fbpx

Follow us on Instagram for updates, announcements and exclusive stories we post only to Instagram.


Today you’re going to hear the story of Heath Raftery from Newie Ventures. Newie Ventures is an engineering agency. They build solutions to their client’s problems. Basically, their customers come to them with an idea, and Heath and his team go to work figuring out how to build it. In the last 12 months alone Newie Ventures’ client base has tripled and its headcount has more than doubled. But as Heath says although those numbers sound impressive in reality things have moved very carefully and very deliberately.

Let’s go back to Day One, where this story begins…

Transcript

Heath:

I had absolutely no conception that there was a market even involved. No. No, I just thought there were people there that would pay me to do things I was good at.

More

Adam:

Hi, I’m Adam Spencer and welcome to day one, the show that goes back to the very beginning, to share the story of some of Australia’s most incredible regional startups and entrepreneurs.

Today you’re going to hear the story of Heath Raftery from Newie Ventures. Newie Ventures is an engineering agency. They build solutions to their client’s problems. Basically, their customers come to them with an idea and Heath and his team go to work figuring out how to build it. In the last 12 months alone Newie Ventures’ client base has tripled and its headcount has more than doubled. But as Heath says although those numbers sound impressive in reality things have moved very carefully and very deliberately. That little snippet you heard at the start just there was Heath speaking about his adventures as a kid making money. Putting his skills to use around computers, he thought I’m good at this, other people might need help and as Heath told me…

Heath:

I did take it upon myself to put up an ad down at the local Bi-Lo and say, “If your printer’s not working, I’ll come help you.” Not realising that had anything to do with an entrepreneurial idea or anything. I just wanted to play with computers and fix stuff.

Adam:

So, how did Heath go from that little kid putting up an ad to fix printers to the co-founder of   Newie Ventures an engineering firm that as Heath states our mission is to turn ideas into products. We will get to that, but for now, let’s go back to day one, where the story begins…

Music

Heath:

So there was certainly no light bulb moment. There was no streak of light where it came to me. It was a long process of weighing up options and thinking about where I wanted to take my career and those things that I thought that I could make a career out of.

Adam:

I wanted to figure out what the motivation behind Heath deciding to move from working for someone to going out on his own with starting Newie Ventures, often we think that entrepreneurship is a big ahuh moment where something clicks into place

Heath:

No. It’s a germ of an idea. It was an itch that needed scratching and eventually it got scratched.

Heath:

I was working for a product development company that largely services mining and heavy industry as a product development, research and development engineer.

Adam:

In Heath’s case over time he was becoming unsatisfied with where he was…

Heath:

I mean it was different stuff but the way I’d describe it these days is that I was comfortably useless. I wasn’t challenged. I was paid well but I wasn’t achieving. We could never finish or excel or delight the customer within that environment. We moved things from one side of the desk to the other until we got told to move them back to the other side of the desk and I didn’t think that was a particularly exciting utilization of my skills.

Heath:

I was looking for application of my abilities basically and I was looking to achieve more.

Heath:

This is it. It’s a common longing of people who have access to the world’s information and think gee, I really should be setting the world on fire, right? It’s a common feeling, I think. For me, it wasn’t … certainly, I learned a lot of things at uni but I never let my schooling interfere with my education. I’ve always been a fan of lifelong learning and that’s what I’ve always wanted for my career is to continue to learn.

Adam:

Among other things, it was that core belief of Lifelong learning that helped to push Heath towards deciding to look for a bigger challenge. Newie Ventures, although not with a name at the time, had begun to form in Heath’s mind, but how was Heath going to get started?

Heath:

So step one was to get a couple of other people on board because yeah I didn’t want to do this alone and I always need to bounce ideas off of people and I need to get it out of my head, too. And so I needed other people around and I was fortunate that the first two people I approached were sold. Really can … They had similar ideas of their own and they wanted to be part of something new exciting. So that helped. And number two was to do it on the side for a little bit. So a lot of people said, “You can’t do anything worthwhile unless you’re 100% focused on it,” and that’s probably true but it’s also terribly risky.

Adam:

At this point, this is what was going through Heath’s mind…

Heath:

So have a feel, have a go on the side. See what you can put together and it wasn’t until we had collected enough evidence that we could sustain ourselves in the future that I made the jump.

Heath:

We were pretty fortunate in that our requirements were very meagre. Our rent was really low. Our overheads were really low and we hadn’t accumulated a lot of outgoings and so by the time we had our first customer, income was great, could sustain us and then during the period of that customer, the second one came knocking on the door. And so there was a fairly nice transition from the first to the second which really helped bootstrap things.

Adam:

One of my biggest questions that I like to ask everyone is How did you get the first customer?

Heath:

Yeah so the first customer didn’t come about until after I had quit my job and to be honest with you, our first paying customer, money in the bank was my ex-employer, which I’ve subsequently heard is pretty common.

Heath:

Yeah, and it was basically there was a job that my ex-employer had on from an external customer who requested I be part of it because I’d been involved in the past and it made sense to outsource it this new entity.

