option without a premium price.  You can have a less stressful move, and put less stress on the planet while costing less too.  More details in my blog post on the subject.

Name 2 websites you would recommend to our readers?

  • oDesk – outsource your repetitive tasks to an online workforce. English speaking workers.  Its low risk, if you evaluate contractors with a few small test tasks first.  Hire and fire quickly.
  • smallbusinessbigmarketing – They have a website, but the real gem is the podcast.  Instead of wasting time listening to commercial radio in the car, tool up your marketing with Tim Reid’s #1 ranked podcast.

Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter?

Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?

Yes, we are looking for franchisee business operators.   If you know someone with the drive to succeed that wants to run their own business, let us know.  We would love to meet them!  We are also interested in talking to people about jobs within our Sydney operation – everything from driving a truck to managing a corporate outlet.

Our readers are smart, creative, talented and good looking. Here’s your chance to ask them anything.

We have pledged to give 1% or revenues to environmental causes.  We are looking for partners that will ensure that the impact of our donation is maximised, and whose brand will complement the Beetlebox brand.  Who should we partner with?

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

Hurricanes Bondi, no hesitation.

We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?

Sure – free box rental to help move your growing business into a bigger office!

Make sure you sign-up to join our amazing community for Australians making ideas happen.

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