Monday, November 20th, 2017 – It’s one thing to be inspired by the greats; it is another thing to choose to follow in their footsteps. Our guest, Eoin Byrne, is one of those people who saw others’ success, and thought “Why not me?”
Watch his full interview below and find out how his natural curiosity for business and technology, and with a whole lot of hard work and passion led to his success today.
EP006: More Businesses Than Hot Dinners with Eoin Byrne – The No Xcuses Show
Posted by Brant Garvey
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Time Stamped Show Notes
00:04 Brant Garvey here and welcome to episode 6 of #DailyGritLive where I speak to some of the world’s most gritty, motivating and inspiring people. Today’s guest I have Eoin Byrne who is the founder of ScanCam, a very exciting start up tech company and his idea here is to be able to give power back to the people who own petrol stations in Perth. But that’s just one chapter of what I believe is a very interesting life that he has led. Now I’d like to give you bit of a chance, and welcome you to Grit Nation.
00:42 Tell us a little bit of your backstory. Who are you?
00:45 Who am I. Well, I’m just a serial entrepreneur I suppose. Just love the challenge of business. I think it started when I was about 10, you know managing the local paper round. In my street I had about four or five of my neighbour’s kids working for me and I thought this business is not bad idea.
01:09 So were you taking a little bit off the top?
01:15 Yeah skimming off the top – even off my brother. Always loved business. My mom used to tell me stories about her father and he was sort of very involved in businesses back in my homeland in Ireland. And then growing up listening to stories about my granddad inspired me to start on the journey to business.
01:34 And now how many businesses are you being involved?
01:36 Probably 10.
01:39 Now let’s go with one of the worst experiences you’ve had in business. What was the most challenging, the worst incident, adversity you had to face in business?
01:52 Good question. There’s always lots of challenges in business especially modern business today. We face a lot more challenges I suppose than my grandfather had. I suppose the biggest one, more recently I had a venture, a restaurant venture that I had, so worked really hard for about three or four years on this product in Australia and it didn’t go too well. We had to close the business down. Lots of learnings, but that was pretty tough on me and my business partner.
02:18 Can you give us a specific reason as what made that happen? Was there a specific mistake that led to that?
02:25 I suppose different economic times. I suppose we were in a retail sort of market and retail was doing pretty tough at that time. We made a lot of mistakes managing those businesses as well.
02:43 Can you give us one piece of advice that you would have learned from that instance that you now used to help you moving forward.
02:52 For me it was definitely keeping focus on the on the business books, so the accounting side of things. I suppose I was a little bit of green and my fingers wasn’t on the pulse in regards to how the business was properly being run financially. (Like cash flow) Yeah definitely cash flow that’s the big one.
03:12 Now, we’ll move to the opposite side of that. What is the biggest breakthrough moment you’ve had in your career – the most exciting part?
03:20 I suppose our new venture at of the moment ScanCam. It’s a really exciting new product. Like how a lot of our business that I have been involved in, we started off like retail. Actually ice cream business was my first business. So when I was about 18, I think I was at home sick one day watching Oprah actually, and it was “Made Millionaires’. The episode was about people that invented something, or started from scratch and now they’re living legends in the business world. The Build-A-Bear was on there and this one guy invented ice cream that was cryogenically frozen ice cream. It was frozen up minus 300 degrees and ended up in tiny little balls. I was like – man that product’s great! If I just think of an idea like that. Something that I could bring to market that people would love or I could make millions. A few weeks later I was like actually where is that product? It’s not in Western Australia. I did a bit of research and found that the truck was in Australia but on the East Coast and then I set about to bringing that product to WA, to the streets, festivals and fairs. So me and my mate bought like a second hand run down trial that was a food trailer, it was involved in an accident and it was written off. We sort of patched it up and then we started selling ice creams on the weekend. That where I really sort of cut my teeth in business. Learning about rostering, supply chain, ordering…
04:44 How much business knowledge you reckon you had going into that?
04:46 Zero. Zero. We made lots of mistakes and you know we paid for it.
04:51 The paper run didn’t help…?
05:53 No… Not at all…
04:57 One thing that’s really really cool about the story is that It was literally a moment in time that something that caught Eoin’s attention and he said let’s give it a crack.
05:05 (Let’s just do it.) And you managed to be quite successful with that business. What was the most revenue made in one year?
