17-year-old Liam Millward was aiming to study medicine but life has taken him down the entrepreneurship path!
After he turned a family travel blog into a magazine with 50,000 readers, he turned his attention to podcasts and now to eCommerce.
We chat about what it took to build the magazine readership, how to start a business and networking tips for young entrepreneurs. Liam invites listeners to connect with him on LinkedIn.
Podcast Host 00:00
Hello and welcome to the top of the class podcast. I'm your host Alex cork and today I chat with Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, Liam Millward, Liam turned a travel blog into a 50,000 readership magazine, and has now turned his attention to simplifying e commerce. We chat building a social community starting a business and more. Let's chat with Liam Millward. Liam, can you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself?
Yes, I guess I'm titled as a young entrepreneur, I guess. I'm 17 located here in Brisbane, working on a few exciting startups and businesses, mostly in the payments, travel type space. Yeah.
Podcast Host 01:05
And what point did you feel as though you actually were an entrepreneur because I know this title gets thrown around a lot. And you could be an entrepreneur for, I don't know, selling a few things on Facebook marketplace, or you can be an entrepreneur for the things that you're doing, which is a little bit more than that fair to say. So at what point did you feel like you were an entrepreneur?
Yeah, for sure. It's a term or title that's thrown around a lot. It's not something I use just willy nilly. It's not something I have on like my LinkedIn bio, or something like that. I feel like it is overused. However, I mean, I probably classify myself as more of a startup founder, I suppose when you bound something or start a business, that early stage is really crucial, whether you go forward or that stage where you go from coming from an idea into a founder, into a CEO. And going from there, yeah, I guess some founder, young entrepreneur, figuring it all out at the moment.
Podcast Host 02:00
Yeah, it must be a pretty interesting pathway to take when you're still in school. And we can go all the way back to you starting a travel blog, because from where I sit and having read your bio, that seems to be with, you know, the kind of catalysts for realizing that there's potential for a young guy like yourself to reach 1000s of people. So is that right in saying that the travel blog was kind of the starting point for your entrepreneurial journey?
Yeah, for sure. I wanted to go down the route of being a doctor, I guess, going into medicine. And the backstory is that we went traveling for three or four years around Australia, and world with my mom, dad, and assist on during that time started sharing our travels on social media. And that was kind of my first business accidentally, in some case, I suppose, started sharing our travels on social media grew an audience around 30,000 people in four months and started partnering with councils and tourism brands to promote regions and stuff like that through our blog, and also on their social media channels, we stopped traveling. And that was, that was a chance to move on to something a bit more exciting. So that's when I started navigate Australia, which was a free digital travel magazine focused on our sharing Australian travel in a digital format that was free for travelers, and that grew to 50,000 readers in 12 months, I started partnering with councils and tourism brands and that type of thing, again, started making my first bit of money in business. And that was exciting, you know. And I guess the overview to that is starting something that you're really passionate about to begin when starting something that doesn't necessarily need to be this whole massive idea. We were already traveling. So sharing our travels was just kind of a byproduct of that. And it happened, because we were already doing it. So I suppose if you're doing sport, maybe you could share your sport or something like that.
Podcast Host 03:53
Yeah, exactly. And I think one of the things that's so interesting about your travel blog is that a lot of travel blogs out there is written by adults and or parents, usually if you're targeting the family market, which is a very lucrative market. But if you are a student or you're in the child market, as it were, you often have more influence or more power over whatever way you go, than sometimes the parents might have because the you know, the kids might say, Hey, I really want to go to here. I saw this blog I saw, you know, Liam's going out here, and he's having a good time. Did you feel like that was a part of the appeal of your blog that it was written by a high schooler rather than a parent.
It was very mixed. So mom's still was very passionate about writing and, and submitted articles to travel magazines and that type of thing. When we started working with them, I was probably more focused towards the photography side of things, and a lot of like the social media content. So yeah, I suppose that was a very strong kroetsch that we went with began accidentally that was, I guess councils and tourism brands wanted to partner with us. Or maybe Because it was pretty unique. There's a lot of travel bloggers out there that there's not many people that are 14, 15, 16 that are doing it. So yeah, I think that was a strong point.
