App company CEO
Age at interview: 34 years
Country of birth: Australia
In this video
|0:00:00||Family & Football|
|0:09:28||Local and Cultural Communities|
|0:19:47||Culture and Language|
|0:25:36||Parent’s Involvement and Expectations|
|0:43:58||Experiences in Education|
|0:48:28||First Jobs and TAFE|
|0:59:48||Starting a Business|
|1:02:37||Skills and Characteristics|
|1:08:02||Asking for Help|
|1:09:56||Building an App|
|1:21:16||Managing two Businesses|
|1:22:51||Building an App|
|1:30:13||Advice for Pasifika Youth|
- Family and Football
- Local and Cultural Communities
- Culture and Language
- Parent’s Involvement and Expectations
- Family Relationships
- Cultural Identity
- Visiting Tonga
- Family Relationships
- Experiences in Education
- First Jobs and TAFE
- Fly-In-Fly-Out Work
- Moving Home
- Starting a Business
- Skills and Characteristics
- Asking for Help
- Building an App
- Specialised Training
- Managing two Businesses
- Building an App
- Community Support
- Advice for Pasifika Youth
- Cultural Identity
- Support during primary and high school
- Experiences of post-secondary education and training
- Developing Careers
- Experiences of Work
- Reflections and advice to young Pacific People
Family and Football
Yeah. So, hi, my name is David Fevaleaki. I’m a first-generation Tongan, first generation Australian from Tonga. So both my parents migrated from Tonga 40 plus years ago. And they both met in Sydney, had four kids. They got married, had four kids and life was too expensive so they moved to a small town called Robinvale where my father’s parents were living at the time and working in the grape vines. So I was only 10 months when we arrived in Robinvale. And I grew up on the block, out in a block and we moved into Robinvale, the town itself when I was five years old. And that’s when I started preschool and I did preschool all the way through to year 10. And at that stage I was selected for the TAC cup football team at the age of 16.
So I moved to Bendigo and I, at the age of 15, played TAC cup for three years as a 16, 17, 18 year old. And I moved on to play VFL for a year and for the Essendon Bombers. So, all my junior life growing up in Robinvale as the youngest in the family, I was competing with my older cousins who were athletic, they were just really talented musicians, I always looked up to them and I guess they were four, five years older than me. So, I always had that urge and that competitiveness about me to get the attention away from them so I can stand out. So, I guess a lot of my friends see me as a competitive person because of me growing up as the youngest, I was trying to compete against my older cousins that were four or five years older than me.
And I think that’s the norm for most Polynesian kids, always wanting to compete against their older cousins. And they tend to, they normally become better than the older cousins, which is the way it should be. Yeah, I think all my early days growing up in Robinvale, looking up to my older cousins, I was trying to compete and then my parents go out work every day out on the farm for 12 hours a day in 30-degree heat. I think that’s what gave me the drive of working hard.
They gave me the freedom to try new things. They weren’t, they didn’t, I guess they gave me the freedom to start a business. They were never holding me back. At some stage they were pretty strict. And when I did do things that weren’t, they didn’t see were the right thing to do, they would let me know. But majority of the time they, I had a fair bit of freedom from the age of 15, which isn’t normal, I guess that’s not normal for most Polynesian families because most Polynesian families are real tight knit and they always like to support. Whereas I spent a lot of my teenage years and my adulthood away from that. Which is, I think now when I look back on it, I think it’s something important that you need to have that family community network. Because it does put you in line. Your family and your relatives keep you in line, which is…at some stages, I probably needed them to keep me in line when I was living away. So yeah, that’s my early stage growing up.
You were saying that you think it’s important now to have that family network and that support around you. Are you saying that you would have liked to have had that a bit more in your earlier years of growing up because that had changed because you’d moved away? Does that make sense?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely. I think it’s really important to have that because of the three years I was living away, I was living with my sister and older cousin. And they were at the same stage of learning and developing as an adult and the ability for them to hold me accountable and to sort of be the parent wasn’t there. And the fact that I wouldn’t allow them to do that, to speak to me that way and I wouldn’t give them that control because that’s the way I was. And just having that stability from your family, your peers would have been able to help me develop as a young adult, which I didn’t have. It was a group of my friends who were the same age, we were learning off each other, making the same mistakes. Whereas having that, the older peers and the leadership that a lot of Polynesian families have, I would have been able to learn off their mistakes. Because I hear a lot that you learn more when you make your own mistakes. That is right in some states, but a lot of the mistakes I could have made would have been better getting told from someone that made the same mistake. So yeah, definitely important.
What do you think are the reasons for your family or your older relatives or just your support network, why do you think, like the old ones I’m meaning, why do you think that they weren’t able to give you that support? And I know distance is one thing because you’ve moved away from home. But what do you think are some of the other motivating factors for why they probably couldn’t support you the way that you wanted?
I’ve always thought about this a lot. The three years that I played football my parents didn’t come to one game. And I think it’s just to understand that they didn’t understand how important this was or how high of a level the football was. Or they didn’t see that football was the most important thing, it was the education. So I guess Aussie Rules back then, wasn’t well known to the Polynesian community. And I just happened to be one of the ones that made it to a high level. So I think just understanding the importance of that through football, but also through education and other things that were happening when I was living away, they believed that I was okay. So if someone, I feel that if a family member in the Polynesian family are doing okay, you don’t tend to reach out and see if they’re okay and try to support them. It’s usually the ones that aren’t doing okay, that are getting in trouble. That’s where a lot of the attention gets directed. So, because I was living away, I was doing well in the sport, that was an indication of me being okay. So yeah, I think that’s one of the reasons as well.
When you think about the way you grew up and your upbringing, do you think your experience is really different, is vastly different to that of your brothers and sisters? Or do you think that you guys share some similar experiences growing up?
Yeah, definitely. I think the older two, my older brother and older sister, they had a similar upbringing because for VCE they moved away to Mildura and completed their VCE there. So they had that same experience and on the weekends we’d go up and visit them. Me and my sister had the same experience moving to Bendigo completing VCE. And so there were similarities there. My youngest sister, that’s a year older than me. Me and her are very independent. We take after, I guess my mother, very independent, very strong minded and my older brother and older sister probably take more after my old man. Just calm. Don’t really like confrontation. And, and yeah. So the older two are similar to, I guess, my father and myself and my younger sister was more closer to my mother.
Local and Cultural Communities
In regards to your growing up, David, what about your experience in the community? So, like what do you remember as you were growing up as a Tongan kid in this rural town of Robinvale. What do you remember? Your experiences in both the Tongan community and the non-Tongan community
Yeah. So I guess what I remember is it was very welcoming when new community members or new Tongan families arrived into the town. It was, I guess like a, there was always a house-warming and everyone used to get around and I guess support, say hello and give some type of welcoming present. And church is a big factor. I remember growing up always being at church on the Sundays and then going, everyone being around each other on the weekends at church for two, three hours. And then everyone will sit down to eat together while all the kids are outside playing. And most likely I got a hiding or something like that, but yeah, so all the kids are out playing and that’s what I can remember. It was really family orientated, based around the church and a awesome support network, from what I can remember. And yeah.
Comparing what you grew up with when you were younger, what’s your involvement now, like in terms of your engagement with both the Pasifika community and outside of that too, based on where you are?
