The Dion Guagliardo Podcast

#33 Vu Tran - Co-founder of Go1

March 21, 2023 Vu Tran Season 1 Episode 33
The Dion Guagliardo Podcast
#33 Vu Tran - Co-founder of Go1
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, I interview Vu Tran - founder of Go1. As described by Vu, Go1 is the Netflix or Spotify of workplace learning. They aggregate training programs from all around the world and bring them into one platform - making them available for any company. Recently, the company’s valuation hit an astonishing $2.8 billion after a $140 million raise.

Throughout the episode, Vu talks about the importance of growing not maintaining culture and how a stagnant one can be detrimental to the growth of your business. When discussing his 3 other co-founders, Vu mentions the importance of finding people who negate your weaknesses and complement your strengths.


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People define or, or understand culture in different ways, right? It's, people think, ah, you know, the company's not the same as the sort of company I joined, or whatever it might be. And I'll often turn around to people and I'll say, good.

It shouldn't be the same because we wanna hire people for cultural contribution, not for cultural fit. If I hired people who, who were just gonna fit into my culture 10 years ago, five years ago, two years ago, I'm gonna end up with the same company culture that I had 10 years ago, five years ago, two years ago.

So what I was to try and talk about is hiring for cultural contribution. How are you gonna enrich my culture? How are you gonna change it for the better? Because if not, I'll end up with the, you know, we'll end up with a whole bunch of 25 year old dudes.


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 Welcome to the Dion Guagliardo Podcast, where I interview business people who run or have sold businesses worth a few million dollars all the way through to billions of dollars. While most of my time is spent to managing investment portfolios for people after they've had a successful exit. I've always been fascinated by the entire process and hearing the insights that successful entrepreneurs and business people have learned along their journeys.

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(Episode Introduction)

 In this episode I interview Vu Tran, co-founder of Go One, as described by Vu Go. One is the Netflix or Spotify of workplace learning. They aggregate training programs from all around the world and bring them into one platform, making them available for any company. Recently, the company's valuation hit an astonishing 2.8 billion after they raised 140 million, through a range of investors.

Throughout this episode, Vu talks about the importance of growing, not maintaining. And how stagnant culture can be detrimental to the growth of your business. When discussing his three other co-founders, Vu mentions the importance of finding people who negate your weaknesses and compliment your strengths.

Really interesting insights. They've been together for, nearly 17 years in one way or another, and still only in their thirties. So they've got really interesting dynamic and I loved hearing all that he had to say about his journey, with his co-founders. And go one. if you enjoy the show, feel free to share it with family and friends and leave a review.


Do you wanna just start by telling us a little bit about Go one and, and your background and how everything got started?

Oh man. Well that's a, that's a pretty interesting story. So it depends how far back in history that you wanna go. But I'll just start off with sharing you a bit about Go one. So we're proudly Australian found and headquartered company. The best way to think of us is think of us as the Netflix or Spotify workplace Learning.

Now, that's the really simple way to describe it. What we do is we agree training from all over the world. Bring it all into one place and make it available to corporates and companies all over the world. So I think we train over 5,000 businesses or provide training and learning to over 5,000 businesses.

That's everything from compliance through professional development. We bring it all together, aggregate it into single subscription. Again, much like Spotify, and we make it available to businesses where their staff are. So whatever learning platform they're using, we take our content and put it in. Now we're talking about over a hundred thousand different courses and learning items from all providers all over the place.

So everything from Thompson Reuters who might do financial compliance training through to say Harvard Business School, who will deliver leadership training. So across the board for us, it's about trying to make sure we can plug all of those gaps when it comes to learning professional development and compliance training for pretty much any type of business you can think of.

So that in essence is what we.

Yeah. Okay. So just in terms of the company, you started two 2015, is that right?

Yeah, so 2015, my co-founders, I went through an accelerator called Y Combinator or YC as locally known. That was a great experience and you know, that pretty much ticked off the journey that we're on today. But, you know, I will share a secret with you, Dionne, as founders, you know, we've been together for.

I turned 34 last month, so 17 years. Right. So, you know, we're, we're pretty tight knit. We've been through a lot together, but go on, as it is today has been around for going on eight years this year.

Yeah. Okay. And I read you guys, the four co-founders all went to high school together, is that right? 

Well, so Andrew Barnes, who's our ceo, he is my best mate. We were in the same year together at high school. We pretty much did all the same subjects together. We were best mates from high school. Chris Aland is in the year below us and Chris Hook joined us a little bit after high school during our journeys, but three of us went to school together.

Okay. How do you found that? I was really interested to, to sort of read that and, and see that like all these years later now. Just di digressing a little bit. You last year raised, I think it was, I read a hundred million at about a 2 billion valuation. Is, is that right?

Yeah, so I mean, we've raised a little bit of money quite a bit of money, sorry. But you know, I'll always say to people that that's not necessarily the goal nor the achievement. The achievement is building a bloody good company, which is the goal, right? To be able to build something that actually has an impact on the world and something that actually provides value, not just back to our customers, but the people who have backed us as well.