05:13 I think we went to the awards for that product and then we sort of sold more than any other ice cream dealer in Australia. I think we did over a half a million dollars on the weekend of ice creams. That’s a lot of scrunched up five dollar notes from little kids!
05: 30 Which is epic! It’s awesome!
05:32 One of the questions that I have which is an interesting one… What’s one thing you spent under a hundred dollars recently that you could say contributed to helping you – had the biggest impact?
05:49 Well when I was thinking about that question earlier on, and I’ve seen you do that on few other videos. And I thought well if I have it back then in 2010, if I bought a hundred dolls with bitcoin that would’ve been good. (How much is it worth now?) It’s worth about 300 million now.
06:06 Anyway, I suppose more recently my pillow. Sleeping is huge. I’ve got that newborn – three month old.
06:15 We both have newborns, yours is just a couple of weeks older than mine.
06:18 Yeah, so you know how important sleep is. So I suppose my pillow, definitely under a 100 bucks.
06:25 On that note, I actually have a really interesting question. How have you managed to juggle time since becoming a new father?
06:36 You work a lot. You are a bloody hard worker and you are also at every event that we are working on in terms of the business side of things. Yeah, I would love to know how you balance it.
06:46 I suppose I’m really lucky that my workplace is like 350 metres away from where I live. Commute time is good. Also, my wife’s off her work and she’s a great cook and loves cooking so she’s always dropping off lunches and bringing my daughter down to see us, which is great.
07:18 Now we are moving on to what we call the Sprint Round, which is a couple of quick questions.
07:24 Winter or summer?
07:29 Book or audiobook?
07:30 Audiobook… a 100%
07:31 The same… absolutely! Massive fan of audiobooks.
07:34 Run or cycle?
07:36 Oh… Run
07:38 Okay cool… we might go for a run sometime
07:44 Eat out or home cooked?
07:46 Home cooked all the way. My wife is a great cook like I said before. I love a good home cooked meal.
07:49 And now this is a part we haven’t spoken about yet, you actually have some restaurant in Bali.
07:57 So was that inspired by your wife’s cooking?
07:59 Not quite. While I was running the ice cream business, it was just sort of part time on the weekends, I was also sort of running security. You know security was sort of my fallback in between all my businesses, running security teams. I was running a few security teams in Indonesia, Bali. I’ve been there for eight years, on and off. Just contract work, running projects over there for security and that sort of led me to sort of rubbing shoulders with some businessmen over there. A couple of guys from Perth and we started a cool little restaurant over in Seminyak called Frankenstein’s. Yeah. So it’s like a cabaret horror themed restaurant. Similar I suppose to Dracula’s on the Gold Coast in Australia. Yeah and it’s been a great really good project for us.
08:48 And would that be one of your most successful businesses to date?
08:55 … the most successful is ScanCam by far.
09:03 Let’s just actually talk about what ScanCam is about.
09:08 So as I said before is running security teams and it was probably about 5 to 6 years ago I helped integrate the first day ID scanners into license venues or nightclubs. So essentially when a patron go into a nightclub we scan your ID, we have your details and that patron was kicked out for being abusive and violent or whatever they’d be banned from that network of ID scanners. And so after scanning like hundreds of thousands of IDs I was thinking there’s probably a better way to make money than standing up a door. I was driving home to a petrol station and as port in and as I did normally at the counter, the guy was just frantically scribbling something a lot and every time I come in here like you scribbling something down, what are you writing down? Your license plate.
09:58 What! You write every license plate by hand. And I said, Why? ‘Just in case you drive off without paying for your fuel.’ Is that a problem? And I thought well if BP could do a quick history check of their customers like we were doing on the door that’s an opportunity. And that was the birth of the concept of ScanCam
10:15 And how long ago was that?
10:17 We started ScanCam officially probably three years ago. Unofficially, probably a year before then.
10:27 And you’ve just been building up…
10:29 Building and building… sort of using the lean, agile methodologies. We first built a prototype and then NVP(?). So we used that. The company had an offshore team. We built like a really cheap prototype to prove the concept and set it up at a petrol station and literally went there on Melbourne Cup day when I knew no one’s going to be around. Put the ladders up against the wall, drill it up, put some cameras and then probably about 18 months of R&D and really got this thing working.