Yeah. So, I guess my involvement has been very minimal and that’s just, I guess, due to me not ready to be a part of a leadership group or a community. I’ve never, ever seen myself as a leader, even through playing sport. Whereas now going through everything and experiencing ups and downs and understanding, I guess, how the world works and how important it is to have leaders, how important it is to share knowledge. I guess that’s why I’m starting to get involved now and trying to share my knowledge, if it has any value. And yeah, so my involvement has just begun and moving forward.
What has been, what are some of the things that have led you to this point to make you think, “Oh, maybe I need to look at being more involved.” What are some of the things that have inspired you to do that?
Yeah, I think what’s kick started it, me wanting to get involved, is my entrepreneur journey as well, which is the current business I’m working on now. The group of people that you’re surrounded are around positive people, they change your mindset and they give you some, they give you this confidence that I’ve never had before. Growing up and going through those stages of playing at elite level football, I’d never ever felt that I deserved to be here. I deserve to be around these real good players. Although my confidence, I put in a artificial confidence through that stage because I didn’t have the parents, I didn’t have the family pat me on the back saying it’s a good job. So I had to create this artificial confidence. Which I believe, which a lot of people would have seen as arrogance. And I think it did come across as arrogance.
So, now I’ve changed that artificial confidence into, I guess, positive confidence that you deserve to be here. So now I’m dealing with multi-millionaires, I’m networking with multi-millionaires, but being around all these positive people and creating this mindset, I believe I belong here. So now that I’m thinking more positive, I’m thinking more about, okay, they’ve given me this opportunity, they’ve taken the time out of their busy day to send me a message through LinkedIn or send me an email, send me some feedback and be my mentor and advisor. I feel now that I need to do the same thing and pass the same thing on. But also to the next generation of Polynesian kids, Tongan kids like me, they grew up in a small town out in the bush called Robinvale and just share it with them. To give them at least a little bit of a roadmap on these are the obstacles you can avoid to save you time, save you money, save your stress. And yeah, that’s what kick started it.
You mentioned that in your journey now that you’ve come across some mentors that have been able to help you. So, do you feel like that you lacked having sort of leadership and mentorship in your earlier life? And do you think that that’s influenced some of the things that you’ve done?
Yeah, definitely. Definitely. I think the sooner you get a mentor, advisor or look up to, I guess, the mentors I used as a kid growing up would have been my older cousins at that stage. But then moving away at 15, there were no mentors or they were all the same age or at the same level mentally. And if I was to have the mentors I have now back then, the outcome could have been, would have been a lot different. So, I moved to, after TAC cup, having those mentors that they could tap you on the shoulder and say, “You don’t need to go out Thursday night, you’re playing Saturday. Get yourself ready for the game. Saturday night, maybe then you can go out.”
Whereas I went out Thursday nights, I went out Saturday nights, I went out Friday nights before games. And that was, in the end, that was my downfall when I was playing VFL. So, very important, if I was to say to my future children, or if I was ever to recommend something, I would make sure that their network and they were getting mentors, advisors, the right ones at a young age, 14, 13, like that type of age. So, they’re looking at, or they’re surrounded around people like Dusty Martin or they’re looking up to players that are at a high calibre doing good things.
What do you think is some of the reasons for why we don’t have enough of our own people out there being mentors and leaders in the community? So, I think we obviously have like the usual, our community leaders in church, but I mean, outside of that, what do you think are some of the reasons that influence why we don’t have more of our, like we didn’t have more of these like good examples for our kids to look up to?
Yeah, that’s a good question. I’ve thought of this a lot as well. And I think it’s the fear of being judged. As we’re growing up as a Polynesian kids there’s a pecking order in the way that the families are run. And having someone that’s moved away, say, for example, at the ages of 18 to go away to complete a university degree, they’ve been away for six, seven years. They’ve built a successful business. When they come back and they try to, or they come back and they’re starting to visit family. There’s, from my personal experience, and I guess from a few of my relatives is that some of the family members try to pull them back, pull them back down. Even if they come back confident the family members, some of the family members might pull them down.
So they don’t want to really come out and share their knowledge because of that reason that they’re going to feel like they’re going to be judged or they’re going to be pulled back down or told to…don’t think you’re better than everyone. And I don’t think that’s just with the Polynesian family as well. I think it’s a lot of different cultural families. So yeah, the main reason would be judgment and the network, the community, a lot of Polynesian communities are strong, but being able to broaden the network to be able to tap into the tech world, the sport world, the wall street or anything like that, any other markets, it sort of doesn’t really spread out that far. It’s mainly just family and then I guess church, and to me, my personal experiences, that’s as far as it goes. So yeah, just the network, the networking and being judged is a big one.
Culture and Language
Can you just talk a little bit about your experience with your understanding about your culture? Like what you understand, what you think have been, what do you think is really great things about the culture and what are some things that are maybe some things that you find are challenging and how do you think your understanding of your culture has informed the way that you live your life?
Yeah. I guess the cultural side, I don’t really know much about it. Because I’ve always, growing up I sort of fought against it because I’ve been someone that’s always questioned a lot of things. And questioning things always ends up getting the slipper in the back. So yeah, my understanding isn’t that deep. I think in 2012, 2013, I started to do research about the Tongan civilization back, back in the past when we were combined with Fiji, Samoa and it was a massive kingdom. So the culture right now and me growing up, I think my…although I don’t seem like I’m really family orientated, I’m usually the first one, if a family member or a friend calls and they need help, I’m usually the first one to be there or reach out. So that side I think is massive to my upbringing as a Tongan.
And I think it can play a big part. Like when I moved away I didn’t have no leaders, I didn’t have that family ties back and that community feeling. Like I’ve never, ever felt like, I never felt like I belonged anywhere. Only time I really feel like I belong somewhere is when I come back home and that’s when I travelled around Australia, working in Australia, I’ve made thousands of friends all across Australia, but even living in Bendigo, Melbourne I don’t feel like I’m home until I get back and I’m surrounded around family. So yeah. I’m not sure if that answered your question, but…
You know how you mentioned that you probably don’t have, you don’t know much about your culture, what do you think is some of the reasons behind why you probably don’t have as much awareness around your culture? Are there any obvious reasons why you think that is?
Yeah, I think it’s just the age gap, because my older brother and older sister, they understand, they understand, they can speak the language, they can understand the language really fluently. And I think my sister, my youngest sister, she can understand it a bit and speak it a little bit. And then I think it’s just a generation thing. Getting down to myself, I can understand it when it’s just one on one conversation. So yeah, it’s just the generation thing. I guess it happens with all cultures. When they move to a foreign country, the culture starts to, you start to lose a little bit of the culture. But I guess the Jewish community is a good example. They hold their culture. Their culture is…no matter what country that they moved to, they hold their culture. Everyone understands the culture, the Jewish culture, no matter what country they go to. So I’ve always thought of that, on how were they able to hold on to their identity, even though they’ve been around for a long time and moved to countries all over the world, they still have their identity and are still very strong to this day.
Tell me a little bit about your interaction with your parents and what that’s like in terms of practicing your language at home. Like what sort of things that you observed your parents participating in in terms of like cultural things?
Yeah. So I think with me, I had a fair bit of freedom at the age of 11 to go away and start playing football, local football. So on Sundays that’s when the game was played. So I think at 11 I stopped going to church. So my older brothers and older sisters, they had all that time to be around the family, speak the language. And whereas at 11 that’s when I stopped going and I started playing football. So a lot of my friends growing up were Aussies, Aboriginals. There was maybe one or two Tongans I sort of really spoke to and that was my cousins. And even though my cousins were the same age as me, they didn’t really…they weren’t in the same stage as me.