Podcast Host 05:11
Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, as you mentioned, it can be anything that you blog about or anything. It doesn't have to even be a blog. It could be YouTube, or Instagram, whatever it might be. Yeah. Yeah, in the age of the pandemic, it travel might not happen extensively for the next couple of months, still, but I still think that's a really relevant pace that students can start voicing their opinions, or voicing their thoughts to try and get into that family marketing
could be anything, you know, like, you're passionate about the environment. And these are just examples, like a blog is just one idea. But if you say if you're passionate about the environment, regularly, tell your story, get people engaged in what you're doing, build an audience, and then that audience follows you into whatever you do next. And whether you down the track, okay, you've started a blog, we're just using a blog as an example, you start the blog, that also gives you credibility and validation. If say, you want to go and do something in journalism, or marketing, or Yeah, it just opens up so many opportunities.
Podcast Host 06:10
What did you learn from the experience of writing the travel blog, like in terms of creating a community in terms of creating posts that would get reactions and likes and comments and these kinds of things, you're effectively like a social media manager? So yeah, what did you learn about the art of doing that when you're in high school?
Yeah, I guess it was simple things, learning the simple skills of when people are most engaged on social media, when you're going to get the most engagement and comments and likes and to see maximum results for sponsored posts and stuff like that. And I guess those skills really helped me in also building partnerships, sales, reached out on email and stuff like that went and started navigate Australia, because the partnerships and sales were really how the magazine was making the money, you know, and I built those initial relationships and the skills by starting a travel blog, initially, graphic design, how to build a website, how to email people, as I said, Yeah,
Podcast Host 07:11
it's interesting that you mentioned all of those things, because I didn't study marketing. But obviously, I've been working in the marketing industry for a number of years now. And I intending to think that a degree in marketing is becoming less and less useful. I don't really know exactly what they teach in marketing at universities these days. But it seems like there's so much you can learn about social media marketing, partnerships, advertising, these kinds of things, just by doing your own thing is that now a potential future career path, obviously, like you're in entrepreneurship more broadly. But those marketing skills that you've developed, that's probably going to be your go to for the next, you know, however many years that no matter what you create, and no matter where you go in business, by yourself, or working for other companies, whatever it might be, that skill sets going to hold you in good stead. Do you see the potential of that?
Yeah, I think that everyone needs to learn some art of marketing. I mean, a marketing is reaching out to someone on LinkedIn, if you want to connect with them. Marketing isn't always marketing someone to sell them something. It could be increasing your network, you know, I'm reaching out to someone LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, just to have a chat with them and learn about what they're doing, what their experiences are. A lot of people don't know how to successfully do that, or come across as being a scam message, you know, but if you can do it successfully, I mean, you can meet people at high ranking positions, whether it's like MasterCard, apple, whoever it is, and I think that's probably should be the main focus for a lot of young people.
Podcast Host 08:44
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I'm interested as well in the timeline of how you grow a community from zero to then being like a 30,000 person community to then starting navigate Australia, which is a 50,000 person community. I think a lot of people might say a lot of students might say, like, how long does that even take? Like, how many posts roughly would I have to do to make a community of that size? And how much time does that take all up? Not just in the duration of the posts, but also like, how much time are you putting into this project in any given day or in any given week, obviously, like you're in a pretty privileged position at the point that you were traveling full time so I guess it was just like a part of documenting your journey. But do you have any kind of advice for students in that instance of like how long they need to stick with something like this to start seeing these kind of results?
