All posts in CEO interviews

  • Culture First: Didier Elzinga, CEO at Culture Amp

    Didier Elzinga

    Didier Elzinga is CEO and co-founder at Culture Amp. A software engineer by training, before founding Culture Amp he previously worked in Hollywood as CEO of visual effects company Rising Sun Pictures.

    If you haven’t heard of Culture Amp already, it’s likely to be just a matter of time. Culture Amp is set to be one of the next big Australian technology success stories, as one of the leading global player in culture and engagement surveys.

    The company has doubled in size over the past year, recently passing 100 employees. As part of this growth story, they’ve just raised US$10m. That comes in addition to support from the Victorian State Government to grow the company’s global HQ in Melbourne.

    Some of the highlights of the interview:

    • Why Hollywood is not the future of work: Every year there’s an article that comes out that says, “The future of work is Hollywood,” and every year I groan and say, “It didn’t work in Hollywood and it’s not going to work anywhere else.” (Video from 2:25)
    • Didier’s “world’s most naive business plan”: “I wanted to build a business where tens of thousands of companies would spend tens of thousands of dollars and year with us and we’d have hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.” (Video from 3:52)
    • Didier’s culture first management approach: “The macro view of why culture first is this idea that back in 1938 Henry Ford said, ‘Why is it when all I want is a pair of hands, I get a brain attached?'” (Video from 7:05)
    • How to get employees to dream with you: “A big part of this is how do you get somebody to dream with you? How do you get them to say, ‘This might not work but if it did, wow, this could be amazing.'” (Video from 17:46)
    • The importance of tolerating ambiguity: “The sort of people that become good entrepreneurs, the people that start and hopefully build great businesses, and often senior leaders, there’s a willingness to tolerate ambiguity and a willingness to understand that there are multiple ways that this could play out.” (Video from 27:05)

    The video: 

    The transcript:

    Steve Pell: I’m Steve Pell from Management Disrupted. I’m here with Didier Elzinga from Culture Amp. Didier, can I get you to introduce yourself and talk about what the company does?

    Didier Elzinga: Sure. Thanks Steve. I’m Didier Elzinga and I’m the CEO and founder of Culture Amp. What is Culture Amp? Culture Amp is a software company and what we do is help people use data to put culture first. We have a unified employee feedback and analytics platform that’s used by some of the fastest growing companies all over the world.

    Read more

  • Optimising for regular explosions: Jason Wyatt, CEO at Marketplacer

    Jason Wyatt

    Jason Wyatt is the co-founder and Managing Director of Marketplacer.

    Marketplacer are a software business that’s grown from running marketplaces (including BikeExchange, House of Home, TiniTrader, Outdoria and TIXSTAR), to delivering marketplace specific software that helps industry leaders to quickly deploy and run an online marketplace.

    For a sense of scale, the business now employs around 150 people globally across the range of business lines.

    Jason is a growth focused CEO, and that’s the focus of many of the interesting points of this interview:

    • The importance of consistency – to both customers and employees “I think the most important skill behind any leader in any business is consistency” (Video from 10:08)
    • Why “one strategic decision is worth a thousand operational ones.” (Video from 14:38)
    • Jason’s approach to scaling: “I’d much prefer to create an explosion with a revenue line that needs to be fixed than overinvest… We create a problem and then we actually bring people in to fix it and help build those processes as we scale.” (Video from 16:13)
    • The way Jason manages himself and his own performance in “exactly the same way we manage the organisation.” (Video from 21:24)

    The video:

     

    The interview:

    Steve Pell: Hi, I’m Steve Pell. I’m here with Jason Wyatt from Marketplacer. We’re going to talk about your journey and your business. Perhaps before we get started, could you tell us what the business does, where you’ve come from?

    Jason Wyatt: At Marketplacer we help people globally create marketplaces. Predominately we’re a technology business that enables people to create big marketplaces faster around the world.

    We also own and operate our own marketplaces. We own BikeExchange, House of Home, TiniTrader, Outdoria, TIXSTAR in Australia. BikeExchange also has a global presence in the USA, England, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany.

    Read more

  • 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