Jeremy Lu: Co-founder of GroupMap

This week on Ideas Hoist we’re getting to know the co-founder of Groupmap, Jeremy Lu. A lover of beanbags, products containing cocoa and songs that make you smile, Jeremy is best described as an accountant with a twist. He is current School Business Manager at the School of Science, Curtin University, working on process change and HR management, and has been teaching at the School of Management for the last 5 years.

Wake up… actively avoid having a typical day…. sleep.”

Before taking up his current posts, Jeremy was General Manager at Diabetes WA where he was involved with the expansion of the National Diabetes Services Scheme. He was also awarded Young Professional of the Year – Not for Profit with the Australian Institute of Management. Prior to that he worked on a joint venture opening up vegetarian, sustainability based restaurants in New York and London and has also been involved in areas such as EEG biofeedback machines, software design, group training and facilitation, grant applications, business consulting and *cough cough* accounting.

What are you working on right now?

My main focus right now is on GroupMap – a collaborative brainstorming tool which shows you what the whole group is thinking. The idea started off trying to teach students the need for collaboration but soon expanded into businesses, where it is used at conferences and team planning days. When we come together to learn, share and solve problems… there’s 3 points of view… yours… mine… and ours. GroupMap captures and reports all of that visually, with some statistics and participation data thrown in. Ideas can be shared in real time providing social interaction with purpose.  We have three significant conferences coming up where the Groupmap application is flagged to be used, so that’s taking up some brain time. Having said that we are always on the look-out for companies who have a collaborative culture and who want a solution to increase productivity.

I’m also helping out some other startups and am involved in helping creating explainer videos for small busineses, and providing business advice.

How do you make ideas happen?

…finding joy in what you do makes all the difference.”

Good question… I’m not sure I have a good answer though. I think it’s really about doing something about it. In lieu of a proper, fully described psychoanalytical response, I’ll offer a few random, relevant nouns. Motivation, seeing positive change, fun, solving problems and persistence.

Having a partner in your business helps but finding joy in what you do makes all the difference.

What does your typical day look like?

Wake up… actively avoid having a typical day…. sleep. You’ll be amazed how time consuming that can be. But today included meeting with someone looking to establish education software packs for schools, discussing options for a careers conference, talking about marketing with a work experience student, taking some folk on a site tour at some of the Uni’s science labs, responding to issues in relation to a joint research project, resolving an IT issue for a launch page, reviewing budget submissions and doing this interview.

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

The grant schemes in Australia tend to be more directed at small and established businesses, rather than at startups, so that is a challenging risk profile.”

Finding the right type of mentor or investor.  All advice is valuable but finding someone who is the right fit is tougher than it sounds. We’ve turned down an offer of a buyout in exchange for royalties in the hope that we can make things happen faster ourselves.

Fortunately, we have been able to self-finance so it’s just a matter of finding the right alignment. The grant schemes in Australia tend to be more directed at small and established businesses, rather than at startups, so that is a challenging risk profile.

Another key challenging is trying to pick the very first market to get into. Sometimes you have a choice, or you think the options are limited and you get so paranoid about making the right choice, you don’t make one at all.

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

Organic beanbag locator ….only joking….actually I’m deadly serious.

But here’s another…

An app that scans barcodes of products and gives you both nutritional information, and the foodmiles/carbon credits in a format you understand.  Perhaps basic traffic lighting of food products and GPS based calculations from point of production to point of consumption to produce a carbon food mile index.

Alright, here’s a third. Crowd sourced storyboarding, a little like 99 designs for explainer videos. But perhaps we can actually give doodlers and illustrators an opportunity to direct that creativity for small businesses.

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

Spacecubed – a coworking space for startups, creatives, NGO’s and Government

Innovation Centre of WA  – useful advice provision, seminars and meeting spaces

SIFE – students in free enterprise at Curtin University who are turning students into leaders and promoters of positive change.

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

Introduce more Chief Collaboration Officers”

Introduce more Chief Collaboration Officers – have them all meet in a room like they do with CEO’s, CIO’s CFO’s and watch some magic happen.

Name 3 websites you would recommend?

  • Explainer Videos – email me for a discount voucher or a free creative brief
  • Spacecubed – we are a community member but it’s great that they have taken an old vault and turned it into a funky co-working space
  • Lean Canvas – aimed at tech startups but it works with any business

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

Yes, we currently have some work experience students helping out and they are doing a top notch job. Always on the look-out for people who want to test their skills and help us out. Anything from marketers to beta trial users for our upcoming new map launch through to people who think they know people who would like to use our product to improve collaboration in their school, workplace or business.

Investors who work in the group facilitation, training and workshop domain are always invited to have a chat.

We would also love to have sponsorship for our project which goes around schools teaching them the value of teamwork, collaboration and sharing ideas.

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

It would be great to have them use our maps with their peers and give us feedback on how they found it. Even suggestions for the problems they face when they come to work in project teams, interdisciplinary teams or large groups would be helpful. We want to know if we are solving a problem.

Please give us any feedback you like. Just email me at [email protected]

Even tips on how you became so smart, creative, talented and good looking are great!

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

The Precinct in Vic Park. Sounds like a jail cell, but they make great beverages.

Favourite bar would be Ezra Pound on William Street, Northbridge

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, we’re happy to throw in 3 months free subscription, or if they are in WA, a free facilitated workshop.

If they are looking to create an online explainer video for their business, then a free creative consultation and product discount.

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

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