Aussie founders and executives share how they'll be using the New Year to get ahead

The holiday season is coming up. Image: Getty.
  • Australian business leaders share what they’re going to be doing this holiday season and how they plan to get ahead in 2020.
  • Executives from companies such as The Dream Collective, Upstreet and StoryAntics shared their plans.
  • Some of the plans include holiday travels, going for a swim and spending time reflecting.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

It’s good to take a break.

With the Christmas/New Year holidays coming up, we reached out to Aussie business executives to tell us what they have planned to do during that time. The executives ranged from companies including, Hollis, Upcover and The Dream Collective and some also gave us a taste of what their companies have in store for 2020.

Here’s what they had to say:


Hollis CEO Nate Kraizelburd

Nate Kraizelburd. Image: Supplied.

“As Hollis enters its first summer break, it’s a good time for our team to take stock,” Kraizelburd. “The entrepreneurial life can be relentless, constantly asking more of you, but it’s worthwhile to express gratitude for what you already have and have already done.

“Even more important is to review practices, learnings and set ourselves up for the road ahead.
At the core of our company philosophy (and value proposition) is that thriving companies depend on thriving individuals, so we’re going to formally explore how we can institutionalise wellbeing into the way we work – from regular coaching for all co-founders to setting up spaces & rituals for our team to celebrate wins.

“As business slows a bit over the break, we’ll also be forging ahead on work that is less customer-dependent, such as content development, recruiting and setting up research studies.

“On a personal level, I’m going to recharge by spending time out of Sydney – with family, friends and good food down on the south coast.”


Upstreet CTO Ermin Nurovic

Ermin Nurovic. Image: Supplied.

“Upstreet was born this year, and it’s amazing what our team’s been able to achieve in just a few short months,” Nurovic said.

“With the success of doing something new, comes an ever-growing mental load: innovate the business model, build new tech, share the vision with our business partners. The end of the year brings an opportunity to reset and come back stronger.

“For me, I’ll spend a week at a Silent Meditation Retreat – pure digital detox. If you’ve never done a meditation retreat before, I highly recommend it. The external noise is shut off, and as a result, my thoughts become clearer. I’ll take a notebook, focusing on next year’s goals and jot down new creative solutions for Upstreet.”


Caia CEO Cortina McCurry

Cortina McCurry. Image: Supplied.

“My co-founder Rob and I are ramping down 2019 and kicking off the holiday season with a year end review and reflection session in Sydney,” McCurry said.

“It’s been an exciting year introducing Caia and starting to acquire our first customers. We’ve both committed to taking at least a few days of downtime around Christmas to allow our minds to wander and to replenish creativity and inspiration. While things will be full speed ahead in January as we focus on recruiting and raising funds, research shows that merely adjusting the mental scenery and exposure to nature can have a positive impact on productivity and motivation.

“I’ll be mixing up locations and working across Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula. It’s a great time to moderate pace, reconnect with family, and clear out some of the cerebral congestion that often builds up after months on end of nonstop busyness and general preoccupation with work. I am looking forward to early mornings walking on the beach and stand up paddle boarding, before jumping into the workday. Not to mention making time for lunches and dinners with family and friends who all tend to gather down on the Peninsula over the break.”


SiteHive co-founder Adam Ferguson

Adam Ferguson. Image: Supplied.

“One of the first things I’ll do in the new year is enjoy a packet of chips,” Ferguson said. “Over the last couple of years I’ve been choosing to give up something for a year. In 2018, I gave up chocolate and in 2019, I gave both chips (crisps) and hot chips. It is partly a positive dietary action but I also find it’s a great discipline and habit, in saying no. Through my career I learned that what you say no to is as important as what you say yes to. This is particularly relevant to the journey of a startup as you need to navigate when to stay the course as opposed to chasing a new use case or opportunity.

“For SiteHive, the first few months of the New Year are going to be exciting as we roll out of proof-of-concept IoT solution and validate in market. The client engagement and early design phase of a new product is always so much fun and very rewarding. Bring on 2020!”


StoryAntics CEO Lara Solomon

Lara Solomon. Image: Supplied.

“I love Sydney summers and the downtime that comes when day-to-day jobs are no longer on the agenda, and I can spend time thinking and planning,” Solomon said. “The thinking, planning and reviewing time gives startups a jumpstart on the year because bigger companies have shut down, or only have minimum staff in.

“My days will be spent swimming in the ocean each morning with friends (I’m preparing for a 10km swim later in 2020) and then thinking, researching – aka reading children’s books and visiting book shops – and chatting to customers on social media – they are always surprised to get a proper response over the break which really builds the relationship with them.”


Avertro CEO Ian Yip

Ian Yip. Image: Supplied.

“The key to getting ahead is to do less unnecessary work per milestone, so we can achieve each goal more efficiently,” Yip said. “And we can only get there successfully with our emotional buckets filled. We’re actively telling everyone not to take annual leave over the Christmas and New Year period. But instead of spending the time working, we are to give family and friends our undivided attention. The least we can do is give our team that time to focus on the people that support them, so they can be at their best in the new year.

“Upon our return in January, we will start with a few days of strategic planning to “KonMarie” [also known as Marie Kondo] the activities we’ve been doing that don’t deliver any value, and double-down on the things that do. I will also be sitting with each team member to ensure their personal and professional goals feed into how we run our business.”


Upcover CEO Skye Theodorou

Skye Theodorou. Image: supplied.

“At upcover, we’re stoked with what 2019 has brought us,” Theodorou said. “Our investors and all our early upcover supporters in our network have opened so many doors for us. We are now working on product timelines that we had pegged for 24 months from now. This includes some killer features in our mobile app that we can now include for our launch of our pay as you go insurance product for food delivery and rideshare workers in 2020.

