An interview with the interviewer
Jake Millar is the 22-year-old co-founder of Unfiltered – a platform that offers access to hundreds of exclusive interviews with successful entrepreneurs.
Jake Millar is the 22-year-old co-founder of Unfiltered – an online platform that offers subscribers access to hundreds of exclusive interviews with highly successful international entrepreneurs.
NZB: What were your goals when you started Unfiltered and has the platform met your initial expectations?
Jake: I co-founded Unfiltered to disrupt traditional business learning and inspire business brilliance. In 2017 it is easier than ever to start a new business due to ‘the ‘shrinking world’ (globalisation). However, the way people learn about business hasn’t changed. Universities and colleges around the world are teaching outdated material, and busy entrepreneurs have less time to read dense business books.
We believe that the best way to learn about business is to get out there and do it, but you can drastically reduce the mistakes you make, and achieve even greater success, if you learn from the experiences and wisdom of the world’s best entrepreneurs.
Unfiltered is focused on democratising the knowledge and wisdom of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, and making it accessible to hungry, hustling entrepreneurs everywhere. We have been blown away by the incredible interviews we have attracted, from Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, to Spanx founder Sara Blakely, to Sequoia Capital founder, Don Valentine – and the uptake has been amazing.
NZB: What is your strategy behind the launch of the Version 2 product?
Jake: Unfiltered is an edtech company, focused on business learning. Our focus is to drive fast business learning, and Unfiltered V2 will drive us closer towards that goal. Essentially it will allow our subscribers to search for answers from the world’s greatest entrepreneurs based off a specific question they may have (for example, ‘How do I attract my first investors?’).
Subscribers will be able to learn quickly, in bite-sized snippets, from videos that are relevant to the stage of the business journey they are at.
All of this content will be available on our brand new app, in transcript, video and podcast.
NZB: Out of all the high-profile business people you’ve interviewed, which ones stick in your mind the most?
Jake: I’m incredibly fortunate to have interviewed over 400 of the world’s most successful people, through my two start-ups OOMPHER and Unfiltered. One of our most recent interviews was Tina Sharkey, Co-Founder & CEO of Brandless, and Co-Founder of iVillage (acquired by NBC Universal for $600 million).
The reason Tina’s story blows me away is because of the ginormous size of her vision. Brandless is an online subscription FMCG business, and everything is just $3. Companies like Dollar Shave Club have become billion dollar companies launching with just one product, whereas Brandless launched with over 100 products in July 2017. They raised $50 million pre-launch. It’s a massive vision, and has the opportunity to become one of the world’s great companies.
NZB: Why is your support for Lifeline so important to you?
Jake: At Christchurch Boys’ High I often felt like a square peg in a round hole. I didn’t play rugby or cricket, was passionate about start-ups and business, and had a goal to become head boy. That wasn’t considered cool by many of my peers, and my four years at boarding school were often very difficult.
I was very lucky to have some incredible teachers who supported me and my goals. However, other students aren’t so lucky. I realise how difficult the school environment can be for students who don’t fit in, and how for some kids it feels like there’s no way out.
New Zealand has the highest youth suicide rate in the OECD and I believe a lot of this comes down to how judgemental New Zealanders can be.
I felt passionate about supporting Lifeline; to do my bit in turning these terrible numbers around, and reassure kids that it’s okay to be different.
NZB: How are you supporting Lifeline?
Jake: My goal was to raise $100,000 for Lifeline over one year through organising four fundraising dinners. However, we managed to raise $55,000 at our first dinner alone. It was hosted by Zuru co-founder Nick Mowbray at his Coatesville mansion, cooked by celebrity chef Ben Bayly. Our next event is in March and we’re flying two helicopters to Waiheke Island for lunch and wine tasting, thanks to the generosity of the Huljich Family, Tantalus Estate and Heletranz.
NZB: You’ve just become the new ambassador for Huawei – what do you find most exciting about this partnership? Why choose this brand?
Jake: Huawei are leading the way in smartphone Artificial Intelligence globally, and their new Mate 10 smartphone is without doubt the most advanced smartphone on the market. I was really energised about the opportunity to get involved with one of the world’s great brands, which is truly leading the world through its product innovation.
Unfiltered is all about helping entrepreneurs achieve business brilliance, and that is impossible to do without good technology. The partnership felt like a natural fit for me, and I have been blown away by the features the Huawei Mate 10 boasts.
The Mate 10’s language translation function is another favourite – the phone can translate over 60 languages instantly, either by speaking directly into the device or by taking a photo, which the phone will in turn translate.
NZB: What is your advice to school leavers and/or graduates who also want to make a success of their lives through entrepreneurship?
Jake: Be a little bit cheeky, and don’t necessarily listen to conventional wisdom. When I was at high school, everyone expected me to accept the $40,000 law scholarship I was offered by the University of Otago and study law – my mum, the headmaster, my peers. But I was determined to launch a startup. I think most young people listen to their parents and teachers and go to university because that is what is expected of them, and because it is ‘the right thing to do.’
My advice to any young person is to work out what you’re truly passionate about, and do it.
NZB: What are your top three tips for business owners who want to take their business to the next level?
Jake: Consider tackling new markets. While it is possible to build a very valuable business by only focusing on the New Zealand market, it’s important to be ambitious, think global, jump on a plane, and explore new markets.
Realise that culture is performance. Building a high performance culture is critical because it drives results. Obsess over how you can create a world-changing employee experience, and results will follow. Your team is your most valuable asset, and modern employers are competing on culture, not just product.
Focus on your business, not in it. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind as an entrepreneur. But remember, the enemy of execution is business as usual. Hire amazing leaders around you to free up your time to focus on expansion, product innovation, culture and sales.
NZB: What’s the best piece of business advice you ever received?
Jake: The best businesses solve real problems. It’s easy to come up with an idea for the next Facebook or Snapchat in the shower, however you can massively increase your chances of success if you’re absolutely certain there is a market for the product you’re building. I always recommend the following a four step plan of market validation:
- Identify a specific industry you are passionate about disrupting.
- Speak to everyone you can in that industry, and work out what their most painful problems are. What is keeping them up at night? What are their biggest frustrations? What consumes all of their time, and could be made drastically better?
- Once you’re clear on a new product, in a specific niche, that is going to save people time, money and make their lives easier, try and sell it to real customers before you build it to minimise your risk.
- Build the product. By this point you can be confident that there is a market for your product, because you already have paying customers. This will massively reduce your risk.