I am so grateful to have had my dear friend Google accompany me throughout my college years—it’s hard to imagine studying, essay writing and researching without it. But the guys over at Australian-based UniQuestions are taking the student study tool one step further by creating a search engine exclusively for academia.
We caught up with 19-year-old co-founders George Newman and Flynn Macfarlane to talk student woes, single malts and not being greedy.
Tell us a little about where you guys are coming from and the inspiration behind UniQuestions?
Flynn: We both attended QUT (Queensland University of Technology, in Brisbane, Australia) in engineering and business respectively and had ongoing issues with university processes, communication and research. We started to have discussions about what we could do about it and started to form the idea of UniQuestions from those issues. We worked on the idea for a while and got it to a decent point, left university and never looked back.
What’s a typical day at UniQuestions look like?
Flynn: Wake up! Then a standard systems check, adminstration check, UI check and a few other checks. After that, we’ll get started on tasks we’ve mapped out and handle any issues that we’ve received. Usually a mid-morning meeting with the engineering and product design teams. A quick lunch and discussion, then more tasks followed by possibly another meeting with marketing and the business side of things in the afternoon. Then a late-afternoon til late session with a bit of dinner to close out the day.
How do you motivate yourself?
George: We seem to be pretty good at keeping each other full of energy and focused on what we are trying to achieve. Lots of motivation comes from conversations about the potential of the product we’re building – that usually keeps us with near-adrenalin levels of motivation. One of the roles as a founder is to constantly reiterate this vision to our team and keep everyone focused on the end goal.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
George: Don’t be greedy. What I mean by this is – if you can find valuable people, advice or products and it’s going to cost a small slice of your company, it’s probably going to be worth it. Remember a one hundred per cent share in a company valued at $0, is substantially worse than a one per cent share in a $100,000,000 company.
We want to know about where you spend your day! What’s on your desk right now?
Flynn: MacBook Pro, iPhone, a bunch of drawings and notes, textbooks, forms, calculator, a tie and few other bits and pieces.
George: Two big screens, keyboard, mouse, calculator, iPhone, iPad, forms, single malt, tumblers, coffee cups, and a few books.
What entrepreneur do you admire?
Flynn: There are a lot of really incredible figures out there, personally Elon Musk, Jonathan Ive, Steve Jobs – those sort of people are great to read about in what they’ve achieved and you can draw a lot from those sort of things and apply it to your own business.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend?
George: A lot of traveling I’d say. Probably spend a lot of that money on the latest tech and get prepared for the following year (haha). I’d also head off to Europe, head to Savile Row and get myself tailored.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually put your life on hold and realize yours?
George: The problems we’re trying to solve were very close to home and still are. We’re both only 19, have little to no debt or liabilities, so why not?
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get their business off the ground?
Flynn: Firstly, I think the key thing is to have really well defined ideas that people outside of your business can easily understand. If you can get someone to understand what you’re doing and get excited by it – generally speaking you can do a lot more for less.
Secondly, you probably hear people saying this a fair bit and I think it’s absolutely true – if your business fails for whatever reason, you’re generally considered more valuable because you’ve gained a whole stack of experience. So, instead of worrying about failure, keep running your business as best as you can without fear and if it works, it works, if it doesn’t then your chances of your next business succeeding increase dramatically anyway.
Web App or site you couldn’t live without and why?
Flynn: Surprisingly, Google Drive. We virtually live off their systems and run most of our day to day operations through them. They provide solid file sharing and email products. Living without Google Drive would be a bit of a let down.
Where can our readers reach out to you?
- Via email: [email protected], [email protected]
- through our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/UniQuestions
- through Twitter: https://twitter.com/UniQuestions
- or through: [email protected]
Thanks Flynn and George. I have a quick UniQuestion: Why would any teacher think an 8 am class is a good idea. Equally, what student thinks it’s a good idea to sign up for one? Goody two shoes I imagine. Not for me. No way.