Sunday Star-Times

Kiwi motivator gets Aussie backing

Jake Millar turned down cash investment in his business and opted for ‘‘sweat equity’’ instead.

- John Anthony explains.

A New Zealand entreprene­ur planning to build a $100 million global education company, has signed a ‘‘sweat equity’’ agreement with an equally ambitious Australian businessma­n.

At just 20-years-old, Christchur­ch Boys’ High School old boy Jake Millar has a business track record that’s not to be sneezed at.

Last year, he sold his first business, a motivation­al careers website called Oompher, to government entity Careers New Zealand for an undisclose­d sum.

During his short career, Millar has also picked some of the best business brains in the world, pinning down interviews with the likes of Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, Tesla Motors cofounder Ian Wright, New Zealand’s richest man Eric Watson and Prime Minister John Key.

Six months after selling Oompher, Millar and his business partner Yuuki Ogino co-founded online business education company Unfiltered.

Millar said he valued Unfiltered at $5m and had a goal to make it a $100m business within five years, as it prepares to launch in Australia and the United States within the next six months.

Unfiltered makes money by selling membership­s to individual­s and businesses, which gain unrestrict­ed access to all videos and content on its website, as well as access to exclusive events and an investor network.

Its customers include Seek, Fonterra, NZME, TVNZ, Coca-Cola Amatil, Ray White, Pie Funds, Foodstuffs and Russell McVeagh.

It also works with commercial partners, including PWC, BNZ, NZTE, AMP, Spark, Callaghan Innovation, Craigs Investment Partners, Bell Gully and University of Auckland, who profile expertise through Unfiltered.

Since launching, Unfiltered has received more than 280,000 page views, 500,000 video views and more than 10,000 ‘‘likes’’ of its Facebook page, which was increasing at about 22 per cent a month.

Earlier this year, Millar interviewe­d 27-year-old Australian entreprene­ur Richard Bell for an Unfiltered video and was so impressed by Bell he asked him to invest in Unfiltered to help it grow into a global company.

Instead of negotiatin­g cash investment, Millar insisted Bell invest ‘‘sweat equity’’ in the form of his time and energy for three years, in return for a 21 per cent stake in the company.

Bell is now chairman, a director and shareholde­r of Unlimited.

The company was not yet in need of equity but would look to capital raise in the next year, Millar said.

What the business really needed was leadership and industry experience to help it launch in Australia and the US, he said.

‘‘Although we now have seven staff and we’re hiring aggressive­ly, we do not need cash to grow as yet,’’ Millar said.

‘‘Our business is totally bootstrapp­ed.’’

When the business reached a certain size Millar envisaged Bell would take over as chief executive.

‘‘Through his skill set we will be able to skyrocket our US growth and our Australian growth.’’ Bell had a loan on standby for Unfiltered should it need cash and would be paid board fees of $20,000 a year.

Bell dropped out of school at 16 years old and after gaining experience in sales started his first business as a 20 yearold.

‘‘I’m a traditiona­l high school drop out kind of guy,’’ Bell said.

He’s since owned two health clubs on Sydney’s North Shore, started a consulting firm and invested in Australian entreprene­ur education business Entourage which has 300,000 entreprene­urs in its network. He had his first executive role with a six-figure salary at 19 years old, leading a team of more than 100 staff.

‘‘I’ve consulted to over 1000 companies in 125 different sectors given the that Entourage clientele was all entreprene­urs and start up businesses.’’

Bell said he was impressed by Millar’s ‘‘determinat­ion, hustle and risk-appetite’’ following the interview.

‘‘His knowledge of business was very clear by the definitive questions he was asking me.’’

Taking over as Unfiltered chief executive was something he would consider when the company reached the right size, he said.

‘‘I like to play with companies with between $20m-$50m turnover and obviously Unfiltered is not quite there yet.

‘‘I’m happy to take the reigns over when we get to the required size.’’

Millar moved to New York City in June, to take the business global. He recently changed his surname from Miller to Millar, to avoid confusion with American rapper Jacob Harris ‘‘Jake’’ Miller.

Millar has interviewe­d some of the best in business

 ??  ?? Jake Millar has signed up Australian Richard Bell to help grow Unfiltered as it prepares to launch in Australia and the US within six months.
Jake Millar has signed up Australian Richard Bell to help grow Unfiltered as it prepares to launch in Australia and the US within six months.
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