I mean, it all just depends on how rapidly growing the industry is how many people are interested in what your target audiences like what customers you have. Then if you were to start writing something on Bitcoin now it probably explode because it's such a massive thing at the moment. If you start writing something on the successes of Ilan Musk, you it would probably explode because people are so fascinated about him at the moment, where if you go back to writing something about loom bands, or writing about fidget spinners, I mean, probably no one's going to read about it because that craze is gone. So it's all about, you've got to be passionate about, you got to know what you're talking about, you probably, if you're young, maybe you're already doing it. And it's just kind of you adding on to what you're already doing in those initial stages. But you've got to know kind of who your audience is, in maybe your you are that audience, and you know, where that audience is located. So for navigate Australia, it was Facebook, a lot of older travelers travel around Australia, and they caravan, and a lot of older people use Facebook. So that was where we got our main audience. However, a lot of young people are starting to travel now. And that's what we got a lot of our younger audience from was Instagram. So there was two elements to I mean, man of posts, I mean, you can post however much you want, Facebook probably posted like once a month, if I'm honest, on the Facebook page of navigate Australia, whereas on Instagram, once a day, yeah, Facebook, you can post in a lot of community groups that will have high engagement. Whereas on Instagram, you've really got to engage with people suppose by commenting liking, because you can't really share posts on Instagram. So yeah, finding where your audience is probably knowing your audience, if it's your first business, because you don't have loads of capital or money behind you to do so much data analysis and research, you don't have the team. So yeah,
Podcast Host 11:29
that's good advice. I think it's about knowing where your audience is likely to be. And I was interested actually, to say how you grew your Facebook audience, I tend to think community groups are a fantastic way to grow any kind of audience, if you do find those, as I said, active groups as well, people who are posting, you know, you can see how many posts they're doing in any given day, how many members there are. And you're like, yeah, this is a group that I really want to make an effort in. And really build an audience pretty strong in there, particularly if you are knowing who the kind of membership is, you know, whether they be the parents or whether they be kids, that kind of thing, probably more parents on Facebook these days.
So it was definitely the community groups. And then with that, you grow your email audience. So then you can market them to go and follow your Instagram. And then you market them back to reading your magazine again, and it's just kind of you try and make it a circular type thing. We started partnering with councils, again, they did a sponsored post in our magazine, they would then post that onto their Facebook page, which would have like 30,000 poles. So then therefore come over to us, we partner with a brand, or to do a giveaway or something like that, it would be spread across the social media channels, the requirements to entry would be like for you to have to share on your Facebook page and tag a few friends. That was another way to promote it. So that was really successful for us.
Podcast Host 12:47
Give us an insight into those partnership meetings. So you're calling up like a local council, or you're calling up a brand or whatever it might be. And how does the conversation go? Are you making that call? Or is your mom making that call? Who's sending the email, like talk us through the ins and outs of that?
Yeah, so it was totally me. I did everything. Graphic Design, partnerships, email, outreach, everything. And the way it went was in the whole time that we had Australia was operating, I probably spoke to five people on the phone, I didn't even have to pick up the phone. That's not even something to be worried about. A lot of people don't actually want to speak on the phone these days. It's just all over email, Facebook Messenger Instagram, people just kind of bothered, you know, they like the instantaneous ability to just message. So I'll just outreach to all these brands councils via email with a scripted message. And if I replied, Well, then it would go from there. If they didn't reply, I would leave it for say 10 days, chase it up. They didn't reply from there, maybe leave for a couple of months and then chase it up again. So yeah, it was all Most of it was by email, they'd let you know, straight away if they were interested or not. Let them know the prices, let them know the outreach of their kind of sponsorship within the magazine would be and yeah, from that,
Podcast Host 14:02
did anybody advise you to contact councils because I wouldn't have thought of that. If I was a student driving around Australia, I wouldn't have thought about reaching out to councils, I would have been someone who had to say, hey, counselors have bit of money. If you you know, send them an email, you might be able to get 500 700 bucks or whatever it might be to do a post or a sponsored post about that. Like how did you even figure out to contact these kind of people?
