Joe Young and Geo George found their calling at Mayfly Accelerator. Their platform serves as a catalyst for empowering entrepreneurs in Australia, providing them with resources and guidance to nurture their ideas and transform them into thriving ventures.
In an exclusive interview with Melbourne-based Mayfly Accelerator co-founders Joe Young and Geo George, Hive Life explored their entrepreneurial journey, discussed their passion for supporting local founders, and the inspiration behind building their accelerator platform. Joe and Geo shared their experiences and aspirations in this candid conversation.
An Accelerator Born From Necessity
Joe is deeply committed to helping entrepreneurs turn their startups into impactful ventures. He has a strong dedication to making a positive difference in areas like the environment and mental health.
Geo’s own journey complements Joe’s passion; starting in the startup world and then venturing into corporate risk consulting, he worked extensively with government organisations, providing strategic risk consulting to hospital boards. However, he realised his appetite to make an impact surpassed these positions.
When the pandemic hit, Joe found himself running a Covid-19 operation, reigniting his passion for startups and supporting entrepreneurs with impactful ideas. This led him to return to startups and join a venture capital company co-founded by Joe.
Still, something felt missing, which ultimately led to the establishment of Mayfly Accelerator. Since then, the pair has never been happier.
Geo explained that two main factors inspired them to build their accelerator platform. Firstly, their previous environment left much to be desired, as they felt they couldn’t be their best and weren’t able to fully support startup founders. This realisation prompted them to venture out on their own. Secondly, they believed they could do a better job in helping startup founders, from those with just an idea to those with established businesses looking to scale.
It was a combination of these factors that motivated Geo and Joe to establish Mayfly Accelerator. They embarked on their own journeys and eventually joined forces to create an environment conducive to helping entrepreneurs thrive.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is of utmost importance to the co-founders of Mayfly Accelerator, as they recognise that work occupies a significant portion of one’s life.
Joe highlighted that their brains operate at different times of the day, with him being most productive in the mornings, while Geo’s peak performance occurs in the evenings. They do not adhere to a strict 9-to-5 schedule but rather enjoy the flexibility of working when they feel most productive. In addition to managing their schedules, Joe and Geo emphasised the importance of cultivating hobbies and engaging in activities outside of work. By working smarter, not harder, they strive to maintain a well-rounded approach to life.
Joe added that their commitment to being their best selves extends beyond personal well-being. They believe that in order to produce their best work, they must prioritise self-care. This mindset, derived from their experiences in other workplaces, underpins their dedication to empowering themselves and bringing their best selves to their work.
Helping Homegrown Businesses Succeed
When working with companies, Mayfly Accelerator co-founders Joe and Geo identified key factors that stand out to them. Geo emphasised the importance of execution and bringing all the pieces together to create a cohesive strategy and execution plan. While having great ideas is essential, the ability to execute and coordinate different aspects of a business is crucial for success.
According to Geo, “The difference between founders who make it and those who don’t often lies in their execution capabilities.”
They have encountered promising ideas that fell short because the founders struggled to transition from one stage to another. Therefore, Mayfly Accelerator seeks to work with founders who possess the ability to execute on their ideas, aligning their vision with action and achieving tangible results.
Navigating the Path to Make an Impact
Joe echoed Geo’s sentiment and added that values alignment is another aspect they consider when working with founders. Mayfly Accelerator values kindness and making a positive impact in the world. They are passionate about the environment and mental health in the workplace, and they actively support startups addressing this issue.
Joe and Geo also shed light on what makes the local startup ecosystem in Australia favourable to first-time founders and their efforts to strengthen it further.
According to Joe, Australia offers a conducive environment for startup founding due to several factors. First, the country boasts excellent education systems that offer a wide range of tech and research courses, providing aspiring founders with the necessary knowledge and skills to embark on their entrepreneurial journeys.
Secondly, Australia has a robust welfare system, which plays a crucial role in promoting entrepreneurship. Starting a business is inherently risky, and having a strong welfare system in place provides a safety net for founders. It alleviates some of the fears associated with entrepreneurship, such as losing access to healthcare or experiencing financial instability. The presence of a reliable welfare system enables individuals to take calculated risks and pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations with more confidence.
Geo added that the current global landscape, with the increasing prevalence of remote and digital work, presents exciting opportunities for startup founders. Working remotely allows for greater flexibility in managing time, and it also opens up access to a diverse talent pool, transcending geographical boundaries. The digital shift has made it easier for founders to explore new startup ideas and side hustles while enjoying more control over their work environment.
Australia’s Startup Scene and Its Potential
The Melbourne startup ecosystem, in particular, offers numerous resources and support for entrepreneurs. Peer groups, accelerated programs, and grants from local councils, universities, and government entities are available to assist aspiring founders in kick-starting their businesses. Additionally, tax and policy structures are in place to facilitate business growth and provide a favourable climate for startups. Despite the venture capital landscape experiencing some challenges, there is an influx of funding from the public sector and community initiatives to bridge any capability gaps that may arise.