Besides those two, three cousins I hung around, all the rest were Aussies, Aboriginals that I played footy with. So, I ran the football club at football training. You just spoke English. So I think that’s why it…that’s why I don’t have the understanding and the knowledge of the culture.
Parent’s Involvement and Expectations
Can you speak about what level of engagement your parents had in the community with their cultural sides, and were they actively engaged or were they…what do you think in terms of the way that you saw your parents interacting with the community?
Yeah. So, my parents have always been actively active in the Tongan community. Any function, anything that happened in the community, I think 99% of the time, my parents were involved organising things, getting…offering to…I guess not offering. I think it’s that that’s just the done thing. If there’s a wedding, if there’s a funeral, one of my parents will either be there cooking the things or getting something ready. So, they were highly involved in the Tongan community.
Do you feel like there’s some expectations that you may have felt from your parents on you to help support some of the things that they were involved in? Do you ever feel like there was that expectation, or do you feel like that goes back to that same point that you make about having the freedom, just to you focus on what you need to focus on?
Yeah, I think it stopped at the two eldest. My oldest brother, older sister are expected to, if there’s a function, they’d get a phone call. They have to be there. Myself and my youngest sister, we weren’t…I guess we didn’t have as much to do with that. Or my parents let us do what we needed to do, and didn’t get us totally involved with that side of the community.
So, can you speak a little bit about just your life in terms of the sorts of relationships you have with your extended families, What sort of relationships are they, and what’s it like with both your mum’s side and your dad’s side?
Yeah. So, my personal relationship with my family, I think I’ve always grown up really picky and really like…I don’t even know where it comes from. But I’ve always…although my extended family is very large, for some reason I only picked two family members. One’s a first cousin and one’s a second cousin. And I said, besides them two, everyone’s not related to me. That’s what I did. Oh, I don’t even know why it started, but that was the decision I made at a real young age that I only had the Tauelangis and the Taumoefolaus. They’re my family, no one else.
Don’t even know. I still try to work out when that happened, but I think that’s…I was around them every day growing up. I guess they were the only ones that reached out when I moved away at a young age. And I think that might have a little bit to do with it, that I moved away and they’re the only ones that contacted me. So, I’m still trying to work that out, what the reason was. But yeah, they’re the only family members that I go out of my way to communicate with. But yeah, it’s still trying to work out why I decided that.
Reflecting on just where you’re at in terms of your journey with your culture, your language, do you think that these are things that you would like to pick up now? Is it something that you value now or are you still okay with in terms of where you’re at in your understanding?
Yeah. Yeah. I’m always trying to educate myself about the history of Tonga and trying to understand the psychology behind the way I think, the way I process things as a first generation Australian. So, every week, every month, I’m always looking for new information about my heritage, my parents, family, the generations it goes back and…Don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty sure what I found was that going back a few generations, I’m Samoan and Fijian bloodline from the beginning. And that the generat-…after the big war, with Samoa, one of the kings of the villages, is my ancestor. So, he was told to pick a block of land, pick a wife. I’m not sure if it’s pick a wife but, and that lady ended up…oh, I think she was Fijian or part Fijian. So that our bloodlines come from Samoan Fijian and Tongan bloodlines.
So yeah, it’s definitely something that means a lot to me to try to understand and try to educate myself. Because my partner now is Italian and the way that how close she is with her family. I look at that and try to understand why aren’t I that close with my family? And she understands the village they come from. And now she’s pushed me to try to understand, okay, that’s how deep I want to understand my heritage and my culture.
Have you actually gone back to Tonga at all?
Yeah. So, the first time was in 1996, and the second time was…so sorry, the first time was 1996. Second time was 2017. So 2017, I took my partner back for my nan’s 90th birthday.
And how did you find that whole experience of going back on both those occasions? How did you find the first time you went back, and then going back the second time around?
Yeah. So, the first time I think I was only 10 or 11. That was fun. A lot of fun. Even though we weren’t allowed to do anything, we weren’t really allowed to leave the house. It was just like a journey. It was like exploring, running around bare feet, and seeing pigs fly around that aren’t even caged, and then chickens flying around. And having a house backed up to the ocean that close, was just heaps of fun. And it was good to, even though I couldn’t speak Tongan, everything was being translated to me. It was heaps of fun. Yeah.
And what about when you went back in 2017? How did you find that experience? Obviously, because you’re much older now, how did you find that?
Yeah, 2017, it was…everything I looked at, because we went back to the same town, the same village and drove down the same road. I guess when I was younger, everything seemed bigger and better. But when we got back there, it wasn’t what I expected or it wasn’t as progressed as what I thought it would’ve gotten to that stage. But it was good to get back and be around the family and see the way of living is still similar to back then, and laid back, relaxed. Everyone’s happy and driving to different areas and taking in the information about ha’amonga and what it means. And going and seeing where my mother grew up just a couple blocks down from it. Understanding all that was really good to take that information in and understand in a bit more depth of the kings and all the plots and…sorry, not…yeah. Sorry. So, visiting the tombs of the kings and understanding those tombs that were built, the stones of that big…
I was about to go in and start talking about this documentary channels that I watch. But yeah, and I think after that trip in 2017, I come back home and I started looking into the history of how those tombs were built and where they date back to, and where they believe the people come from. And I think that journey just took me on, and understood that people that were traveling over from South America, structures that are built over in South America, that are structured the same way as what we have in Tonga, Easter Island. And that just made me understand even deeper that we’re all more interconnected than anyone even thinks. Because I think one thing that is common in society now is the way that buildings are structured around the world are similar. And now we’re finding the tomb of the king is structured similar to tombs that were structured in other places across the world. Which just makes sense to me that although we’re from Tonga or Australia, at some stage we’re all interconnected in the past.
Can you talk about your relationship with your parents and what that’s been like? So, we’ve talked about what you think, or how you perceive your relationship with your mum and then obviously with your dad.
Yeah. So, I guess my relationship with my mother has always been a clash of heads, always been independent, growing up being independent. And I think that’s what my mother wanted in me, to be independent and think for yourself. But not think for myself too much, because then we started to clash heads. And so, it’s always been a back and forth with me and my mother, because I’ve always wanted…if I wanted to do something, I’d go do it. Sometimes it’s been good. Sometimes it’s been bad. But the relationship with me and my mother’s been back and forth throughout the years. And now, I think it’s really strong as we grow up, as I start to understand the things that I thought that they didn’t do properly. I used to hold a bit of resentment against my mother, I guess growing up, going away, not playing footy.
Sorry, playing footy for three years, and them not coming and seeing me. I held resentment against them, because my brother would get in trouble, and they’d be there within a second. And that was a battle I’d never understood until I got into my mid-twenties, when I confronted my brother and I said, “Look, I’ve hold off…I’ve resented you because of when I was playing football, they’d never come and watch me for three years. But as soon as you got in trouble, they’d come and visit you.” And he said something that really just…what he said to me was, “The reason they didn’t come see you is because they knew that you’re okay. The reason they come and see me, because I was getting in trouble and I wasn’t doing okay.” So, after he said that, that was done, it was clear. It made sense to me. And I think if I never ever confronted my brother for that, I still would have been holding resentment against my parents. So, the relationship, I think my relationship with my mother has been as strong as ever.