Yeah, no, that was a huge mistake. So I didn't contact any counselors for the first 910 months of operating this magazine. And in the end, they were really struggling to get sponsorship within the magazine because smaller companies and brands were no one was traveling. So this was at the start of COVID. No one was traveling brands had run out of marketing budgets, and interstate travel was only allowed. So I thought okay, I'm going to reach out to all these councils in Australia. Every single Council in Australia I sent an email to their admin front desk. Now, I said, Who's the best person to contact in regards to a travel marketing inquiry, I probably got a response from 80% of them. And yeah, loads and loads and loads of councils wanting to be a part of the very next addition. So now that I look back on it, I wish I had built these partnerships from the very start. And it's a perfect example of not knowing exactly where your customers may be from the very start. Yeah, I like your tactic. Actually, by sending a front desk email, just add me an email with a who is the best person to contact, you don't give them all the information in the first email, you don't bore them with like four or five paragraphs of crap, and they're not going to read, you know, yeah. And then they actually reply because they interested in what they could help you with.
Podcast Host 15:42
Yeah, cuz you're not trying to pitch the front desk, you're not trying to pitch the admin person, you're trying to pitch the marketing budget person, right. And at this early stage, you're just trying to get the details of who that person actually is. Um, so that's a very good tip for students. I think if you're looking to do this kind of thing, don't go around trying to pitch the front desk, you know, ask who you're trying to pitch to first. And then
that's with everything, you know, like, if you want to speak to someone at Microsoft, that's heading up there. People on cultural you want to speak to someone that's in the innovation department, don't give the pitch to the front desk person or the admin officer, you know, they're not going to be interested in not going to reply because their brains just too full of Oh, my God, who do I contact? So yeah, just ask who's the best person to contact in regards to whatever inquiry at whatever company a I find that to be the most successful way of
Podcast Host 16:32
reaching out to people? And in that scripted message, would you include your age? No, really, I thought that would have been an interesting tactic to kind of say, hey, look, yeah, I'm a student, or I'm a high schooler or something like that, to kind of add that little bit more interest or you lifted out entirely,
I left it out entirely, because I didn't want to come across as just another kid trying to get something make the magazine was pretty established at this stage didn't really need to prove myself to councils like they would have advertised or not, didn't really care about my age. So now I don't I don't include an outreach. I mean, have a LinkedIn profile people look you up on LinkedIn if they've got interested, and I included in my LinkedIn bio there.
Podcast Host 17:15
Alright, that's interesting. I do respect that once you've got the established brand, you just lead with that and not the fact needed to kind of give me the fact that you might be a student or a high schooler.
Yeah, I didn't include my age anywhere in email. So I just think that comes across as wanting something or a lot of people think that it's just another kid, I probably can't be bothered getting back to them. Or like, you don't know what people are thinking.
Podcast Host 17:38
Yeah, yeah. Okay. No, that's interesting. All right. Well, you've done navigate Australia, you firmly on the path to entrepreneurship and talk us through what were your next steps after navigate Australia?
Yeah, multiple next steps. So I went and studied the Bri deployments, business, marketing and communications. And I started working on a startup called quantify, which was simplifying the way podcasts were monetized by connecting podcast creators with brands. And this is the perfect example of something that didn't fail, that it didn't pass validation. And this is where a lot of people mess up is that they fall in love with their product idea, or they fall in love with the possibilities that could bring and quantify was just too early to the podcasting market. In terms of advertising on podcast, there's just no money in it still. So yeah, digital Id really quickly. And now I'm working on instant Checkout, which is simplifying the way people I like simplifying stuff. So simplifying the way people are checkout online, basically creating an instant checkout experience. So consumers can check out from the product page,
Podcast Host 18:47
what made you choose that particular thing to simplify? Because it's a problem that I think there's a couple other organizations or entrepreneurs trying to tackle that particular issue that what made you choose that and made you confident that that was your next vehicle to take towards entrepreneurship?
