From the high school dropout who started her first business at age 12 and now runs a $25 million empire, to the surfer whose ‘sea bins’ have captured more than 100 tonnes of microplastics in Sydney Harbor in just two years, this one podcast interviews with entrepreneurs will open your mind to 2023.
If you’re looking for the best interview podcasts of 2022 to catch up over the summer holidays, take a look inside the minds of Australia’s most innovative entrepreneurs and changemakers on Kochie’s Business Builders’ First Act podcast.
Over 36 episodes, editors of Kochie’s Business Builders Cec Busby and Adam Bob dive deep into the “first act” of founders who have achieved great things. From lightbulb moments of divine inspiration to the lessons learned from business nails and failures, these origin stories pull back the curtain on what we call “success.”
Each episode is packed with wisdom from people who have moved the goalposts, be it the no-BS (and gloriously expletive-filled) advice from PR expert Roxy Jacenko or the business nous of Stephen Hunt, who went from dish hand to a $100 million pub empire.
Here are eight of our most inspiring First Act episodes for your beach day/road trip/me time playlists.
THE ECOPRENEUR: Pete Ceglinski, The Seabin Project
We need more good news stories about environmental entrepreneurs like Pete Ceglinski. He is the surfer, industrial designer and ‘econopreneur’ whose groundbreaking invention, the Sea basin, has lifted millions of pounds of waste from our oceans. It’s a simple idea – a container for the sea – but its footprint is indelible. Now Pete and his team are using the data they collect by detecting microplastics to clean up our seas and cities.
“We found a data breach – because no one has this information – and where there is a data breach, there are opportunities,” says Pete. “No one had thrown the bin in the water – so now we are using the Seabin’s data to influence positive legislation and policy making for sustainable cities and communities around the world.”
Listen to Pete Ceglinski op First Act:
THE FOODIE GONE GLOBAL: Marion Grasby, Marion’s kitchen
Cook, media publisher and entrepreneur: Marion Grasby wears a lot of hats. If one of Master Chef Australia favorite contestants, Marion won the hearts of Aussie viewers with her Thai-Aussie flavor fusions. Although she missed out on the crown, Marion turned her fame into a cookbook deal before launching her hugely popular Thai-inspired food range, Marion’s Kitchen.
Today, Marion heads a next-generation food and lifestyle company with a subscriber base of seven million and a global monthly reach of more than 30 million people. Not bad for the home cook who insists fame was never on her agenda.
Listen to Marion Grasby op First Act:
THE HOMEMADE MILLIONAIRE: Sonia Majkic, 3-Phase Marketing
Sonia Majkic started her first business when she was only 12 years old. Her family had emigrated from Serbia to Melbourne in the 1980s and they struggled with language, community and finding work without formal qualifications.
“As factory workers, my parents lived from paycheck to paycheck, and I saw the constant struggle for money,” she recalls. “They didn’t have any flexibility in the workplace and they missed so many critical moments for my brother and me during primary school. They were tied to the factory floor and worked 10 to 12 hour shifts to make ends meet. I think that motivated me to have a very different experience as an adult.”
In the past five years alone, Sonia has built a $25 million digital marketing company, Marketing in 3 phases and has won numerous awards for her work helping businesses of all sizes grow. Her advice on marketing your business – and yourself – is invaluable.
Listen to Sonia Majkic op First Act:
THE SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR: Simon Griffiths, who gives a shit
How do you create a brand people need that helps people in need? On the 10th anniversary of the launch of Who Gives A Crap, Simon Griffiths gives us a unique insight into how he and his co-founders created a social enterprise out of colorfully wrapped toilet paper.
“The problem we are trying to solve is huge,” says Simon. “There are two billion people today without access to adequate sanitation… It’s the idea of working with toilet paper, using the profits to build toilets and calling it ‘Who Gives A Crap’ that creates this complete package. “
The TP frenzy during the pandemic only increased the need for Who Gives A Crap. If you want to know how to bring purpose and profit together in your business model, this market disruptor is well worth your time.
Listen to Simon Griffiths op First Act:
THE NATIONAL FASHIONMOGUL: Jane Cay, Bird’s Nest
Like a balm to your ears, listening to Jane Cay is a joyful experience. Based in the Snowy Mountains of NSW, Jane founded Birdsnest, one of Australia’s leading fashion retailers, and grew from a small country boutique into an online empire with over 150 employees.
But retail was never the original plan for Jane. Only when she fell in love with a farmer did the course of her life take a completely different turn. Now she’s created a brand that celebrates women of all shapes and sizes while addressing the effects of fast fashion on climate change.
“We’ve always felt a responsibility to represent women to women,” says Jane. “Our team ranges from 16-year-olds who help us after school to my mother – she still buys underwear and has just turned 70. There are 18 different nationalities represented in our team, which is quite unique in a rural town of 6500. We have so much diversity – and also in terms of capabilities.”
Listen to Jane Cay on First Act:
In one of the most emotionally raw interviews you’ll ever hear about entrepreneurship, Jodie Fox unravels the rise and fall of her global Shoes of Prey brand.
For 10 years, Shoes of Prey has been a darling of the Australian startup scene. Millions of women around the world clamored for their design-your-own shoes. Until suddenly, in 2018, everything collapsed.
“On that very last day, I remember there were still 140 people on the team… and even as the words came out of my mouth, it was one of those times when everything felt strange and wild that we even had to experience this moment. We just stood in silence,” she recalled in our interview.
Jodie has since come out of that rocky period, which also included a divorce from her then-husband and company co-founder Michael, stronger and more resilient than ever. She records these insights in her book, Restarting: Probably more than you ever wanted to know about starting a global business.
Listen to Jodie Fox on First Act:
THE Accidental ENTREPRENEUR: Catherine Velisha, Velisha Farms
Catherine Velisha is passionate about all things fruit and vegetables, but that wasn’t always the case. It was never her intention to run the family business, Velisha Farms. But since taking on the role of general manager, Catherine has taken the family farm to new heights.
In addition to supplying global fresh products to wholesalers, including major players such as ALDI supermarkets, Velisha Farms’ Vegetarian education and Food Futures educational programs help train the next generation of Australian horticultural experts.
In a male-dominated industry, she is a force to be reckoned with. Her journey from zero business experience to the leader of a dynamic and successful team has been inspiring and rocky at times.
“It’s about bringing purpose and opportunity together,” she says. “You can only change it if you sit at the table, so come and take a seat at the table of the most important industry and let’s change the world for the better.”
Listen to Catherine Velisha op First Act:
THE SCIENTIFIC ENTREPRENEUR: Dr. Vincent Candrawinata, Renovatio
Ever wondered why ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’? Antioxidant researcher and food scientist Dr. Vincent Candrawinata knows the secret, and he’s turned his own discovery into a life-changing product line that relieves the pain of inflammatory conditions like arthritis for people around the world.
His grandmother became the first human trial of his new antioxidant formula. As a former dancer, arthritis had robbed her of her daily freedoms – until she tried Renovatio.
“Three months later she visited me in Sydney and walked from Haymarket all the way to Circular Quay. This is someone who couldn’t even climb the stairs before.”
He joined the First Act podcast to share how leading with his heart has taken him from research scientist to successful entrepreneur with products in Woolies.
Listen to dr. Vincent up First Act:
Do not forget to subscribe First Act for season three, starting February 2023 in your feeds.