And I guess my father has just always been, he’s always done what he’s told. So, he’s always been the one that’s always pushed. And I think my relation with my father, I never would’ve made it as far as I did with football if it wasn’t for my father. Because my schooling was no good. I was getting bad grades. I was getting suspended, and one thing my parent…my mother couldn’t take away from me, was playing football on Saturday and Sunday. She tried, but that was the only time my father would put his foot down. He goes, “No, he’s going.” And he would tell me to get in the car and take me, even though my mother was screaming to get back in the house.
Because…I guess my father has always pushed for the sports side of it. And my mother has always pushed the educational side, and it’s been a back and forth from me and my mother. And then I guess the resentment I had against my mother and my brother, all got dropped through that one conversation, the one I had with my brother when he just put it simple and it made sense.
That conversation that you had with your brother, have you been able to have that, the same sort of conversations with your mum? Can you describe what your relationship’s like with your siblings? And what role does communication play in your family? Because communication comes up a lot in Pasifika Island families in terms of how parents deal with their children, how children deal with their parents. What do you think communication was like in your family? And then, it sounds like, obviously it was really great that you were able to chat to your older brother and get that clarity. But have you been able to have these same sorts of conversations with other members of your family for certain things?
Yeah. I think my experience with communication growing up as a Polynesian kid in a Polynesian family is, we’re looked at as you’re here to be seen, not heard. So, it’s not a done thing for kids to come home and speak about their feelings to their parents. That’s seen, I guess, as whingy or as you must have done the wrong thing, if that’s the case that you feel this way. You may be in the right, but that’s the reaction you would have gotten back in my days growing up. I think it’s starting to change now. But yeah, the communication stuff, being open, sharing your feelings, wasn’t a big thing in my family. It was be seen, not heard. But I think that was a lot of families as well in that generation of kids growing up.
If I compare it to my Australian mates, my Aussie mates growing up, that was totally different. They could say whatever they want. They come home, they had a problem, and it seemed like the parents always took their side. So, if they come home from school and they were suspended, the parents always took their side. I don’t know what the reason was, but that’s what I always saw. And I guess it goes into to business as well. I’ve seen a lot of my mates, the way that their parents supported them through business was very…what was done through experience. But I guess that’s their experience. The parents experience growing up and the roadmap that they were given, they’ve already had three, four generations of building businesses, understanding about how communication can help you foster a good relationship with your kids in Australia and in a Western world. Whereas I guess we’re the guinea pigs. We have to experience it and understand now that the reason why you were brought up this way is because that’s the tools your parents understood. And that’s the tools that they knew, that they were bringing from Tonga.
So, now on that type, that side of the communication on really understanding and I guess it’s helping me, and it’ll help a lot of people to try to understand where they’re coming from. Even though the way I see it now, even though my parents were always against me when I come home, and it felt like they were yelling at me or they were against me, everything that they were doing still come from a place of love, but they’re using the tools that they know.
Experiences in Education
Just touching back on your schooling, David, how you’re fortunate to have your dad support you in your sporting, because you struggled in school. What are some of the things that you struggled with in school and why?
Yeah, I…this is actually something I’ve been really thinking about as well. And I think a big part of it has been, back when we were going to school, every student is seen as the same student. Whereas, I think my type of learning is more visual and through listening. And the writing wasn’t really something that I enjoyed doing too much. So, I guess the type of education is more flexible now, depending on the way that…so, I think now it’s a bit more science based. They can understand this student, he’s taking more information visually and through listening to audio. And I’ve always been a hyperactive kid, and I think that’s got a lot to do with my diet when I was growing up as a kid. A lot of the foods that I ate were not…they weren’t high in nutrition.
So, I lived off Nutella and white bread for a long part of my life. And when my parents used to give me my lunch envelope to give to the front desk or put into the front tub, I’d take the money out and I’d buy lollies with that money. So, I think about it as in, when I play sport, I need to think of what I’m eating the day before, what I’m drinking, how hydrated I am. And all the foods that I’m thinking about as a kid growing up, going to school, the nutritional value was really zero. So, I can imagine what my body, what my brain, hydration…and now I understand what hydration does to your body, that what it does to your brain, I would have been constantly dehydrated. Trying to sit there, trying to focus, try to absorb all that information.
So, my brain during the most important times of development was getting fed lollies, Nutella, white bread, a lot of sugar. And yeah, I think it’s the type of teaching that they had back then. And the diet. The diet, as a kid that I had, the food that I was eating, would have played a big effect on the way that I was operating day to day.
So, recognising that those were some of the things that you, would’ve impacted your ability to learn. Because in the, with Pasifika the families and the schooling in the earlier years, it’s identified as being a struggle. So, what role do you think your parents could have had, or did have in terms of impacting your early education in school?
Yeah. If I was to compare it…the impact they could’ve had, I think I’d just compare it to my Aussie mates that I was growing up with, and what I had seen their parents were doing for them. They had tutors, they used to come around. If they couldn’t get the homework, the parents would invite tutors around to help them. Or the school would offer tutors, they would say yes. Whereas, I guess that could have helped a lot. They would have helped to understand, have the one-on-one person without no distractions, without trying to be the class clown, and just doing that one on one, would have helped. But apart from that, I can’t think of anything in specific that they could have done.
First Jobs and TAFE
Now, we’re just going to shift a little bit now and start talking a little bit about your career journey and some of the different stages that you took, from the early part of your sporting, and then you switched. So, if you could just talk a little bit about that journey of your career life. And so where you started and then where you’re at now?
Yeah. My first real job was at Hungry Jack’s in Kangaroo Flat, where I was working, doing split shifts. Yeah, I was either working the afternoon or the midnight shift. And then my first full time job was when I started my apprenticeship. So, straight after VCE I was offered a job as a solid plasterer, So, rendering. And I did that for five years. And I was, every week at the end of the month, I would travel down to Melbourne where I conducted trade school [TAFE name] for a full week, and did that for four years, and stayed on working for that same employer for one year, and decided that I wanted to make more money, and used my connections and my networks through football to get some work as a sole trader. So, I went out at the age of 21 as a sole trader and worked for a number of businesses around the Bendigo, Castlemaine, Maryborough area for three years.
And then I moved to Melbourne, and I went on and started doing work in Melbourne for a year as a retro, as a sole trader continued. And I got an offer from a local that was visiting, to play football for their football club in Mount Isa. And if I was traveling down there, they would fly us down there, get us accommodation, get us into the mines and put us through certificates and licenses. So, I took that chance, took that opportunity, and I moved down there, started doing fly in fly out work as a…so, I worked in the mines for about eight months in Mount Isa. And then I got another opportunity to work building a power station as a rigger. Because at that stage I went through, did certificates. I’ve got my rigging certificate. So, I became a rigger and started building the power station. And I was on that project for six months, and got another…so, I landed another job in Gladstone for a large company. They built the Hoover Dam in America, and they’re one of the largest construction companies in the world. And that was a $24 billion project. And the roster was four weeks on. They’d fly you home for one week. So I did that for a year and a half on that project. The same job, rigging. And that was a real good opportunity though. I learned so much on that job. How, I guess, supervisors and superintendents operate at a high level and how the logistics of everything, when you have 6,000 workers there. What really needs to be involved to feed them, to clothe them. Just seeing all that operation really got me, my mind thinking on where…
At what level do I need to get to be potentially seen, and being a supervisor, superintendent. So after that project, I moved to then to another project with them in Western Australia and the same position working as a rigger. And I was there for a period of time, and I guess the three and a half years of me working in a fly-in, fly-out position just took the toll on me. So being away for three weeks on, one week off for three and a half years, you don’t realise how much of an impact it has on your health, on your life, your mental state. I went from being really outgoing, I loved to socialise, to getting home on that one week, and I didn’t want to speak to anyone. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I would go to functions, family functions.
