Hello Mr. Pink

Hello Mr. Magazine - - CHALLENGE TRADITION - By Paul Wild

Walk­ing along the beach in Surfers Par­adise, Ben Mulc­ahy, founder and CEO of a suc­cess­ful gay me­dia com­pany, takes me through how it all started.

He spent his child­hood in Mel­bourne, six years in Lon­don (in two three-year stints), and now lives in Syd­ney. He has two driv­ing pas­sions: en­trepreneurism and wan­der­lust.

He first left for the UK two days af­ter fin­ish­ing a com­merce de­gree, miss­ing his own grad­u­a­tion. He does not re­gret it. Re­turn­ing to Aus­tralia three years later, he founded his first ad­ver­tis­ing busi­ness, aged 23. Ap­ple Ad­ver­tis­ing con­sol­i­dated ad­ver­tis­ing space in gyms across Aus­tralia, sell­ing it to brands tar­get­ing health-con­scious con­sumers. Within three years he had be­come so suc­cess­ful he sold it to his chief com­peti­tor.

“I had a great time, and I learned so much about busi­ness. In­di­vid­ual gyms couldn’t ne­go­ti­ate with big brands, but when you get them all to­gether and reach a crit­i­cal mass it be­comes a lot eas­ier. It’s strength in num­bers.”

Af­ter his sec­ond spell in the UK, he spent a year tour­ing the world be­fore set­tling back in Aus­tralia, tak­ing a nine-to-five job sell­ing ads on mo­bile apps that ul­ti­mately failed to sat­isfy his en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit.

“It took me a while to find my next gig,” he says. Work­ing for some­one else isn’t “his gig”: he has to be run­ning the show. “I want to be in charge of my own des­tiny,” he says.

Two years ago he found what he was look­ing for. He no­ticed that most ad­ver­tis­ing fea­tures white, het­ero­sex­ual, An­glo-Saxon cou­ples with 2.2 chil­dren. He set up Pink Me­dia Group to help con­nect brands with a com­mu­nity they were over­look­ing.

“If the the­ory of one in ten people be­ing same­sex at­tracted is true, then this com­mu­nity is around 2.2 mil­lion Aus­tralians, with a dis­pos­able in­come of around $20 bil­lion per an­num.”

Ben is much more com­fort­able talk­ing about busi­ness than him­self. He even­tu­ally re­veals who in­spires him – Richard Bran­son, Steve Jobs, Harold Mitchell and his dad – and he men­tions a sup­port­ive fam­ily and friends as rea­sons for his hap­pi­ness. He is also sur­pris­ingly open about com­ing out pro­fes­sion­ally.

“Open­ing this me­dia busi­ness in­volved com­ing out to many long-term clients for whom sex­u­al­ity was never rel­e­vant. The vast ma­jor­ity were bril­liant. Only a cou­ple stopped re­turn­ing my calls.”

But when I ask him whether he ever sec­ondguesses him­self, he pauses. “They don’t need to know that, do they?” It turns out he does, and these bouts of self­doubt are in­tense but tem­po­rary. He never lets it stop him do­ing any­thing. He just car­ries on and moves on to the next thing.

Since Pink Me­dia Group, he has launched two more businesses: Pink Re­wards and Pink Fi­nan­cial Group. The first, an on­line deal site, which of­fers prod­ucts and ser­vices to gay and les­bian Aus­tralians at re­ward­ing prices, came about be­cause Ben didn’t think that es­tab­lished coupon sites were rel­e­vant enough for the gay com­mu­nity. Pink Fi­nan­cial Group was launched in De­cem­ber 2012 to of­fer home loans specif­i­cally to the same-sex cou­ples.

Ben do­nates a per­cent­age of ev­ery cam­paign with Pink Me­dia Group to leading LGBT com­mu­nity char­i­ties and funds a do­na­tion to the bor­rower’s pre­ferred char­ity with ev­ery loan from Pink Fi­nan­cial Group.

Be­ing able to give back to the com­mu­nity he be­longs to is in it­self re­ward­ing, but Ben’s real pas­sion is the work it­self.

“When you do what you love, it stops be­ing work,” he ex­plains. “The two things that stop most people from start­ing their own businesses are fear of fail­ure and fear of the un­known. It’s hard to leave a re­li­able in­come. I re­ally ad­mire people who find some­thing they know and love and just go for it.” Paul Wild is a Syd­ney-based writer and edi­tor. He is cyn­i­cal, sar­cas­tic, cold-blooded, ruth­less, and cruel. He’s also ut­terly lovely and bakes fan­tas­tic pies. Fol­low him @svenym.

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