Yeah, so again, validation, talking to talking to your customers, seeing if it's something that actually use. So for us, it was talking to small, middle, large brands, or e commerce brands, simply seeing if they would integrate this technology onto their website, we had interest. So it went from there started speaking with people at MasterCard, speaking of people at large companies like square and stripe, and then further validating, looking at competitors, seeing what they're doing, seeing what we can do to be better developing strategies to see if it's something that would actually work. And then that's just the start. So that's all just part of the validation. Now it actually comes down to building a product, building a team building the technology that's going to create revenue. So going back to the the initial stages of how I came up with the idea or how I knew it was something to move forward with. Again, it's very hard to come up with something that's totally really unique these days. So I was looking at companies like PayPal, a company in the US called bolt, and companies like these, that were somewhat simplifying the checkout, but still not simplifying it enough. And I thought that there's possibility here. So that's when I started researching, looking into the market a lot more speaking to people in the payments and checkout space. I'm noticing competitors overseas, and really noticing that it's a market that is quite new, and something to tap into early.
Podcast Host 20:34
Right, right, right. Well, did you have a moment though, where you were going through a checkout yourself, for instance, and you had to navigate away from the page that you're on to that separate checkout page and the cart and all the rest of it? And you have a moment where you're like, this is stupid? How is this taking so long? Surely there is an easier way to do this. And then you went and looked at PayPal and Bolton, these kinds of things? Or was it the other way around? Where you were like, hey, what kind of cool companies are in this space? What kind of skill set Do I have, what kind of interest Do I have, and then try and figure it out from there.
First, I had problems as a consumer, and that was getting to the checkout page in two different instances. One was, there was like 15 buttons there. If we try to click did pay after pay all these ones PayPal, that you can check out with. So that was one problem just way too cluttered for the consumer. Um, the other problem was the fact that it wasn't letting me check out because I'd already had an account on this merchants website, because I bought an item before, but I couldn't remember my password. And therefore I couldn't check out. So a lot of these ecommerce sites just make it really hard for their customers to buy. Like, what merchant wants to make it hard for someone to spend money on their website. Yeah. So that's where the idea came from.
Podcast Host 21:51
I love that that's a very real instance, I think I've actually done the same thing where it's like, you need to log in, like, we've noticed that your email is similar to an email. It's like, why is this thing taking me so long to try? And
why is it so hard to spend money?
Podcast Host 22:08
Yeah, yeah, exactly. It shouldn't be at all. No, that's really cool. So at that point, I'm thinking that you've probably got two thoughts in mind, and correct me if I'm wrong here, but one of them is, okay, here's the problem. What kind of knowledge gap is there towards the solution? Like, what do I need to figure out to make a solution happen? And the other thing would be, what is this going to cost to start making this happen? Like, do I have the capital behind me to turn this idea into reality? Are those the typical two things you come up against? And how do you solve them?
I'm Initially, I probably wouldn't even think about the money necessarily, or the capital, how you want to put it, it's a challenge for every business, whether you have revenue or not. Initially, you need to know exactly how you're going to solve this. So we had like, I have noticed that the checkout experience is bulky time consuming to hassle merchants who want to increase their sales merchants have a really big problem of abandoned carts, they lose a lot of money per year to abandon carts. So then it came down to Okay, how am I going to fix this? How am I going to solve this problem. And the solution I came up with was allowing consumers to checkout instantly. So no need to add the item to your cart, no need to go to your cart, no need to fill out all the pages and pages of information. You don't even have to fill out your credit card information. It's all gone instantly. So first thinking of the solution, obviously, you as the founder need to know what you're going to do. You need to drive the vision, drive the strategy drive the product, because at the end of the day, you someone has to know what that core product is. And I guess that's how you start a company, you know, you've got to have a problem. And what's the solution? And then it came off, okay, how are we going to build this, my skill set is very in the business side of things like partnerships, sales, growth, strategy, all this type of thing. I need someone in the engineering side, the technical side, and that's something that we're still struggling on now. So in terms of building the product, that's a massive focus for us. Now, actually, developing the product is just as hard though, you need to not only think of the what you're going to build in your mind, maybe jot some things down on paper, look at competitors look at current things in the market in this type of thing. Namely, to actually design it, you need to design it so you can show it to potential merchants or your customers to see if it's something that actually use because there's no point spending potentially a million dollars on something and it's crickets when you actually go to lunch, no one's gonna use it. So yeah, really figuring out product, really figuring out what your potential team, you need, a way your skill set lays. who your customers are, what problem you're solving, how you solving it. Yeah,
Podcast Host 24:50
yeah. So I think that's an interesting one where it's like you kind of dream up the idea and the concept, but in terms of the actual building of it, and the back end of it. That's a whole new kettle of fish, there could be the issue where what you dream up isn't possible, have you verified that it is actually possible to do all this instantly.