You know, back to your question around, you know, us as sort of co-founders and, and how that dynamic works and how it comes together. . We're incredibly lucky. And you know, I talk about, I like to think a lot about sort of how luck has come into play in terms of what we do. And people go, you know, you're right place, you're right.

Business at the right place at the right time. You know, for me personally, the luck has been meeting these guys at the time I did. When we were doing what we were doing. So for the four of us to sort of get together and wanna start a business, it wasn't a, Hey, I've got this idea, let's go do it. It was we wanna work.

We wanna build something impactful and we went on a really long journey together till we got to the point where we go, this is something we can hang our hat on. This is something that we think really has legs. And from 20, 20 15 onwards, we haven't looked back.

Yeah. Okay. So had you been working together on other stuff from high school or 

So Andrew and I started our first business together. We were 17, so you know, this is back in 22,000 and. Five, six. Right. So while, all while, while kids were gonna go get jobs at McDonald's or at Woolies or Kohl's, Andrew and I were the weird kids who decided to go out and register an abn. Right. And we just, we started out the same way I think most other people in tech started out from, you know, if they started in high school, was building websites for businesses.

You know, this was before Squarespace, this was before weeks where we could go out and, you know, charge a few grand for a website from a small business. And we literally went door to door selling websites after school and on our school holidays.

Yeah. Wow. And how did you find that dynamic within that group, and how has it changed over the years or hasn't it changed from when you started as 17 year olds to till now? That's half your life, right?

That is my entire adult life. Deon , right? And half my half my life. And, and I think one of the things that I, I like to, like to reflect on and like to think about is how you know. I mentioned before how incredibly lucky I was to I, I have been to be able to meet these guys and work with them and build something with them, but we're friends first and found a second, and that's been really useful to be able to get to where we are.

I challenge you to find any founding group who has been together as long as we've been together, and I think one of the really important things for us is we got to really cut our teeth on building something together where the stakes were incredibly low, right? We're teenagers, we don't know what we're doing, we're figuring things out.

Ego and, you know, understanding what our way of working is and our hierarchy and how we make decisions. All of those things we got to kind of iron out and get outta the way when we were teenagers. So when it comes to, you know, running a company with hundreds of staff, with lots of customers, You know, with hundreds of millions of dollars invested in us, the stakes are much higher.

But I think our, our level of maturity in terms of the way we work together as founders and the cohesion we have is second to none. I, I, I, I can say this without doubt to you today, Dionne, I'm closer to my fellow co-founders today than I was at any point in the last 17 years because it's kind of been that foundation that we've been able to build things on.

You know, I, I liken it to. To a hundred story skyscraper, what you don't realize is there's 60 stories of underground foundations that's holding that thing up. So we've been really lucky to have built those foundations early on, almost unintentionally, which is, you know, kind of put us in addition where we've been able to kind of have that really strong cohesion today.

I imagine that when you're so young and you grow together as founders, You know, if you were to start again from today, you'd probably find it very difficult to work with other people. I imagine, because you've got such a, an intuitive working relationship now that, you know, it is like any sort of relationship, I guess, like a really good marriage or anything like that where you know, where you've been together a long time.

You just know how it works.

100% and to an extent, you know. It's like a, so we've all got really diverse backgrounds. You know, Andrew's, Andrew's an economist from uq, he's a Rhode Scholar. Chris hood is an engineer from Q U T. Chris Aland is a lawyer from Griffith Australia's former U Youth Ambassador United Nations has done a whole bunch of stuff in the not-for-profit space.

And I went to Bond University. I've got a medical degree, I'm a general practitioner. I still practice medicine, so it's like a bad joke. A doctor, a lawyer, an engineer. You know, an economists get together to start a learning startup. We've got no authority to start a technology company in the education space.

We've got no right or right to be able to do that. We're not teachers, we're not educators. We haven't del delivered or, or created training in the past. But the one thing that brings us all together is a genuine love of learning. You know, it's, it's, it's, it's part of, but our mission as a company is to help unlock positive potential in people through a love of learning.

and that is something that really binds us all together as founders, we, we love what we do and we love the mission that we've got. You know, our vision is to be able to hit a billion people globally. We are one and a half percent the way through that journey. It's something I keep reminding my staff every single day.

So for me, I, I think it's across all of us. There's, there's kind of, there's all these Venn diagrams, you know, there's Venn diagram with all these overlapping circles you can see. One is the sort of the, the, the, the cohesion we have together as friends and as people. There's that sort of mission-driven component of what we do, and then there's that sort of curiosity, you know, that, that, that, that other thing that sort of binds us together as well.

I, I really vu I really love what you referred to there as that love of learning, because one of the questions I was gonna ask you was knowing that you had a diverse background amongst you and that you were a medical practitioner. I, I was thinking what's the, what's the link here to an educational platform?

But when you say that it's obvious a love of learning. I, I think that's really great.

You just have to look in our WhatsApp group between the four of us as founders, and you'll see we are sharing YouTube clips or interesting articles or podcasts that we're listening to where we're learning stuff from. Right? And that for me is kind of, What, what I love, like someone said to me the other day, you know that I'm in my thirties now.

