Nathan is a serial entrepreneur who started his first business at age 16 selling items on Ebay. He taught himself the art and science of entrepreneurship through founding multiple ventures including e-commerce, hospitality, education and marketing companies. Whilst most businesses failed, the successes drove him onwards. Today Nathan is the managing director of JobHack, president of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance of Australia and consultant to the Foundation for Young Australian’s entrepreneurship education initiatives. He is wildly passionate about helping young people unlock their potential through entrepreneurship.
Could you tell us about your idea and what made you decide to make it happen?
Over the last few years, I’ve done a lot of consulting work on entrepreneurship education initiatives for the government and non-profit organisations. One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s very rare to see any initiative really hit scale. Most programs benefit a small handful of well-networked entrepreneurs and take millions of dollars in resources to deliver. I became quite obsessed with the question of how to create the best possible free online education product that could have the greatest impact on rising youth unemployment numbers.
For the last year, we’ve pushed ourselves to iterate on JobHack to the point where we can be confident that we’ve created the best possible free online resource for young people looking to create their own job. Every single day more than 100 new people sign up for JobHack and we’ve had participants from 120 countries. We’re on the right track.
Can you explain your business model to us?
To get off the ground with the idea, we incorporated as a non-profit entity and received a small grant. This has helped us build an MVP and validate on our hypotheses. Our core mission is to provide the best possible free online entrepreneurship education which forces us to think more creatively about the business model. We’ve had some interest from some impact investors and we are in the process of exploring some potential business models that will help us achieve economic sustainability as an organisation.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next year?
Right now we are working on how to make JobHack 10x better. We’ve recently integrated a free Certificate of Completion, a cash grant competition and built an alumni network. There’s lots more product development in the pipeline for this year that our users have requested, though I doubt we’ll ever stop! This year I’m most excited about spreading the word about JobHack with all of the global players who care about slowing the growth of youth unemployment.
How do you make ideas happen?
Just ****ing do it. At the start of every idea, the most crucial task is to validate your big risky assumptions by building a prototype and trying to sell it to your target customer. Too many people operate in the world of planning for far too long, the real learning only begins when you put a product in front of your customer, and not just your mother…
What role have mentors played in your business life?
Mentors have shaped my values, inspired me to reach higher and helped me learn the ropes of day-to-day business management. I’m lucky to have met an incredible array of entrepreneurs along the way who have always supported my work and encouraged me to keep going. It’s vital for young entrepreneurs to build relationships with business mentors who can help them on their path.
What does your typical day look like?
It’s a horrible habit but most of my days start off with checking email and my calendar. The days where I start off with meditating are 10x better but I’ve struggled to make the habit stick. My day is usually spent split between JobHack, G20 responsibilities and consulting work.
What challenges have you faced when starting your organisation in Australia?
I remember when I first got started I really struggled to understand all of the accounting and legal stuff. It can be a real wormhole for people who are just getting off the ground. Nowadays though I would say I mostly struggle with learning how to delegate and not assume that I can do everything on my own!
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
If you want to get to those ‘aha’ moments quicker in your business – read Sprint.
What organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
There’s a ton of great initiatives all over Australia at the moment that are having a positive impact. One of my favourites is $20 Boss by the Foundation for Young Australians. It’s an entrepreneurship challenge run in 15% of Australian high schools that gives $20 to students to start a business with. Last year it was delivered to over 10,000 students across the country. I’m 100% biased though because I helped create the content for the pilot version a few years back haha.
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
Business has a leading role to play in social change. It’s fast becoming the norm to assess the social impact of a business on an equal footing with its financial viability. I only hope that the larger existing corporates will realise this sooner rather than later.
Is there a particular charity or social enterprise you support?
I’m a big fan of Kiva, you can lend money directly to people in developing countries which they use to start businesses. They have a 97% repayment rate.
What 3 websites you would recommend to our readers?
Which 3 Australians do you think we should follow on Twitter?
Do you have any opportunities for people to get involved with your idea?
We are always looking for fresh feedback on how to make JobHack better for users and ways of getting the word out about it to as many young people as possible.
What’s your favourite café in Melbourne?
Captains of Industry, a rad little cafe hidden upstairs in a laneway of Melbourne