Obstacles and Stepping Stones | Part Three: Nathan Murphy and his entrepreneurial evolution
- November 21st, 2016
- 5 mins READING TIME
When Nathan Murphy has a business idea – and he’s had a few – his goal is to get something in front of his customers the same day. Yep, that’s right. The. Same. Day.
It might not be what you’d expect from the start-up space. It’s not uncommon for 12-plus months to pass between the concept and launch of a new business venture so a 24-hour turnaround is seriously impressive.
But Nathan, founder of (among other things) JobHack, an edutech start-up teaching entrepreneurial skills to young people, has been around the block a few times. Amazingly, his position on that block was once as a homeless teenager.
His evolution has been dramatic.
Full to the brim with entrepreneurial spirit, Nathan’s first brush with business was selling vitamins on eBay as a 16 year old. At 19, following time living rough in Darwin and Melbourne, he launched his first start-up, Audio High School.
Now 25, the serial entrepreneur – a term he’s not entirely at ease with – has built multiple businesses; some successful, others less so, but all important learning experiences. Nathan says one of his most crucial lessons was to put a product in front of the audience as soon as possible.
“The first time I tried properly [to start a business] I think I spent about a year building something before I put it in front of a customer,” recalls Nathan, a two-time TEDx speaker.
“Then the next business was three months and the next business was one month and now whenever I do something I try to launch the first landing page to put in front of a customer by the end of the day.
“If the customer says no, you find out very, very quickly what you need to do in order for them to say yes.”
With JobHack, Nathan is playing an important role in the development and motivation of the youth workforce. Through annual challenges, JobHack aims to empower one million young people with the practical skills of entrepreneurship and, in turn, tackle global youth unemployment.
Murphy also works with The Foundation for Young Australians on their entrepreneurship programs. His core business has become supporting others find and build their business.
The advisory role is one he takes seriously, having benefitted so significantly from mentors during his own journey.
“I would say mentors were absolutely crucial for helping me get over those first challenges,” he says.
“I trusted those people because they had done what I was trying to do. Mentors really shortcut my learning curve.”
With help from those mentors, and his efforts to surround himself with good people, Nathan has streamlined his start-up procedure over time. Still, he admits he wasn’t always so comfortable with the process.
He faced both emotional and logistical challenges before launching Audio High School and says some of those issues still linger. Listen in to hear Nathan discuss one of the biggest business hurdles he still faces today.
“The loneliest parts are definitely the times you spend having negative self-talk,” he says.
“When you’re on your own and you know there’s something you need to do but you’re procrastinating for whatever reason; you’re just not doing what you know you’re supposed to do and there’s something holding you back.
“I think there is a really lonely part because we’re quite reluctant to tell the people around us that we’re struggling. We feel the need to put on a brave face and say we’re killing it all the time.
“I’ve had plenty of those moments and I think it’s about trying to surround yourself with people who are going to call you out and that you know that you can have real conversations with.”
As for logistical challenges, accounting and legal work has always plagued Nathan and he says the solution was simple.
“It takes up a lot of angst in my brain because it’s not something I’m adept in thinking through, so I like to outsource it to experts; let them do it so I can focus on the stuff that I’m good at,” he says.
With a mind that persistently conjures new ideas, another problem for Nathan is harnessing the discipline required to avoid taking on too many projects at one time.
While his main focus right now is JobHack, Nathan also owns social media marketing agency TribeGrowth and confirms he has another start-up idea in the works. But there are no secrets to spill yet.
In the meantime, here are a few words from Nathan on what he most enjoys about the now very familiar start-up process.
“I really love going through the discovery process to figure out the optimal revenue model.
“I’m an unashamed capitalist for the sense of what capitalism has done civilisation for bringing us to this quality of life we have.
“I acknowledge it’s definitely got its faults but I really love how using a capitalist lens to discover an untapped revenue model because that’s what can create sustainability in any mission, whether it be socially focused or purely for commercial wealth.
“I just really love figuring out – it’s pure creation almost…I’m hesitant to compare it to any art like music or cooking or anything else, but it feels like that to me. You’re creating something that didn’t exist before and when you can define that revenue model that you’ve validated and it didn’t exist before, there’s something special about that.”