I'm, I'm, everything that I'm learning at the moment is gonna compound in my forties. And so at the end of the day, I need to be learning everything I can. And I was given this advice by someone who has much more experienced, who has kind of been there, done that. And I said to myself, man, I better get on my horse and keep learning even.

Yeah, absolutely. It never stops, right? Well, if you're open to learning, it never stops that curiosity, intellectual. Is is priceless.

Hundred. I mean, you know, in the corporate world, you know, I'll, I'll always hear people talk about growth mindset and all those sorts of things. I, for me, it's just genuine curiosity. That desire to kind of wanna learn more, wanna know more and think, how can I reapply this to what I do today or what I do in the future?

Yeah. And sometimes it's, it's growth mindset. All that sort of stuff's great, but sometimes the most abstract and or random things that you learn about, you can find something that. Crosses over into another field that it doesn't necessarily relate. And you must see this with your diverse backgrounds within what you do, where there's strengths that you have in your field of origin, I guess in terms of where you started.

And you can see an overlap that no one else would see,

Well, I, I'll tell you this, the parallels between what I believe a good doctor should be and what a good salesperson is, right? And, and this may sound very controversial, but I'll share this with you. I guarantee you, Dionne, you've met good doctors and bad doctors. But your judgment on how good or bad that doctor was wasn't based on their skill, their knowledge, you know, it was actually based on how they communicated with you.

How they listened to you, how they made you feel, right? And the thing is, as a doctor, my job is to take a history. So this, it's all we learned in medicine is history, examination, investigations, diagnosis, like those are the steps we go through. And then treatment is the fifth one. Treatments all the way at the end, right?

Good salespeople hold their treatments or what they're selling till the end. Now, that first bit is history. As a, as a doctor, I've gotta take a history of you. I've gotta go. Tell me what's been happening. Let me understand what's happening with you. Right. That exact, that's exactly what we try and teach our salespeople to do, is to be good history takers, to do good examinations, to do good investigations before they come up with a diagnosis.

So for me, the parallels between medicine and, and, and I've always headed up the sort of the sales area in go one the parallels have been incredibly, like it's been uncanny, right? I could almost match one for one the skills. So in terms of the transfer, Stability of skills, which is such a big thing in today's age, you know, with AI and all these different things coming along and industry changing.

That transferability of skills is something that I'm experiencing firsthand.

Yeah, that, that is really an, an interesting observation because I, I myself, as I was first entered the sort of the investment field, I remember seeing three guys who were sort of in various ways, mentors and much more senior than me, and they were sort of doing what they did and I remember noticing. And when you talk about sort of, you know, someone's competence and also their ability to communicate and sell, the, the three of them had different skills.

One was really competent, but terrible, salesperson, communicator. The other was really good salesperson, not so competence the wrong word, but was less on that side. And the other guy, the third guy, had both those skills and the one who was very competent had a business. . The other one who was very good at selling had twice the size business and the guy who did both of those things really well had twice the size business of those two.

So you could just see it was, it was really interesting to me to see that overlay between competence and the sales sort of side, you know, the communication side.

But I will share something with you if you don't mind, around sort of founders and selling the best found the best salesperson in any organization. And I'm, I'm yet to find it. A, you know, something that contradicts this is actually the founder. And the reason why I say that to you is yes, the ability to communicate well, yes, the ability to sell well is really, really important.

But what I believe is slightly, if not a lot more important is actually an understanding of your customer and an understanding of the product or service you're selling. So the one thing that founders, I get lots of founders who I talk to, particularly early stage one. So they go, I'm not a salesperson, I'm not a great ator.

I said, man, I don't care. You understand your product bloody well cuz you're the founder and because you came up with the product, you understand your customer bloody well, . So you're not gonna hire a sales manager or a salesperson who's gonna be able to sell this thing better than you can. So, you know, go hit the phones, go take these Zoom calls, go out to these meetings and you'll learn to be a better communicator.

Because one of the things to me, Dionne, is when I was in medical school, you know, if I could hire my, if I could hire the best sales team I could right now, it would be a whole bunch of my mates from medical school. . But I'll tell you, when they started medical school, when we started medical schools, we were terrible communicators, right?

We were terrible communicators. Medical school actually taught me, we actually had a whole subject that was dedicated to communication. I'm not joking, but we used to practice interviews with each other, taking histories off each other, and now I look back, back on it retrospectively, what I realized is great communication skills can actually be learned and taught.

Absolut.

And so actually it's deep domain expertise about your customer and the product or service you're selling, which is, that's slightly, if not a lot more important, and that's what founders have as an innate sort of tool in their toolbox. I just don't think they realize it.

That's really underrated in any business because like I say, people often say they're not good at selling or whatever that might be, but if you know your stuff inside out, you can talk to anybody about it and you can deal with any question. And if there's something that you don't know, Then no one else probably knows it.

You've gotta go away and find out the answer, so it's no big deal. A lot of people don't have that confidence, but that's what it is. It's a confidence in their ability to communicate it. But if you know your stuff, you know your stuff,

Exactly. Well, I and I say to you like, you know, I'm sorry, I'm going off a bit of a tangent here, but you go buy a car right now. You don't want a good salesperson. You want someone who understands you really well, and you want someone who understands the car. They're selling you really well.