I wouldn't say anything's not possible. If you thought of the idea, I would say probably a lot of other people thought of the idea of simplifying checkout isn't a new idea. It's just a way that we're doing it is new. So finding the skills and people to guide you potentially help you potentially even be part of the company to build it is a strong point that you as the founder, or you, as the product kind of visionary need to think of a new or unique solution of how you're going to achieve what your thoughts are.
Podcast Host 25:40
Yeah, fair enough.
Podcast Host 25:41
one thing I am interested in is, what are the logistics of setting up a company. So if you're a high school student, and you need to, I guess, like legally register a business name, you need to like register a domain name, you need to do all these kinds of ins and outs that are boring, but essential? Is there anything that surprised you along the way, or we were like, geez, there's more paperwork here than I thought would be necessary to start a business.
It sounds more complicated than it is. And usually, it's very easy, you just register a business name, actually, you don't even need to register it to begin with, if you don't want to just kind of get out there. There's no again, no point spending money on something that's not going to work. So just come up with some brand name, make a logo up, make a explanation video, or a PowerPoint of how you're going to solve this problem and just go out there and start talking to your customers talking to people in the industry. I mean, for me, I wanted to do something in the payments, ecommerce checkout space. So I started speaking to people already in that space, talking to founders already in that space. At this stage, we hadn't even registered the company to name you have a domain name, didn't even have an email address with that company. I mean, I'd already built the connections. So had introductions. So that was definitely beneficial for me. However, it is possible for anyone to just reach out to people on LinkedIn, LinkedIn is probably the best resource, but then Okay, you validated your product, you want to go forward? Well, then you just register a business name, build maybe a simple website, obviously, need an email address, that's somewhat business, like with your business name in it, maybe register some social medias, try and get the handles, just figure it all out as you go, because you will figure it out. I mean, there's eventually documents you need, like MBAs, nondisclosure agreements, but it'll all come you'll figure it out as you go.
Podcast Host 27:28
Yeah, well, I like that idea that you don't need to have everything sorted before you start taking it to market. And I think that's a lot of what students probably think entrepreneurship is, that's like, I've got a website, and I'm going to have an Instagram, remember this, because if I'm going to take it to someone, I want them to be able to say that were legit. And the way that we're going to be seen as legit is we're going to have the email and the social media and this and this and this, but really, like, you're going to have the logo, the name, and like an explanation, video, PowerPoint, and that is the tools that you need to start doing your validation, right, like a LinkedIn profile, hit a logo and a name and how we're solving this kind of problem. And then after that, you can start worrying about the social media accounts and the website and, you know, registering the business name that kind of do it
as you go. But you don't need to build all at once. I mean, you can do it all at once if you want to. But again, it all costs money. And it might
Podcast Host 28:25
not even be validated. Right? Like, yeah, you might you might start taking it to market and then people like, Oh, actually, no, I don't want that. And you didn't spend all this time making all these social media channels and stuff. And yeah, no one really wants what you've got. Yeah. So yeah, definitely a good lesson there for potential entrepreneurs, has building these businesses giving you the opportunity to meet a lot of other young entrepreneurs along the way.
