Product Reviews

Founder (TV Series)

In reviewing this I decided to watch one episode every week, I wanted time for the episode to sink in and not get caught up binge watching and then including my views on each episode, so we start off with Safety Culture. 

Episode 1 – SafetyCulture – Luke Anear 

So I started watching this with some scepticism. Could a show like this really tell us anything we don’t know or have already read about this group of well known Australian founders, especially for someone like myself that is totally embedded in the startup / scaleup world.

Also starting with Luke Anear was interesting, I knew he had been involved in the making of the show and like most, I have heard many many things about Luke since his business took off and started to get massive headlines with not only the growth, but also his relationship with the boys from Atlassian that the press reported on so much. 

I am glad an amazed to say, not only did I really enjoy watching this episode but nearly everything I learned about both Luke, his past, the journey, and how he views the world and himself was not what I had formed in my mind over years of hearing about him from previous employees (being a recruiter I get a lot of info on founders this way) and also the articles, the rumours and what people generally say about anyone who has succeeded.

I think his story is amazing, totally different and really needed to be told, he comes across as a true founder, and I mean that in both all the good traits a founder needs and the annoying traits a founder needs, but there is no doubt, this was going to be his path.

He showed the real reasons for making this business work regardless of what happens and the reason that the conditions in so many countries around the world continue to drive him to improve and get the product to the people who need it most. 

Couple that up with the opening of my eyes to the challenges they had to overcome at all the various stages of business growth, and how close to disaster they were at so many points and the honesty in which they showed us this I am thoroughly impressed and think that this episode really show the life of a founder, takes away the glamour (of which there is none by the way), highlights the sacrifices and explains how hard it is. Amazing start to the series, cannot wait to see the next episode. 

Episode 2 – Canva – Mel Perkins 

Wow, what an episode, I actually went into this episode with relatively low expectations which might surprise people, not because their story is not totally insane and incredible but more that I have heard so much about Canva, about Melanie, Cliff and Cameron, I have heard them talk, I have read hundreds of stories I was thinking what else could I possible learn. And the first part of this episode I thought just that, I think that is because I believe we have all heard the very beginning of the story, the sheer amount of rejects they got before they got funding etc.

However as the episode moved forwards it totally switched me around, learning how even when they did finally get funding it was such a huge disappointment, the fact that they did some crazy things to get the attention of investors, the fact that during a time from the outside we all thought they are killing it, they were literally going through the worst time ever.

This kind of insight into the inner workings was fascinating, getting to really understand the different personalities and how the 3 of them fit together. I do have to say that with both the episodes I have seen so far the willingness to really open up and show their faults, their weaknesses, how hard it is even when from the outside it looks so easy is refreshing.

I mean founders do this all the time, but not to the level of these episodes so far and the filmmaking has been extraordinary. I did also like the commentary from both Atlassian and Blackbird who have seen their journey and gave some great context.

Lastly I think truly understanding the brain of a founder like Melanie is not an easy task but this type of insight really gives a small window into it, and how driven and relentless you actually have to be to find such success. Another great episode overall. 

Episode 3 – Findr – Fred Schebesta

This episode is very much like the others but at the same time so different, I didn’t know much about Fred, I knew of the business and of course have read the media but was totally unaware how long the business had been going and completely unaware of his co-founders Frank and Jeremy.

It was that very traditional story of living in a small flat with barely enough for food having dropped out of Uni that we are all so used to hearing. I think the story of Fred which much of the early episode focuses on reminds us what the combination of an inquisitive mind and evolving technology can produce.

This was certainly no smooth sailing for the Findr crew with some super early setbacks that might have driven others to give up, the constant ride of waves of success followed by huge drops and setbacks that continually happens to any group of people trying to not only grow a business but also change the way the world behaves.

Much like the story with Luke Anear it really highlights how this life they choose has affected their family life, their children and how hard not giving up on their dreams affect the people around them, and in this particular episode the personal battles and demons that Fred has had to deal with (and also his co-founders, simply by Fred going through situations) is incredible honest and shows that regardless of the exterior success we all so, there is a lot of pain and challenge on the other side.

The one big difference I saw in this episode is the way Findr has reinvented itself so many times, whereas the other two really highlighted a clear path in terms of their product, Findr was built on an idea of helping people in many ways and different ways which is a constant pivot for them. To me this showed quite a different founder in Fred to the other too but again made it glaringly clear the similarities that they have. I think also people will love to see the man behind the hair so to speak and give insight into someone who is normally very private. 

Episode 4 – Brighte – Katherine McConnell 

Last episode, and probably the one I enjoyed the most, mainly because I knew very little about Katherine. Sure I knew Brighte, I knew what they did but that was it so I had no expectations like the first 3.

Also this episode is quite different where you have a founder that was already successful in her corporate career, who had kids, school fees and other costs that a lot of people think prohibit them from starting a business, something I can relate to incredibly well. You also have a topic that is not just changing the way people do something, but in essence changing the world, massive !

As with every episode really impressed with the openness on of Katherine, but in this episode s not so much about the challenges they had with the business, although It does touch on some of the hard times with the business but not tot the extent the other one did, this time is was far more the personal impact and ussies being a founder has caused Katherine and her family, but as with the others so open and honest and really shows the side of being a founder people do not think about.

I think this episode also does a great job of showing how our childhood really impacts how we think later in life, and the reasons people have the bravery to make decisions like she did. So a very different episode but a great way to finish, this episode is also visually stunning which dovetails nicely as Katherine tries to help everyone save the world together. 

I have really enjoyed this who series and having had my own business and in the last 5 years worked with hundreds of founders I really do think it gives everyone a real view of what it is like, the fact that every journey is different and the fact that every founder, no matter how hard it has been so happy to have made the decision. I hope it inspires a lot of new founders whilst also giving current ones yet another reason to keep going. 

About Author

Steve Grace is the CEO & Founder of The Nudge Group; the Co-Founder of TNG Media; CEO of Balance the Grind; and the Creator and Host of the Give It A Nudge video podcast.