MI TCH SAYS

Qantas - - Qbusiness. -

“DANY and I both grew up in Byron Bay. I’m a cou­ple of years older and for a while I was his un­der-14s rugby coach. To pay my way through uni – I’ve got a Bach­e­lor of Sus­tain­abil­ity de­gree – I was sell­ing prod­ucts on­line and quickly re­alised what peo­ple did and didn’t want. Af­ter uni, I started an on­line fur­ni­ture com­pany.

When Dany moved to Syd­ney and I was in Perth, we’d talk daily about busi­ness pos­si­bil­i­ties. When we’d go sur­fif­ing, we’d sit in the dunes for hours, talk­ing through ideas. We came up with [the con­cept for] Koala on a se­cluded beach south of Yamba.

We were think­ing, ‘What an­i­mals need help? What’s Aus­tralian? What’s cute and cud­dly?’ When Dany sug­gested koalas, we thought, ‘That sounds nice. Let’s do some re­search.’ Five min­utes later, the phone rang: ‘Oh my God, they sleep for 18 hours a day!’

We went to the Koala Hos­pi­tal in Port Mac­quarie and learnt about the trou­bles they have – chlamy­dia, habi­tat de­struc­tion – and de­cided that for ev­ery mat­tress sold, we’d adopt a koala. We moved to Syd­ney and, for the fi­first month or two, af­ter spend­ing 15 to 20 hours a day on our com­put­ers, we slept head-to-toe in the same bed. We had a lot of mat­tresses to sam­ple! We now have 30 full-time em­ploy­ees. Dany’s role is mar­ket­ing and mine is prod­uct. We are both di­rec­tors and make ev­ery big de­ci­sion to­gether. Some peo­ple fifind the con­cept of co-di­rec­tors trou­bling but it’s work­ing like a dream for us. We have very difff­fer­ent ways of op­er­at­ing; I do more of the blue-sky think­ing and Dany is more math­e­mat­i­cal. We’re a data-driven com­pany so if we dis­agree, the data makes the de­ci­sion or we nut it out with some busi­ness ad­vis­ers. I don’t think we’ve ever raised our voices at each other.

In terms of de­sign and brand­ing, Dany has an eye for things that no­body else can see. We’re both con­trol freaks and per­fec­tion­ists but it seems to work. The busi­ness chal­lenge now is to move from be­ing work­ers and founders to man­agers and busi­ness lead­ers – let­ting go of de­tail and re­ly­ing more on oth­ers. It’s a very ex­cit­ing time.”

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