I'm not necessarily I probably know a lot more adults in the business world. However, I do know a fair few young people around the country. And they're working on things, quite exciting things, either sneaking it in school hours or on the train home, on the bus home, on the weekends, like wherever they have some spare time. So yeah, there's definitely a lot.
Podcast Host 29:10
And do you think in terms of schooling and entrepreneurship? Do you think the two can coexist? Do you think that school can make better entrepreneurs?
Um, I think that if someone wants to be an entrepreneur, they kind of automatically are, obviously, there's the education behind it, you need to have a correct mindset, things like this. However, like, if you're really passionate about building something, you'll just go and build it. If you're really passionate about the idea that you have, you'll just go and achieve it. You don't need someone to tell you what an amazing job you're doing, because a lot of people tell you that it's not possible, or that the idea sucks. So again, just starts with the founder starts with the person of having the mindset having the vision, having the kind of mentality around wanting to achieve something, and I don't Think that say you as a person, as a teacher can go and say, Oh, you've got to start a, you've got to go and start a travel blog, you know?
Podcast Host 30:08
Yeah, exactly. But do you feel like there's any pressure on students to stay students, you know, like to kind of stay in that mode of study, do exams, get good scores, go to uni, and then do the entrepreneurship thing. I think that's like, generally, that seems to be the overriding social pressure is to stay in that pretty narrow way of thinking. I mean, like a lot of schools have entrepreneurship programs. But at the same time, like, it is with the view that the student will end up finishing school and getting a good score, because that's typically what schools use, in their marketing, like of a school is going to market, the success of the school, it's going to be the success of the students in the scores they get, and the universities they get into and those kinds of things. It's a bit hard to market, even a successful entrepreneur, because it's just not the norm. And like, not many parents are sending their kid to school for them to start a business, if you know what I mean.
Yeah, it's a hard one, because every student or kid wants to do something differently. Again, I really think that if a student wants to achieve something, they'll just go and achieve it. Obviously, you need the support, say your family, maybe a friend to teachers, and the kind of the material or advice around whatever you're doing, that also helps. But if you're again, if you're really passionate about it, you just go and find these people to give you advice give you support, I mean for schools is probably hard to achieve. But I think there's definitely possibilities there. And there's a lot lots of external providers and programs now that are coming into schools to try and help with this. I think it's an important thing for everyone to have some type of entrepreneurship or innovation in their mindset, whether they go and work for themselves, start a company or work for someone else. Because a lot of companies are chasing young people, even older people to innovate new product ideas, innovate new strategies lead a successful team inside a company. And this comes from innovative people, you know,
Podcast Host 32:11
yeah, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, just on that support side of things as well, who has been your support network, during this whole period, I'm going to guess your family's been really supportive of your ideas. And you kind of stepping into the entrepreneur entrepreneurship side of things a little bit more. But has there been anybody outside of that? That's kind of said, hey, yeah, Liam, go for it. Like, this is a great idea. And you know, I'll try and introduce you to people these kinds of things.
Oh, yeah, for sure. I'm probably known for having one of the biggest networks here in Brisbane, for my age, I do know quite a few people. And they've definitely been very supportive, which I'm very thankful for, like family. Yes. However, like other founders have been very supportive. Obviously, you build like that core network of people that you're regularly in touch with. And then knowing a whole heap of other people that you can go out and having a problem with some legal stuff may or just get in touch with this founder of this founder and just ask for their advice. Mom having some trouble with my email marketing campaign. No one's opening it, no one's reading it. Maybe I'll just get in touch with Sally over at this marketing company. I've spoken to her before, you know. So I think that's really important to build your network, probably one of the most important things actually. But for me, yeah, just that cool group of people that are that are other founders are the people in in the industry. I mean, some of these people include people that work at MasterCard, stripe square, these are and then other founders that either have a small startup, large company. Yeah, it all varies.