Yep.

Not a slick communicator, but someone who understands you and someone who understands your, the car they're trying to sell you, right?

Everything else kind of comes second, the communication bit's kind of the last, you know, the, the cherry on. So from my perspective that that's kind of the way I look at it. I'm, I'm really, I come from a B2B SaaS world, so the most of the founders who come to be advice or that I talk to are in that sort of b B2B space.

And I'm always encouraging to be their, their, their first and best salesperson should be the founder. But I know 

that's not the question you ask, but that's kind of the way that I view the

No, but it's a great insight. Really great insight. Vu how do you find your. Domain expertise combined with all your, your founders and the relationship you have there, how does that impact the culture of the business?

Yeah, I think. We, we've, culture is such a really interesting question because, you know, people, people define or, or understand culture in different ways, right? It's, people think, ah, you know, the company's not the same as the sort of company I joined, or whatever it might be. And I'll often turn around to people and I'll say, good.

Just because it, it shouldn't be the same because we wanna hire people for cultural contribution, not for cultural fit. If I hired, you know, if I hired people who, who were just gonna fit into my culture 10 years ago, five years ago, two years ago, I'm gonna end up with the same company culture that I had 10 years ago, five years ago, two years ago.

So what I was to try and talk about is hiring for cultural contribution. How are you gonna enrich my culture? How are you gonna change it for the better? Because if not, I'll end up with the, you know, we'll end up with a whole bunch of 25 year old dudes , 

Yeah. Yeah. Well, and you wanna be able to grow the business, right? And you've,

you need new contributions and new insights and

so from my perspective, culture has to change. It has to shift. It has to shift as we grow, as a business, as we mature as people, as we mature, as founders. Culture is something that is, I think, dynamic and has to improve, right? And continually improve. The idea of having a culture that you wanna maintain, I think is, it's a crap idea, right?

You wanna cult, you don't wanna maintain culture, you wanna grow culture. So for me that, that, that's my perspective on culture, what doesn't shift and what doesn't change its values.

So you take anyone who's worked for Go one since 2015 through to today, and I hope you'll find that we've actually hired people and people have come and left who share the same values, and that for me is incredibly important.

So the idea that culture needs to continually evolve and grow, but values remain. I, we have over 700 staff across 20 to 30 countries. There's a large chunk of them I've never met in person before, but I'm willing to bet that if I was to rock up and meet one of them or a group of them, there's a high chance that we will get along quite well, not because they're a good cultural fit.

But at the end of the day, we share the same values. And the reason why we share the same values is that they were probably hired by someone who shares the same values as me. They were probably, that person was probably hired by someone who shares the same values by as me. And I've probably hired that person, you know, based on the values that they have.

So I think values are one of the things that remain constant in the cornerstone to the business. 

Yep. 

culture must evolve. It has 

Yep. I love the way you've articulated that. That's, that's really reframed something that I think a lot of people struggle with or look at as, you know, we gotta fit people into the culture, and I understand people wanting to, to. May or not lose their culture, but what you are talking about is very different and I think most people would agree with the idea of growing the culture and what do people bring to, to you or to the, to the business in terms of enriching the culture of the company.

I think that's a really well articulated,

We, our goal is to reach a billion people globally, Dion. So, you know, to be able to service a billion people in, you know, hundreds of thousands of millions of businesses across the world, we've gotta grow as a company and our culture has to evolve so that we can. Have a, a broad church, metaphorically speaking in terms of the type of people we have in our company, the, the countries we cover, the people we cover, the people we welcome into our company.

So the idea of having an evolving culture I think is incredibly important. But again, I don't think we should ever compromise on our values, and I think that's something that is a cornerstone to how we grow the company.

We'll just take a step back and go looking at you and your journey. Were, were you, when you were younger, always interested in business, were you always gonna be an entrepreneur from the time you were sort of like a kid or, you know, and you obviously went down that track of medical school and that sort of stuff.

You obviously aspired to be a doctorate along the way as well. What, what was your sort of thinking.

I'll answer the last bit. First, I'm typical Gen Y, which is let's have our cake and eat at two. The question isn't, should I go to medical school or start a startup with my mates? The question is, how do I go to medical school? How do I get my degree, how do I do my internship, and how do I get my fellowship and still practice as a GP and do go one?

Right? So that's that, that. , that's the Gen Y. Like I, I'll tomorrow's Thursday, I'll go see my patients tomorrow afternoon. I've got patients who I've been seeing for, you know, 5, 6, 7 years at the same practice. They're my patients. Most of 'em don't know what I do for a day job, but they don't care cuz I'm their doctor.

In terms of, I guess that that idea of, you know, have I always wanted to be an entrepreneur? I, I've, I, I've, I've mentioned a few times how lucky I am. So I, I'm the son of Vietnamese migrants, Vietnamese refugees. Right. I was born here in Australia, but my parents, you know, they came here to Australia with my older siblings you know, literally with nothing.

And. . I grew up in a household where running a business was actually just part and parcel of what they do because I challenge you Dion to find a Vietnamese family that is of my, my parents' generation who don't run a corner store, a fishing chip shop, a a Vietnamese restaurant or something along those lines.