I’ll try to avoid my friends calling me to catch up. So looking back on that now, I didn’t really understand how bad my mental state was and how much of an impact that, although it was good money and you’re earning 3000 plus dollars a week. When I weigh it up, the impact on your life, it’s not worth that amount of income. If I was to go back, I would have moved. I would have moved there. So you don’t have that…you can go back to sleep in your own bed, go to work, and you’re still making the same amount of money, but you’ve also got a normal-ish life. And you’re able to focus on your health, which I think is a major part. And is a major problem in the fly-in, fly-out industry from what I’ve seen.
So, I guess after that, I decided to come home and I started working on the 3G upgrades. So working as a rigger, replacing all the antennas for the 3G. And that was my footstep into working with, I guess, the network. And then, I guess, a toll and being away from home, I ended up separating with my wife. So we separated and I moved back to Bendigo, moved in with family friends, and I was sort of not sure what I was going to do. And I guess my mental state from moving back home, then having to go through a divorce, then having to move back in with me mates and not being in the right mind frame. I started another business with another friend of mine, putting up fences and also rendering as well with businesses.
And that was going well. And I didn’t know at that stage, but what was happening to me was, I was trying to block everything out. And what was happening was my performance, on the job site, on a Monday to Friday was starting to slip. So instead of facing the problem, I would just push the problem and not want to deal with it, which I think is a big, big problem with Polynesian adults at this stage. Not being able to understand how to deal with emotions and how to control it. And I think it’s…you just keep on telling yourself, I’m all right. I’m not a sook. I’m going to fight through this. I’m not going to go tell anyone the way that I feel because that’s not me. And I fought that for a long time.
And my friends sat me down and said, “Look, we know something’s wrong.” And that was probably the turning point in my life where they sat me down and they could see it. And I couldn’t bluff it, I couldn’t lie. So I let everything out, I told them. And then I was homeless, after that. What I mean I was homeless is that they, because I guess I was living like a 21-year-old, I was going out, going out drinking and they were looking to start a new family, a small family. So I just said, “Look, I’ll move out tomorrow.” So I moved out, and not having a house to move to. I’ve just started a business. And everything, I just, I guess that was the rock bottom for me, or I thought it was the rock bottom for me.
And I just reached out to a friend who had a spare room where I could go stay. So I was like, oh, okay, let’s get this. We go there, we’ve dealt with that, I’ve confronted it. Then I got there and then things, I think, things got worse with the business because I guess I was still trying to deal with my divorce. Getting kicked out from my best mate and his house. And now I’ve got to focus on building a business and then a month after that my sister passes away. And then everything’s just sort of hit me. And then what I’ve done again, I’ve done the same thing. I’ve pushed all my feelings aside and not dealt with it, there and then. I’ve just held it. And then I decided that I’m not going to be able to work because I’m just not in the right timeframe.
I need to go home. And then, so that business, my mate still runs that business now. So I moved home. And at that time, when I, when I moved home for the first, I guess, six months, seven months, eight months, it felt like I’d failed again, because I’ve gone away, done all these things away. And then I’ve ended up in the same place where it’s felt like I’ve done a full circle and I’ve ended up where I started, with nothing. Just the clothes on my back and then started working at the farm. The farm that I said would have been my dream job while I was back there. And I was working there still trying to deal with being divorced, getting kicked out of my mate’s house, losing my sister and then losing two other family members. I’ve got four family members.
And this all happened in the space of a year, a year and a half. So I was trying to deal with all that and trying to push it aside. And I decided, I guess I need to do something about it. I need to get my life back on track.
Starting a Business
And that’s when I decided, okay, I’m going to start my own business again. And that’s when I started rendering again, back in Mildura. But I think, what I realised when I was back rendering, it wasn’t something I wanted to continue to do. Which I’ve always felt that the rendering was just a way for me to get out. I didn’t know what that way was. I didn’t know, was it going to be an investment? Was it going to be starting on a business?
Was it going to be owning the material that’s needed to be rendered? My mind was always thinking like that. And then I just used all those experiences in a good…about two years ago, I started listening to Tony Robbins podcast. Probably the best thing I’ve ever done in my life was to listen to his podcasts and the stuff that he’s continues to say and continues to reassure you about through his podcasts. That’s what pushed me to…anytime something comes to my mind that I think is an idea. I don’t discuss it. I don’t think about it. I don’t tell anyone about it. I just execute it. And that was the best thing I did because if it wasn’t for a year listening to Tony Robbins, when that time come down for me to make the decision to contact the developers for Back Picker, which is, I guess, the app that we’re looking to build now, and we’ve started to develop. I never would have had the confidence to make that call, to call the developers.
And then within two months, I raised $22,000 from friends. One of them being the friend that kicked me out because, even though he did kick me out, I understand the reason why, but all my friends who have invested into my idea have always seen me…although they said they see me as…sometimes I can go off the rails, but they always believed in me that when I had my mind set on something, they’ve always believed me. And that’s what they’ve told me. They said like, when you called and you gave the idea and the way that I spoke, I was confident, I was passionate. I was able to give them clarity on, this is how we’re going to do it. They invested, and now Back Picker is the main focus, but at the same time, I’m still rendering because I need to be able to survive and pay the rent, pay for food. So that’s my whole work career, sort of put into a short story.
Skills and Characteristics
It sounds like you’ve had a really diverse career. You’ve worked in various roles and in various locations as well. So what do you think is some of the qualities that you have picked up along the way that’s helped you move from one step to the next? What are some of the key skills and key qualities that you think have really kind of helped you progress from one step to the next?
Yeah, I think in the beginning was…confidence had a large part to do with it. And what I used to say, I used to convince myself that I belong here with these footy players. Even my closest friends, they were very confident, very loud. So that gave me the skill to be confident. Even if I’m not confident, I can fake it. Which is a good thing. I think if you can fake being confident, you got to brainwash yourself to tell yourself that I can do this because if no one has confidence in you, at least if you’ve got it, that’s all that matters.
Because I think that’s one quality that I got from at a young age, having confidence. If you don’t have confidence, fake it. And creating a network that works for you, not against you. Is a big one, I think, because you don’t want to put yourself with people that don’t want to achieve the same thing or better.
And I’ve always liked to surround myself around people that were better than me as well. Because if you think you’re the quickest, the smartest, the strongest in your group, you need to upgrade your group. And that’s how, I think, I’ve naturally done that. I’ve always wanted to be…I’ve always felt like I’ve been the dumbest, the weakest and the slowest in my group. So, that’s sort of always been my push to push me and it’s like, someone’s always better than me and I’m always chasing them.
And I guess in my professional life, I’ve always been like a sponge. I’ve always looked to the older guys that were in the trade for 10, 15 years older than me. And I always want to work with them at a young age. I’d always want to work with them because some of the older guys that were maybe in their sixties, a lot of the younger guys didn’t want to work with them because they didn’t have patience, they’d want it done now.