10:58 And then we did a capital raise and our first round of seed was successful and I think it ran about half a million secured in the first round which was great. It was a big turning point for us. It means we could put a heap of money into it and redevelop our whole technology. Moved it away from Amazon and brought it into Viasure (?) with Microsoft and recoded everything in dot net and made it more scalable.
11:24 Right now I think we manage maybe five or six hundred devices across our network and we want to grow that by 10 in the next 12 months.
11:34 For someone who has been personally behind the scenes, it’s epic what they are doing. There are on that tipping point of being I guess in real traction with the petrol stations. And the technology is phenomenal. What they do and what they can catch is really exciting and I can’t wait to see the next stage of ScanCam.
11:52 Let’s go into what we call Run Section
11:53 What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
11:56 My dad he always said to me growing up you can’t get that you don’t get diamonds without pressure. So really without pressure you don’t get diamonds.
12:08 Starting a business is a grind. Especially innovation and your back’s always against the wall. You’re breaking new ground with new technologies. It really does feel like that. Sometimes you really got to push through it before something breaks through.
12:29 I mean, in case you haven’t picked that up already, he is very passionate about what he does and you obviously need sell that passion to everyone else you speak to. (Yes) It’s very very energy consuming.
12:40 What a personal habit that contribute to your success?
12:44 Probably not a habit but I got ADD and I’m dyslexic so I started license plate recognition company when numbers and letters have to be in a specific order for a certain reason.
13:00 So you get other people to manage that part?
13:02 Sometimes opposites attract, right? But I think that I’ve just focused my ADD instead of being disruptive. And you know in school I was a bit disruptive and you know I didn’t go to Uni or anything. I just turned that energy and focus that towards business and I’m obsessed with business. And I’m obsessed now with Innovation. Moving from bricks and mortar type business were I had restaurants and I had ice cream trucks, kiosks, and cafes and now moving it to the realm of software. It’s dangerous because you know there’s no limits with software. So it’s exciting times.
13:40 Actually listened to a podcast recently which I’ll probably share in the link and it was talking about how ADD people can obviously very excitable, but if they locked down and focused onto something they can actually like hone in and be very very good at getting something done like staying in that zone for a long period of time and I pretty sure that’s what you did.
14:09 What is your favourite book, and why?
14:12 My favorite book. I’ve got two. One of them is The Lean Startup by Ries. Again it’s all about agile development and what we’re doing. I think it’s a bible for anyone that’s starting up a tech business… The other one is You Don’t Have To Be Born Brilliant by John McGrath. It’s just a really good, really awesome tale about John McGrath. He’s the real estate guru in Australia. I think he owns part of the Condo AU (?). He wasn’t necessarily the smartest kid in the school. The tale talked about him going through challenges and he wasn’t born brilliant but now he’s one of the best in Australian at what he does.
15:02 I wasn’t born brilliant either so… (Really good book)
15:08 Two great recommendations. Now the last part is, what is one key takeaway you have for Grit Nation viewers, and the best way to connect with you? One key takeaway that you can give the viewers of what they should do or how they can implement from your stories. What you’ve learned along the way… a piece of advice to them.
15:31 Piece of advice really is back yourself. You know sometimes the best innovation is born when you’re backed into a corner and you have nowhere to go. I suppose, just grit your teeth. You know it’s a grind. Starting in business there’s going to be peaks and troughs and sometimes you feel like you’re on a roller coaster. One minute we’re fighting because we’re doing deals with oil majors and the next moment we’re stressed out about cash flow.
15:58 Yeah that’s an amazing advice. You’ve heard me say in previous episodes I’m all about starting before you’re ready and grit is obviously a big focus on what I do.
16:07 You’ve been on this journey for three plus years of trying to make this happen. This stuff doesn’t happen quickly. It’s about being able to hold on to that long goal.
16:18 That’s right. You think when you first see all the successful tech startups you think money just landed easy. You know you hear about stories like Uber and AirBnB and these guys just made a fortune from nothing. But then you listen to their podcast (turn the switch and the next day it was working). You listen to their podcast and they been through the same thing. They’ve been put through the wringer and they were at the other end.
16:38 And if we had any viewers interested in getting touch with you, what’s the best way to get in contact?
16:42 … just from LinkedIn
16:53 So look him up on LindkedIn If you want some advice, feel free to send a message.
16:55 Okay Grit Nation, thank you so much for tuning in today. So grateful to have you here. All right love your energy as I always do. And I’ll see you guys next week. Thank you very much.