Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?
Stride is an online store that showcases ethical and sustainable fashion by Australia’s finest labels. With over 50 labels on board and counting, Stride enables shoppers to match what they believe with what they buy. Through Stride, consumers can vote with their wallets for the world they desire and be the change they wish to see in the world!
The idea for Contax was born out of personal frustration in managing all my leads for some sales work I do on the side. I would make and receive hundreds of calls to new prospects and managing them was a strenuous process. If you work in a sales role (real estate, sales rep, account manager, etc), then please watch this explainer video as Contax will be a gamechanger for you!
Stride launched at the start of June and Contax is expected to fully launch by the end of October
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
Funnily enough, my entrepreneurial journey began when my professional soccer career was shattered as soon as it started. I had just signed my first professional contract in Greece for 2.5 years and words could not describe the elation of fulfilling a childhood dream.
Long story short, my previous club (Heidelberg United) would not agree with a compensation deal with my new team as FIFA has regulations for free agents under the age of 23. I couldn’t sign for another professional team as I would have run into the same problem.
Instead of dwelling on the fact that a few selfish people stood in the way of my dream, I returned to Melbourne and finished my business degree. I have always had a natural entrepreneurial spirit, but I had to put this aside to devote my efforts to fulfill my soccer dream.
Ever since I can remember, I have always seen problems as an opportunity to innovate. Whether it be little tricks at home when I was younger, or finding arbitrage in the market, I have always had an entrepreneurial streak before I could even say the word!
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
Throughout high school and university, I dabbled in a few side hustles; some were very successful and some were not. The failures didn’t faze me as I genuinely loved the process and I actually learned a lot more from the ones that didn’t work!
Failure can be great.
The motivation must be a career that inspires YOU to wake up every day and empowers YOU to live the life that YOU want to live.
I studied law at La Trobe University originally, and then I transferred to a business degree. After returning from Greece, I finished my degree and then went all-in on personal development until I found my next opportunity.
I started working on Stride in early 2019 and officially launched on the 9th of June after months of hard work. It was hard to convince brands to join my store when it wasn’t even live yet and they have nothing to contextualize; I was selling an idea to them.
I formulated a clear business plan and created a ‘brand partner proposal’ on Qwilr to ensure everything looked professional. Then I spent an ungodly amount of time researching brands who fit my niche, for which I then called and emailed non-stop until I got a firm no, or eventually got a yes.
I was very persistent and managed to get 30 brands and over 1,000 products ready for launch to ensure my customers from day 1 had a great selection.
I had the idea for Contax whilst doing some sales work on the side for a friend of mine. I would be making and receiving a million calls a day from new and existing prospects... but it just wasn’t worth my time after every call to go to the number, create contact, type their details and then add in any notes. I can’t imagine how crazy this would be for a successful real estate agent!
With technology evolving constantly to boost our efficiency and reduce tedious admin, I thought there had to be a better way! Doing it manually just wasn’t worth my time as not every prospect is important/will call you back, but every one of them could be. I had a very organic lightbulb moment when I thought: “why don’t I create an app that popped up after every phone call with the number prefilled, for which the user then voice records the prospect’s name, company, and notes in 5 seconds. Easy as that! Never let another lead fall through the cracks
I actually didn’t think too much of it at the time to be entirely honest. I reckon I have about 3-5 business ideas a week… and most are pretty dreadful! However, I was on the way to soccer training one night with my now business partner, Stefan. I told him about the idea and he started losing his mind. I remember the exact date and where we were on the freeway! That night, we started reaching out to app developers and went from idea to prototype in just 5 weeks.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
At the moment, I’m devoting basically all my time to Stride and Contax. I am doing about 70-80 hours per week on both of them, and I anticipate this to increase once Contax starts to grow after the soft launch.
I’m not making a cent from either of them as I reinvest everything back into the business, but luckily I have soccer and a side sales job to make a steady income.
I wake up every day excited to work and sometimes I can’t sleep as I’m thrilled to tackle my tasks for the next day. It’s a feeling of inner peace and drives that I’ve never felt working for somebody else! I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but realizing my dream and living it every day has solidified why I love it.
For Stride, the plan is to grow the business in the fashion niche for the next 6-9 months, then look into other ethical and sustainable niches, such as homewares and cosmetics. I’m in no rush though as I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew. The growth has been crazy in such a short period of time, but I’m not taking anything for granted in achieving my grandiose goals for Stride.