So that idea of migrants, and I'm not just talking about Vietnamese migrants, I'm talking about people all over, all over Australia who are from migrant families. I guarantee you there's a business somewhere. They've run a business, they're part of a business. They're in a business. So for me, growing up in a household where, you know, my parents owned a convenience store when I was a kid, they owned several convenience stores.

So my job was, you know, to man the till to balance the FPOS machine at the end of the day to refill stock. Like, that's all I've grown up knowing. So the idea of running your own business wasn't weird. It's no different to going, you know, growing up in a household where everyone goes to university.

Goes and does a trade. For me, it was like, all right, well at one stage I need to own a business because that's just what people do,

Yeah.

I didn't know much different and, and that's why I'm really, I think it's really important for us to understand the importance of, you know, go one is in an area called Logan, just south of Brisbane.

Are you in Sydney, Dion, where

are you? 

Yeah. 

So demographics are very similar to Western Sydney, right? Really high multicultural population. Really high migrant population. And the reason why I love Logan is the idea that, you know, we've got this entrepreneurial battery of migrants who are actually ready to go out there, hustle and actually make something of themselves, do something, take a risk.

You know, they've already taken the risk by moving countries.

Yeah. The rest of it is, is not such a big deal after

No. So the idea of going out and starting a business isn't a risk because everything's relative. So for me, like I look at it going, my upbringing was influential in terms of that understanding that actually the default mode is running and starting your own business.

And then it's like, well, where do you wanna start the business? How do you wanna do it? Who do you wanna do it with?

That said, the fact that you're also a medical doctor, I mean, that's not very common. I, I don't think to see someone who's got business aspirations and practicing. As a doctor, what, at what point do you sort of, and I know you're saying like, Jen, why wanna have my cake and eat it too? But I mean, I always wanted to be in business.

I never crossed my mind to do something like that. I don't think it crossed as many people's minds go, you know what, I'll be a doctor and I'll run a business. What, what point did you sort of, do you remember thinking, I'm gonna do both? What point did you, or did it evolve or it was just always how it was gonna be?

If you ask any of my friends from medical school, they knew I was always gonna want to do go one. Right? Like none of them get surprised by what, what we're doing. Because I've always said, look, I wanna be a general practitioner. I'm not going to become a surgeon or any of those sorts of things, cuz I want the flexibility to practice medicine, but also to grow something great at the same time.

But Dion, I also wanna point out, it's not just me. Andrew is, again, I'm biased because he is my best mate, but Andrew is our c e o. He. During uni, you know, during uni when we were running our first business, he said, Hey look, I got this thing called a Rhode Scholarship. I said, mate, great work. And I had to Google, well, Wikipedia what a Rhode scholarship was.

Cause I wasn't sure what it meant. I said, oh, that's pretty good. That's pretty important.

Oh, it looks like you're gonna have to move to Oxford. That's in the uk. And so what we did was with that first business we built, we set up a UK. . Right. So what I'm and, and Chris Eggland, you know, when we were in university, went to Griffith University when there was the earthquake in Haiti in the two thousands.

He founded the school bag program that sent 10,000 school bags across to Haiti and went and lived in Haiti for a year during the recovery, after their earthquake. Then he got offered the opportunity to be the clerk for the Chief Justice Supreme Court Court of South Africa. Just after a while, we're going through Y Combinator.

So what I'm trying to point out is we've been really fortunate to have four co-founders where we can help sort of push and mold and get things done as a collective, while also allowing each other to sort of pursue our personal ambitions as well, which I think have actually fed back in to our sort of, to what go one is today.

So from that perspective, it's, it's that, you know, one of my favorite things about working with Andrew is he never asked me, can we do something? He asked me how do we. You know it's not, can I go to Oxford and we run a business, it's how do we go to Oxford and run a business? How does Chris go to South Africa and CL take up this opportunity, this once in lifetime opportunity to clerk for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?

How do I get to finish my medical degree, do my internship, and get my fellowship while building go one? And what that forces us between all four of us is to collectively use that brain power to actually come up with a way to do things, which is why I really admire solo founders. because we wouldn't be able to do what we do, or I wouldn't be able to do what I do if it weren't for the other three guys, you know?

So I, I look at it and I go, well, actually I'm really fortunate to be able to have three founders who we can work well together. We can help each other out when it comes to us trying to meet some of our personal aspirations and goals, while also at the same time trying to build something great together collectively, that we couldn't build ourselves individual.

Yeah. Where, where does that come from? Vu, in terms of, cuz that's, you know, a lot of people would make choices. , right? They go, I've got this and this. We've gotta make a choice. Where does that initially, you know, when you go back in, in time, where there must have been something sort of a crossroads or a, or something where that first evolved, where you guys went, no, we're just gonna do it.

We're gonna do both. Whatever that might have been, we're 

gonna do that and we're gonna do that. That, that's the unique thinking I, I would've thought.

there's no crossroads Dion like. We

went to high school and we went to high school and we built a business at the same time. Right. So to an extent we've known no different. Yeah. Yeah. You, we mentioned before, we spent our entire adult lives doing this. So we've known no different , if I'm being brutally honest with you, like.