And I was up for that challenge to be yelled at so I can soak up his knowledge on how these type of renders mixed or how to do corners or how to do hard sets. All the techniques I was willing to put my hand up, to work with that, to cop the yelling and all that type of stuff. And I think that paid off because I ended up becoming a better tradesman than a lot of the ones that were in front of me, because I was willing to soak up, to take the punishment and in return, pick up that knowledge. And with the fly-in, fly-out, a big part is what I, on those jobs, is politics. Politics plays a massive part. When you get to that type of level of organisation, that high stakes. If you stuff up, you’re pretty much gone.
So, the politics of that, you got to be careful who you talk to, especially in a place where you’re working with 6,000 workers. You’re around 24/7, you all have to eat, sleep in the same place, although you’ve got your separate rooms. You all eat at same dining hall, you all drink at the same drink hall, you all work at the same site, you all catch the same bus.
So the tension, being able to control your emotions when someone’s annoying you. You just got to bite your tongue and just sort of play the game, because at the end of the day, when you get to that stage of working those organisations, it’s not who knows, who has the best knowledge, it’s who you know. That gets promoted to a space. And a lot of that is, I guess that the top guys, the superintendents, they want someone that can report back to them good or bad. So they tend to look for someone that isn’t liked very well. Doesn’t have many friends because they’re going to get back the honest on, okay, this is what happened, this is what happened. And they’re not going to feel bad about it. So something I learned from there was politics. Make sure that you just zip your mouth, come do your work, go home. So I learned from that to be able to control emotions and…yeah, just…
Asking for Help
Obviously you’ve gone through this journey and there’s been some really challenging times in your life where you’ve had to kind of deal with death and deal with all the emotions of going through your divorce and that. Did you, because I know you mentioned Tony Robbins was really influential and listened to his talk, did you ever seek any sort of help outside of that? To help you kind of work through your emotions Did you seek professional help or did you speak to anybody else outside of your influential circle of friends that really helped you to identify these things?
Yeah. I didn’t talk to any of my friends and I didn’t talk to anyone else. And I think the only other spot that where I was about to seek the help that I think would have helped me a lot, or I needed, was when, I think we had a few suicides on the project, working in Gladstone, in that fly-in-fly-out industry. And I actually, it was when I landed back after my one week home, my R and R, and I knew I didn’t feel right. I knew…I was trying to work out why I wasn’t picking up the phone calls from my friends and family, why I didn’t want to go out to dinners.
So when we got back to the project, we had a big meeting about the suicides. Pamphlets were handed out. I took the pamphlet, I took it back to me room and it had a number that you could call. And I called the number, and it rang and rang and rang, it felt like it was ringing for a long time. It was probably only ringing for five seconds. And then someone picked up and I hung up. So that’s as far as I got until two years ago when I started listening to Robbins.
Building an App
Can you just talk about how did you get to the point where you decided Back Picker was what you’re going to pursue? And just talk a little bit about the journey of getting it started and what were your struggles? What are some key learning points that you’ve come across and where are you at now with Back Picker?
Yeah. So, Back Picker wasn’t the first idea, or the first app, that I thought of originally. The actual, the first conversation was about an app that was for the barbershop, what do you call it? The barbershop industry. So that app was for the barbershop industry, because that was the reason I contacted the developers. Because I thought, I’d just finished getting a haircut. And I was thinking, why did I have to wait here for an hour? Why couldn’t there be like an app where you could just book it in. You don’t have to sit around and you get a notification when you’re 10 minutes, or two people before you have finished a haircut. So that was the first idea that came to my mind. But then…sorry. So I hadn’t called them, the developers, yet. And then Back Picker was always there as well.
And I started to go through Back Picker, and I didn’t think it was that important. And the third one was Sports Hub. So I had these three ideas and Sports Hub was an app that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. And it was a sports recruiting app, where players in all different sorts of sports can create a profile, the players can create a profile, the football clubs can create a profile. And it would become like a social network for sports players from elite level all the way down to grassroots.
So that’s the idea that I contacted the developers about, and we started going back and forth over about a time period of two weeks. Just going through how it’s going to work. And then we booked in a workshop meeting where I had to drive down to Melbourne, sit down with the team, go through all the features, how it’s going to work, the functionality.
And then when we finished that, I said, I’ve got another idea too. And I mentioned to him about the barber idea. And then they just looked at me and said, “That’s a crap idea.” That’s, the market’s not that big for barbershops. So we just left that and concentrated on Sports Hub and we developed Sports Hub, and about two weeks into the development stage, I thought…I took all the learnings from what we did with Sports Hub and I thought, I think Back Picker is actually, there’s a bigger market and we can do a lot.
Add a lot more value through my idea on how I want it to work. Through rating systems and through reviews and endorsements from other businesses and create like a 360 peer to peer rating system of business owners and job seekers. And create a rubric profile of the job seekers through gamifying the registration platform and engaging the next gen of future workers.
So they started working on that development too, for the prototype. So as we’re building out Sports Hub, two weeks in, we started building out Back Picker, just the prototype. So, and all before, while that was happening, I had to raise some money. And the first people I reached out to were my close friends, that I mentioned earlier, and I pitched to them the idea and two invested straight away. Altogether, in both products, I think there was eight people that invested. And all of them have been my friends for a long time. So that was exciting to actually be able to sell an idea. With nothing to actually show them. They invested. Which is something I learned, that your early investors, or your family and friends, don’t invest in the product. They invest in the person.
And that goes the same as investors, they don’t invest in the product or the idea, they invest in the person. So not knowing it, I was selling myself, which I guess I’ve been doing for 30 years without actually knowing it. And so we started the prototype, they got developed within, I think a month or two months, both of them. And I sort of, I hit a brick wall. Okay, I’ve got these prototypes, what do I do next? Oh, okay. I need to find investors. So without no knowledge on how to find investors. I just Googled investors and a company come up. And they had a function, or a program, where you can go pitch and they potentially will invest in your company. So I just got the prototype.
And I think that might been July and applied for this pitch night, to pitch in front of investors. Never done any type of public speaking, never spoken in groups larger than three, four that I didn’t know. I had to pitch in front of 50 people, five of them being seasoned investors. And me being me, I’m boosting myself up, creating that fake courage. I’m telling myself, you can do it. You can do it.
I applied, got accepted. And in October, I drove down to Geelong and got there at three o’clock. And I was just, yeah…I was that nervous. And I just kept on telling myself, just repeatedly telling myself. I listened to Tony Robbins all the way there. Had the headphones on, listening to him, just to try to boost myself. Then it comes to crunch time to go pitch.
Everyone was there, it was crowded. I couldn’t even breathe. I was that nervous. So what I played out in my head was…I actually had one chance to pitch. You only had one chance to pitch, practice pitch. And that was no good. My pitch was no good. I couldn’t even speak. And I was choking up because…and the amount of people were there, there was only five people there. So I was choking up in front of five people and there was still 45 plus to arrive, including the investors.
So what I decided was, no, I can’t let that happen. So I got my prototype out. I googled all the investors. I knew who all they were face by face. And while we’re having our standing around the table having nibbles and beers, I went up to each investor, showed him my prototype, explained the whole thing one-on-one. So that at least if I stuff up on the stage, they’re going to understand what the concept is.
Yeah. So, I went around, explained to them about the product and then when I got up and pitched, because I’d already presented that to the investors. I was that confident, the pitch come out perfect because I had no worries. I wasn’t stressed, because yeah…and, I guess that was just the beginning. And what happened after that day, they didn’t invest in me. They said it was a good idea. A good idea, but at that stage, they invest more in companies that have generated revenue or they’ve had some type of income coming through the business. And I was just at, basically, idea stage.
