Miles Burke is a serial entrepreneur, public speaker and Author, who has been building the web since 1994. Miles founded the Australian Web Industry Association, and Authored the book, The Principles of Successful Freelancing (SitePoint, 2008), Miles is the founder and MD of 6Q Pty Ltd and also Managing Director of award-winning Western Australian website company, Bam Creative.
Miles has started a number of businesses over the last two decades, some of which failed and others which have become a success. Passionate about start-ups and business, Miles has been awarded for his achievements, with the young entrepreneurship award, ’40 under 40′ by Business News in 2007, and awarded for his ‘contribution to the Western Australian web industry’ in 2005.6Q.io milesburke.com.au @team6Q @milesb facebook
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
6Q has its roots in our culture of continuous two way feedback at Bam Creative. For 12 years, I’ve been working on the theory that the team are full of great ideas; I just need to encourage them to the surface. By asking for continuous feedback, we are uncovering roadblocks in the team, who is doing what and how happy people are about various areas of work and life.
A year ago, we started having weekly 5 minute meetings with each team member, and this is where 6Q really entered my mind; how can I replicate the success that we are having for others to enjoy as well?
Please explain your business model.
We are very much in our infancy, so happy to pivot if we find a better model. We’ve built what we need to at this point for launch, but there are plenty more features to come. We are the fairly typical SaaS model; you buy a plan based on how many in your team, and what features you require. The plans are monthly, and users can cancel at any time (though we’ll be doing our best to keep them onboard!)
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?
We have a list of literally 100+ features we want to build into 6Q. First things first though is customer validation. I’ll be watching conversion rates, speaking to customers and finding out what the world thinks of 6Q, and how we can improve. This is what excites me most; who wants to use 6Q, and what do they hope to achieve? I’ll probably also answer support emails, tweet for the brand, stay up late wrestling with ideas and continue running Bam Creative and bringing up three kids. Life is never boring!
How do you make ideas happen?
I’m constantly thinking of ideas. I wish I could control the volume! Seriously though, I find walking and clearing the mind the best thing. Once I have an idea, I fight it out; how will it fail, what can I do to avoid this, what is wrong with it, is it too narrow, etc. I am my biggest critic and enjoy the challenges of wrestling ideas to the ones that ‘may’ actually work.
What does your typical day look like?
I’m very lucky to have home duties as well, so a typical day is up at 5.30am, go for a walk, get my three children up, fed and off to school before getting into the office by 9.00am and then work as hard as I can until 2.30pm where I pick kids up, take them home and then once they’re in bed in the evening, work remotely for a few hours.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?
Time and money. I wish I had more time, and in a similar vein, better focus on what’s actually important, and money to road test the ideas better. I’ve always boot strapped every business with little external investment, and am proud I have never had a loan or overdraft, but some days I wish we just landed that big investment deal, so we can speed up the work we’re doing.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
Take risks. If nobody ever took a risk, there would be no such thing as innovation. If you believe in what you want to build, do it. Work all-nighters, talk about it incessantly, beg for money; whatever it takes to try. The other option is to spend the rest of your life wondering ‘What if?’.
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
I’m going to say all Australian start-ups. It takes guts to start something, I know some will fail, some will financially succeed, yet they all succeed in the sense that at least they took the plunge and gave it a go.
If I had to name one, I admire Pin Payments, not because they have an office a short walk from mine and provide our payment gateway for 6Q, but they are taking the payment gateway model and making it less sucky for developers. Let’s face it; payment gateways aren’t the sexiest of products, and they face huge competition, yet they have done well for such a small team.
What about internationally?
Not a day goes past where I don’t see something awesome being announced. I’m loving the community of Product Hunt, which only started in November 2013, and has already made such headway into popularising and aspiring so many start-ups around the globe.
Buffer is a company I admire. Not because their product is great (which it is) but because of their transparency and values driven sentiment. If you aren’t reading their Open blog, I suggest you do; they do amazing things behind the scenes and share so many great ideas for the benefit of all.
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
All commercial entities have a great opportunity to make an impact. At Bam Creative, we’ve given back around 10% of our gross turnover to Australian charities and NFP’s through both work in kind and financial assistance for the last 13 years. Imagine if every Australian business did that, no matter how small? Even if we all agreed to just donate one percent, we would literally change Australia and the world for the better.
We are planning to give away 6Q plans to not for profits in the future – these people are typically passionate, underfunded and overworked. If we can help improve their feedback cycles and organisation culture through 6Q, we would be delighted.
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?
Wow, there are so many! We work with quite a few ourselves, however I’ll mention one I am working with at the moment, and that is St Vincent de Paul Society, which I am doing the CEO Sleepout. Last year I slept rough for just one night and raised $6,500 – if I could do that every month I would. They do fantastic work helping the homeless, and these people are just like you and I, just in a bad place.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.
www.trello.com – this is the best way to prioritise tasks and schedule yourself or a team. I’m their biggest fan.
www.customer.io – this is the future of email marketing and on-boarding. Using triggers to send emails is literally awesome. We use this in everything we do within 6Q.
www.medium.com – there are so many great articles in here, from every topic under the sun. I love the visual quality of the site and the talent who write on there are (mostly) excellent.
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?
Yes please! We haven’t actively sought external funding, but always open to hearing suggestions. We aren’t hiring right at this stage either, but send me your resume, or even better, offer to intern; we love the opportunity to help groom the next Australian workforce or entrepreneurs.
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?
How do you balance building a start-up versus getting financial backing? I find you can do one or the other well in a small team; how do you handle attracting investors whilst at the same time, obsessing about creating an awesome product?
What’s your favourite escape destination?
I’m a big fan of Ubud, Bali just a few hours north of here in Indonesia. Poor Bali gets a bad rap in Australian media. If you escape the tourist areas and head north, you find yourself surrounded with culture and Balinese life. I visit at least once a year and have been known to take our entire team up there for a Christmas weekender.