No, no. We've known no different. I, I've not known a world. Like we didn't, we we're not, we're not, we're not university dropouts. All four of us went to university, finished our degrees and did our respective things. You know, it's, it's not the idea of having to sacrifice one for the other. It's that idea of how do we do both?

Not can we do both?

That has literally been from day one when we decided to build our first business together as teenager.

Yeah. Yeah. That's really interesting. You don't see that a lot. 

So it's probably stupidity is the way that I should clarify it. We didn't know better No, not stupidity, naivety,

Naivety. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. No, but you know, that's sometimes the best best reason for doing things is you just don't know better, and so you do it. and yeah, a lot of people would wish they would do those types of things, and I think that's a great example of being able to do more than just one thing. You don't have to make a choice.

You don't have to do this or this. You can do all the things you wanna

do 

I'll share, I'll share with you when I was. 20. My girlfriend at the time, who's now my wife, Natasha, I remember she, and she was, you know, she was working the business with us. I remember she said to me, wouldn't it be great if we didn't have to work Sundays? Wouldn't it be great if there was a day where we didn't have to work?

Like we got to a point in time where we didn't have to work Sundays because. Working a six to seven day week was normal for us during our university degrees to try and build this business and doing what we were doing at the time. So all, all I'm just trying to point out is that, you know, we, we've known no better,

Yeah. Yeah. No, it's a really interesting insight. I think it's fantastic. And in terms of your personal strengths and weaknesses, what what would you say your, your biggest strength is as a, as a founder, and how has that helped the business?

I, it's, that's a hard one to answer. I would say. I would say to you, I'll start off with where I think my co-founders strengths are that they compliment me in terms of the things that I'm not as good at. Right. You know, for me, I, I see upside and it's very hard for me to see downside. I'm, I'm an optimist, right?

So as a result of that, I, I prefer to kind of shoot now and think later. That may sound. , but I'm very much about, I'm a bias towards action sort of person. Now, what I'm complimented by, by my other co-founders is that though we all have a bias towards action, there's also, you know, some of 'em are incredibly analytical.

Someone actually think before they speak , right? As opposed to myself. And so that's where I think we form a yin and yang that actually really balances things out and allows us to be able to do what we do. So from my perspective, I think it's a double-edged sword. Some of the biggest strengths I think I bring to the table is that desire to solve a problem and get things done.

But the biggest weakness is that desired that bias towards action can also mean sometimes I'm running with scissors. , right? 

Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. 

So I think it's two sides of the same. , but I think collectively between four of us, we both enhance each other's strengths and also cover each other's weaknesses as well.

how do you, how do you find, obviously it works and in terms of four co-founders, when you see other people who have got two or three or you know, that type of thing, do you think there's a, a, an optimal number of co-founders or it's just whatever works in terms of the dynamic is, is very case by case.

It's whatever you need to be able to get. Get stuff done right. You know, get decisions made and get stuff done, right. Like I think this idea of being able to do things by committee doesn't work, but this idea of not having any support doesn't work as well. And I think, you know, some of the best founders in the world are solo founders, Elon Musk, and you know Jeff Beast also.

All sorts of people. You say, well, yeah, they can get it done. What they do do is they have a group of people they can trust. And I think what's most important is it's not what's the optimal number? It's, you know, Do you have a group of people there you can trust, whether they're co-founders, whether you are senior executives or whatever it might be?

I think trust is incredibly important. And I would say to you that between the four of us and outside of say, you know, my, my direct family, you know, these, these three guys are the people that I trust most. And so as a result of that, it allows us to be able to have both frank and honest conversations, also understand that what we're trying to do is try and grow the best thing we possibly.

Yeah. In, in terms of the business and the growth of business has been obviously amazing in, in sort of a relatively short amount of time. Right. Eight years when, when you've raised that. that latest round. It wasn't something that you, from what I read in the financial review, it wasn't, it wasn't something that you were, you were thinking about, and it was more about inbound calls from VCs looking to invest.

Was that, was that the case? What, what made you guys sort of do that versus not, I guess,

Well, I think there's, you know, there's a few different things now. The world's changed significantly since that point in time. Obviously, rising interest rates, et cetera. I think the importance is for us to be able to look at it going. We have a very long-term view on where this business is going and what it's going to become, right?

I, I keep coming back to that number. We wanna reach a billion people. That's how we make impact. You know, that's how we make a difference in this world. If I can turn around to you one day, Dion, and say, Hey Dion, we've been responsible for upskilling or allowing billion people to learn something new. I can go to sleep pretty well at night going.

We've made a difference, right? So taking that long-term view, if you understand that we've got a long-term view on the business, we're growing. And we've got a long-term view in terms of what we're trying to achieve. Then understanding the decisions we've made, whether it be to raise capital, whether it be to acquire businesses, or whether it be to expand into new regions.

All it aligns from that point of view. So I can say to you, taking that money is about trying to make sure that we grow the C grow into the company we want to be. I'll also say to you that, you know, we don't really spend much of it as well because we're also bringing in lots of money, you know, I'm just aware of what I'm allowed to say.