So I applied for a pre-accelerator program in Frankston, which run for three months, went through that interview process and I joined that accelerator program where we start from idea stage and they show you how to do-
I applied for accelerator program where they take start-up companies from idea stage all the way through to MVP, which is a live product that can be used. And that was one of the best things I’ve done so far was being shown how to structure your idea, how to focus on the problem, not the solutions that you’re going to create. You need to really work out that the problem is a big enough problem that people are going to give you money for that product. So understanding that was a big investment, which was only a $1,000 to join that three month program. And you go through product management, through marketing, through sales, through collecting data and using that data to create features that is going to add value to that end customer, understanding that and networking with other founders who a lot of them are…
I think I was the only founder there that hadn’t…that didn’t have a diploma or didn’t have a specific skill, whether it’s coding, whether it’s sales, which added a lot of value for me. Because I was able to ask a lot of questions from industry knowledge, industry secrets on how to develop a product at a low cost. I’m not sure if they got much value for me, but that’s where I found my co-founder, who is a developer, who was an international student and we worked together. And each week for that three months, we had to pitch in front of mentors, advisors that were invited to help us and share their knowledge of their journey as entrepreneurs that have developed products and pitching every week for three months.
And just that journey from driving from Robinvale all the way to Frankston every week sort of gave me that…it was like a drive. I needed to get here. I needed to do this.
Managing two Businesses
I had no time to waste when I got back home. Because I still had to do the rendering work cause I was still running my rendering company full time then.
So that was just a added sort of challenge for me to…how to manage the rendering and Back Picker, which now it’s 99% Back Picker now, which a lot of the stress has come off my shoulders. But the processes now going through that three-month program, everything I look at now is a process. Tying your shoelace, that’s a process, you grab your shoe…things as small as that. If you could break it down to a process, things would be a lot easier than you think.
Now when I look back at it I’ve always overcomplicated things. Whereas if you can break it down into, first step put your shoe on, second step tie your shoelaces, third step pull the tongue, stand up, stuff like that. If you’re able to look at complicated things like that, you’ll be able to move quicker in anything you do. Whether it’s starting a business, looking to start a business, looking to network. It’s all just the process. If you could break it down into simple format that you can understand, that makes sense to you. That’s all you need to do. And that’s the major thing I’ve taken out of that that course just break things into processes.
Building an App
What was it about app development that inspired? How did you get into app development? So you’ve gone through pretty much a trade, predominantly trades background. And then all of a sudden you now find yourself developing these apps. What was it and how did you get into app development? And did you need any specific skills or did you just go…what were the drivers for you?
Well, my first experience with app development would have been 2013. 2012, I started watching a lot of YouTube and a lot of information. And for some reason the algorithm would take me to app development, not sure why, but that’s just how the algorithm works. And that’s when I started to watch how things are built, how websites are built and I tried to teach myself and try to play around with coding, teach myself how to code. I wasn’t successful but I’d constantly watch companies like Apple and how they were developing, where they started. And that’s where I sort of got interested and got involved and started to think about the process of the app development, where it all starts. Sitting in my donga, doing fly-in-fly-out back in 2013 was when I started getting interested in it.
You said that you didn’t really have any sort of skills, you just kind of, you just Google online and you learn, so was it in the early stages really just kind of self-taught? You just self-teaching yourself along the way?
Yes, I can’t code myself. My co-founders did develop a bit, all that development in the beginning was outsourced to a development company. Again, I don’t code myself personally.
Of all of the concepts that you could have been working with and obviously Sports Hub was one of them, how did you then get to Back Picker? And go, “Yeah, this is something that I know that…” What have been some of the influences in your life that you think have led you to the point of developing Back Picker?
I think Back Picker, there’s a lot of things that influence Back Picker from working around Australia, working in different industries with traveling, backpackers, migrant workers, traveling into towns where there’s no work. And then when you ask them, “How did you not know there was work here?” Then they’ll go, “We don’t know. We just thought we’ll just travel here and see if there’s work.” So that’s when that side of it, sort of triggered us off that it’s…okay, this is a problem in Queensland. Then I’ll travel to WA, oh it’s a problem in WA as well, when you travelled to Melbourne it’s a problem in Melbourne as well. It’s a problem in every single state. So that, was one of the reasons. And other reason was a lot of the workers I worked with would talk about the previous work and how they were treated.
They weren’t paid, they were treated unfairly. And to the higher, to the extremes where they’ve exploited or some of their friends, their girlfriends were sexually abused. So hearing all those stories and just thinking that we’ve got this problem of, they’re not understanding where the work is. And they’ve got the other problem of the potential risk of exploitation and also having friends and family…and my parents working for farmers as well, who treated them properly. And they were the lucky ones.
So what’s happening is that they’re putting all the contractors into one basket with the farmers that do the right thing where, if we had the ability to promote the businesses that are doing the right thing, the businesses that are exploiting all the workers will slowly get pushed out. If we’re able to create a system that promotes the ones that are doing the right thing and the ones that aren’t, and that goes vice-versa towards the workers as well, promote the workers that are doing the right thing so that the business owners are receiving the best quality candidates for their business, but also the candidates are getting the connection with the best business owners that conduct safer workplaces.
So after sort of going back and forth with mentors and advisors and friends and family, we just found that that Back Picker is a problem…has a major problem right now that we can potentially create solutions to solve it. Whereas the Sports Hub one, we think it’s not that much of a problem. We could still probably create a business around it but we thought that…I thought that Back Picker resonated to me a lot more because of my upbringing, my experiences and my knowledge of the industry and, and how we can potentially help them solve a problem.
Have you received any advice from your own family or your community about this sort of work that you’re in?
Yeah. So my direct family, no, I guess no knowledge, but I reached out to your brother and he’s been following me or my cousins been following me and connected me with a fellow Polynesian or a family member. I think we’re related and he’s been open to help me. And he’s a developer in the industry that’s built a successful company in Australia, in the UK, in New Zealand and he understands the processes. I guess also my cousin who also has a IT, I think a IT company in Ballarat, who I reached out to and, and he’s happy to help where he can as well. So I think that, that the parts to the puzzle of people in the industry are out there, we just need to connect it and create a community of people in the tech world that are happy to help. Because I definitely know that they’re out there, it’s just a matter of bringing them together to say that, “Don’t feel judged, let’s create the next Tongan Elon Musk or something.” I don’t know.
Advice for Pasifika Youth
For our Pasifika youth out there who might want to pursue the same path as you, what do you recommend are some of the key tips that they should consider if they want to follow a similar path?
I think don’t be so hard on yourself. Try everything and anything. Ideas are left in your head to die. So you get them out there. You don’t need to have money to start a project. When I say MVP, which is your…it’s pretty much your first version of your product or your minimal viable product for Back Picker. We didn’t have to build that prototype. A bit of paper with contacts of business owners, contacts of job seekers, and us manually doing it on a spreadsheet that would have been an MVP.
So when, when people say they don’t have enough money, it’s just an excuse. So MVP, you don’t need money to start a business. There’s a lot of ways to do that. So I’m happy to help, if anyone has an idea and they think it’s…they want to get it out there. I’m 99.9% sure we could get the first version out there without spending a dollar. And that’s something that’s really important. Try everything, understand that. Don’t feel like, don’t put pressure on yourself when people judge you. Create a process, which is a process I’ve created is break it down.