Podcast Host 33:44
Yeah. And I'm going to guess a lot of those connections are made through LinkedIn as well, as you said, that's a really big helping hand for you. Yeah,
for sure. Yeah, LinkedIn is, if you didn't know on LinkedIn, and you're in business, you're probably making a very big mistake
Podcast Host 33:55
here. fair to say, I mean, I'm a fan of LinkedIn as well. And obviously, that's where we connected. I also saw you on Twitter posting a lot as well. Which leads me to ask if students wanted to follow along with your journey. How best could they do that? Would that be through LinkedIn or Twitter or bow?
Probably LinkedIn? Yeah, I actually don't post on social media that much. I probably engage more on LinkedIn, just because I connect with a lot of people over there. You know, on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, wherever,
Podcast Host 34:22
right? Well, I will put your LinkedIn in the show notes so people can hopefully connect with you if they're already on the platform. If not, hopefully, that's a further encouragement to get on LinkedIn. And is there any final advice you would give to our listeners before we depart? Um,
I think just finding something that you really, really passionate about is the key. Not just starting something that someone else is having success with or just starting another social media account or whatever it is just because someone else is having success. Find something that you want to do you want to achieve in something that you've done? A great skill to you know, everyone's unique in what they bring. Yeah, so
Podcast Host 35:04
do something that you want to do. I'm going to challenge you on that before we go. Because I've been taught talking to some students about passion, because obviously, like, a lot of students, they get given the advice to follow something that they're passionate about do something they're passionate about. But you know, if you're a high school student who is good at math and good at English, but you don't necessarily have like that external passion, that thing that kind of wakes you up in the middle of the night and makes you scribble down some ideas and these kinds of things, it can be a little bit difficult to know where to start. And I always say to students passion is something that comes after a considerable amount of time invested in a particular interest or curiosity, you know, you could have been doing your travel blogging, for instance. And then after you start seeing the engagement, and you start, you're trying to figure out like, the thing that you're interested in is how do I create more engagement on my platform, like the travel blogging is the vehicle for that, but then, like, the thing that you're most interested in is creating engagement, for instance, and then you kind of go down that rabbit hole, and then all of a sudden, you're super interested or passionate about digital marketing or social media marketing, for instance. So in terms of those students who may not have that passion as such at this stage, what advice would you give to them?
Yeah, it's a hard one. I think that I really struggled initially. And what did I want to do outside of the travel magazine, it took me a long time to come up with the idea for Spotify, the podcast, advertising type model, and then it takes took me a long time to actually come up with the idea for instant checkout. I mean, it was originally named quick Checkout, it's named instant checkout. Now, there's been loads of changes. I don't know. I think just figure it out. Again, just figure it as you go. Um, it's a hard one. Because if you don't know what you want to do, you don't know what you want to do. And then you kind of get overwhelmed in trying to find something that you want to do. But you still don't know what you want to do, you know? Yeah, no, no,
Podcast Host 37:00
I think that's a fair enough answer, though, that like, it's kind of giving yourself permission or giving yourself time to figure out what your passion is. And that, you know, I said, I tend to say to students that it might not necessarily arrive overnight, like you might have the experience of the checkout. And that's like, the start of something, right? That's like the the interest or the Curiosity factor, like, Hey, this is weird. This is wrong. Like, if I was a merchant in this situation, like, I'd be really annoyed. And then like, you follow down that rabbit hole a little bit more and be like, I wonder if other people are having this issue. I wonder if other people are working at solving this? Yeah.
And then it starts, like, snowball, and after a while, you look at competitors, even like, look at the buy now. Like pay later space. It's such a phrase at the moment, the two biggest players are afterpay and zippay. However, a company recently came along called line pay in their white labeling exactly what these guys do, and have been a massive hit. So yeah, it's don't always let your competitors success, either. Notice a space that's going crazy, and see if you can add something different or unique to it.
Podcast Host 38:08
Absolutely. Well, Liam, it's been awesome having you on the top of the class podcast. Thank you so much for sharing your insights into instant Checkout, navigate Australia, your travel booking experience, and I hope students get in touch with you on LinkedIn, and learn a little bit more about your story.