I'm not allowed to say, but I'll say to you like, 

we've passed nine figures of revenue pretty, pretty comfortably. 

So it's not like we're a business that's raised lots of money and not creating any value , if that makes sense. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, Yep.

So, so from that perspective, for me, the decision to raise money last year, . It's probably best read in the context of the fact that we want to grow long term and we're, we're playing the long game.

I shouldn't say game cuz it's not a game. But this idea, we wanna build something over a long period of time. What does that mean? Well still last year was an uncertain economic environment,

so having extra money in the bank is always useful, but that's not the primary reason. The primary reason is to make sure that in 10 years time with the company, that we should.

yep, yep. Makes complete sense. Makes complete sense. Couple of quick questions just to sort of finish off though. So. What's the best advice you've ever been given?

Oh man. It's, it's actually my father-in-law. He actually said to me, you can get anything done on a good night's sleep.

Okay.

I think he was telling that to us just before we had kids but, but just coming back to it, I read into that. I think it's really important to understand that you can't get anything done unless you actually are looking after yourself as well.

And in fact, I think when. we started, you know, and I talk about us as founders because we kind of very much work move together in terms of what we do professionally and personally.

As soon as we started focusing on more on our own personal wellbeing and our own health, I think we accelerated as a business.

It's something I'd share with you, like, you know, we started trying to think going, holy cows, man, if we keep driving ourselves in this sort of direction, personally and at a, you know, in terms of not looking after ourselves, et cetera.

We're not gonna be around long enough to be able to see this company come to fruition. And that idea of like look after yourself, you'll be able to then look after others is incredibly important. So that's my extrapolation on what my father-in-law what Derek said to me at one stage. and it's Been probably something that's stuck with me for a while.

Yeah. I, I mean, that makes complete sense because people will often neglect not just their sleep, but other aspects because they're trying to sort of, you. Burn the candle from both ends and that sort of stuff. And there is a culture of that in some respects within entrepreneurship and, and business. But you can work hard, but still look after yourself and have that balance, right?

Balance doesn't have to mean slack or lazy. I think that sometimes is interpreted that way, but balance across, like you say, go good night's, sleep, exercise, eat properly, all those things that are really fundamental like any athlete would do.

And that's it. So you talked to it like, you know, this concept of high performance is something that's spoken about all the. 

He's any high performing athlete. Usain Bolt, back in the day when he used to run right, he might run four races in a given, you know, meet, which means that if he's running a hundred meters in 10 seconds, he is running for 40 seconds.

So you tell me what he is doing for the other 29 days, 23 hours, you know, 59 minutes and 20 seconds of his month. And any athlete you talk to in any sport will say training and. If we don't focus on training and recovery, then we can't be at high performance. And that's for me is the training part, is that curiosity in trying to get more knowledge and trying to expand my own worldview and recovery is that idea of making sure that this is a sustainable marathon, not a sprint.

I mean, I, I'm a big fan of Frank Sch Lutman so c e o of Snowflake. If you haven't sort of read his book, amped Up, it's probably one of the best ones Anyone out there should read if you're a founder investor, amped up by Frank Sch Lutman, you know, his just, his story is awesome, but he.

He just gets it. You know, he is, I don't mean to speak out of turn, but I'm sure that Andrew would give up his c e o's seat right now. If Frank could come on board and become CEO of Go one.

He's just like, you know, and, and, and, and, and, and I'll be the first person to have a mutiny, you know, and join that.

Frank on board. Right. It's just one of those things. And I talk to Andrew about Frank's work all the time. Like he writes lots of stuff. He, he, he's written this book. He's on a lot of podcasts and you know, for me, he's one example of many sort of people who have been there, done that. And they just do the basics really well.

And it reminds me, it's, you don't have to be a genius, you just 

have to be really consistent 

yep. Excellent. That's really good. What about business books and do you, do you read many business books or are you more about, you said you were more about action.

No, man. I read a lot of, I read a lot. I read more book. I used to not be a reader until I made that conscious choice. I need to be better at what I do, and I need to be, I need, you know, I need to get that first of knowledge actually fueled, right? 

So I've read probably more books in the last six months than I've read in the last six years as an example.

And so I, I love them. Right now I'm reading a great book called Thinking in Bets. By an author named Annie Duke. It's a great one. It talks about how part of, you know, the differentiation between what we've achieved that is attributable to luck versus skill, and that sometimes when we ha, when we're lucky, we don't realize some skills come into play.

And when we think we are really skilled at something, we haven't realized that luck comes into play. So I really like that. Christmas, and I wish I read this earlier. Morgan Household's, the Psychology of Money is a 

fantastic book. Again, wish I read that two years ago would've been really helpful.

Yeah.

Yeah, and I, and I love reading a lot of sales books. You know John McMahon's got a really good sales book. There, there's a whole bunch of. Books that are really influential for me, but I think I've come back to Amp It Up being one of the best ones I've read more recently

And thinking in Bets is one that's really front of mind for me outta all the ones that I've read.

Okay. We'll have a note of that one and share that when we do the notes podcast notes as well.

What about favorite quotes on leadership? Who are life from business?