So create a process on what happens is, a lot of people like don’t chase their dream or don’t do something because they feel like they’re going to be judged by family, friends, strangers. And what I’ve, learned is if you break down on the people that’s judging you or you feel like they’re judging you, you break down on why you actually care, they judge you. Is that something that you want to live? Do you want to have the life they have? Is it because they’ve got more money and they’ve got cars? And what you’ll find is everyone that you, that you feel like are judging you, you’re not going out and attempting or trying the thing that you want to try because you think they’re going to judge you, you’ll find out that you don’t want anything, nothing. There’s nothing in their life that you actually want.
So why should you care on why they judge you? So that’s one thing, break it down and create a process on who, the person you feel that’s judging you, that you actually care. You’ll find out 99% of the time that there’s nothing that you want from him so that will help you get past that fear of judgment and always look to develop a good mindset on why you feel this way. Which all comes down to what I understand now is, it’s just a chemical reaction and it’s something that’s being taught as a kid, every time a baby falls over while they’re trying to walk, they’re always picked up. They’re told to try again, they’re told to try again. It gets a little…I’m not sure what stage it is at in your life or at what age, but you start to fear failure and don’t look at failure as in…
The only time you do fail is when you give up, look at failure as a learning. So you’re falling over. You’re learning, you’re going to get stronger. And one with resilience is get comfortable feeling uncomfortable is a big one. Because as soon as you start feeling comfortable, that’s when things are going to go down and you’re not going to be on your A game when stuff goes bad. Just understand that your emotions, you need to be able to control your emotions when you have your wins, enjoy them. But when you have your losses, keep on that same level of enjoyment. So don’t go too high when you win. Because when you lose, you need to be able to keep that same momentum, that same attitude throughout to be able to succeed. So I think that’s it.
That’s more on a emotional level. In a beginning stage, you have that idea. Just go out, try it. You don’t need money. Create a spreadsheet. You got companies, eCommerce stores. You can do pre-sales. You can sell before you actually…you could just create a prototype of the shirt or the clothing, sell it, get the money, pay for material. So you don’t need money, go out, execute, and also do your market research at the early stage. You want to understand…if you’re not an expert in that industry, find someone that’s an expert in that industry. You need to understand how every part of the wheels, every part like how every cog works in that company or that bit of machinery so that you can understand everything. Every process that’s needed, whether it’s a delivery service. And that’s your idea.
You want to know? When it gets picked up, what time does it get picked up? How much fuel does it use? You want to know every little bit, how big the market is, who your competitors are. You need to understand what features, what value that they bring so that what you’re developing is either going to be better add more value in the product, or it’s going to be cheaper. And that’s going to come down to focusing on the problem.
So focus…in the beginning, you want to be 99.9% focused on the problem because your ideas pretty much your ideas, just an assumption, your own assumption on what the problem is. And until you collect data from the actual, your potential customers, it’s always going to be an assumption. So you need to have your idea, but if the data that you’re collecting back from the business owners or your actual users or customers, you need to listen to that and go, okay, now I need to pivot and go this way. Because the problem that I initially thought was the major problem isn’t the major problem this is, or you might find out it isn’t a problem. So then at least you know that you haven’t gone and spent money and you can move on to your next idea or your next project. So focus on the problem. You don’t need money to start an idea and just have a go.
Great. Thanks, David. And then just finally, how would you define success? So what does success look like for you? What does that mean in terms of education, money, health, what’s your definition of success?
I think this one has been one I’ve had since I moved away and it all started off, my plan was to make AFL, retire my parents and set up my family, be able to provide and not have to…I guess, have comfortable living like I seen. And I experienced that my Aussie friends had when I moved away to Bendigo and seeing how they lived and it’s comfortable, and they had the swimming pool and that’s what I wanted to be able to provide for my family. And that’s still what I want to do to now so if I’m able to achieve that for myself and for my family, for me then I’ve won. Anything that comes after that, it’s just a bonus. So that’s something I’ve had since I was…since I moved away, and also the business side of it, the success would be creating an impact that even after I’m gone, Back Picker has or this has created an impact, an improve, an added value to many lives even when I’m gone.
Knowing that you’re Tongan but you also were born in Australia and raised in Australia. What are some of the things that you recommend you would retain from your Tongan side How do we achieve that balance without compromising one for the other? That’ll be my last question. And then we can close out.
I think that the language. I think the language is very important. Some that of in the past couple of years, I’ve been trying to learn myself and trying to understand and trying to really listen to when my parents and my brother and that are speaking in Tongan. So I can pass that on to the future. But I think that the language, the tradition. The tradition of…I’ve been pushed and pushed away from it. And it’s not until now that you’re a bit older and I can understand that wearing a lot of the traditional clothing for weddings and all that sort of stuff is a very important part. And it still gives identity and creating that identity for the Tongan kids because and making it a priority and creating a environment that the Tongan kids that are born in Australia, they need to be told the story on why we wear these.
It’s exactly – that was something that we’ll never…that was never told to us, or it wasn’t told to us in a way that we can soak it up and it can engage us. And that’s going to be a difficult thing to do for the next gen. It’s definitely achievable. But I think it’s being able to tell that story on how things are done in tradition, why they’re done. And I think they’ll be able to be passed on and engaged in the next generation because the amount of information out there you can search the Tongan tradition is not in a website. You can’t search on why they wear these traditional clothing or what’s this for or what’s that for. If you’re able to create a search engine on the Tongan tradition on why things are done certain ways at the touch of the finger on the phone, you’d be able to search that. And then I think that would be easy to engage and transferable into the next generations.
Support during primary and high school
- Peers and friends as a source of support at school
- Support from parents during schooling (Part 1 & Part 2)
- Support from teachers and schools
- Transition from school to post-school education (Part 1 & Part 2)
Experiences of post-secondary education and training
- Experiences of university
- University journeys: Interruptions and finding one’s direction
- Diverse pathways towards university
- Experiences of TAFE
- Short courses and on-the-job training
- Early aspirations and current occupation
- Talking about future aspirations with family members
- Networks of family and friends
- Be proactive and seize unexpected opportunities
- Creating opportunities: Volunteering
Experiences of Work
- Benefits of being a Pacific Islander at work
- Engaging with Pacific community members through work (Part 1 & Part 2)
- Navigating family and career
- Future aspirations
Reflections and advice to young Pacific People
- ‘Akesa – Community Facilitator
- Ama – Lashing Business Administrator & Marketing Coach
- Annie – International & Community Development Specialist
- Ashirah – University student
- Cass – English Teacher, Writer, Project Manager, & President of the Victorian Kiribati Association
- Chris – Field Officer (HR)
- Christopher – Carpenter & Stonemason
- Crofton – Visual Effects & Animation Specialist
- David – App company CEO
- Elisabeth – Teacher
- Elvina – Building Services Mechanical Engineer
- Fipe – Cacao Products Manufacturing Business Owner
- Grace – Airline Customer Service Agent
- Leki – Physiotherapist
- Luisa – Registered Nurse
- Malelega – Legal Assistant
- Marita – Writer
- Rose – Workplace Consultant
- Sefita – Community Engagement Officer
- Semisi – Lawyer
- Talei – Lawyer & Community Engagement + Government Relations Consultant
- Teisa – Medical Doctor
- Tevita – IT Professional
- Thom – Make-up Artist
- Venna – Lashing Business Owner & Trainer