Tigerspike is personal media technology company, set up by Luke Janssen. Tigerspike allows companies to connect their online content accessible via tablets and mobiles. They’re current clients include McDonalds, Woolworths, American Express, The Economist, News Corporation and Vodafone.
Luke started up in 2003 and now employees 180 staff around the world, with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, London, New York, Singapore, San Francisco and Dubai.
Ryan Jon Dunn chats to Luke Janssen in his very first ‘Onyapreneurs’ column.
Ryan: What did you do before you started TigerSpike?
Luke: At school I had a few businesses selling CDs and t-shirts which were reasonably successful for a student. After University I joined an accounting firm, KPMG. The training at KPMG was very good; if you start a business it certainly doesn’t hurt to become a Chartered Accountant and work for KPMG for eight years.
Why did you start TigerSpike?
I always wanted to prove that you could be successful without the framework of a big company around you. So when an opportunity came up to get into the mobile space, I took it as I knew it would be a very important sector in the future.
How do you balance your time between your business and your life?
As an entrepreneur your life is your work, so the question really needs to say; what is the balance between your work time and non-work time?
When I started the company and in the first five years, I worked late every day and almost all weekend. I did go sailing (racing) on Sunday’s in Sydney Harbour so I was forced not to do work then, so maybe that is the way to do it in the beginning. Schedule something in so that you are forced not to do work. Having relationships was also challenging.
Have things changed since you started?
It used to be worse. Now that I have a wife and two kids I have a rule that when I get home, and on the weekends, I don’t check work email. This isn’t always possible as I have to talk to our San Francisco and NY offices and time zones make that difficult, but we are building a cool video messaging product to help, and one or two late night conversations isn’t too bad.
How important is having ‘non work time’?
I think that this is one of the most important things to think about. All the success in the world means nothing if you never see your friends and family. People forget that and they shouldn’t.
Who are your role models and why?
Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. They go against the grain and don’t accept the status quo which I like and, with the exception of the IPO, have handled things pretty well. When I say “pretty well” I mean that they are totally kicking arse. Facebook was started after Tigerspike and look what they have achieved. They are not afraid to say “hang on this doesn’t make sense” or “it’s ok to cry at work”…. not that I have cried at work (I just had something in my eye)!
Where do you hope you and your business will be in five years?
The personal media space (mobile and tablets) doesn’t have a clear leader yet.
That’s a huge prize for whoever is number 1 or even 2 or 3. We’re working on some pretty cutting edge new technologies that I hope within 5 years will be really making a difference to people’s lives.
Many other Australians are always ‘considering’ going out on their own, what would you say to those contemplating taking the plunge.
Four main things.
1. Just do it. You think it’s impossible to quit your job and start on your own, but when you do it you will wonder why you didn’t do it earlier.
2. Get a small office with you and at least one other person in it. If it’s just you and you are at home you will end up doing housework and chores, and motivating yourself and coming up with ideas is much harder than two people motivating each other and coming up with ideas together.
3. Never give up, don’t get complacent or stop innovating and don’t take too much advice, and when you do, make sure it’s from someone who is qualified to give it (i.e. not your friends who are still complaining about being under-valued in their 9 to 5 office jobs).
4. Make sure you surround yourself with people who are good at things you aren’t good at and grow together.
What specifically do you do on a ‘normal’ business day?
The first 2 to 4 hours are spent dealing with emails and phone calls. Often this is commenting on opinions, strategies or tactics, sometimes it’s making a call on what we have to do in certain situations.
The funny thing is that if you hire smart people, like we have, you aren’t really needed here. You can ignore your email for a week and the company doesn’t grind to a halt – all that happens is that people make the decisions on their own, and 95% of the time they are the right ones.
After that is thinking time which is the bit I like most. I sit opposite our Head of Future Technologies who is developing and patenting them. We talk about how we will apply this new technology to our platform and how we will change the world with it. At the end of the day that is why we are all here, we want to change the world with technology. You can do that one customer at a time by using our technology to transform their business, or you can do it all at once with one ground-breaking piece of new technology.
If you own a Smartphone or a tablet device, there is a chance you have used one of TigerSpike’s platforms. You can follow Luke Janssen on Twitter here.