Julian White – founder of Hivemind Tech

In today’s interview we profile Julian White, a young entrepreneur from Buderim in QLD’s Sunshine Coast hinterland and founder of Hivemind Tech – an innovative tech startup. Hivemind Tech’s first product is  STUDYvault – an intuitive backup device for students, but there are plans for much more!

From a young age, Julian has had a knack for inventing and just generally tinkering with dead electronics. When he was about 5 or 6, he developed his very first crystal radio using parts he had found & bought from a local electronics store.

After years of inventing and making little things through school and into his first year of university, Julian was eventually was inspired to start a business where he would be able to develop something and mass-produce it. In 2013 he got in touch with a manufacturer in China to mass-produce his first innovation, STUDYvault.

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Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?

Well, the story begins in my first year of university. I bought-out a laptop I was renting from school (it had history with me and I needed a computer), and due to its age the hard drive was beginning to fail. Being money-conscious (and a broke student at that), I couldn’t afford to replace the HDD. I basically lost half a semester’s work, so to counteract this I grabbed a spare 4GB USB stick and wrote a simple batch-file that would, when launched from the desktop, copy my university folder to the USB.

Weeks went by and some classmates asked me for a copy, some even paying me a dollar or two for the convenience (as they didn’t have to set up any applications, always be connected to a cloud, etc., just click and copy.) I guess that was when it kind of clicked that hey – maybe I could actually make something out of this? Several designs of both hardware and software later and I am here, with a commercial prototype.

Please explain your business model.

We haven’t really got that down pat yet, nor are we raking in the cash, however we started with the concept of our business model being B2S (business to schools), although government education regulation really made this idea somewhat difficult. So we pivoted to sell B2B and hopefully a retailer will pick us up – there is a demand for something like STUDYvault in the education market and we intend to deliver!

What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?

Well right now, presently, I am trying to build some momentum with local news coverage saying: “Hey these guys made this – go get one for the new school year”. We’ve actually had some interest from journalists, and likewise from some retailers. I’m hoping it takes off and with some effort I think it will. We’re also hoping to have some presence with my university’s orientation week, for new students.

How do you make ideas happen?

By refining the hell out of them, making sure there’s a market, and above all just doing it.

What does your typical day look like?

Wake up late morning, check emails, facebook etc., work for a few hours (on the website, STUDYvault code & design, etc.), maybe game for a bit when inspiration goes down the drain, work some more in the late evening when I feel inspired again, and then finally go to sleep around 2AM.

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

I think it’s the fact that, because we’re not oh wow San Francisco or Silicon Valley, nobody gives a crap. Plus a lot of governmental restrictions, taxes, and people seem to take you less seriously if you’re an entrepreneur – at least during the early growth stages. The important thing is to never give up, because when you DO make it, you can look down your nose at the little idiots that told you to just ‘give up’.

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

You can’t lick your elbow.

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

I have a mate at my university who’s invented something called Pixel Mosaic. Basically a big Arduino-controlled RGB pixel board that children can interact with & program. It looks amazing!

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

Well, if you can invent something revolutionary, you can certainly impact social change. Personally, I’ve established Hivemind Tech to be revolutionary in renewables and recyclables. We’re actually looking into retail packaging that’s 100% recycled, locally made, and heck even our servers are 100% wind-powered. That means we had to establish them in Texas, USA but the upshot there I guess is also better broadband speeds, which I myself are a huge advocate for as well.

Speaking of affecting social change, we’ve teamed up with Shout for Good to encourage readers to ‘shout a coffee’ to charity by clicking the button below. Is there a particular charity you’d like to support?

Sounds like a great idea that, although sadly a lot of coffee shop coffee can taste like watered down mud, know what I’m saying? Anyway, personally I like to look around at Bloomhill for clothes, misc electronics to tinker with, furniture to do up etc. because not only is it good stuff most of the time, it also goes back to support cancer research and people battling cancer!

Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.

Mashable, Alibaba, designmodo.

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

Well, we are on the lookout for someone local who can assist with software development, but that’s about it. We’re also looking for retailing opportunities all the time so if someone wants to order a handful for their store, or a chain retailer wants to partner up, hit us up! We also won’t say no to funding and donations, because we’re all broke uni students haha!

We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, marketing, social media, accounting, monetization, product development etc. What would it be?

Yeah, how do we get the word out there? Seems to be less interest world-wide in Aussie startups because we’re not rolled in glitter coming from Silicon Valley…

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

I always enjoy the occasional beer with friends at Buderim Tavern. For coffee or lunch, I’ll just go anywhere local.

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