In the long-term, I want Stride to become an Amazon-Esque marketplace for Australians to buy anything and everything they want, but with the peace of mind knowing that they are supporting ethical and sustainable companies making the world a better place
For Contax, we have just completed our soft launch with the 210 subscribers from our pre-launch campaign. The aim is to get honest feedback from our first group of subscribers to fix any bugs, make improvements and to optimize it overall. We already have subscribers from massive companies, such as Ray White and Stockdale & Leggo. Once we update the app after our soft launch, the ambition is to organise deals with some of these big companies to truly incubate Contax!
In the long-term, Stefan and I have some exciting plans to turn Contax into a full-blown CRM system with software that you can use on a desktop. There are a few other problems that Contax can solve with some innovations we already have planned for the future.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
There are a million things I could list here, but the best learning for an entrepreneur is to actually launch a business. It sounds simple, but it is so true!
To be honest, I always respected how tough it was to run a business, but I’m not going to lie, I definitely underestimated the process.
The to-do list is never-ending. Especially at the pre-launch and early stages, most of my time was spent as a firefighter fixing problems. Utopian plans go out the window and you mustn’t view this as a setback but as an opportunity to innovate and better your business.
It’s hard to really narrow down key learnings, so I’ll stick to some general advice that everyone can apply themselves:
Activity Planner - every night I plan my tasks for the next in order of priority. Rarely do I get everything done as there are so many variables with both businesses, but at least I always get the important tasks done. There’s also the psychological component of ticking a task or crossing it out; that sense of achievement feels great!
Some people use fancy apps for this, but I just use the notes app on my phone. Lastly, it helps to give the order in your day so you know that you are actually completing what needs to be done
Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) - at the start, I tried too hard to do absolutely everything 100% when in the end, I was doing none of them at 100%. I was dabbling in too many areas in fear that the next strategy was the next best opportunity.
Linking back to the 80-20 rule, focus on the areas that are giving you most of your results, whilst still devoting 20% of your time to experimental strategies that could one day become your 80%. Audit yourself and your business and ruthlessly cull; you’ll thank yourself for this and your productivity will increase tenfold!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
- Sales platform: Shopify
- Graphic/content creation: Canva
- Email marketing: Klaviyo
- Dropship inventory management: Jetti
- Email capture/conversion: Wheelio
- Blog creation: Blog Studio
- Instagram story creator: Mojo
- Push notifications: PushOwl
- Virtual assistant: Kit
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I’m a big bookworm so I this could be a dangerously long list, but if I had to pick my top 5 books, they would be:
- Good To Great by Jim Collins
- Secrets Of Online Entrepreneurship by Bernadette Schwerdt
- Art Of The Start 2.0 by Guy Kawasaki
- Start With Why by Simon Sinek
- The Apple Experience by Eddie Carmine
There are plenty more I can recommend. Feel free to send me an email [email protected] and I can send you a full list that any business person must-read.
For podcasts, anything by Gary Vaynerchuk is a must-listen if you’re an entrepreneur, or even if you want yo just better yourself in the business realm. I would recommend that everyone follows him on every platform as he unselfishly gives away all his best content for FREE with no expectation in return. It’s pure value and no funnels. He’s probably the most qualified person to charge for courses or boot camps, but refuses to and gives out his best content free - speaks volumes of the man
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Just start. Waiting until it is ‘perfect’ is a fake excuse to justify doing nothing. Your business will never be perfect and you’ll never know everything there is to know about your industry. There’s only so much you can learn from the sidelines.
I studied a business degree for 3 years, and I can guarantee you that I’ve learned a hell of a lot more from actually running a business, as opposed to writing an assignment on one. It’s actually not even a contest, and if I had my time again, I’d have probably scrapped the degree in exchange for real business experience from the get-go
Another piece of advice is that you should be incredibly insular when qualifying what ‘success’ means to you. You shouldn’t chase a career that your parents want you to do, or pursue an industry that is perceived as lucrative so that you can show off on Instagram; the motivation must be a career that inspires YOU to wake up every day and empowers YOU to live the life that YOU want to live. A beautiful thing happens when you don’t dread Mondays and live for Fridays. Find that inner peace
The last thing I’d like to proclaim is that money isn’t a variable for success. Yes, some people aspire for that and good luck to them. However, money can be a vanity metric that masquerades insecurities. There are lots of immensely happy people earning an average wage but have an incredible work-life that allows them to spend time with the people they care about. Vice versa, there are lots of ‘rich’ people who are deeply unhappy. Money in and of itself should not make you happy; it should be used as a vehicle that helps to empower your own version of happiness.
Where can we go to learn more?
If anybody would love to chat or ask me any questions, please feel free to send me an email at [email protected]. Alternatively, connect with me on LinkedIn and send me a message. My door is open for anyone
For Contax, you can learn more by viewing the website linked here.
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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