Young dog using old dogs to teach new tricks

A 20-year-old on his second start-up wants to provide paid business education for companies and students.

While your ordinary 20-year-old would be out partying or playing video games, Jake Millar is just starting his second entrepreneurial venture. With Unfiltered, launched this week, Millar aims to interview a hundred of New Zealand’s top businesspeople – leaders like Virgin Group CEO Josh Bayliss, Weta founder Sir Richard Taylor and Z Energy CEO Mike Bennetts – and to sell the business advice from these interviews in bite-sized and long-form video content to companies looking to boost their success.

Prices range from $497 a year for a small business, to $8,075 a year for a much larger corporation.

Millar sold his first website OOMPHER earlier this year to Government organisation Careers NZ for an undisclosed sum. OOMPHER also involved video interviews with seasoned business people, but with the aim of changing the way careers advice is given in Kiwi schools, and inspiring the next generation of young entrepreneurs. After selling the website, Millar moved his attention to improving established Kiwi businesses with his new website Unfiltered.

The paid-subscription channel will initially feature 30 interviews with successful Kiwi businesspeople, with a planned 140 videos in the series overall. These interviews will be split into bite-sizes sections, covering topics such as starting up a business, leadership skills, exit strategies, and raising capital. Users will be able to learn from people who have been through it before, so they don’t have to make mistakes the hard way, Millar says.

“We are focused on helping businesses expand, both here in New Zealand and globally. Through the power of digital education we want to both educate and inspire business leaders and entrepreneurs so that they can build more sustainable businesses in the future and have a bigger impact on the world.”

Millar has already got some big names on board. The website’s commercial partners include NZTE, PwC, AMP, Craigs Investment Partners and the University of Auckland’s Business School. So far he has raised over $220,000 from partnerships and membership sales.

Millar has also gained the support of Sir Richard Branson and billionaire hedge fund manager Julian Robertson, who will both be doing interviews for the website. Millar was able to contact Branson after interviewing Josh Bayliss, CEO of Virgin.

“He emailed me personally and has been delightful to deal with - very kind,” Millar says. “And he took the time to read my seven page letter!”

Unfiltered will also have a “Dragon’s Den” styled contest, where aspiring business people can pitch ideas to a panel of experts. If they’re lucky, they can gain the support of successful investors – people like Julie Christie, Eric Watson, and Sir George Fistonich, Millar says.

“Many of the entrepreneurs we've talked to are struggling to find an "in" with influential investors,” Millar says, “and many of the Investors we've interviewed struggle to find fantastic opportunities here in New Zealand.”

Although Millar is currently focusing on getting as many New Zealand businesses involved as possible, the young businessman plans to launch the website into the US market.

He says he hopes to see fewer failures and more successes in New Zealand businesses.

“Currently failure rates for start-ups remain incredibly high,” he says, “and it doesn't need to be this way.”

Julie Christie, founder of touchdown Productions and a supporter of the Unfiltered concept, says she has been amazed by the low quality of business education.

“There is a massive need for digital business education in this country,” she says. “Unfiltered is changing that for our country. Put simply, owning business education is owning the future of New Zealand.”

Millar says he’s learnt many lessons from running his first startup. He says it’s important to become friends with the people you network with. He also says business people should be prepared for failure.

“If you don't have a high tolerance for stress and living on the edge, don't get into business."