Online lender Kikka is a fast-growing Perth-based startup offering line of credit loans of up to $100,000.
Marmalade is… kind of old-fashioned.
But the two share an unusual common bond for Kikka Capital founding member, David Weir, who’s just gone public with the admission that he moonlights as a champion jam-maker in his spare time.
In case you hadn’t already guessed, this is a lesson in time management, and work-life balance.
There’s a lot said about founding a startup and the long hours you have be prepared to put in to get any traction. What precious time remains seems to be filled with deep breathing techniques, a rare chance to cook your own dinner, Netflix and the odd weekend triathlon.
You don’t meet a lot of part-time jam-makers in the startup world – and this is not just any jam. David’s cumquat marmalade is officially Western Australia’s best, after taking out the blue ribbon at last year’s Perth Royal Show.
He’d tell you how it’s made, but he’d have to kill you – if his granny Phyllis didn’t get to you first. The pair form a lethal partnership, and have been slow-reducting Phyllis’s secret recipe together for four years now.
It was around that time Kikka launched and it’s now one of Australia’s fastest growing online lenders.
It offers an unsecured revolving line of credit of up to $100,000 in as little as seven minutes using tech which enables it to instantly see an applicant’s ability to handle repayments. It’s yet to see a default after dispersing more than 1000 lines of credit.
David is Kikka’s head of strategic partnerships and business development and given Kikka recently secured $2 million in funding from FlexiGroup to scale up, his day job is about as far removed from deseeding tiny citrus fruits as they can get.
But he says he’s “always got time for my grandma and this is the one thing we do together”.
“Having something outside of work that you can look forward to is an important thing, especially in startups, where you can get obsessed with it and work too many hours. It’s good to have an outlet.”
And there’s no shortage of quality time with his family.
“It’s quite time-consuming cutting up these tiny little cumquats with all these seeds in it,” Phyllis says. “Sometimes there’s five or six seeds in each little piece of fruit.”
It was David who talked his gran into getting the family marmalade onto WA’s biggest stage, the Perth Royal Show, after checking out the competition in 2014.
“I bet Granny’s marmalade is thousands of times better than these,” he told himself and a year later, he rocked up to the cookery pavilion on his Harley-Davidson and dropped a jar in front of the judges from the Country Women’s Association.
Boom. The prestigious blue ribbon confirmed it as Perth’s best preserve and now the pair are back in the kitchen and ready to prove it wasn’t a flash in the pan.
“It will be exactly the same this year,” says Phyllis, who thought it was “absolutely wonderful her grandson – the only one of five in his immediate family who eats marmalade – convinced her the spread was show-worthy. “There’s no pressure at all.”
Phyllis said she won’t ever make the recipe public, as “it’s a trade secret” and the marmalade isn’t for sale. And David has so far resisted all his startup instincts to get a VC on board the phenomenon.
“It’s definitely a labour of love and we just enjoy giving our prize winning marmalade away to those that are close to us,” he says.
The pair now have a blog on Kikka’s website as they aim for back-to-back glory in 2016. David is confident, claiming “there’s no question of us not winning this year”.
“We’re very much obsessed, nobody’s heard the end of it since last year, I can tell you that.”
He says a secret tip might slip out on the blog in the coming weeks but the key to a great marmalade is no different to that which can make any startup a success.
“Dedication and passion,” he says. “We like making marmalade and that’s the key to having a really successful business, having a passion for what you do.”
Did we mention David also rides 100km on the weekend with Olympic-level cyclists, and is currently training for the Iron Man WA in Busselton?
For a second, we almost get off the topic of the marvellous marmalade, but:
“I do a lot of triathlons and they’re quite long and I eat the marmalade sandwiches and my favourite ones are the ones with no butter,” David adds.
“Nothing else, just white bread and big helping of marmalade.”
Phyllis groans, sounding almost a little shocked at the thought.
“On toast,” she says, “almost every morning.”
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