Adam:

Newie Ventures is up and running now, the first customer acquired. A lot of Newie Ventures clients were coming in via word of mouth, things were going well for Heath and the team, I asked Heath if there were any people that were really influential and helpful in helping to get Newie Ventures to where it is today…

Heath:

There’s probably quite a few but one that comes to mind is Genella Burroughs. She has an underappreciated selflessness in building networks and ecosystems so that other people can prosper. And I think lots and lots of people benefit from that, but lots and lots of people don’t identify that as the source of their benefits.

Gunilla:

I’m Gunilla Burrowes, I’m the chair of Eighteen04

Adam:

We’ll hear more about this in a minute but just to give you some context, Heath and Gunilla first really met at an event that Eighteen04 put on quite regularly called the Innovators Lunch.

Gunilla:

You know he was just beginning on his startup journey and developing a product. I could sense that, I mean he was a great founder in the fact he had so much great experience already through his own career and he had this real passion for not only the technology but for doing something good. So he fitted perfectly into what Eighteen04 was trying to do. And of then, of course, his area he was interested in the smart city space and the internet of things area. And look he’s been going from strength to strength and I really can’t keep up with everything that he and Newie Ventures is doing, but it’s just wonderful to see them grow.

Adam:

Heath and his team currently work out of 1804, a startup hub that focuses on smart city and clean tech. I wanted to learn about how they settled on 1804

Heath:

So it was all via the innovators’ lunch which was a meetup that had just started around the time that the idea for Newie Ventures was forming and so I would sneak out of work to go to the innovators’ lunch and discovered this world of people who were trying to make things wonderful putting the hard yards in   to create the world that they saw for themselves, and yeah. That was very inspirational and that was basically run by 1804.

(Music)

Adam:

So between being behind innovators lunch, being one of Heath’s lecturers at Uni and sitting on the board of 1804 where Heath’s office is located, Gunilla seems to have been very instrumental in getting Newie Ventures to where it is today.

Heath:

Absolutely. Yeah. That was our leg in the door from when we were three people that no one had ever heard of, we stood on the coattails of the board of 1804 and Andrew Mears and Genella Burroughs and used that enormous leverage to represent ourselves as more authoritative than we could do just off our own backs.

Adam:

I think we’ve had a pretty good look at where Newie Ventures is up to today, But where is Newie Ventures heading in the future?

Heath:

We’ve had a wonderful past eight months or so of defining what it is that makes us valuable and we’ve come out of that feeling very positive about our mission actually. And our mission is simply turning ideas into products and that is exciting and that is really valuable to our customer base.

Adam:

Heath is getting really clear on why Newie Ventures exists and this is a good 3 years into the business. And as wonderful as things are going for Newie Ventures and the team, Heath is still very focused on the business and building something that isn’t reliant on any one person.

Heath:

Yeah, as I said, funnily enough at our end of financial year celebration that we had with our staff recently that my goal for the next 12 months is to build resilience into the company to ensure that it’s not reliant on one individual person. That your [bus 00:19:40] factor goes up from one or two to a few more so that it is self-sustaining.

Adam:

And the next step in doing that is putting the right people in the right places.

Heath:

We’re in the process of recruiting. So we’re building out our engineering team, and the plan after that, once we’ve got sufficient capability in the engineering team is that we appoint a managing director who oversees operations. And at that point, we’d be a team of say eight full-timers and that’s my immediate goal, is to be an organization that size that can give great attention to our clients and follow through on what makes Newie Ventures great.

Adam:  

The theme of people comes up again and again through these interviews I’m fortunate  to be able to conduct

Heath:

That’s something that the Newie Ventures journey has allowed me to do is discover just how vibrant people are who are building businesses and involved in entrepreneurial stories and innovation journeys and whatnot.

Adam:

As I mentioned near the beginning of this episode, one of the main things I wanted to know was why go into business at all? What was the motivation?

Heath:

So for me, it was to be responsible for the work that I was doing. I didn’t want to be … I’ve always liked being in charge of my own destiny. Being independent. Being resilient and to have an organization dictate my career wasn’t good enough for me. So I wanted to be responsible. So if I’m working on boring jobs, it’s my fault. If I’m not changing the world, moving the dial the way I’m supposed to be, that I feel I should be, then it’s my fault. So I wanted that responsibility.

Adam:

From those early days helping people fix their printers, to the continuing quest to always be learning and challenging himself, bringing in 2 friends to launch Newie Ventures, having amazing people around him like Gunilla Burrowes and Andrew Mears of 1804 to where we are today, building a solid business that aims to give Newie Ventures’ clients the attention to detail they deserve. Heaths journey is a remarkable one, and in my mind serves to reiterate the importance of the people we surround ourselves with.  and the relationships we have. Speaking about relationships, Heath credits his parents with a couple of lessons that were essential in his business journey.

Heath:

My parents have taught me perseverance and stoicism and grit and I think that’s very important in what I do. They never expected anything and so I guess that’s filtered down to me.