I was actually talking to my personal trainer about this this morning and he actually gave me this quote and it's from, We gotta look it up. Who it is. I think it's Alan Coolidge, who was one of the American presidents from the 19 hundreds. And he said something along the lines of like, I'm a warrior so that my son may be a merchant and his son may be a poet.

And I, you know, if you think about the context of what I mentioned before about my parents being migrants and me being able to do what I get to do, and now I have two kids of my own who are four and one years old, I think to myself going, holy cows man. My dad was the warrior. , it set me up to be the farmer or the merchant, and hopefully I'm setting my kids up to be the poet, because sometimes I think to myself, you know, as a, as a father of young kids, I think, do I spoil them?

You know, they didn't have the challenges I did, let alone the challenges my, my dad had. And then when my PT gave me that quote, I said, holy cows, man, that makes so much sense. Like my dad has set us up so that my son and daughter can have the opportunities they have. Not so they can experience the same hardship that he went through or that I went through

So, so that for me is a, is, is a, is a quote that's probably gonna stick with me for as long as I can remember.

Oh, that's a perfect quote. I love it. That's, I mean, I look at my own situation. My dad, you know, he, he, his parents came out from Italy. and you know, tomato gardens, that sort of stuff. 

And he started his own business. And then, you know, we grew up in country town in wa so then, you know, my wife and I came over had had our kids over there actually, and then we came over here.

And I look at that same sort of thing some days and think, you know, my kids grew up in. , you know, in the middle of Sydney and don't know some of the stuff that we went through in terms of, you know, having no money and struggling and all those sorts of things that when you do, when you're younger and they don't know, and I think does that, are, are they worse off for that?

But then you see what they, the reason we moved in some ways was to give them different stuff to 

Yeah, 

And that's, that's the objective, right? 

and I think that for me, you know, again, . If I think about my experience with Go one, my experience with my co-founders and my experience as a parent, right? I feel like all of it kind of, you know, you pair back all of those layers and it comes back to sort of what's important to you. And so I bring up that quote of that idea of, I'm a warrior so that my son could be a, a merchant or a farmer and his son can be a poet.

I look at it and going, I'm so appreciative of my dad and my parent, my mom and dad, and what I've done. Because it sets me up to do what I can do to hopefully set up my kids to do whatever the hell they want. And that's not a bad thing. Like you look at, you turn around and you go, at the end of the day, if you've enabled your children to be able to be whoever they want to be and do whatever they want to be, 

that's a pretty damn good life goal that's been ticked off , 

yeah. Absolutely. And it, and it's exactly that. It was about preconceptions. It's whatever they wanna do. And I think that sometimes gets lost with, you know, in, in life, you know? But no, that's a perfect quote. I love it. What's next? For go one? What's, what's to finish up? where, two.

in the long term. I've already told you, you know, billion people, like that's it. We like, and sorry, we're not gonna stop at a billion people, but that's the first, that's the first station, right? It's, it's, it's that idea of everyone knows Elon Musk wants to go to Mars, right? We don't quite wanna go to Mars, but we wanna be able to have an impact on a large number of people.

In the short term, it's a, it, I think it's about, we are still incredibly early in terms of where we are and what we wanna do as a company, as a result. And so for us it's about doing, you know, mark Haycroft, who is our, who, who is our president and, and, and heads up all of our revenue globally. , he gave me that quote, which I love, which is, do the basics.

Well do the basics brilliantly. Right? And so I think it's about us executing and doing the basics brilliantly. It's about making sure that we can build a strong brand in the United States, in Europe, in Australia, then into Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. It's about making sure that we, you know, hone in on the advantage that we have as an aggregator and as the, as a company that actually works really, really well with partners across the ecosystem.

and if I can be really frank with you d I'm like, just grow a bloody good company, . That's, that's it. But that's what's next. It's just keep doing what we're doing, do well, and make sure that we under, we realize the biggest thing for me, Deonna, is we've got a massive opportunity and it is in our hands.

Right. You know, to be frank, we have the winning lottery ticket and it is in our hands. Right.

Yeah. 

and we are running down the street to get to the, get to the, get to the tats, lato, the Oslo, right? And it's ours. We don't wanna drop it, we don't wanna get hit by a bus, but we also don't wanna lose it or anything like that at all, right?

It is in our hands. And so therefore, as a result of that, if this works out, it's because we've done it really well. and if it doesn't work out it's because we didn't execute properly. 

Yeah. 

really frank. It's, it's nothing else beyond that. We don't have any excuses if this doesn't become what it should be.

Well, I really look forward to seeing where the company goes and what you guys do in the future. I've loved hearing your stories and, and getting some background into where you've come from and the business. It's been fantastic Booth. Thanks mate.

Thank you so much for having me, Dion.

Thank you mate. We'll, we'll speak soon.

Thanks man.


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Highlight Clip
Introduction
Guest Background and Introduction
How Has the Co-foudner Group Dynamic Changed?
The Important of Salesperson
The Best Salesperson is the Founder
How does Mixed Domain Expertise impact the Culture?
Billion People Globally
Always Business?
Biggest Strength and Weaknesses
The Recent Raise
Best Advice
Favourite Business Books
Favourite Quotes
Outtro