Furthermore, the entry barrier into the startup scene has significantly decreased. Registering a business can now be done quickly through government websites in just 10 minutes. The availability of powerful tools and platforms enables founders to develop their minimum viable product (MVP) faster and more efficiently than ever before, leveraging the wide range of profitable opportunities present today.
Networking, Collaboration, and Coworking
Geo and Joe highlighted the value of networks, skill sharing, and coworking spaces in aiding their journey and fostering connections within the startup community.
Geo emphasised the significance of having a strong network, which has been instrumental in the rapid growth of Mayfly Accelerator. The relationships and connections formed over the years have led to collaborations with outstanding startups and investments in several ventures. The access to a network of creative talent, such as the one found at the Hive, where they are a member, has been invaluable.
Joe added, “Coworking spaces like the Hive offer more than just office facilities. They provide an environment conducive to skill sharing and collaboration.”
Examples include leveraging social media expertise from other Hive members or collaborating on web design projects. The opportunities for skill exchange are plentiful, creating a vibrant ecosystem for startups.
When asked about advice for first-time founders, Geo encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to take the leap and give their ideas a chance. He acknowledged that barriers exist, such as financial constraints or the absence of safety nets, but emphasised the wealth of resources and support available to most individuals. Trying out an idea can lead to valuable skills and learning experiences.
He stated, “If the venture succeeds, the upside can be immense.” The key is to take the first step and see what unfolds.
Joe added to Geo’s advice by highlighting the importance of being an action-oriented founder. Getting things done and taking decisive steps significantly increase the chances of success. Failure is viewed as a learning opportunity, paving the way for growth and improvement.
Joe and Geo also expressed their appreciation for the Hive, as it provides a fun and productive work environment without the politics often associated with traditional workplaces. The opportunity to interact with like-minded individuals, share ideas, seek advice, and discuss strategies adds immense value.
They believe that coworking spaces facilitate cross-pollination of ideas by bringing together experts from various fields, allowing for fruitful collaborations and concept testing, and further added that coworking spaces attract a particular kind of driven individual who invests in their vision by joining such spaces.
This shared mindset creates a unique work culture where productivity thrives, and a sense of structure enhances focus and motivation.
Building Successful Ventures with Mayfly Accelerator
Setting up a business with Mayfly Accelerator involves a strategic and comprehensive approach. Geo described an example of working with an established player in the learning and development space. They engage in initial conversations to understand the client’s goals and aspirations. Together, they develop a roadmap and strategy to leverage the client’s expertise, assets, and IP, translating them into a new technology product.
The process involves creating an MVP and testing it in the market. As they progress, they assist with defining the go-to-market strategy and implementing effective digital marketing tools and user activation strategies. For startups aiming to scale through capital injection, they help navigate the capital raising process and develop a plan to attract investors.
Joe emphasised the significance of building an MVP and gaining traction before seeking investment. Startups with a product and a user base are in a better position to attract investment compared to those without these foundational elements.
Joe and Geo also stressed the importance of delivering clear and concise pitch decks that capture investors’ attention within seconds and being well-prepared to discuss metrics and key business aspects.
When asked for advice on pitching business ideas, Geo highlighted the need to prove that the idea has more than just potential. Investors now seek more than just an idea and require validation that the startup can compete in the market. The days of receiving funding solely based on an idea are gone, and entrepreneurs must demonstrate an edge over other opportunities.
Regarding investment trends, Geo highlighted the focus on managing cash flow and the need for startups to demonstrate revenue generation potential. Investors are looking for startups that can sustain their burn rate and show a path to profitability. Joe added that technology advancements have led to faster development, but customer acquisition costs have increased, posing a challenge for founders.
In terms of sectors attracting investments, they mentioned that DeepTech industries such as EdTech and BioTech are receiving attention due to their high barriers to entry and potential for proprietary IP. Additionally, hospitality tech is emerging as a strong industry in Australia, with innovative startups introducing solutions for ordering, workforce management, and bar tab optimization.
Mayfly Accelerator’s Roadmap
Looking ahead, Geo and Joe have a three-year goal to help five startups reach one million dollars in revenue. They believe the startup ecosystem in Australia is gaining more attention from governments and private investors, creating opportunities for Mayfly Accelerator to be involved in the journeys of disruptive startups.
As for the future of Mayfly Accelerator, they are currently focused on managing growth and scaling the business. They plan to hire new team members and continue working with exciting and disruptive startups. While they have long-term aspirations, such as expanding the company’s size, they also value the present state and are content with their current work-life balance.