Adam:

I wanted to finish the Newie Ventures story with a great piece of advice Heath has for other entrepreneurs. Heath has 3 pieces of advice, I would probably say ignore the first one he gives and you’ll find out why after this short break because there is something I really want to tell you about. It’s a brand new podcast app and I love podcasts.

(Music)

Adam:

I have to start off by saying, this is not a paid sponsorship. I’m going to speak about this app simply because I love what they’re doing.

I love podcasts. I’ve been listening to podcasts, mostly business and entrepreneurship related podcasts since at least 2011. But something has always bugged me about the podcast app I use, and practically every other podcast app out there.

(Ringing)

Monica:

Hello, this is Monica.

Adam:

Hi, Monica. It’s Adam, how are you going?

Monica:

Hi, I’m good. How are you?

Adam:

Monica is one of the co-founders of a brand new app called Curiohh!

Monica:

It’s all about following your curiosity.

Adam:

I love podcasts because I can listen and learn, but some podcasts go for over an hour, for example, the most recent episode of the Tim Ferriss show goes for 3 hours. And, I love it, but there are really useful bits of information that I’d just like to bookmark so I can come back to later and not have to skim through 3 hours of audio to find it again, that’s an extreme example but I think you get my point. So how do we solve that problem, introducing Curiohh…

Monica:

Curiohh is a podcast app that allows listeners to retain and share the best bits of their favourite podcasts with their network.

Adam:

I downloaded the app on launch day and I personally love it. I would really love for you to try it out if you are an avid podcast listener like I am.

Monica:

If you’re not satisfied with whatever podcast app you currently use, then what’s the harm in giving us a go and seeing where it takes you?

Monica:

It’s super easy. We’re on iOS at the moment, we’ve got Android coming out soon. You just go into the app store and look for Curiohh with two H’s on the end, and the symbol is some headphones and yellow background. It’s very easy to find. Very easy to go through and download it, and be able to figure out how to use the bookmarking and snippeting function.

Adam:

For those of you on iOS go to the app store and search Curiohh with C-u-r-i-o-h-h and download the best new Podcast App around.

Monica:

More information Curiohhapp.com. But you’ll see us online quite a bit.

(Music)

Heath:

My best bit of advice for budding entrepreneurs? Well, number one would be probably don’t take advice from me. There are plenty of other resources of advice, and number two, very much related to the first one. Trust your gut. So take on board advice, but feel free to ignore it if it doesn’t apply to your situation. No one else knows your business and your situation like you do, and then number three would be just persevere. If there’s any quality in an entrepreneur which dictates success across the board if you average everything out, it’s those that stuck at it longer.

(Music)

Adam:

Next time on Welcome to Day One, James Rabbitt from Broader Learning.

James:

I’m James Rabbitt, I’m the managing director of Broader Learning. Broader Learning is a company based out of Newcastle that provides interesting and fun STEM learning programs for students. The idea is that where there are 50 schools in an area all trying to teach quality coding or robotics, for example, learning programs, we have the opportunity to do that 50 times a week instead of them each doing it once a week. So theoretically we can deliver a better experience, or at the very least and experience that is fairly cost effective.

Adam:

I hope you enjoyed listening to Heath’s story, if you liked this episode please feel free to check out the shownotes for this episode at welcometodayone.com which has links to everything that was mentioned in today’s episode plus a to leave a rating for the show wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you enjoy what we are doing we would appreciate if you would take a minute to leave a review and/or rating for the show as it really helps the show get in front of more people that might enjoy it too.

(Music)

Adam:

Thank you so much for giving this episode of Welcome to Day One your attention, I really appreciate it.

This episode was created by me, Adam Spencer.

Interviews conducted by me, Adam Spencer.

A big thank you to Heath Raftery from Newie Ventures and Gunilla Burrowes for their time and willingness to be involved.

The script was written by Adam Spencer.

Music by Lee Rosevere, full attribution on our website welcometodayone.com.

This episode was produced and mixed by Adam Spencer.

Thank you for listening and see you next time.

Less

Resources mentioned

Ways you can support the show

Leave a rating or review

Enjoying the show? Head to http://ratedayone.com. If you have a minute, we would really appreciate if you left us a rating wherever you listen to your podcasts and subscribe if you haven’t already for more great episodes like this one.

This link will show you how you can do that on whatever platform use.

Popular Platforms

Become a Patron

For just a few dollars a month you can help us continue to create this show for you and get exclusive access to full interviews with our guests.

Support the show on Patreon.

Sponsor the show

Want to become a sponsor? Get in touch. Send us an email.

Follow on Social

Credits

Show mixed by Adam Spencer. Interviews conducted by Adam Spencer. Script by Adam Spencer.

A big thank you to Heath Raftery from Newie Ventures & Gunilla Burrowes from Eighteen04.

Music Credits

Music by Lee Rosevere.

Title: Let’s Start at the Beginning

Source: Let’s Start at the Beginning

Licence: CC BY 4.0

Thanks for listening! Catch you next time.