1Above has just raised more than $2.4 million in its latest investment round, which was led by MOVAC and included TradeMe founder Sam Morgan and existing shareholders.
Do you see yourself as an entrepreneur?
It is not a title I am all that comfortable with as I don't see myself as a success yet. The title of entrepreneur feels to me like it is something that should be earned over a number of successful businesses.
Are there more businesses to come for you?
I have too many ideas to count so I hope so, but, I know myself and have to stay focused on one at a time. What's hard for me is that everything I look at, think about or observe, I have ideas to improve or change, but I am conscious we probably only get to create two or three truly unique businesses in our lives. I wish I could find a way to do more.
What do you enjoy about entrepreneurialism?
Achievement. Creativity. Bringing something to life from nothing, from a collision of experiences, thoughts and observations that create an idea new to the world. The idea of living for something more than a nine to five day, something that can hopefully inspire others to go out and do something unique themselves.
Who are some inspiring entrepreneurs you have met?
My Dad and my wife - both have done their own thing - and any other people out their bringing truly unique ideas to the world that can improve lives. My Dad wouldn't consider himself an entrepreneur and he frustrated me quite a bit but what I realized a few years back was that the things that frustrated me were teaching me to care deeply about what I do. That trait is one of the things that has helped me do what I wanted to do and, though it comes from a good place, I am sure I am annoying others with it now.
What makes entrepreneurs special?
I don't think they are all that special or different. My observation is that they just care immensely about what they do and their perspective is that life is a chance to do something you want to do. They seize that opportunity - others don't. This world we live in, the amazing things invented were just willed to life by people who were simply passionate in my view. I don't think any of them would see themselves as that special.
Pitching your idea is a big part of being a successful entrepreneur. Do you enjoy this?
Absolutely. There is a bit of a rush from the uncertainty of it all. At the end of the day I know I am a competitive person. I need to know how I stack up so I am happy to put myself out there and see what happens. The worst is a 'no', which is not so bad - who really cares if someone doesn't like your idea...some people don't like Apple computers.
You have just won funding from Movac. How did this come about?
Others would have had different experiences but it came about by getting beside someone from the get go. Letting them understand the details. Letting them gain comfort in you and the scalability of the idea. Movac were looking at us before launch and over two years later we were at the right stage for them to invest.
What are your ambitions with 1Above?
A global brand we can all be proud of that makes a difference to the world of travel and has people jumping off the other end feeling better than ever before. I hope that one day it inspires others to action their ideas and not just dream - especially my two daughters, but if I inspire just one person that would be enough.
How does running your own business compare with your former corporate career?
I stepped away from corporate because I was frustrated and had too many ideas. I was wasting 50 to 60 per cent of my time on internal 'stuff'. It drove me nuts. I don't see so much waste now, I am mostly implementing and taking action.
What would you say to other wannabe entrepreneurs thinking of taking the first step possibly from the safety of a corporate job?
Have real family support: I am lucky because I have a supportive wife who was telling me to quit corporate. She could see I was unhappy. She was prepared to live with me in a tent on a beach if that is what it would take. My wife gave me the gift of freedom of choice - she helped me see life from the right perspective again.
Know yourself: I was psychoanalyzed upside down / inside out in corporate. I always found that hard. I was trying to be perfect, to overcome all my weaknesses and exhibit 18 core competencies (18! - feels like a bad joke now). Then I did a test called strengths finder. It focuses only on what your strengths are and helps you understand why you are happy doing certain things and not others. It was refreshing. Since then I've understood exactly what makes me happy and why.
Do it: I jumped with both feet, because focus for me is the only way I know how. Maybe not for everyone, but in a great country like NZ, where there are safety nets everywhere, the only risk if you have an idea, in my view, is not doing something. You will probably wake up in 40 years to discover you didn't live the life you wanted to when there was no real risk in doing so.
Next week: And speaking of never being too old to start a business, proud son, Tim Lightbourne, co-founder of Invivo Wines, got in touch recently to let me know about his Dad's business. It seems his work life is busier than ever even though he has passed retirement age. I'd love to hear your stories of businesses you have set up post-retirement, a time when you can really pursue your dreams with no worries about the mortgage hopefully.