“Still, there needs to be time for down time. While we will have the projects running, I’ll also be keeping it low key for two weeks in sunny Sawtell in the mid-north coast of NSW, and my co-founder Anish will be travelling with his wife to New Zealand for a hiking trip. Bring it on 2020 I say!”


nuzzl CEO Erin Corcoran

Erin Corcoran. Image: Supplied.

“The first week of January will be spent in Bali finishing off the last few days of “recovery” before getting back to Sydney and ramping up our team conditioning to tackle the exciting adolescent startup growth ahead, as we only launched two months ago,” Corcoran said. “We have exciting plans to expand our nuzzl pet platform services and will be hyper-focused on new Christmas pet owners in the New Year helping them care for their pets.

“I find it really important to take this time to put your feet up, learn something new, get inspired by traveling, reading or just scanning the periphery of where you live to either firm up or challenge business assumptions.

“Then come second of January, it’s taking that knowledge and energy to jump into annual strategy planning, ironing out needed key hires for 2020 and land key fundraising goals. It’s also time for a culture check to make sure we are staying focused on the horizon, but also ensuring we are happy and healthy doing it.”


RecycleSmart CEO Giorgio Baracchi

Giorgio Baracchi. Image: Supplied.

“The last few months for RecycleSmart have been a whirlwind,” Barachi said. “We have undergone extraordinary growth and will be looking forward to using the Christmas/New Year break to strategise and plan for the year ahead.

“As we are already operating in certain areas of Sydney, we can’t let down our customers over the busy Christmas period, during which we predict our service will be even more in demand. So, while I’ll be making sure we are still efficiently running the service for all our customers, I’ll also focus on a few key areas.”

Baracchi explained that the company will tap into the gig economy and focus on social responsibility.

“Over the past few years, the gig economy model has been growing exponentially, especially in the transportation sector. We believe there’s now enough acceptance of this model that we can start to employ independent drivers to pick up waste from your door,” he said.

“And finally, customer focus on brand social responsibility has become a must and brands need to do more. At RecycleSmart, we want to be as transparent as possible and actively demonstrate our dedication to the community. The recycling world, and waste management, have not been under a good light recently – we are here to invert this trend, showing that this industry can really be disrupted.”


Clipchamp co-founder and CEO Alex Dreiling

Alex Dreiling. Image: supplied.

“The start of the New Year is a perfect time to reset, spend time with family and do things that matter on a personal level. I’ll be doing this from a nice, little house in Kyoto, Japan in 2020 – adding some distance helps with feeling refreshed and gaining completely different perspectives,” Dreiling said.

“I personally find that travelling to places I’ve never been before, with different languages (including written language), currencies, food, culture and traditions helps me learn, grow and experience new things in a very short period of time. It puts me in a position to reframe situations I otherwise wouldn’t question, and learn how other people operate, which more often than not shifts how I look at things as well.

“This new perspective and mindset are invaluable to take into the professional environment, challenging me to think outside the box and question all possibilities and approaches, as well as pushing me to new limits for the benefit of the business.”


The Dream Collective founder and managing director Sarah Liu

Sarah Liu. Image: Supplied.

“The start of the New Year presents a perfect opportunity for us to recharge the batteries, deeply reflect on our mission to help organisations attract, retain and advance diverse and inclusive teams with a focus on emerging female talent,” Liu said. “And [it’s a chance to] consider how we can most effectively bring newness to the D&I conversation to prevent people ‘switching off’ and becoming fatigued by the topic.”

Think & Grow co-founder and CEO Jonathan Jeffries

Jonathan Jeffries. Image: Supplied.

For Think & Grow, the New Year is all about getting ahead by focusing on international expansion.

“We’ll be splitting our Australian resources and driving further growth into the UK market; we see the connectivity between the UK and Australian markets as an ongoing business opportunity, with the recent election cementing our views,” Jeffries said.

“What we saw first hand in 2019 is Australian startups requiring more constructive guidance when it comes to securing the right level of talent to meet the demands for expansion locally and globally, clarity of boards’ roles when it comes to supporting founders, as well as clarity around go-to-market strategies (why and when to go). These are areas we are particularly passionate about maturing and bringing greater sophistication to in the year ahead.”


Opyl Limited CEO Michelle Gallaher

Michelle Gallaher. Image: Supplied.

“The New Year is a good time to recharge – an exhausted team are not a high-performing team,” Gallaher said. “Creativity, wins and optimism comes when we are rested, relaxed and open to new, left-field ideas.

“Our customers and markets are invaluable, informing and inspiring us in the development of new products and services. Listening and engaging with our market, understanding the problems that need to be solved is key to our ability to scale and thrive.

“2020 is going to be exciting for us as we begin a global campaign to market our services and products that we have spent the past nine months building. It’s like getting a new bike-we can’t wait to ride it.”


GoCardless, ANZ general manager, Carolyn Breeze

Carolyn Breeze. Image: Supplied.

“In the New Year, I’ll be taking some time to focus on GoCardless’ 2020 vision and priorities, to set the team up for another year of strong growth. With so much success in 2019, it is important that we reflect and focus our efforts.

“The fintech space in Australia, in particular, is in for huge growth with the impending launch of open banking. We are excited to see further innovation in this sector, with other tech companies like GoCardless, focusing on solving real payment issues – always with the customer in mind.

“On a personal level, this year I was honoured with the Women’s Advocate Award at the Women in Payments Awards. I will continue to champion workplace diversity in 2020. We can only ‘get ahead’ in the payments industry by bringing together the best and brightest – from every walk of life – and I’m more passionate than ever about unlocking opportunities to succeed for everyone.”

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