Kevin Garber is an “African entrepreneur living in Australia” he is the founder of Melon Media and co-founder of 89n.
To give you a quick rundown, no Im not making this up:
89n is co-founded by Kevin Garber – an Australian (ex-African) entrepreneur who likes yoga, tofu and shooting staff members with lasers (seriously), and James Peter – a man whose brain has most-likely been sent back from the future and augmented with super-smart technology.
89n is the home of a bunch of quirky, intelligent and inspiring folk that like to make great things.
Oliver: When did you first know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur and what did you do about it?
Kevin: I started my first business when I was about 16 making customised stationery on my father’s laser printer which at the time were really expensive. I had the grand total of 1 customer ever purchase anything from me! However I got a buzz that someone would pay me for something I had on offer. I also grew up watching my father and uncle build up a technology business from scratch and observed how satisfying it was for all involved to create something from nothing, provide people with employment and control their own destiny somewhat. I also saw how much work they put in and how much stress they experienced but somehow (thankfully) this didn’t put me off. So from a fairly young age I knew that sooner or later I would give building a “real” business a go.
Oliver: You say you have been on the internet for the dark ages, how did you get started? Did you take a course, did you teach yourself, did you work for someone else?
Kevin: I first encountered the internet via email and Usenet in the mid 90s at University at which time I also saw the Web for the first time at a family friend’s house. I taught myself – the great thing about the internet was that the best place to learn about all things internet was on the internet!
Oliver: Your site says you like to shoot your staff with lasers… Is this how entrepreneurs should get things done!? ☺
Kevin: Does it say that on our site? Entrepreneurs should hustle and get things done in anyway that is legal and ethical!
Oliver: You say you like simplicity and identifying and solving consumer “pain points”, how vital would you say these both are to the success of an online business?
Kevin: Consumer/enterprise “problems” can be viewed at falling into two broad categories:
1) Problems that consumers or the enterprise know that they have, for example finding it difficult to grow their Twitter account follower numbers.
2) Problems that consumers or the enterprise don’t know they have, for example pre YouTube did people think they had a problem accessing and viewing obscure and mainstream video content?
If you tackle problems in category 2 you generally require a long financial runway and thus be well funded as it can take a long time to generate revenue. The rewards however can be great as markets can be untapped and very large. If you have a short financial runway, are bootstrapped and/or have limited funding the easiest way to turn revenue fast is to find a pain point that is very obvious, offer a well executed solution and charge money for the solution. Ultimately all businesses have to be solving a problem with a compelling well executed solution. This is true of both online or offline businesses.
Oliver: What is the most important thing you feel you have learnt from your long experience operating web-‐businesses that perhaps doesn’t apply to offline businesses?
Kevin: The exciting thing about online businesses are how easy you can access global markets, and how much easier you can scale your businesses then offline business. You can find your niche to sell to online a lot easier than offline businesses can.
Oliver: App or website you couldn’t live without?
Kevin: Google is probably something that I would hate to live without although I really enjoy using Twitter the most.
Oliver: If there was one thing every aspiring entrepreneur should know what would it be?
Kevin: The highs are going to be higher than you can imagine and the lows lower than you can imagine. Eat well, exercise well, the entrepreneur’s journey is a marathon and you give yourself a greater chance of success if your body and mind are in good shape. Enjoy living in the mystery and tenacity is by far the most important quality you require to keep on going.
Oliver: What is the average work day like for you?
Kevin: No two days are ever the same and the variety is a big part of what I love about my work. My day consists of meeting with various staff, reading and researching, reviewing metrics, reviewing finances, tweeting, and lots and lots of email.
Oliver: Best thing about your job?
Kevin: Working with super smart people.
Oliver: What skill/ability would you say sets a business leader apart from everyone else?
Kevin: The ability to be able to maintain a big picture outlook whilst understanding many of the details in the business as required. A fascination with what drives humans also helps.
Oliver: Any wizardry words for the aspiring entrepreneur?
Kevin: Find as many smart patient mentors as you can. The biggest risk to us all is we don’t know what we don’t know. Never stop learning.
Oliver: Thank you so much for your time Kevin!
Kevin: Thank you Oliver.
Kevin is an avid Twitter user and you can follow him here: https://twitter.com/Ke_Ga