All posts in CEO interviews

  • Face the fear: Simon Lee, Co-Founder & CEO at PromisePay

    Simon Lee PromisePay

    Simon Lee is CEO and Co-Founder at PromisePay. PromisePay is a fintech startup that builds a payment platform for marketplaces. They’re heavily focused on building trust into the payment flow. If you’re buying a car off Carsales, the PromisePay platform is what you’ll use to pay the seller via escrow.

    The company was founded in 2013 and has subsequently grown to 40 people – recently raising $14 million dollars from investors including Westpac and the Carsales Network.

    Some of the highlights of this interview include:

    • Simon talking about how his last business failed, and what he learnt from the experience: “I feared failure and then I wasn’t actually operating in an effective way” (video from 2:17)
    • Simon talks about the importance of persistence, and the number of people who said PromisePay could never work (video from 7:38)
    • An interesting discussion about the parallels between product design and organisational design (video from 14:05)
    • PromisePay’s strategy out to 2020 and how they’re leveraging strategic investors to launch internationally (video from 17:25)
    • What Simon wishes he knew on day one: The importance of confronting problems early and belief (video from 20:00)

    The video:

    The transcript:

    Steve Pell: Hi, I’m Steve Pell from Management Disrupted. I’m here with Simon Lee from PromisePay. Simon, could you start by telling us a little bit about who you are and what you’re doing here?

    Simon Lee: Sure, I’m cofounder of PromisePay. We started out about two and a half years ago. Originally we just wanted to fix payments for freelancers and contractors because we saw there was a trust issue there. I’d run a consultancy before that, I was owed a million dollars at any one time and really wanted to improve that.

    We quickly realised that there was this huge opportunity in marketplaces because there were trust issues in payments on these platforms. Around that time, we got backed by Jim McKelvey from Square Payments and we pivoted into this new platform for payments, which quickly turned into all these other opportunities for us.

    We’re signing many new platforms now. A platform could be anything such as Xero or Reckon accounting software. Now we’re actually signing banks, to be the backend for services for banks as well. Because what we’ve built is it’s not just about transactions, it’s actually about building all this understanding of risk into transaction flow, and banks need this technology.

    It’s very exciting for us. We’ve just raised $14 million dollars from some exciting backers such as the Carsales Network and Westpac Bank.

    Read more

  • Strategy, context and clarity: Collis Ta’eed, CEO at Envato

    Collis Ta'eed - Envato

    Collis Ta’eed is CEO and co-founder of Envato. The business operates a number of global platforms where designers, developers and the general public can buy templates, stock footage and stock photos.

    Envato was founded in 2006, and has grown to a profitable 300 person organisation with fantastic fundamentals. As Collis talks about, the business: “just grew and grew and you didn’t really have to do very much. It meant that sometimes you’d have a year where you did a lot of dumb stuff and you’d grow, and another year where you’d be really smart and on the ball and you’d still grow.” [See 17:30 in the video] 

    As you’ll see in this interview, Collis and his management team have made some incredibly smart strategic decisions to establish an environment where this kind of growth is possible.

    This is a fun interview to watch, and there’s a lot to learn. Some of the highlights of the interview:

    • Collis’ role in the culture “I’m patient zero so to speak… the problem starts with you, whatever the problem is” [See 8:26 in the video]
    • The importance of the little signals in management: Why Collis holds the door open for everyone [See 9:55 in the video]
    • How Envato does ‘express strategy’ [See 16:50 in the video]
    • Why smart people do dumb things, and the importance of context [See 19:00 in the video]
    • How Envato built a remote friendly workforce, where employees can choose to work from anywhere in the world for three months [See 21:15 in the video]
    • What Collis wishes he knew on day one: “I wish I understood, especially around managing, how important it was just to be clear with people. Clear about goals, clear about feedback and clear about expectations” [See 27:35 in the video]

    The video:

    The transcript:

    Steve Pell: Hi, I’m Steve Pell. I’m here with Collis Ta’eed from Envato. Today we’re going to talk about your journey, some of the lessons along the way. If I could just start by getting you to tell us about what you do and where you’ve come from?

    Collis Ta’eed: Sure. Envato is a company that makes a platform, a global platform, where people get creative projects done. Mostly we cater to professionals, designers, developers, animators.

    They come to Envato for templates or for stock footage, stock photos, that kind of thing. We also have website creation tools for small business users and sort of more general audience. My own background is that I was a designer. I studied math once upon a time, then became a designer, then founded Envato in 2006.

    Read more

  • Panic less, think more: Martin Hosking, CEO at Redbubble

    Martin Hosking 2016

    To kick off the 2016 series of CEO interviews on Management Disrupted, I’m excited to introduce Martin Hosking from Redbubble.

    Redbubble is a global marketplace for independent artists and designers. The company successfully listed on the ASX earlier in 2016, and recently celebrated a great first set of results (beating forecasts across the board).

    Martin is a deep thinker on the practice of management for growth companies. Prior to founding Redbubble, Martin spent seven years as Chairman of Aconex and was part of the LookSmart management team.

    Some of the highlights of the interview:

    • Why servant leadership must be the model for management of knowledge workers: “It’s not an abrogation of responsibility… there is actually a job which the senior leadership has to do but that job is not to make decisions for people” [see 6:12 in the video]
    • Martin’s views on holacracy: “I think the jury is out” [see 8:24 in the video]
    • The period two or three years ago where there was “too much freedom” at Redbubble, and the actions the management team have taken to bring things back into balance [see 9:20 in the video]
    • Why “It’s all specific”. The risks of taking management advice from “the specific and making it general” [see 13:25 in the video]
    • The worst management mistake Martin ever made [see 17:05 in the video]
    • The importance that Martin places on reflection and consideration: “I think a lot of my role as trying not to panic and panic less/think more.” [see 19:20 in the video]
    • How having long-term purpose makes Redbubble more enduring and less fragile as an organisation (and a great general discussion about the connection between purpose and antifragility) [see 24:24 in the video]

    The video:

    The transcript:

    Steve Pell: I’m Steve Pell. I’m here with Martin Hosking from Redbubble. Today we’re going to talk about Martin’s journey and some of his lessons along the way. Martin, can I just get you to introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you’re doing at Redbubble?

    Martin Hosking: Thanks Steve. I’m Martin Hosking. I’m the CEO and cofounder of Redbubble. Redbubble is a marketplace for independent artists and designers. The way in which it works is an artist or designer uploads a work, and image such as this one I’ve got on my t-shirt, then when a customer comes along, we can produce that on 54 different product types, through our outsource partners, and that happens all over the world.

    Read more